Postcard from Ghana: Projects

Before I left for Ghana, Women in Progress assigned me three volunteer projects and I added one more for a total of four projects in four weeks.  My official assignments are:

  1. Fashion and product photography for WIP’s product catalog, from my base in Cape Coast
  2. Documentary photography of WIP’s new paper-making project in Edumafa
  3. Creating a marketing brochure for WIP’s cultural workshops (

And, as a personal documentary project, I would like to photograph the lives of local women.

But, right before I arrived, my host asked if I’d like to stay in Accra a few days and photograph beads for their new wholesale bead catalog.  Of course I said yes.  Doing so also meant I got to join Renae, her husband and Peace Corps volunteer Emily for a weekend trip to Krobo, headquarters of WIP’s bead production, and stay in a fabulous lakeside retreat called Aylos Bay.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

Can’t wait to share more,
Kate Watson, Photographer

Coach Cassandra Rae - And I can’t wait to read more! I so admire you for volunteering abroad.

Postcard from Ghana: Mema wo akye!

Greetings from Ghana!  I landed in the capital, Accra, this morning and will be heading to my home base in Cape Coast on Monday.  But first, my host will be “holding me hostage” (her exact words) in Accra for a few days for a new photography project.  And then I’ve been invited to join her, her husband and another staff member for a journey to Krobo near Lake Volta over the weekend.  So excited to already be invited on a trip!

For the next four weeks, “Mema wo akye, wofre me Kate Efua” (or similar) will be my daily staple: Good morning, my name is Kate Efua. It’s pronounced, “May moe watchee, woe freh me [insert name here].”  Efua (ay foo ah) is my “day name,” which Ghanaians add to their given names to designate the day of the week on which they were born.

Stay tuned for more of my Africa adventures.

Happy Thursday,

P.S. If you want your own Fante day name, check out the table below:

Day You Were Born

Male Name

Female Name


Kwesi (quay see)

Esi (ay see)


Kojo (koe joe)

Adwowa (ah joe wa)


Kobena (koe bin ah)

Araba (are rah bah)


Kewku (quay koo)

Ekuwa (ay coo ah)


Yaw (yow)

Aba (abba)


Kofi (koe fee)

Efua (ay foo ah)


Kwame (quah mee)

Ama (ah mah)

denise olson - many many safe travels…..enjoy your adventure….thinking of you!!!

Coach Cassandra Rae - O.M.G. This is fabulous! I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to read more about your journey. You better blog about it. But, no pressure!

Hugs ~

Coach Cassandra Rae - p.s. Here is the link I used to figure out what day of the week I was born:

~ Cassandra Aba

Nick Brandt’s Africa

Today I thought I’d share some photographic inspiration. Have you heard of photographer Nick Brandt? If not, you’ve probably seen his photographs — stunning portraits of African wildlife. And what makes his work even more extraordinary is that, instead of shooting from 100 yards with a telephoto lens, he gets up close and personal with his subjects. Can you imagine? He’s definitely braver than I am. I’ve loved his work for years, but I think he’s taken it to a whole new level in his latest book, A Shadow Falls.

Photo by Nick Brandt © Nick Brandt

And one of my all-time favorites:

Photo by Nick Brandt © Nick Brandt

Click here to see the book teaser. Or, to purchase A Shadow Falls, visit Photo Eye‘s bookstore. For more about Nick Brandt, check out the quotes below or visit his website.

“African wildlife has never looked so regal and mysterious as in Brandt’s grave photographs. His elephants appear as weighty as the pyramids. His rhinos look more ancient than carbon. His apes know something we don’t. Given the multitude of human disasters in Africa, is it an indulgence to lose yourself in pictures that carry no hint of the wars and famines outside the frame? Not when the pictures are such powerful reminders that Africa is also a magnificent—and endangered—treasure house of animal life.”

– Time Magazine

“Wildlife photography has become a holiday and adventure cliche: have telephoto lens, will snap view up rhino’s nostril — so uninteresting, so blah. And then there’s Nick Brandt. Brandt eschews the telephoto lens in favour of patience combined with a rare courage, determination and an artist’s eye to photograph wildlife. The results are animals so accustomed to Brandt’s presence and so untroubled by him that his pictures are breathtakingly beautiful and touching in their honesty and emotion….He clearly has an affinity with these glorious creatures that’s heart-stopping. “– Sunday Telegraph, Australia


Preparing for Ghana: Shots and Shopping

What started with a decision back in May is almost here!  In two weeks, I’m boarding a flight to Accra, Ghana for four weeks of living, learning and sharing with Ghanaian business owners.  During my trip, I will be checking email periodically at best, so don’t expect prompt responses if you decide to write.  I was told to expect frequent power and water outages, some of which could last days!  My Ghana adventure will be a total departure from everything I know, but I’m positive that it will be in a really good way.

Over the past several months, in preparation for my trip, I have had every immunization I could think of — well, everything the Travel Clinic doctor recommended — yellow fever, which is required for entry; Tdap; polio; an adult booster of MMR; hepatitis A and B; and typhoid.  I decided against rabies, which costs about $2,000 by itself and requires additional shots if you’re scratched or bitten, because I plan to abide by Dr. Fujimoto’s kind advice against playing with foreign animals.  Definitely good to know, though, because there was a minor incident many years ago at the Roman Forum involving an old boyfriend and a one-eyed cat…  But, that’s neither here nor there.  We’re both still alive (the ex and I, that is, I don’t know about the cat). :-)

Dr. Fujimoto also taught me that you should avoid freshwater rivers, lakes and streams while traveling.  Failure to do so risks exposure to schistosomiasis, a nasty parasitic disease.  Good thing my home base, Cape Coast, is on the ocean, and swimming is allowed there an in chlorinated pools.  Although Ghanaians apparently don’t think of the beach as a place to swim, hopefully they’ll take pity on this “obruni” (literally white person but used by Ghanains to describe any foreigner) and allow me an occasional dip to cool off.  I’ve also heard that showers in Ghana are always cold, so there’s another way to stay cool.

I’d like to pretend I’ve started packing, but so far that entails making small piles of necessary items around my house and a list of to-dos.  I have a supply of antimalarials, Deet-filled mosquito repellent  and iodine tablets for water purification.  Still on my to-buy list are sunscreen, hand sanitizers, Kleenex pocket packs (never know what the public “facilities” will be like), and some bubbles.  Yes, bubbles.  A cool Ghana blog (see photo below) suggested that bubbles would be a fun treat for kids and adults alike — who doesn’t love bubbles? — so I added them to the list.

Truthfully, I’m feeling very calm about my upcoming adventure.  Although I’m a natural planner, I’ve been taking my trip to Ghana in stride, not obsessively researching or planning my itinerary to the day.  I haven’t even purchased a guidebook.  I really have no idea what I’ll see or do while I’m there, other than work on my volunteer assignments and personal photo project, but I’m ok with that.  My goal is to absorb each moment and experience fully, not race from one sightseeing opportunity to the next.

From reading my volunteer packet I’ve learned that Ghanaians are a proud and well-dressed populace.  In fact, Jimmy Carter’s son once went there to present a grant check but he was sent packing for wearing shorts!  Naturally, I needed to give some thought to apparel and knowing someone like Corinne Phipps of Urban Darling came in handy.  I told Corinne a few basic facts: Ghana is hot and humid.  Daily temperatures are expected to range from the mid-70s at night to 90s during the day, but it will likely feel hotter.  I needed light, comfortable clothing that was modest (skirts to the knee at least).  When I arrived at Macy’s to meet Corinne, she already had a dressing room full of dresses, tops and skirts for me to try.  We made quick work of those and then hit the floor to pick up a few more items.  In two hours, I was completely set and didn’t even scratch the bank.  Corinne really is amazing and a godsend for those of us who hate shopping.  Thanks, Corinne!

Stay tuned for more on my travels,
Kate Watson, Photographer

Lisa - Have a great time!! I spent 5 months in Ghana studying abroad and loved it.