Fatimata is my Macondo mom. In one of the first meetings I had with a Farmer Based Organization (FBO) from the village, I asked Rauf, my CP to tell the members to invite me to things. Anything. To tell them I enjoyed work. It was the best way I felt I could start to get to know people in my community, practice Mampruli and overall, integrate. Fatimata was the only one to invite me out. Six months later, she’s still the only one.
She began by taking me to see various plots of land, where she would harvest items for the day or week. This was great as I learned what people were growing, how and where. We often took her grandson, or else he would cry and cry.
His nick name is Shatta Boy, after the Ghanaian artist, Shatta Wale. I learned Fatimata keeps beehives, where she fetches firewood and grows rice. In the cashew season I would go with her to her father’s farm and collect the nuts and their apples. Once I started my dry season garden, I would go over and help her water her plots.
The villagers are always in awe when I go to farm and tell me “I moya” – you have done well. Now it is shea season and they are still impressed I willingly go and do manual labor. Fatimata is the only one who treats me like it is no big deal. Well…she does worry about me carrying loads on my head. And to be fair, it is not something I am used to or have built up the strength to do as easily as essentially every Ghanaian woman.
In the evenings, I walk over to her house to make koko, the local porridge, made of fermented corn and/or millet. I hang out with her, Shatta Boy and the rest of her family. She never fails to try and feed me. Like a true mom, she gets upset when I refuse. And she never approves of what I have eaten, never thinking it is enough.
She is always the person I think of to introduce other PCVs to when they come visit me. And every week she always asks me about them, how they are doing, if we have called each other to greet, if I have seen them, etc. Earlier this week when I was explaining to her that one PCV, locally named Manbora (which means, I want), had COS’ed, she asked me when I was leaving. I said I would be here until the end of next year. She was dissatisfied with this and told me I was to stay at least four years.
I have only been at site for six months but already she is an integral part of my service. I am so grateful and every time after walking me back home (she insists, even though we only live about a hundred yards apart), it always crosses my mind how awful the day will be I say bye to her and Shatta Boy.