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  My trip to Ghana
Updated 02 October 2003, 11.37

Kirsty was in Ghana visiting the farmers who grow cocoa used to make fair trade chocolate.

And she wrote for Newsround about her experiences whilst she was there.

Click on the links below to see what she did each day!

  • Day One: From rainy London to sunny Ghana
  • Day Two: Kirsty is shown how to open up a cocoa pod
  • Day Three: Going to school in a remote village
  • Day Four: Kirsty thinks she meets the King of Ashanti!
  • Day Five: Kirsty visits a huge African market
  • Day Six: Kirsty sees the opening of a school made from chocolate!
  • Day Seven: Kirsty returns to London and looks back on her special trip



    Well! It feels strange and also normal to be back.

    We flew into Heathrow Airport and got home before my brother and sister had left for school.

    It was so nice to see them and Mum again.

    Everyone clapped

    By lunchtime I was ready to go to school.

    Dad walked down the hill with me and when I walked into my class everyone clapped.

    It was really nice.

    Poor farmers

    I know going to Ghana was a really special thing to do.

    I looked at the website today. It seemed like I had written a lot!

    But it also seemed I had left out lots of stuff I could have said.

    Like how poor some of the farmers are.

    They have so little and we have so much.

    Fairtrade helps

    Fairtrade obviously helps, but even that seems like such a little.

    I'm hoping to organise that trip to the chocolate factory in Germany.

    And I'll write about that too.

    Thanks to everyone who read my diary."


    "Hello again - just a short blog today.

    It's really late and Dad says I have to sleep because tomorrow we head back to Accra to catch the flight to London.

    Chocolate school

    Drummers at the school opening in Akomodan
    Drummers at the school opening in Akomodan
    We just got back from a town called Akomodan where we went to a ceremony to witness a school being opened, a school paid for by Kuapa Kokoo and Fair Trade.

    It was a really long way north of here and the journey took a long time.

    Although the school was very impressive and the ceremony was excellent, there were other cool things that happened today.

    Trip to Germany

    Best of all is that the Managing Director of the company that turns the cocoa into chocolate is here.

    He is called Cord Budde and he has invited me to come and visit his factory in Germany, my Dad said 'yes'.

    So as soon as we can arrange it I will go and spend a weekend in Germany.

    Cord took over the factory from his father and gradually he has been trying to make all their chocolate fair trade.

    Divine and Dubble are some of their main business.

    Like me, this is his first visit to Ghana.

    Importance of Fair Trade

    In his letter he said some really nice things about me, but also said I have seen today how farmers live and this is further confirmation for me of how important fair trade is.

    The other thing was how while we were driving through the countryside it reminded me of the times I have been to South Africa.

    Beautiful moon

    On the way home we watched the moon set. It was very beautiful.

    I won't be able to write tomorrow, but I'll do another blog when I'm back in London and then maybe one more once I have been to the chocolate factory."


    "Hello again from Kumasi!

    Today we all went to the second part of the AGM (annual general meeting). This was a bit better than yesterday - but still consisted mostly of speeches although I did like the bit where I was introduced as a 'BBC reporter' and everyone clapped, and I liked it when everyone got up to dance.

    But at one stage I felt quite home sick and so I called my mum and also my best friend, Lola, and that made me feel better.

    Shopping trip

    We didn't stay the whole day because my dad wanted to go to the market. So after lunch at the hotel, we called for a taxi and set off.

    There aren't any buses in Kumasi and everyone goes on foot or by these black and yellow taxis.

    The taxis don't have meters and you have to agree a price with the driver before you go.

    Dad said it was much cheaper than in London. He reckoned that at home the journey would have cost 7 or 8, but here it cost only 80p!

    Friendly strangers

    The market was huge and busy and a bit scary at first. In Ghana it's very different from London because as you're walking along people come up to you and shake your hand even if you don't know them.

    Kumasi market is one of the biggest in Africa and you can buy almost anything in it.

    Our taxi driver explained that there is another market that they call the European Market because that is where the whites used to shop before independence.

    Organised chaos

    But we went to Adum, which is the central market. And it really is huge. We saw only one little corner of it and I felt I had seen everything there is to buy in the world.

    At first it seems like chaos but it is actually very well organised because in each alley you will find a particular kind of item.

    Like, if you start on the main street and then when you turn the corner you're in shoe lane then you turn again and you're in cloth alley and so on and so on.

    Cooling off

    The crowd made me feel a bit shy but not as bad as when I went to the school because every one was doing their own thing (well most of them).

    We didn't actually buy anything but ended up in the Catholic Cathedral, which is a beautiful cool building on a hill in the middle of town.

    They were in the middle of Mass and so we didn't stay long. Dad then had to give a new taxi driver directions on how to get back to our hotel.

    Slow connection!

    Fortunately it's quite easy to find because it is on the same hill as the soccer stadium and you can see that for miles around.

    I'm sorry I haven't been replying to questions in the chatroom. The internet access here is really slow and we can't always wait for the page to load. But I hope you're enjoying the blog!


    "Hello again,

    Today I'm going to start by saying a few hellos, first I'd like to say: "Mum, Meg & Cal, I miss you all loads and loads." I'd also like to say 'hi' to everyone at Eleanor Palmer School, especially Lola, Eliza & Miss Penny.

    Today I went to the Annual General Meeting of Kuapa Kokoo which is where all the cocoa farmers who belong to the coop gather together to discuss their progress and their plans for the following year.

    Understanding

    Kirsty and Abena
    Kirsty and Abena
    I met a lovely girl called Abena whose parents were two of the people who started Kuapa Kokoo. She has just finished high school and would like to go on to university to study administration or law.

    Abena was very kind and explained what the people were saying because they were speaking in Twi (which is the Ghanaian language).

    In between speeches, there was lots of music and dancing. Once the Chairman started talking everyone else stopped.

    At first I found it all was quite interesting but it lasted nearly the whole day so I was very pleased when Lola called me just after tea.

    Gift

    We were speaking on Dad's mobile and I had to shout to be heard over the loudspeakers.

    A Kuapa Kokoo bag label
    A Kuapa Kokoo bag label
    One of the lovely secretaries at Kuapa Kokoo, called Gloria, made me a skirt and top out of cloth that Kuapa had had specially printed to celebrate their tenth anniversary.

    She gave it to me at the AGM but I didn't wear it, partly because there was no place to change and partly because today was the 'business' day of the AGM.

    Delicious!

    Tomorrow is the 'party' day when all the prizes and so on are given to the best farmers, and that's the day when you were meant to wear it. (I didn't actually know that but oh well!)

    And then when (finally!) it was all over we went to a nearby Church hall and had a big meal. There was fou-fou and plantain and other Ghanaian food but I was really tired and so I ate chicken and spaghetti and rice.

    Royal meeting?

    One of the farmers played a game with me where I practised walking with a packet of water ('bottled' water does come in plastic packets here!) on my head like you see women and children doing when they fetch water from the river or the well.

    I thought we met the King of Ashanti because I was introduced to a man wearing a crown of gold, but it turned out he was 'cocoa farmer of the year'. Oh, well. Next time maybe!

    I'll write more tomorrow (Thierry Henry has just scored a goal at Highbury and I want to watch the rest on TV!)"


    "Hello again!

    Boy, today I had two extremely different experiences.

    First I went and visited a school in a remote village quite a long way from Kumasi.

    Fairtrade help

    This school is important to Kuapa Kokoo because they used some of the money created by Fairtrade chocolate sales to build it.

    I met one of the Kuapa staff, Mr Mohammed, who told me how the money paid for the materials and some of the construction equipment.

    And all the people in the village had worked to build the school as well.

    No electricity

    Dad thought I should see how it really felt to work in a classroom that had no electricity and so I sat in on a fourth year English lesson.

    I was very glad the teacher was speaking English!

    Homesick

    But I was also feeling overwhelmingly shy from all the kids looking at me and I would have preferred not to.

    I think maybe I was a bit homesick as well. At least the lesson was quite easy - for me at any rate!

    And anyway Dad said I was missing school in England and it was good for me to go to school. Hmmm.

    New improved school

    The new school was pretty basic.

    It was really just a long row of classrooms next to a playing field. But on the other side of the field we could still see the remains of the old school.

    That was just two rooms without lights and with just holes in the walls for windows. I could see the new one was a serious improvement.

    Football fever

    My second experience was much more exciting.

    We got back to Kumasi just in time to go to a football match at the national stadium. It was huge!

    We used to live just next to the Arsenal in London and I would see the crowds go past on match days.

    I reckon there were twice as many people here as at Highbury!

    Team colours

    We were sitting with all the home supporters of the Kumasi Kotoko team and so Dad bought me a hat in their colours (red and white).

    I wanted them to know I was on the right side!

    Kumasi scored a great goal really early on and after that the crowd were pretty happy.

    Drenched!

    Just before half time it started pouring - and I mean really pouring - with rain and so we left.

    Dad (who should have known better) forgot to bring our raincoats or umbrellas.

    So we walked back through town in the rain and got completely drenched.

    Warm rain

    What was quite weird was that the water running down the streets was warm, like a bath.

    The roads get so hot during the day that they warm the rain water up!

    Anyway, I really enjoyed the football match.

    My brother and sister have been to Arsenal matches, but I haven't.

    It was my first ever footie match and it was in a foreign country which made it even better."


    "It's been quite a day!

    We slept in Kumasi last night and this morning I went a paid my first visit to the head office of Kuapa Kokoo.

    The Chairman is called Mr Appiah.

    I knew him from before because he has come to our house when he has been in London.

    Different traditions

    Kirsty at the Kuapa Kokoo depot in Bipoa
    Kirsty at the Kuapa Kokoo depot in Bipoa
    He told us a funny story. In England, he said, people just say hello and carry on with whatever they are doing.

    But in Ghana the tradition is different.

    When visitors arrive, Ghanaians expect them to sit down and say who they are and why they are in Ghana.

    And so we were all sitting round a table and in turn we each said who we are and why we are here.

    The scary bit was that it was my turn first!

    So I explained about coming with my Dad and writing these blogs for the BBC.

    Big circle

    Then we set off to visit some cocoa farmers in a village called Bipoa, which is about an hour's drive from Kumasi.

    Kirsty next to a cocoa tree
    Kirsty next to a cocoa tree
    I was really excited because I wanted to see what cocoa trees look like.

    But again the first thing we had to do was sit in a big circle and tell everyone what our names are and why we are in Ghana.

    The cocoa farms are quite strange.

    I met a farmer called Mr Williams (which surprised me, but quite a few Ghanaians have British sounding surnames) who was one of the first people to join Kuapa Kokoo ten years ago.

    When I asked him why he said it was because the Co-op didn't cheat when they weighed his cocoa!

    Awful smell

    Kirsty turning over dried cocoa beans
    Kirsty turning over dried cocoa beans
    He showed me how you cut open a cocoa pod to get at the beans, and how you have to let them ferment first (which makes them really smell disgusting).

    Then how you let them dry in the sun (when they smell quite nice).

    Cocoa soap!

    We also visited a family who make soap from the husks (that's the skin part) of the cocoa pods.

    They burn the husks and then mix the ashes with oil from date palms and it makes a kind of soap.

    Ghanaian dancing

    Dad says - but I am not sure if I believe him - that he will take me to a nightclub tonight.

    That'll be really cool because Ghanaian music is very easy to dance to.

    If he does I'll tell you how it goes.

    At the very least we are going to a football match at the national stadium tomorrow.

    Until tomorrow."


    "Wow! I can't believe that 24 hours ago I was in London.

    It was pouring with rain when we took off from Heathrow airport but when we landed in Accra, the capital of Ghana, it was night time and still very hot.

    And now we have just arrived in Kumasi in the middle of Ghana.

    Last night we stayed in Accra, but I didn't really see much of the city at all.

    All we did was swim in the hotel pool, have breakfast (cornflakes and omelette) and then get in the car to come to Kumasi.

    Long journey


    The journey took about five hours, but we stopped several times to meet people who work for Kuapa Kokoo (the cocoa co-operative).

    My Dad took some pictures of me with people at a cocoa buying centre in a small town called Suhum.

    This is one of the places the farmers bring their cocoa.

    The co-operative (Kuapa Kokoo) buys the cocoa and then it is sent by boat to Europe to be made into the chocolate we eat.

    Weighed myself!

    I had a look at the books where Kuapa Kokoo records all the cocoa that Kuapa Kokoo has bought from the farmers.

    In the same time I stood on some scales and weighed myself - although they are usually used for weighing cocoa!

    Street sellers

    What surprised me about Accra was all the people in the streets.

    It is as though everyone is selling something and people come up to your vehicle and offer you bread or fruit or water or clothes or pretty much anything.

    My Dad bought some newspapers and I bought a map of Ghana.

    Made welcome

    Everyone here has been incredibly friendly to me.

    When we arrived at the offices of Kuapa Kokoo in Kumasi, we showed all the people who work in this office the website.

    They were dead impressed. The Twi for 'welcome' is 'akwaaba' and people really say it like they mean it.

    Very hot

    Our hotel in Kumasi is pretty smart - but it doesn't have a pool.

    A pity, because it is incredibly hot here.

    Now Dad is yelling at me to come and get something to eat.

    Except for some bananas which we bought by the side of the road, I haven't had anything to eat since breakfast.

    And that was nine hours ago!

    I'll write more tomorrow."



  • Watch/ListenBORDER=0
    Watch Kirsty's reportWatch Kirsty's report
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    More InfoBORDER=0
    WorldCountry profile: Ghana
    Find OutWhat is Fair Trade?
    ChatChat about global issues
    ClubI'm going to visit cocoa farmers in Ghana

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    Past StoriesBORDER=0
    Cocoa deal to boost fair trade chocolate

    BORDER=0

    Web Links
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    Dubble chocolate
    Divine chocolate
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