Market day in Tamale ...


Newsletter april 2014
New Cooking Bag



Slowly, Mariam releases her baby from her cloth and off her back and lays her carefully into my lap when I join my colleagues mid morning. Her skin looks like it is covered in goose bumps but in fact it is heat rash and with one hand I gently rub it against the itch and with the other I swish away a stubborn fly hovering around a bit of breakfast porridge that is still clinging to the corner of her mouth, and she falls asleep before my eyes…

To feel so blessed with nothing that at the same time means everything…
With Hiba asleep in my lap, sitting on a crumbling wall in the shade of a rickety awning keeping us out of the sun, smack in the middle of a cluttered yet extremely lively market where your head spins from all the vivid colors and the sickly smell of onions, fish and tomatoes that need to be sold.

Accompanied by lots of gestures, Mariam explains to the women around her why the New Cooking Bag is such a worthy item.
Hamdia is bent over a charcoal fire, stirring in the sauce which she will momentarily pour over the rice and beans, now cooking in the New Cooking Bags sitting on a crooked little table. I am so proud! Look at them in the burning sun! Amina unwraps her headscarf and drapes the end around Sahada’s head to protect her from the sun for a bit…such a sweet gesture, and for a while I remain staring and smiling at these two very special women, together under one veil…

 I can tell that Araba is still tired from last night…It did end up being a late one! We were invited by a radiostation to tell our story - which of course made us very happy - but when we heard it wouldn’t be aired until 10.30 in the evening, we were wondering if it would be any use. But still, you go, even though you suspect not a single soul will be listening at that hour… However, it all worked out very differently to what we expected!
Araba and Hamdia looked at each other in shock and disbelief when just before the show, they were told that a famous Ghanaian singer/comedian was part of the interview and a little later they sat on either side of him, nervous, with their headphones on.
I couldn’t understand a word of it since it was all in Dagbani, but I could tell by the faces how our story was picked up and taken seriously with interest and the occasional humour. It is weird cooking in a kind of pillow! It reminded me of the old lady who commented during one of the demonstrations that surely this New Cooking Bag would catch fire if you were to make a fire inside?! Yes..we still have a lot of explaining to do!
Anyhow, it became apparent afterwards that still quite a few people are glued to their radios at that hour. Hamdia finally turned off her phone at in the middle of the night because people were calling her after the show wanting more information!

 In the meantime and elderly couple has arrived at our market stall and I hear them say they heard us on the radio and they would like to see this New Cooking Bag with their own eyes… I observe it all from a distance and see them walking off into the crowds of innumerable market folk, a New Cooking Bag under their arms… (it is the only one we sell that day, we have a long way to go, but we shall persevere and prevail!)

Hiba wakes up and her dark eyes look curiously into my blue ones… She turns her head and looks for mama Mariam, who in the meantime is educating a new group of women and is letting them taste the Waakye (rice and beans). I carry Hiba to her mother and she efficiently removes her mothers breast from her dress so she can drink.
I stroke her head, bid the ladies farewell and with extreme satisfaction walk back to my moped and drive back to the workshop where I am not greeted by market women but by a crowd of excited children coming to collect their schoolbag…If that doesn’t make one happy?!

Pictures of the market can be seen under the photo tab on this site...