One of my favorite Ghanaian expressions is “small small” or “bayla bayla” as it’s known in Dagbani. Ghanaians use this expression all the time. Let me give you a few examples. You go to a chop bar in Tamale to get waakye, a local, favorite dish of rice, beans and other delicious, spicy toppings. The woman working at the chop bar starts to serve you waakye and motions towards the palm oil. You say, “small small” to mean just put a little, not too much. Or you are learning Dagbani, the most widely spoken language in Tamale, trying out some phrases with Dagomba friends. They say, “Oh you try” and you respond, “small small”. You are a CWS field staffer riding around on motos day in and day out. It just so happens you need to replace the piston and the rings on the moto. The fitter (mechanic) tells you to move “small small” so that the moto will be “free”. The list goes on… What I’ve taken from this whole “small small” business is that as long as you are moving “small small”, you are moving forward!
When I moved to Ghana in June 2012, I did not think I would live here for 2 years, although I am very happy now that I did. I had no trouble finding a house in Ghana. Landlords in Ghana usually conduct the same kind of screening as the landlords often do in the United States with the help of AAOA (https://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/tenant-screening-background-checks/). Once the tenant’s rental history is found to be clean and free of any criminal records, the person is given the key to the house. Truth be told, it all started “small small”… learning to ride a moto, figuring out where to buy food, navigating Tamale, learning Dagbani, working with the CWS team, meeting the entrepreneurs for the first time, encountering various challenges in the CWS communities and out on the “rough roads”. In the beginning, I didn’t feel like I was adjusting well. I found the heat unbearable, I felt lonely, I did not think I was qualified for the position but I kept trying and moving “small small”. And “small small” turned in to feeling comfortable in Tamale, being confident in my role at CWS, truly enjoying my work and getting to know my coworkers, developing good relationships with the CWS communities and entrepreneurs and feeling like I was positively contributing to this idea and project greater than myself. This upcoming September I am heading to Dublin, Ireland to get my MSc in Global Health at Trinity College. I hope to focus on women’s health and technology in developing countries. I know I would not be on this path if it were not for my experience with CWS in Ghana.
So without more small small babble… here are some pictures looking back on the last 2 years. The “small small” moments to the big ones. A big thank you to my CWS family: Kate, Sam, Kathryn, Chelsea, Shak, Peter, Wahab, Amin, Eric, Mark, Yacabu, the CWS board members, the fellowship translators, the fellows, the fellowship taxi drivers and all of the CWS partners for this fantastic opportunity. It has been a pleasure working with you! To all my friends and family who supported me and continue to support me, thank you! It has been quite the ride. Ghana, I will miss you-ohh! Until next time.