The ATAG ( Aid to Artisans Ghana) community has been responsible for a large part of Swahili’s business for the past 18 years. It was the center and heart of the artisan sector. The computer design lab, administrative offices, showroom, and shop were all a part of the compound that exploded in a freak accident late last year. I was hesitant to return but did so yesterday. Since Bridget’s death the organization has struggled to find a leader and the funds to replace the building. They rented a small office nearby to accommodate buyers and producers until a solution was found.
Godwin was Bridget’s assistant and has persevered since the accident. His arms and hands are completely scarred from the injuries he sustained. All the ATAG staff is determined to continue. Godwin had set up a small meeting on Tuesday morning. He and Elaine wanted me to meet with a handful of new producers. I arrived before Godwin and found a few producers waiting outside the burnt out building.
They didn’t have the key to the makeshift office nearby. We decided to enter the burnt out buildings and search for usable tables. We dragged the few remaining tables/desks outside. Another person found a cloth to wipe them off. I was digging around the shop and found a few pieces of unscathed cloth. We used these to cover the tables. In 15 minutes the group had set up a temporary exhibit outside of the destroyed buildings. It was a moving experience. They weren’t deterred by the disaster and understood the importance of moving forward without Bridget and their once so inspiring center.
There is no measurement for how many buyers and producers met at the center, nor creative minds influenced, or lives impacted, or how many long term relationships that started there. The day turned out to be completely positive, a tribute to Bridget and all she had achieved for the handmade sector over the years.
Note that in the USA any destroyed buildings would be off limits. There were no "keep out" tapes present. We walked right in ( in flip flops ) amongst the glass and charred wood rubble, dangling wood, to see what remained. I look back and wonder what I was thinking?