Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Why would someone want to volunteer to work in a developing country? It's not for the money. To volunteer usually means to work for free and often involves paying for the opportunity.
Perhaps it would be to experience another culture, not as a tourist, but as an accepted member of the community. The volunteer is able to intereact with locals on a very personal level.
Your reason for volunteering is very important because it can mean the difference between a good experience and an unhappy one.
Some of our volunteers at Aba House are fantastic and with some I am reminded of the saying, "You get what you pay for."
One might think that there is a correlation between age, experience and maturity in the making of a good volunteer, but that's not necessarily true. Some young people blossom when given the chance to help and some older people can't handle the adjustment to new curcumstances.
Above all, a sense of humor helps. There are times when I think that the only reason that Ghanaians let visitors in is to have someone to laugh at. An outsider is fair game, especially with children. We've had volunteers eager to practice their new vocabularies...only to find that the children didn't teach them to say what they thought they were saying!
I would also suggest that you have a serious conversation with yourself about your comfort level. Can you live without hot water for a few weeks, and how about electricity? Can you, heavens forbid, wash your clothes by hand? Does it really matter if the humidity curls your hair? If you want a foreign country to be just like home, then maybe you should have stayed at home.
As a volunteer you probably expect to be a teacher. If you approach the experience the right way, you will also be taught. It's a very liberating feeling to meet new people and to see things through their eyes. There's something about working in another enviroment that makes people introspective. This is a good time to evaluate what you want to do with the rest of your life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "No man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."
And if you're a good volunteer, this will be true.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


If you'd like to see how we make paper at Aba House:
If you'd like to be in the picture, come volunteer. We are interested in all of your skills that can be taught to our kids.
We have some donated computers..would you like to come do a workshop on how to use them for self publishing? aba@culturalcollaborative.org
Want to see some more videos? On the VIDEO page at http://www.culturalcollaborative.org see how to make glass beads, print adinkra cloth and drum without drums. It just takes imagination.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

check out some other blogs

amazingly full of content about textiles, culture , plus much more
with a link to her fiber focus blog which is also full of interesting information
Karen has a big heart which is obvious when you read her blog
Lucky us, she is volunteerting to work with the Aba House kids
Jane is a well know paper maker who travels the world making paper from indigenous plants. This blog is about the show she is organizing called ONE WORLD-MANY PAPER featuring paper artists from over 40 countries and Ghana is represented by the Aba House kids
and the rendition of Aba House which you see above is by Evans, one of our regulars. It will become part of a wall hanging which is being co-ordinated by our volunteer Leslie.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Aba House

This is a picture of Aba House. What you don't see is the ocean across the street, the goats in the back and our neighbor Mr. Hummer. I call him Mr. Hummer because he has one parked in his yard right next to us.
Talk about cross cultural....here we are in our mud house which is based on indgenous African architecture teaching visitors about traditional culture and there he is. Well, he lets us use his swimming pool, so we'll leave it at that.
Aba House has 8 guest rooms with attached bathrooms. The rest of the house was designed with open areas for exhibitions, classes, workshops and outside, which is where we do most of our creating has alot more space.
In the photo you see sugar cane growing and that is what we use to make our paper. Most people, when they hear that, smell the paper. No it doesn't smell sweet, but it's sweet to look at!
And do you see the crocodile? He and several that you can't see protect us and were made by a young local artist who, wonderously, has never seen a real one.
James is self taught and when asked where he gets his inspiration, he says "I saw it in a dream."
If you come to Aba House, you will meet James, the crocodiles and I'll even introduce you to Mr. Hummer.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

African textile workshop

Once upon a time, in Ewe villages of Ghana, women would save a small piece of each piece of cloth that they bought and add it to a patchwork. For those with alot of cloth this was a public display of wealth.
The culture of African cloth is so fascinating that we offer a workshop each summer where participants can learn textile techniques from African artisans, visit museum and galleries, cloth markets and villages.
African textile workshop in Ghana
August 2- 15, 2009
Workshops and accommodations are at Aba House, a building based on indigenous African architecture located in a fishing village across the street from the ocean. Attending will give the unique opportunity of interacting with Ghanaians on a personal level.
You can download a brochure at http://www.culturalcollaborative.org