Wednesday, 4 June 2014


Firstly a quick update on IALI, things are beginning to move a long pretty nicely. We are urgently trying to finalize the technical side for the first of three waves, see below, by doing test calls through different calling routes. The complexity of the international calling system is really amazing and I finally learnt why pressing numbers on the dial pad of your cellphone makes different noises! It turns out that the frequency of the beep on your phone for the individual numbers represent their unique tone which DTMF signalling systems can then read.
  1. Senegal and Burkina Faso (June 16th to 27th)
  2. Zimbabwe and Ethiopia (June 30th to July 11th)
  3. Afganistan, Mozambique, Chad &  DRC (July 14th - 25th)
The final survey also just came in today so there will be a lot of translation work tomorrow. In addition we are definitely going to run out of money halfway through the project due to a calculation error in the budget proposal, so that should be interesting. Another important development are telecommunications laws that we could unintentionally break which could land people in jail, namely the project supervisor. I highly doubt anyone it going to ever come to Ghana to get me so the personal incentive to make sure it is done is rather small :) 

We went to the Kwame Nkrumah University a few days ago and it is massive. The number of buildings is astounding and they are very spread out. It is a good university so it makes sense that they have money but I was not expecting it to be so vast. In addition one of the cats at work is very pregnant and has begun the process of nesting so she should give birth within 48 hours. WARNING: All future entries may be entirely kitten oriented. 

The University Circle
The University Administration Building
A hostel, normally referred to as a residence in Canada
Random university buildings
The fat and very pregnant cat

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Hung out to dry

I should probably get around to explaining what work I am doing in Ghana. The project I'm working on is called Is Anyone Listening Index (IALI) and it is being run in conjunction with the Center for Global Development (CGD). It involves running a survey across eight countries and twenty-eight languages! The goal is to put power into the hands of the people by allowing them to give direct input towards aid prioritization. The results will be used to create an index to compare the priorities of donor nations to those of the donee. We have secured translators for many of the languages but there are a few that are proving to be a challenge. 

In other news we had a small adventure when we failed to see clouds sneaking up on us. The storm came on so fast that we had little choice but to seek shelter under on of the phone credit umbrellas that line the streets (like the red one below). The rain water on the side of the street was a lot deeper moments earlier and none of our shoes, or legs for that matter, escaped getting thoroughly soaked. The unexpected yet refreshing roadside shower passed as suddenly as it came and so we hung out at the tech junction to dry up while my smartphone had a seizure. 

Right before the storm we had a nice meal that almost cost two whole dollars during which I tried a drink called Malta. It was very quick to activate my gag reflex and in vain I downed a bottle of Fanta which by no means helped matters. Sadly I had to take the meal to go and I think I'll be a lot more reluctant to experiment with new drinks when I'm really hungry :s

Oh I forgot about the rooster, he is one of many nearby that love to wake us up far earlier than we'd like. I much prefer the deep dried version.

Sunday, 18 May 2014


My pre-departure and in country training with the other Junior Fellows just ended yesterday and I got to the VOTO House today! We got the day to settle in and tomorrow we will begin work on our project called IALI (Is Anyone Listening Index) which is funded by the World Bank; More on that later.

Arriving in Accra I had to "grease" my way out of the airport, I guess there is a first time for everything. I don't think I'll ever know if the last checkpoint was legitimate but the money requested "under the table" certainly did make everything go smoothly.

I also had a great learning experience in Kumasi when I had to buy some items during my in country training. I don't think I'll ever let a shopkeeper know I am from Canada again; unless I am in the mood to spend 10 times as much as I need to on bath slippers of course. Being able to identify as Indian has never been more convenient.

The stalls in Kumasi where I had my first shopping experience.

Houses in various stages of construction in an affluent area in the outskirts of Kumasi

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Never trust a fart

I will be working with Engineers Without Borders Canada this summer in Ghana. Pre-departure training is going well even with 24 of us living in one house; we have mattresses set up all the way into the kitchen at night! Fortunately we get to use the UfT campus for the actual training part.

There have been a lot of sessions on many topics but the most useful thing I learnt was to never trust a fart because there is no way of knowing what state of matter it truly is until it is too late ;) 

If you have any questions please comment below and I will do my best to answer them or message me on facebook etc. 
The living room of the EWB House in Toronto