Antonia is a journalist and traveler, but not only this. First of all Antonia is a woman who made a courageous choice: she chose to go and live in Aflasco, a small town in Ghana, an unknown point on the geographical map as she herself defines it, in order to live a real experience, without filters (even me, curious as always, I searched for Aflasco on Google Maps and I didn't find it!)
Antonia arrived here as a journalist, for reasons of cooperation with a Charity that operates in the Ghanaian villages and has decided to stop: in addition to the educational, health and development activities she deals with, she has set up her own wild camp which offers travelers the opportunity to live a true African experience, totally outside of what are the international tourist circuits.
I, in friendship, I asked her a few questions and this is what came out.
Antonia in Ghana
Hi Antonia, why did you choose to live in Africa?
THEAfrica it is an immense continent. Inside, as a territorial extension, there are China, Europe, the United States, India.
In reality there are as many Africas as there are countries, and as many Africas as there are cities, and as many Africas as there are villages. After traveling to some African countries, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Cape Verde, Togo, Ghana, I ended up in a village. A Ghanaian village, and an adventure began there. The first village I lived in was in Ashanti region, I happened to follow the projects of a Charity based in the UK, in Ghana. For this Charity I mainly deal with communication.
Then, traveling across the country, they took me to the Volta region, to Keta, and there - for now - I established my residence. I wanted to have a real experience, without filters. I am interested in poverty, the why, the how. This is why I decided to live in a village where the conditions are quite extreme. And here I opened an unusual activity, a Wild Camp.
Can you tell us something about Aflasco, the fishing village where you live?
Aflasco it is a very small village. Maybe 150, 200 people. It is in a wonderful place, between the Volta lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. But the beauty of the place takes a back seat for its inhabitants. The population lives on very little, I believe it falls into that UN category of "one dollar a day". We live on fishing, in fact, and on small businesses. The houses are made of local material, often found here and there, so very poor huts and structures. There is no running water in the houses, no toilets. For the water you go to the well on the beach, for the other hygienic needs, you make do.
People mostly speak the local language, only those who have gone to school speak some English. Here is theetnia Ewe, predominant in the Volta Region of Ghana, in Togo and Benin. They are very attached to certain traditions and superstitions, including the riti voodoo.
Adutwam School, Ashanti Region
How did it change you and increase your life in Ghana?
We are often satisfied with our life, with our experience. And we think - and we believe - that there is nothing else. But is not so. For me Aflasco, an unknown point on the map, is the observation of reality. Mine and the others. I have certainly learned more about the human being here than in a beautiful European city. It is clear that this is my point of view, my experience.
Can you tell us about Ashanti Development and your projects?
Ashanti Development is an English Charity that works in the villages of the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Upon returning from Ghana where I had gone in 2010 to make a documentary on microcredit for women - an Ashanti program in fact - I founded. We deal with various activities: educational, health, development. As Ashanti we have to our credit above all the financing and construction of a clinic in one of the most isolated villages in the area where we operate.
Now, again like Ashanti, we will also start a small project for the children of the village where I live, Aflasco. These are socialization meetings where learning games are played and the English language is learned. In this village, children are affected by a deprived and stimulant environment and this is reflected in their relationships with the outside world and with each other. Absent fathers and very young mothers, too busy - and often drunk on local alcohol - make their lives difficult. Furthermore, these children have to work, before and after school, to help their parents and support themselves. With this little project we take them out of everyday life, we try to teach them to socialize and provide them with some more tools to express themselves in English, which is the official language of the country.
You also offer volunteer trips: what does it consist of and why should you choose a volunteer trip?
The activity we propose is the one I explained earlier. Furthermore, travelers might also decide to visit one of the villages of the Ashanti Region where we have the other projects. The reason for combining a volunteer experience with a holiday is that in this way you understand more about the country you visit, leave a mark and, of course, the experience you have had will never be forgotten.
One of the guest rooms at Antonia's wild camp
What do you offer in your Guest House?
More than Guest House, I define it Wild Camp. The services we offer are essential, also because the real experience is staying in a village. Without filters, I repeat. Nature and simplicity play their part here. You fall asleep to the song of the waves and wake up to the song of the muezzin (there is a Muslim community but Christian and animist religions are also represented). The evenings of stars and moon are magnificent! Unlike the others, we have electricity - at first we did it with the solar panel. We go to the well to get the water, but we certainly don't let our guests do it. Unless we want to try this experience. We have a gas oven and I - who am Neapolitan by adoption - make pizza. On the contrary, I invented a particular pizza, the pizza-brusca. The fish, of course, is very fresh. And then we organize excursions, tours in the rest of the country or even in Togo, since we are three quarters of an hour from the border.
How could someone do to really help you?
Those who cannot travel can make a payment to our Association, specifying in the description "Ashanti Projects" or "Aflasco Projects". But coming for a solidarity holiday in Aflasco means not only helping us, but giving yourself a chance to understand more.
After this exchange with Antonia, I decided that sooner rather than later I have to go and see her in her wild camp, needless to say that I can't wait and that I am already killing the calendar to find ten good days to experience this adventure.
What are you waiting for? It doesn't happen every day to have an opportunity like this! If you want to contact Antonia, you can do it through the following links or via skype:
Mobile Ghana tel: +233 54 1574954
If you have any questions leave her a comment below or on her blog and I assure you that she will answer you as soon as possible (remember it's in Ghana: D)