4,393,000 Cedis for Food! Holy Moly! Costs in Ghana

You can just imagine the shock on my face when the lady in the market announced that she wanted several million cedis for our rice, tomato paste, biscuits, mackerel, sardines, oil, etc. I know food is expensive but this is beyond imagination. Then it dawned on me. This lady has not accepted the new (almost 5 years now) currency.

In July of 2007 Ghana changed from regular cedis (call it dollars) to GHc or Ghana Cedis. The conversion rate is 10,000 to 1. So 10,000 old cedis became 1 new Ghana cedi.  Paying 439 Ghana cedis for the food was a little more palatable.  I remember one of the first GMH teams going to a Chinese restaurant and the bill was over a million (old cedis).  Our money was all in ones and fives. We couldn’t put the money in the little black folder they gave us. It was stacked 6 inches tall.  We laughed all the way back to the hotel.

This is the beginning of preparations for the team arrival next Tuesday and the Reading Camp that will begin the following week.  Mercia and I have very busy schedules for the next 6 days was we need to prepare now.  There is also the death of President Mills.  Though things have been quiet, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

So what kind of food does it take to put on a reading camp?

Well the talented, loving team of 14 individuals of various ages will consume 24 cases of bottled water.

That is 576 bottles of water in 12 days. Let’s hope they will consume all of the water–they will need it. Mercia decided we will only need a small bag or rice, 25 pounds. We also have 25 pounds of broken rice. Broken rice is used to prepare my favorite dish, Omo Tuo, rice balls. You must cook the rice until it is very soft then pound and pound, making it doughy. With ground nut soup, it is delicious.

We have 14 pounds of spaghetti-no parmesan cheese unless someone brings it with them, a case of canned sardines and mackerel as well. There are 400 biscuits, 360 juice boxes, 5 pounds of peanut paste, and 10 gallons of oil. And much, much more. All of this has been bought at one market or another. Mercia’s old car was so full today that we had to be careful about choosing our route home. With no shocks the 20-year-old Hyundai was scraping bottom all the way.

I must confess. We did shop at one real grocery store, Shoppe Rite. A special treat was ice cream sandwiches. They have a new bakery department that makes cakes, cookies, donuts and the like. My mother-in-law has a special cookie she makes at Christmas called “melting moments.” They just melt in your mouth. I couldn’t resist trying the Ghana version from Shoppe Rite. The only melting part was the chocolate which melted in my purse. They could rightfully be named “crumbling moments,” however, with little to no sugar products here, I enjoyed every bite.

Time to take the 72 yards of material to the dress makers for some dresses and shirts. It will make a beautiful picture. Stay tuned. Reading Camp in 11 days!

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