This was our formal day of training. We have entrained quite a few people to come to the training and will have more than 10 participants so Mark decided to move the training to the office they have at Achimota Forest. We went fist to Mark’s office where we met a young guy named George who runs an NGO north of Accra that helps with youth employment through the development of bamboo skills. He will come to the training too. He was very supportive of the Ministry's involvement. He felt that reliance on individuals carried the risks of having people get disinterested if things didn’t turn out well quickly enough or the risk of people cutting corners in design and materials. The work would need to be monitored for quality. The Ministry has offices in the north of the country and so they can stay in touch and organize training and oversight of the individuals. This seems like a good point. If any individual makes a poor frame that breaks or comes apart, it is possible that the reputation of the bikes could get quickly eroded and the project could be in jeopardy.
We go to Achimota Forest in a ministry vehicle. The office at Achimota Forest is a simple building with a few offices. We drag a table outside that will be used for the demo. The forest aspect of the place is hard to appreciate. It seems more like a large industrial park but apparently the park has preserved forest in a different area on the other side of a main road. A good number of people turn up including George from VBP, the new George, Ibriham, Gabriel (who rides his bike there), Stephen, a representative from EnterpriseWorks, and several from the Bamboo office. The group must be about a dozen. Akousia arrives after a while and Hanifa after that. And there are people from the Press. David gives quite a long interview but it's his turn to be sick. After talking to the Press people he spends most of the day in Hanifa’s car with the passenger seat lain back resting. He looks OK but feels pretty poorly.
Lunch came in the form of pasties of a sort I hadn’t seen in decades together with soft drinks in bottles – Fanta, Coke, Lemonade. Not brave enough for the pasties so I just have a Coke.
Things move slowly. About every ten minutes a young man walks by with about fifteen plastic chairs staked together on his head. I can’t tell where he’s going or why. Trucks come in and out but most of the movement comes from goats that wander around, a few dogs and a cat or two.
The bike frame comes into shape slowly. We document everything in still photos and with video. The bamboo is not as good as that used on the bike that Craig bought from California but maybe that’s OK since it won't always be possible to get perfectly straight pieces at just the right sizes. The good thing is that it doesn’t matter too much as the frame building can be adapted to compensate for imperfect bamboo pieces. The design is more or less the same as the one that Craig brought with him. By the end of the day we have what looks a lot like a bike frame and Craig is pretty pleased. Clearly though, he needs more time and we will return to Ashimota tomorrow for more bike building.
We dropped David at the hotel after we got back from the training as he is still nursing his illness. Dinner with Craig, Akosua and Hanifa at a nice restaurant with African food. Good food, good company, good conversations.