Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shea Butter Facility of Tamale, Ghana


My name is Mason McGough, an electrical engineering student from UNF. Today the other members of the Ghana Project and I traveled to a village on the outskirts of Tamale to visit the local women who harvest and produce shea butter.

To this day, the women of Tamale make shea butter by hand using the traditional method. In the heart of this ancient village of clay huts, the ladies showed us step-by-step how to make the popular butter they have used and sold for generations.

The butter is extracted from the fruits of the shea tree that grows here in sub-Saharan Africa. First the sweet meat of the fruit is removed, revealing a core similar to that of a small avocado. The brittle shell of this seed is removed by smashing the seed with a blunt object until the raw nut is exposed.

Next the raw cores are crushed until they achieve a grainy consistency. This process has been expedited at this particular home with the aid of a mechanical device.


These grounds are then left out in the sun to dry. Once sufficiently dry, the grounds are placed inside an iron cylinder, which is spun over a fire like a spit until the grounds are reduced to a fine powder.


Next the powder is mixed by hand in a bowl with water. As the mixing continues, the mixture begins to solidify into a paste, changing from dark brown to off-white after quite a bit of churning.

This process is difficult and time-consuming, so the women will often take turns stirring a batch until the proper color and consistency is obtained. Within the first few minutes of mixing, the paste begins to look a lot like chocolate ice cream, though that could just be the homesickness talking to me.

Once the paste has settled into its off-white color, it is then cooked in a cauldron.

As the pot is heated and stirred, it begins to separate into two layers. On the surface forms the light butter, which is scooped out with a ladle. Underneath forms a dense layer of black sludge. The people of this village are resourceful and will use this byproduct in paints.


The butter is then set aside to cool down. Once it's thoroughly settled, the women take it to use themselves or to sell in the markets. Shea butter is an important resource to the people of Ghana, who use it to moisturize the skin, repel mosquitos, treat hair, and in cooking.

Monday, May 6, 2013

My name is Corey Jones, and I am an Honors student on the UNF Ghana Project 2013. I love Ghana so much and I am having such a wonderful time here. The culture and the way of life here is so fascinating and I can't get enough of it. I miss all of my friends and family but I feel like I will miss this place a lot too. I would write more but I am exhausted from all the things that we have been doing, so I'm going to sleep now. I love all of you at home, goodnight!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My 1st Ghanaian Market Experience

Hi! My name is Beatrice & I'm a first timer to the Ghana Project. Here's a bit about my 1st Ghanian market experience! =)

Ok! Now I love to shop & came to Ghana fully expecting to purchase & bring home plenty of gifts but nothing could prepare me for this shopping experience! As we drove through the streets of Accra people were already selling their merchandise on, in the middle, & on the sides of the streets; so you could only imagine the pressure of being in one central location surrounded by vendors. The MOMENT we walked off the bus people were trying to get us into their stations. It was like walking into a real-life world of pop up ads! Everywhere you turned people were trying to get your attention & give their best persuasive snippet on why you should purchase their items. There were a variety of paintings, cloths, wooden figures, etc. and eventually, after learning how to barter, meeting a bunch of vendors, & having a few laughs (each encounter becoming more interesting than the last) I survived with 2 paintings, a few bracelets, Shea butter, & a new found appreciation of online shopping lol. Definitely a day in Ghana I will never forget.

-Beatrice C.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ghana Project 2013

We are waiting to board our flight to Ghana!

This year, the UNF Engineers Without Borders Ghana Project team will complete their fourth engineering project at the Tamale Children's Home. The team of four engineering students spent the last two semesters designing and planning water improvements for the Home. Their project will focus on bringing water to the building where the older children live at the Home. They will connect to the existing municipal water supply line and run several hundred feet of pipe to new water storage tanks, install a pump and an elevated storage tank on an existing reinforced concrete tower. The water inflow will connect to an indoor shower, sink and toilet. The team will connect outflow from the toilet to an existing septic tank and will construct a graywater infiltration pit to safely dispose of the outflow from the shower and sink. This system is the last major water system that the Home administration have requested and will mirror the systems that the 2009 and 2011 UNF student teams constructed at the infant nursery and kitchen buildings at the Home.

The second project that this year's team will focus on is filling in a five foot diameter, thirty-two foot deep open well, that was abandoned fifteen years ago, but poses a serious falling hazard to the children and contamination hazard to the local water table.

We are all excited for the next two weeks of adventure and travel!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Let the fundraising begin!

The holiday season is here, and the project plans are coming together nicely. With final designs on the way, we have the materials list for the 2013 projects close to wrapped up! With the materials list, we are also able come up with a budget for the projects.

Visit our page today to see what our estimated budget is, and you will be able to make a small donation to the trip if you wish!

If you prefer to make a donation by check, you can send them to:

UNF Ghana Project 2013
1 UNF Drive
Bldg.50 Room 2500
c/o Dr. Eason
Jacksonville, FL 32224

Be sure to spread the word of our work to your friends and family who may be interested in seeing what a group of engineering students are able to accomplish.

To find out more about how EWB-USA is making a difference, go to ewb-usa.org

Thanks in advance for your support.