Today I went to the slum at Old Fadama. I was expecting to be moved by it but this whole experience has been overwhelming so I had no room for explicitly sad feelings. Anyway, if I had been overly affected I wouldn’t have been able to do my job properly. An obroni from the affluent west being upset would not have helped anyone.
As it turned out the parts of the slum I saw were not as bad as the word ‘slum’ makes you imagine. It was bad and no human should have to live this way but I got the impression that it was a lot like the rest of the city. Busy. Hot. Full of vendors. Smelly. Hectic. Busy etc. There were lots of building projects in progress which is good because it creates jobs for local people. The people I felt particularly bad for were the children; some of whom have no clothes and are dirty. I’ve heard reports about parts of the slum where children go unclothed around a lagoon of electrical waste from the US and the UK. This lagoon is so toxic that we aren’t allowed to visit it for more than five minutes.
It is absolutely disgusting and frankly deplorable how two countries who domestically preach how important a green future Is and how wasteful the Chinese are with their terrible pollution rates and then they do this to a country they granted independence to no more than sixty years ago! Why do these people deserve it?
Old Fadama slum is home to between 80000 and 100000 people and is on government land. Projects Abroad has set up Fadama Legal Assistance Program to aid people living in the slum with issues such as police arbitration and brutality. It is in fledgling status at the moment but is rapidly increasing its clientele and will hopefully one day become a self-sufficient NGO. It will be an asset to the people of the slum and Projects Abroad and I am proud to be here when it is being set up.
The reason I was in the slum today was to give a presentation on suspects rights. The group of men gathered in a wide alley and we spoke to them for ninety minutes while someone (I didn’t catch his name) translated for us. The men seemed to respond intelligently and enthusiastically. They said that they were extremely grateful to know that they are not supposed to give money to the police for any reason whatsoever and for the police to ask for money is illegal. This is a misconduct which is common in Accra.
After we left the slum, Kate and I got Red Red (plantain and beans) Astrid got noodles and we returned to the office. I wrote up the report for the shelter yesterday and then helped the Italians with their grammar. They were grateful and it gave me something to do!
This evening, Bernice took me and Will to get some material to have some Africa trousers made. It is a lot brighter than anything I have ever worn before and I’m interested to feel the cut. Right now, me and Will are going for a drink and then its bed time! Cape Coast tomorrow!!