The Sahanaayili Village during the Pandemic

(The above image is a gathering at the Sahanaayili Village of Nanton before the pandemic. Now only twenty people or fewer are allowed to gather as of May 2020.)

Separated by a Pandemic – United in our Response

It’s been over five months since I last saw my partner with the world transforming before our eyes.

In March, Chief Suale and I spoke on the phone about whether he should fly back to the States. I worried about his health and well-being given most people in Ghana live in communal ways.

 

Sahanaayili Village – pre-pandemic.

 

I would’ve liked to have my husband with me in America, but I knew he needed to stay in Ghana to assist the people during this challenging time.

The Government’s Response

On March 23rd, Ghana responded to the coronavirus by closing all borders: land, sea, and air. All travelers arriving in Ghana (before the lockdown and closure of airports) are tested for the virus and quarantined for fourteen days. Certain roads throughout Ghana are now closed to prevent the spread of the virus.

In a country that is the size of Oregon in the United States and a population of over 30 million, there’s been 5,735 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths.*

Map of Ghana, West Africa

COVID-19 in Tamale, Ghana

In the Northern region, there are thirty-one cases and ten confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city of Tamale.

The infected individuals within Tamale are from other countries: Guinea and Burkina Faso. These individuals were in the city for business after traveling through Burkina Faso and Togo. Officials quarantined them at their hotel while also testing the hotel staff.

At one point, a Guinean woman who was part of the group quarantined escaped from the hotel in the early morning hours, but found and detained a few days later in Accra.

Restrictions of Large Gatherings

President Nana Akufo-Addo is receiving praise for his swift response to the health crisis, and his poignant messages to the people.

A child wears Kenti cloth face mask. The textile design is from the Ashanti Ghanaian tribe.

The president placed strict, social distancing measures including no gatherings at mosques, churches, or city markets and large weddings and funerals are banned until further notice. Schools are closed until further notice.

Communal living and celebrations are an integral part of the Dagomba tribe, who live in the northern region.

It’s not uncommon to see enormous gatherings at weddings, funerals, and naming ceremonies.

While this government order has been tenacious, it’s necessary to help flatten the curve of the virus.

Minister Offers Help

One of the government’s minister met with Chief Suale to discuss the needs of the village. Ministers meet with chiefs to assess necessities; especially during a state of emergency.

The minister provided hand-washing stations to Sahanaayili village and placed them throughout the community. They also placed a hand-washing station near the roadside for frequent travelers who pass by.

Not everyone has access to clean, running water, so these hand-washing stations are vital in protecting the people against the virus.

A Nurse Visits the Sahanaayili Village

Two weeks ago, a nurse visited the village to discuss COVID-19. He discussed factual information regarding the virus and offered the best practices during the pandemic. The nurse also handed out pamphlets and hand sanitizers to the group.

The demonstration was especially important since it provided preventative practices for the community. This is crucial since the nearest doctor and hospital is an hour away from the Sahanaayili village.

A nurse travels to our village to share preventative efforts against COVID-19.

Lifting of Restrictions

On April 20th, Ghana eased partial restrictions of the lockdown. Some criticized the president’s decision, fearing the lift in restrictions may cause a surge in infections.

While there was a spike in recent cases, this was in part because of a backlog of samples that were tested and cleared in laboratories for the virus.**

Enhanced testing and contact tracing have also become prevalent, which may also contribute to the growing number of cases.

What has worked in Ghana’s favor is the government’s swift action, using their own emergency funding versus waiting for international aid, and fast, extensive testing.

Drones Helping Combat COVID-19

Ghana is the first country to use drones to test for COVID-19 in remote locations.

The drones provide quick delivery of samples from rural areas in the bush that normally would take several hours to deliver.

Using drones can save hours, even days, in providing test results. This offers a quick response to individuals who test positive for the virus.***

Gratitude

With the government’s help and its outreach to rural areas, so far there have been no COVID cases in the Sahanaayili village. While we remain vigilant, we know continued education is important.

During these ever-changing times, we’re grateful for the healthcare and essential workers who are serving so many around the world. We want to express our deep appreciation for your assistance and service. Thank you!

Come Together

It’s clear now, more than ever, that we realize how connected we are through our shared humanity. Let us move forward and create a world where we uplift and empower one another other with a newfound sense of community.

This is my aspiration and motivation as I traverse this unfamiliar landscape and the dawning of a new world.

 

Take care everyone and be well.

 

Peace, love and blessings,

Stacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Statistics as of May 16, 2020
** From BBC News article  
***  Time’s article 

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Ghana – Statistics and General Information

Hello all,

I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.

Several of you have asked how chiefs and the Ghanaian people are coping during the pandemic.

Before addressing what’s happening in our village, I thought it may be helpful to share some basic information on Ghana and my understanding of how chiefs and the democratic government rule and co-exist in this rich and complex country.

The video below is some general information about Ghana, West Africa. I’ll post the second video in the next couple of days.

Thank you for your kindness and support.

 

Take care and be well,

Stacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Poem to My 110 Year Old Self

Studies have shown that writing down thoughts and inspirations of gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to make us feel happier and to create more meaningful and joyful experiences in our lives. By expression gratitude on a regular basis, the impact can last for months and deepen one’s own well being.

A few months ago, I was part of a wonderful class; a community of writers from around the world. We had weekly assignments where we would critique, inspire and empower each other. Our last assignment was to imagine ourselves living to the ripe age of 110. Knowing that we were nearing the end of our life, we were to write an encomium –
an expression of high praise for the life we had lived.

We were not only sharing our life, (as well as what we imagined our future life would look like and be) but we were also expressing gratitude for all the experiences; the many colors of joy, sorrow, elation and anguish because all of our experiences have their lessons to teach us. Give it a try and notice where you feel more joyful in your life and subsequently, more at peace.

 

I chose to write my encomium in the form of a poem. Enjoy!

 

Firefly they call you 

Lighting up the night

Your tender belly illuminating your flight

What a majestic tapestry you are weaving

Of a well lived life.

Shine on, sweet one. Shine bright.

As you grew more curious, the seeker that you are

You reach high through the treetops to the glittering stars

And when the turmoil within your family seemed too great to bear

I gently murmured to your aching wounds –

Take heart, dear one. Take care.

The chaos of the world grew louder 

At times, you were distraught

But you kept listening, hearing my voice

You, a Phoenix rising

Continued to soar.

Fly on, free spirit. Fly on.

Meeting your beloved mate 

Under a canopy of stars deep in the African night

A love so profound you knew to wait

This man now your husband, your Chief 

And you his Queen, his wife.

Love on, brave one. Love on.

Passionately working side by side with your beloved

Building bridges beyond borders

Your conviction and joy unbound

An ambassador of peace; your mission discovering and creating 

Compassion for common ground. 

Lead on, gentle one. Lead on.

As your tapestry of light flourishes

A splendor of colors and deep, sumptuous hues

Your weaving strands connecting others

Their light shining with you.

You raise your voice for others

Standing with them in unity; their time long overdue

Honoring them with your actions and words

You stand for their truth.

Stay strong, dear one. Stay strong and true.

And even when doubt would cloud your mind

You remembered the riches of being alive

Were the experiences that cannot be changed

With the passing of time.

 

The thoughtful conversations with your father, hours on end

Mom tending to her garden and your child’s first grin.

Gentle kisses from your lover under a shooting star 

And cool summer raindrops caressing your warm skin —

Yes, these are the moments you will remember by far.

Remember, kind one. Remember and rejoice on.

Your love ones now encircle you

With heartfelt messages and tearful farewells

Your eyes fixated towards the heavens

You know it’s your time

You know this all too well.

For your grand life is before you

Luminous and dazzling

A blazing fire in the evening night

It comforts and soothes, it radiates and glows

As you say your last goodbye


And as your tapestry continues to unfold,

Its fiery embers float towards the infinite sky

I stroke your silvery, long mane of hair

Whispering sweetly in your ear 

One last time.

 

Thank you dear love, for this glorious tapestry of your life.

Thank you dear love, for shining so bright.

Peace, love and blessings,
Stacy

Nanton Village

The Village of Nanton

For the next few posts on this website, I’ll be sharing my time in Ghana with my partner, Chief Suale.

 

Traveling to Nanton.

Billows of red, dust trail behind our car as it barrels down the dirt road. We’ve been traveling for over an hour into the bush to visit with family and the elders of the Nanton village.

Family is all-encompassing in Ghana and good friends are often called uncles, aunties or grandfathers, and grandmothers.

 

The Family

There is an inclusivity in Tamale that is incredibly comforting and welcoming.

When you’ve been away in America for some time, (some family members consider a couple of months a very long time) it’s necessary to see all your family and when I say all, that means many people; consisting of immediate, extended family, friends and friends of friends. Even people that may not know you, greet you as family.

Welcome sister!

or

My wife, welcome!

 

Visiting one of our grandfathers.

Yes, that’s right. There are men other than my husband that call me their wife. Of course I’m not their spouse, it’s an expression; a term of affection. Women also say to me:

How is my husband doing?

or

Give my greetings to my husband.

Read more

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The Horse: A Noble Steed

The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom. ~ Sharon Ralls Lemon

 

For the next few posts on this website, I’ll be sharing my time in Ghana with my partner, Chief Suale.

A Graceful and Sentient Being

The horse has been a faithful guardian and trusted confidant throughout time. It’s not surprising that this noble creature is deemed sacred and held in high regard within the Dagomba tribe and it’s clear that there’s a special affinity between Chief and grandfather’s horse; a deep bond that knows no bounds and at times, feels otherworldly.  

Communion

The evening sun fades in the distance and the first star rises into the painted sky of rich pink and purple hues. Twilight’s presence is serene. At a nearby mosque, an Imam sings evening prayers over a loudspeaker; a lullaby to the end of the day.  I close my eyes and breathe deeply, the melody is soothing and a sense of peace washing over me.  

The beauty and grace of these magnificent beings.

It’s still in the upper eighties (along with high humidity) even though the sun has set so I do my best to stay cool in our bedroom catching up on some reading. Time passes and I wander out into the great hall to discover Chief is nowhere in sight. I saunter out onto our porch, where now the darkness of the night envelopes the landscape with only a few dots of illumination gleaming from nearby houses. 

Stardust

There in our courtyard quietly sits Chief with grandfather’s horse, Stardust. Even though the Dagombas have a special bond with these four legged beings, they don’t name their horses, so I took the liberty to do so. Stardust is a striking white stallion with a silver mane and flecks of grey spots splattered throughout his torso; almost as if Jackson Pollock decided to used his body as a canvas. 

Stardust with ceremonial henna on his forelock, chest, hips and legs.

I lean against our porch railing when Stardust glances up towards me with his ears at attention. Chief swings around and upon seeing me, grins. I wave back; not wanting to disturb the silence of this unique communion. Stardust resumes grazing; chomping on some fresh cut grass from the bush that some local boys collected. Suddenly, he abruptly stops, raises his head and stares at Chief. 

Knowingness

I feel the intensity of Stardust’s gaze and I quietly take a seat in a handmade, wooden chair. A chorus of frogs bellow from the stream next to our home and the crickets chime in with their verse; a symphony of nature coming to life. I listen and feel their earnestness; a desire to become a part of this unique, wordless dialogue.

Chief and Stardust have been communing for hours; a communication beyond words; beyond any sounds or movement – it’s an exchange of energy, a sensitivity and knowingness that honors each other for who they are. To be a witness of this communion is stunning, surreal and somehow familiar. I soon realize that I’m also an active participant being a bystander; connecting with both of them in this dynamic expression.

The Medicine People

This sensing and knowingness is not uncommon in Africa and especially with the Medicine People. Indigenous healers are important pillars in the Dagomba community and they offer an array of remedies and consultations including; guidance, insight, clarity and protection. 

Chief riding grandfather’s horse.

Chiefs often need protection due to their stature within the community and horses play a unique role as protectors to the chiefs. Medicine Men/Medicine Women prepare charms (for lack of a better term) for the horse to wear to increase his/her strength, protection, and to heighten their senses to see and feel beyond the veil.

Horses also support in the journey of a chief’s career. It’s said a horse will carry a chief to his or her destiny and the Medicine people are able to view and discern the capability of each horse and the qualities it possesses.

Special Occasions

One can find horses throughout Tamale and they are often a part of special occasions including marriages, naming ceremonies and funerals. Below is a link to a video of a horse dancing to the rhythm of the drums at a funeral in Tamale from a couple of years ago.

Teaching

The next morning I wake to the crowing of roosters at 5:00AM in a nearby yard. The early rays of light break across the horizon beckoning me to rise and greet the day. I wash up and take my time getting ready while the outside world comes to life; bustling with energy. 

A couple hours later, I glide through our great hall when I hear chief’s booming voice. I glance out the window to discover he’s with Stardust and about twenty young children.

Children visiting me at our home.

 

Kids often stop by our home to pay their respects before scampering off to school.

It’s not uncommon for children to wander into our compound as they seem to be fascinated by us. I’m sure their curiosity is partly due to the fact that I’m the only Caucasian living in the area.  

The children sit in chairs and on the ground surrounding him and Stardust; they are a captive audience. In today’s lesson, Chief teaches and shares with the youngsters what he’s feeding Stardust and how important horses are to the Dagomba culture.    

Children after their lesson with Chief.

Wonder and joy fill their eyes and the children beam in delight. This may be the first time they have seen a horse in such close proximity. The beauty of this moment is sublime; another type of communication, one of sharing, passing down stories, traditions and culture from one generation to the next.

To be an active participant, partner, and advocator in teaching children of their rich culture lifts my spirits and feeds my soul.

 

With love and gratitude,

Stacy

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What is Reiki and How it May Assist in Your Health and Overall Well Being.

Self-Care: Alleviating Stress for A More Empowered You!


We’ve all had those days where stress is at the forefront; whether we are racing to make deadlines, running to pick-up the kids from school or fighting traffic to get home from another frenetic day to be with your loved ones, it seems stress is ever present in our lives.

Many of my clients have recently expressed the intensity of their stress and how it impacts them. Sometimes this stress and anxiety can last longer than 24 hours.  With the current events happening around the world, it’s difficult not to feel some sort of stress come bubbling up to the surface when viewing the news. In our ever changing world, stress is going to be a given; but it’s how we react to it that counts.

What is needed now (possibly more than ever) is a priority to self-care.  Unhealthy stress can lead to health problems including: high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease.  When we make the time to care for ourselves, we are more equipped to handle stress in a healthy and empowered way.

Here are a few ways you can beat stress and navigate your way to better wellness and a conscious practice in self-care.

Read more