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Last Updated: Tuesday February 22 2005 11:53 GMT

Hotseat: Presenter Ellie on Ghana

NR presenter Ellie Crisell
Ellie went to Africa to investigate how poverty is affecting people and what charities are doing to help.

She chatted on the Global and environmental issues message board after her Newsround Extra was broadcast.

Loads of you chose to chat with Ellie about her trip.

Here's what she had to say.

rez_uk: Just saw your report on Africa and thought it was very moving. Just one question though, you said the rice that was imported from the USA was far cheaper than the local rice. Then the camera spun round and showed bags and bags of imported rice! Shouldn't this rice be donated at least if people are starving - especially to the kids.

Ellie: It would be nice if the rice could be donated and it does seem silly that it's not. Unfortunately international trade doesn't work like that. There are all sorts of rules and regulations which stops produce being given away if it's not sold. I agree it does seem silly. As we said in the extra, campaigners are calling for these rules to be changed, so locally-grown produce has as much of a chance as cheaper international stuff.

timmae: What was it like to be in Africa?

Ellie: Amazing. I've been to Africa a few times now but I think Ghana was my favourite trip. It's so beautiful and looks so different from anywhere else I've been. The weather was gorgeous and the people really friendly and laid-back. I really enjoyed it.

timmae: Were things over there cheap eg the cd you looked at?

Ellie: It was weird because some stuff was really cheap, eg local produce, but then things like orange juice was 2.40 a carton! I think the CDs were about the same as they are here - maybe a bit less - but that is REALLY expensive for most local people because wages are so low.

?*Groovy+Gunner+Volunteer*?: How did you feel seeing all the sick people in Ghana?

Ellie: I didn't meet any sick people, although obviously there is a lot of AIDS/HIV over there. All the people I met were incredibly warm, friendly and upbeat, despite all the problems they have to face. It was really heartwarming actually because they keep such a positive outlook.

Vanessa-Rose***-JD_for_Best_Actor!!!: Were you in Northern Africa?? Or where?? Sorry I know this sounds really dumb.

Ellie: Ghana is west Africa. Don't worry - I get really confused with where countries are in Africa. It's a big continent!

timmae: What was the school like over there??? It looked pretty blank and did you manage to see what the children had for school dinners?

Ellie: Actually I thought the school was really idyllic. It was set in beautiful grounds. All the children had bright uniforms and seemed really enthusiastic about being there. They didn't have a dining hall as such but ate from a food cart outside. They mainly ate rice with sauce. And they ate it with their fingers! Quite hard to do!

timmae: What kind of food did you have over there? Was there a variety of choices or was it just rice?

Ellie: There's a real divide between those who can afford to choose what they eat, and those who can't afford the luxury of choice. People who have little money eat a lot of rice with sauces (quite spicey ones!). If you can afford to eat in a restaurant, which we did, the food is a strange mix of local meats with rice, pasta, burgers and chips or chinese-style soups and noodles. It's all quite fattening rich food with a lot of oil. I found it quite hard going after a day or two.

i am me just a hp loving nutter: This may sound silly but how far away is Ghana? like how long was the flight? and what sort of animals? any.... *CHIMPANZEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*

Ellie: Ghana is several thousand miles away. The flight was about six or seven hours. Not too bad. The furthest I've been is Singapore - 13 hours in a plane! Hideous.

*little_halfling_mate*: Was it heartbreaking to see how bad their lifestyle was? Or did the part you go to not have it as worse as others?

Ellie: Yes it is heartbreaking to see how some people are forced to live in Africa. It's particularly upsetting to see how children sleep on the floors of mud huts with no running water/electricity etc, let alone TVs and stereo systems! To see skinny children doing hard physical work like grown men for just a few measley pence is very sad. But what never fails to surprise me is how upbeat these people are. They aren't really depressed and miserable - they get on with things and try to keep a positive outlook. They work hard to try and get themselves out of poverty and make a better future. It makes me feel really grateful for what I have.

Watch_Out_I'm_About: Is everyone in ghana really poor, or is there some rich people? i mean, do sum people live in nice houses while others live in the streets?

Ellie: Of course there are very poor people, and those who have more money. But there wasn't any real wealth around and the majority of people struggle. However there are houses and shops and restaurants, just like the UK. It's not all mudhuts. But the standard of living in general is more basic. We were staying in a lodge which was considered very nice - but it was very basic by European standards. I was just so grateful we had air conditioning though - what a luxury.

x-BoBbLe-x: Did you ever cry at the scenes in Ghana? I imagine them to pretty heartbreaking.

Ellie: No I didn't cry. But I did find it very sad. I had just come back from covering the tsunami story in Banda Aceh where there was total and utter devastation and death all around. That was a very upsetting story so in comparison my Ghana trip was more enjoyable. The reason for that is the people - they were all so positive and friendly - I didn't feel like crying because they were happy.

mfly*ngel*they*RCK: What type of clothing did the children + adults in Africa wear?

Ellie: Lots of children are in rags. They wear the same clothes every day because they can't afford new ones and scruffy old shoes with holes in them. Some don't have shoes at all. The school uniforms are lovely though - bright and cheerful. The girls all wear long-ish skirts and simple shirts and tops.



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