This is it. Six weeks spent in Ghana have come and gone. I return home on Sunday, tired, filthy (haven’t had the best time with laundry and cleaning habits), excited, and even a bit sad.
I’ve fallen in love with this country in my short time here. It’s a vastly underrated African territory and has so much to offer culturally, socially and politically. This is a nation filled with wonderful and gracious individuals. It’s hard to feel welcome in a country you’ve never been to let alone a continent you’ve never visited. However the Ghanaians did an outstanding job of making me a part of the culture. I’ve gained memories that I’ll hold dear for years to come.
Today I bid farewell to my co-workers at Joy FM. My time spent with the company was incredible. I learned more than I could have asked for about the industry and gained crucial experience in multiple mediums. The staff had me doing everything from field reporting to commentating on World Cup games to giving analysis on live television. They threw me into the fire and I ended up thriving. I feel unbelievably well prepared for broadcast journalism. I made more progress as a journalist in one month as a intern than I did in the past year at school. If I had the choice I’d stay even longer and continue to work with Joy FM.
Sadly, my departure is coming at a rather convenient and yet inconvenient period at the same time. While I get to return to my sunshine infested paradise of a home, the citizens of Ghana face harrowing challenges ahead.
I’m fearful for the well-being of this country for several reasons. The most obvious is the current Ebola epidemic that is spreading throughout West Africa. While there have been no reported cases yet in Ghana, it may be only a matter of time before it spreads into the country. I worry about my co-workers and the entire republic of Ghana. I’d feel awful if a nation as amazing as this were to be decimated by such a horrible disease. And while Ebola hasn’t hit my area yet, cholera is currently taken its toll on the population.
Aside from health concerns, I also fear for the economic predicaments the nation faces as well. The government is under immense pressure from the public to fix the ailing economy, an economy in which I currently get 3.5 cedi for every dollar I exchange. I’m no stranger to the economic peril as it spreads even to the sporting factions of Ghana. The sports ministry is struggling to fund the national teams for Ghana, including the women’s football team traveling to Canada for the Women’s World Cup. Even moving the nation’s athletes to the Commonwealth Games in Scotland proved to be a struggle.
Speaking of Canada, I’ve attempted to get an interview with members or spokespersons of the Canadian Embassy, which has been nearly impossible. The embassy is currently in hot water for denying a massive amount of visa applications to Ghanains attempting to go to Canada to watch the U-20 Women’s World Cup. According to some sources, the applicants filled out the proper requirements for the visas and were denied without much explanation. The Sports Ministry finally admitted the embassy is denying these applicants because they fear the travelers will leave Ghana for good in the hunt for greener pastures. This decision comes after reports surfaced that some Ghanaians who traveled to Brazil for the World Cup became “asylum seekers” and bailed from Ghana for good.
One issue I’ll be following closely is how the public reacts in the coming months and if Ghana will truly experience a mass exodus of citizens. I’ve heard threats from co-workers and various citizens that they will indeed bolt if the economy doesn’t improve or if Ebola will grip the nation. Unfortunately, I’m in doubt that they’ll accomplish such a feat as most of the middle class can’t afford to just leave the country. As great as the desire is to leave the wreckage behind, most of the nation is financially incapable of pulling off such procedures.
I leave refreshed and confident for my own future, but not necessarily for the future of Ghana. There are serious issues at hand that must be dealt with swiftly and intelligently or else the country could experience serious setbacks. It’s a developing country, but the level of panic bubbling on the surface could incur dangerous times for the nation. I can only hope that Ghana will survive through these ordeals. I truly want to return one day and perhaps even become a part of the work force here. I’d hate to see such a place be torn apart.