“This is the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a loft and have their lives taped to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start being real.” This introduction to MTV’s The Real World – in my opinion, the genesis of reality TV as we know it – came to mind the moment I was told that the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) Bonsaaso Health Team (including me) would be relocating to the village of Tontokrom to work every Tuesday through Friday.
Meet the “strangers”: Bright Asare, Community Health Worker (CHW) Supervisor; Eric Akosah, Health Coordinator; Joe, Health Information Systems Manager; and me, Sarah Rauh, CHW Program Volunteer and author (only of this blog – so far). There are not seven of us. We are not total strangers, but we’ve only known each other for four weeks and have only interacted at work. When we move, we will share an office AND a four-bedroom, one-bathroom house. We travelled to Tontokrom last week to check out our new digs and found the following:
- One mattress
- A propane cook stove
- A papaya tree (don’t get too excited; it’s a male, and only females bear fruit)
- Chickens, a chicken coop and a lot of gardening space
- Two abandoned excavators (interesting story to be told in future blog post)
Based in Tontokrom, the health team will work more closely with Community Health Workers, provide greater program visibility in the communities, demonstrate MVP’s commitment to improving health, and save money and time spent on daily drives from MVP headquarters. We are all looking forward to being “on-site”, but I’m not sure these guys realize what they’re in for in having me as a housemate. I have not co-habitated with this many people since I was in college. And let’s not ignore the fact that I’m the lone female (although three female Community Health Nurses live just next door). I’m not high-maintenance by American standards, but I don’t know where I land on the Ghanaian scale.
Regardless, I will do my best to be the cool female housemate. I promise to be patient and reasonable with regards to tidiness and sharing one bathroom. I promise not to throw any late night parties. I promise to do my share of the chores. And I will do so happily, because Eric, Bright and Joe love to cook and there are fresh chickens right out the front door.