Ghana Team Journal

Senchi Ferry Report from the Field

Friday, February 27, 2009

Monday Journal

The seven o’clock breakfast call came a bit early on our first official morning her at the St. James Guesthouse. Jet lag seems to be wreaking havoc with our much-needed sleep. Nevertheless, our hearty crew started the day with great attitudes and an eagerness to begin our work in the village. After a simple breakfast of egg and toast, we loaded our backpacks and started our trek through the village. We proudly greeted the people we met with our polished command of the local TWI language. I’m quite sure that Benjamin was beaming with pride at how quickly his students learn!

We had an opportunity to visit the schools, the clinic and witness some of the amazing accomplishments of some of the previous Global Volunteer teams.

We then gathered at the palace to once again be welcomed by the chiefs and to prepare for the “Sword Cutting” ceremony on the site where the library will one day stand. After a brief gathering, we joined the construction crew already at the work site. The Chiefs performed a brief ceremony where the land is blessed, their ancestors are called upon to help bring success to this project and libations are poured which is customary to every ceremony. The head chief broke ground with an enormous ax. For me personally, this is a cherished moment, one I have been holding a vision for in my mind and heart for the past year. I feel extremely grateful for this moment.

As we all begin to feel the intensity of the African sun, we venture off to our various tasks. Katie and Lucy are off to share their love with the clinic. The rest of us find ourselves engulfed by a sea of beautiful, big-hearted, energetic children. We talk, we sing, we laugh, we play until we feel as though our bodies will collapse. It is almost noon and time to return. The walk home felt many times longer than the one to the village.

Lunch was a traditional local meal of red red and plantains.

Our afternoon activity – into Accra to visit the Artisan Market. What an amazing experience of African culture on so many levels – driving through rush hour in Accra, fabulous artwork created by the hands of skilled artisans, bright colors, pungent aromas, eager and often desperate Ghanaians hopeful of making money to feed their families. It was definitely a rich experience. Many wonderful treasures were bought back – hopefully to forever remind us of the magic of this trip.

I feel as though I’ve lived 4 days in just one. I am so grateful to be a part of this team. I am blessed by the lessons I get to learn from this experience.
- Deb McNally

Quote of the Day:
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

By Jimi Hendricks

Tuesday Journal
This morning started out with tired eyes and another delicious breakfast of eggs and toast. On our way to the village, most of the volunteers break off one-by-one to start their 1st day of school. The children are all around working and eager to continue learning. Deb and Jack stopped at the library site to begin digging the foundation, other workers are already there swinging away. Lucy and I continue to the clinic. While waiting for Grace to arrive, we hear singing and clapping in the patient waiting area.

As we walk into the room, we are welcomed to join the morning prayer. The girl leading the prayer song has a beautiful voice and everyone sings and claps along with her. It is a beautiful and powerful was to start the day. We are then welcomed to observe Charity perform pre-natal exams on the mothers that have come to the clinic – and there are many! It is a simple exam that reminds me of nursing school, where hands-on skills are taught, skills that are easily lost in today’s medical environment full of machines and computers. Although I did give a couple injections and learn how to estimate the baby’s gestational age, this morning was calm for Lucy and me. I hope that with time, I will be “getting my hands dirty” as the rest of my team is doing.

After a very American lunch of fried chicken and French fries by our fabulous cook, Monica, we headed to the bead factory. There we observed all the work and skill that goes into making beautiful beads for necklaces and bracelets that are sold there and all over the world. I was amazed at how skilled the workers were with creating the patterns, molding the shape of the bead and creating the final piece of jewelry. It seemed like tedious work but they all joked and laughed with each other. I believe everyone left with at least one piece of jewelry.

After returning to the guest hours, Deb, Bonnie, Kathleen, Sam and I decided to take a walk through the village to the Volta River. It was interesting to see the people in a different atmosphere. The women were preparing the meal while the children were playing, done with another school day. We stopped to check out the afternoon progress of the library and the men seemed to just be wrapping up their workday. Deb could hardly believe how much work had been accomplished in one day. Most of the foundation was dug and the men were smiling and eager to show Deb their work. We took pictures and praised them on their tremendous work before continuing to the river.

The river was a beautiful scene with peaceful tranquility. However we couldn’t stay long because it was quickly growing dark. We made our way back “home” trying to avoid the requests for pictures from the children since we were losing our light. They continue to be fascinated by the “Obrone” with the cameras. How strange we must look to them.

We enjoy another delicious meal as we all talk about our experiences today. As the night winds down, Kathleen, Sam and Bonnie prepare for tomorrow’s lessons, looking forward to spending time with the children again. I’m sure everyone is eager to see what the new day brings!
-Katie Schumacher

Quote of the Day:
“Determine to live life with flair and laughter.” By Maya Angelou

Wednesday Journal

I am convinced that time in Ghana works differently then back home, as if we have entered a world that moves slower, which makes you feel like you have been here for weeks when, technically and logically, you know you’ve only been here a few days. It’s not the feeling of dreadful lingering but quite the opposite; like this is home now.

A typical start to a unique day, everyday is special – eggs, toast, the usual. As we head out of the guesthouse, I feel nervous for today I am teaching alone, but excited to be a part of such an amazing community. Bonnie, Kathleen and Lucy join the screaming children of the first school, who run to us proclaiming “O-bra-nie”. The group falls into numbers and eventually everyone is working. We meet again back at the guesthouse after a hard walk through the early afternoon sun to our awaiting lunch. The free time is nice and much needed. Personally, I slept for over an hour. After a refreshing “beauty rest”, we sat for lunch, which was a local dish. Delicious as always.

After resting and eating then resting a little more, we headed out for our first day of tutoring. As a whole, I believe we all really enjoyed the smaller groups of interaction with the children. We gathered in the shade of trees and read or was read to. The children here are so bright, so special. After reading, we headed home, most with cameras in hand ready to reply to the demands of “Madam, snap me”, which means we gather up the passing children to take pictures and the show them what it looks like.

Reflecting back on today’s work and all the previous days, I am always so amazed by the unity within this group. I feel grateful to share this experience with such wise and wonderful team members. I truly feel as though this was the right trip, the right group, the right place.
-Samantha Calandrino

Quote of the Day:
“When your heart speaks, take good notes.”
By Judith Campbell

Thursday Journal

The day begins with the rooster again at 5:30am and I am up at 6:00 am, as usual.
We start our day at 7:00am with the traditional breakfast of eggs, toast and our daily treat of fruit. At 7:45am we all left for our assigned work sites.

As Deb and I returned to our work site, we were very pleased by the progress made by everyone in the village. We took a few pictures and went to work shoveling concrete into wheelbarrows so that they could be dropped off by the bricks. The ladies started to carry large tubs of water on their heads to fill up a 55-gallon drum. Our job was much easier, filling small pails of water and pouring them onto the broken bricks so that they could mix it with the cement.

The men would mix everything together to make a strong foundation. The 1st pouring of cement began into the trenches that we all previously had dug for the foundation. What a feeling…..MORE PROGRESS!!

We started our long walk back feeling tired but good. Lunch consisted of red fish, what was great since I have not had fish since 1964. At 3:00pm, we started our journey back to work, but this time I was in for a treat…..tutoring girls and boys from the sixth grade. As I watched them all read with enthusiasm, I felt they were going to be just fine in life IF someone gave them the opportunity!

At 4:30pm we started our walk back, I met a fine young man named Richard. We had a wonderful conversation until I asked him where he lived and he said, “Behind you.” “Oh!” I said, “By any chance do you have a rooster that crows every morning at 5:30am?” and he said, “Yes, I do, sir.” TO BE CONTINUED……
-Jack Dunn

Quote for the Day:
“I'm blessed for having lived through this great experience and meeting such beautiful people.”