Sunday, July 26, 2009

DC Day 3

Last post!

For anyone still checking back in to the blog to make sure I am alive, this is a confirmation that I am in fact still alive and well. I think whatever sickness I had before has passed (although I had a sudden rash on my legs for a couple hours starting when I got back into my apartment... really weird).

The trip home was mostly uneventful, although I spent more money in the airports than I did in my last week in Ghana. I felt a little bad, but oh well. It was worth it to buy UK Starbursts -- which unlike American Starbusts, have no gelatin in them. Fantastic discovery. Also I bought crispy M&Ms.

Give me a call if you'd like -- I'll pick it up in the same timezone and without ridiculous fees!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ghana Day 57

This is the last post from the continent of Africa of the Ghana Edition of Lindsay’s Adventures! It’s not a terribly exciting one, though – Wednesday I felt very ill all day and mostly just suffered through work. I almost went to an interesting program, but then I didn’t (out of fear of leaving the proximity of a nice bathroom), so it doesn’t make a very good story. I finished The Firm though, and I’m almost done with the Martian Chronicles, so I suppose it was productive intellectually. I also got through looking at the January and February newspapers.

Right when I was about to give up on getting my interview with the editor, because he was out until 3:30pm, he showed up and told me to wait for him. I got my interview around 4:30, and it was very interesting and probably worth waiting around for 7 hours for while feverish and belly-achey, although mostly because my alternative wasn’t all that better.

At night I packed and fell asleep by 8pm, and this morning I’m back at work for just a few hours to say goodbye and check in for my flight online. Although of course as I’m writing this the internet is not working (the power was out when I got here too, which is uncharacteristic). I’m a little sad to be going, but mostly I’ll be happy to be on American soil tomorrow at 1:40pm. Looking forward to seeing or talking to you all soon from a reasonable area code!

Front page story

my front page story:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ghana Day 56

A couple anecdotes I forgot to share earlier:

Sunday I was walking down my street, which is a residential-type street (paved, no sidewalks, trimmed on either side by a deep gutter, about the width of 3 cars), when a huge monster truck hauling something or other came down the road. I stepped to the side to let it pass, but the driver stopped next to me and shouted down from 15 feet up, “I love you!” I told him thank you, that’s nice, I’m going somewhere now, bye” and started walking again. This big truck followed me down the road at about 3 miles an hour for about 20 or 30 feet so the driver could repeat his wooing. It was very surreal.

Monday evening, the time it’s normally hard to get a tro-tro, I joined a small pack of people who ran after a van to get in. I was too late to get in (it packed up fast), but then immediately after another van drove by (not really slowing down) and the mate shouted Nungua out the side. I think they like watching people run, the mates definitely seem to get a kick out of it. Anyway, since it didn’t slow down most of the people in my diminished pack gave it up, but a group of young men all ran, and I followed. I was the only girl to make it to them when they finally stopped (although I was last to arrive), and definitely the only one in 2 inch (chunky) heels. They were all very amused by me.

Tuesday at work I was not planning to have any exciting adventures, since there were very few assignments in the morning and they were all double booked. But as I was going for old newspapers, the news editor called me over and said, I know how excited you are for your inside spread today, how would you like to make the front page tomorrow? So of course I said that would be lovely, and he assigned me to get comments on the major story of the day from bigwig governance experts. Fortunately I was not assigned it alone—I got to go out with two other reporters. The only phone that makes calls outside the office is broken (I have no idea, don’t ask), so we went to track people down by car. I got left at a training conference on ethics and code of conduct for a handful of MPs to hunt down the head of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, a Mrs. Anna Bossman, who was making a presentation there. We lucked out and the Executive Secretary of the Transparency branch here (the Ghana Integrity Initiative) was also there. Mrs. Bossman had not seen the report yet (since it just came out), but the GII guy was happy to make a statement, and that was one of 3 interviews we got. Sure enough, the article and my name made the front page today, and my copy is actually kept in several parts. Very exciting.

The story itself is somewhat interesting. The outgoing administration had established a committee to determine what the end of service benefits would be for a particular class of civil servant that is politically appointed. They came up with a pretty exorbitant package (two houses for the prez plus 6 new cars every few years), and there was a pretty big outcry over it in January. The new admin set up a committee to review that committee, and just came out with their report. They said that the first guys had put out two “final reports”, the second of which after they would be pretty sure they weren’t winning the election. Also, parliamentary approval was sort of shady, rushed, and they didn’t specify which report they were approving. So that’s what we were looking for comments on.

After getting our interviews and writing our story, I had to go confirm my flight at British Airways. I was ecstatic to discover that the Graphic driver and car were free and able to take me over, so it was a pretty painless endeavor. Good thing, too, because the BA office moved and I had still been thinking it was at the first location, because they haven’t taken down their signs yet. So my flight is confirmed and I’m definitely leaving, barring another Congo situation.

In the evening I hung out with the neighbors and Sabrina for about an hour, which I was impressed with because it meant I stayed awake past 8:30. Tony’s very excited about his picture credit in the paper.

The only bad point in the day was that I ate something that disagreed with me and had to wake up at 2am to use the bathroom. Even through two immodium this morning, I’m still having some trouble, so I’ll probably be taking some heavy duty antibiotics before I get on the plane tomorrow night. Wonderful way to celebrate my last couple days : P

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Agbogbloshie stories (my story) (my picture, edited London Times story)

Ghana Day 55

Monday morning I went to the EPA to talk to a guy about what they’re up to with the e-waste situation, and I got some mostly good info. They’ve got a strategy that has not been approved yet. From what the guy said, the issue has been on the table even before the Greenpeace report a year ago, and I feel like more than a year is sufficient even for a bureaucracy to approve a plan of some sort. But he seemed nice and shared most of what he knew with me, although he did not email me the power point he told he’d share with me, so in general not the most helpful of people. He also told me he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be talking to me, which is mostly his problem (his boss said answer all the questions, but he wasn’t sure he was supposed to answer directly to me or send them back to the boss). So he asked me to let him see the story before it went to print – which honestly I don’t think I have a too-big problem with, because letting him see it and letting him change it are different things, and if I got a name or fact wrong I’m happy to correct it if it seems like I actually got it wrong. That might just be my natural affinity for bureaucrats though. Anyway, I made sure to run the idea by my editor first, and he said no absolutely not, so it’s mostly a lesson for the EPA guy not to trust the press.

The story got rushed to print for Tuesday because I got scooped by the London Times, which printed this story: So that story got altered a bit and coupled with mine, and made the centerfold of the paper Tuesday morning (this is very exciting, because along with the front and back pages, the centerfold is the only page in color, and it got a tag on the cover saying where to turn for the story). I’m terribly excited about it and bought an extra copy to bring home. (It would have been several extra copies, but my money’s pretty tight in the last three days. If I get specific requests by the time I leave work, I’ll consider buying a couple more, but the story should be online for interested parties to print out a copy.) I’ve got the byline and half credit on the pictures – my neighbor Tony did the actual snapping, so I can’t take credit for framing, but I told him what and where to take and picked out the good ones, so I felt ok taking half credit.

I feel sort of bad about the headline though – I don’t get to write the headline (in fact I don’t get final say over any of the copy, so some of the words are not my own), and the headline is “EPA appears helpless” (connected to the previous story’s headline, “UK linked to e-waste dump in Ghana”). I don’t know if “helpless” is the word I would have used – more glacially slow.

That took up most of my day and was exciting enough so that I didn’t feel the need to do anything else blogworthy : ) Fell asleep by around 8pm and only half woke up when Matt called. I hope he and his grandparents and brother are having a lovely time with my kitties and apartment, which I look forward to seeing soon.

Monday, July 20, 2009