At that time they both planned to travel to the Volta Region of Ghana collecting dying stories. Gail and Sara explain:
Fifty years ago, children in the villages gathered around the elders in the evening and listened to the stories of their Ancestors. They became the bearers of those stories, the next generation of storytellers. Then times changed. People left the villages for the big city to find work. Families were dispersed. The role of the storyteller began to slip into obscurity…The elders struggle to maintain tribal traditions in the face of poverty that causes families to break apart. Many elders have no family to care for them in their old age, and are lonely and depressed. Children are entranced by television and uninterested in the stories of their Ancestors. The Stories are dying.
Gail kindly sent me though an update on the project. Funds were raised for the trip and in October of this year, Gail travelled through the Volta Region gathering stories of the Ewe tribe. On this 19-day trip, her aim was to collect 50 stories from the Ewe. Stories of the Gods and Goddesses. Stories of the Land and Sea. Stories of the People and their History. Gail travelled with Godfried, who grew up in the area. Godfried sought out communities to visit and storytellers who were willing to share their stories. The villages in Ghana struggle financially; with previously raised funds, the project was able to pay villagers for sharing their stories. Gail is currently transcribing these into book form with the aim is to submit the manuscript for publication. Published books will be donated to communities that participated in the project and a portion of royalties from sales of the book will be used to benefit poor villages.
If you would like to know more, Gail has written a fabulous travel blog – Hear Them Speak – recording the experiences of the trip and has also written some thoughts about it on her website. Sara has put together a Voices of the Ancestors website and Facebook page.