Ghana Team Journal

Friday February 26, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday February 26, 2010

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” popular phrase contributed by Laurel

Today began as most others, except for the growing anticipation of the first of our group to actually leave us tomorrow: Patricia, Conor and Chris.

We ate our usual breakfast of scrambled egg/omelette and toast with apricot jam and coffee. Then, the group experienced our first gifting experience when Patty and the boys gave out the soccer uniforms, balls, cleats and socks. The children looked overjoyed.

Shirley and Laurel went to the health clinic and mainly assisted with paperwork. The children at the school were amazing as always. I find myself surprised at how much I have grown to love them – truly and deeply – in such a short amount of time.

Before lunch, I learned that Dorothy, the KG2 teacher, had contracted malaria. The afternoon tutoring was enjoyable.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

contributed by Lauren

“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people, and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics, and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know that even one life has breathed easier because you lived.
This is to have succeeded.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, contributed by Margaret

Today was another hot day. I was hoping by this point, we might be used to the heat, but no – it still feels hot. Everyone feels healthy, and it was nice to see Shirley up and around all day. We taught again in the morning, and all was successful minus the fact that I needed to teach my second graders how to make a cake and I couldn’t AND a fight broke out over the footballs…again.

Lunch was good – we found the balance between protein and carbohydrates by day five. I guess the small accomplishments we will always revel in, though somehow when someone asks us how we are in TWI we all still hesitate as if it may have changed since yesterday.

The afternoon tutoring was successful, and by that I mean it was not as hot as usual and the kids seem to like to learn and we enjoy watching them.

The market, complete with smoked fish, was OK. The highlight for me was running into Esther’s sister, meeting her husband and Jon and having her ask if Connor and Chris were my boyfriends. Patty found the soccer cleats she needed and Rose and I bought wine…..I think everyone is tired and midnight is too late to go to sleep.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

contributed by Conor

“I’ve got something in my pocket
It belongs across my face
I keep it very close to me
In the most convenient place
I bet you wouldn’t guess it
If you guessed a long long while
So I’ll take it out and put it on
It’s a great big GHANA smile!”
- Madame Annie, former volunteer

Another hot day under the sun. What a surprise. We all dragged ourselves out of bed for another forced-upon breakfast. Surprisingly, Rose was on time this morning. After we ate, we began day three of our journey.

The day began with another treacherous walk towards the schools and/or clinic. Before school started, some of us got to experience a very lively mass. The children were dancing and singing at the top of their lungs. It was like no other. After the mass ended, it was time to go to class and begin teaching.

The class day went as usual. Lauren and I sharpened at least sixty pencils for the kids. I think some of the kids were breaking the lead on purpose just so that they could be like the rest of their peers. Besides Lauren getting an intense forearm workout, all the pencils that needed to be sharpened were sharpened.

After we left the schools and clinic, we all headed back to the house and took our much needed showers and naps. After we got some rest it was time for lunch. Lunch was good as usual. Cooked perfect by our five star chefs. After lunch we hung out for a while and picked out our fabrics that were either going to be created into dresses or shirts. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to school for another tutoring session.

Tutoring went well. We saw a lot of familiar faces from the day before. The children were eager to learn as usual. Once our van showed up, it was time for a trip to the Cedi Bead Factory.
At the bead factory, Mr. Cedi himself gave us a tour and showed how the beads were made. We learned a lot and it was actually quite interesting to watch the process. After we made our purchases, it was already time to head back to the house for dinner.

Dinner was delicious and of course we had our classic conversations. We were quite honored to have Esther join us for dinner. All in all it was another great day in New Akrade, Eastern Region, Ghana.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

contributed by Christopher

Today Shirley and Laurel went to Senchi Ferry to work in the clinic where they participated in home visits. During their home visits they gave out medicine and health education. The rest of our group met up with their teachers and their assigned classes except for Conor and myself where we started out at construction. However, we did not last too long due to the heat. Conor and I gained a lot of respect for the men we worked with today because they have limited supplies and work in such a difficult climate. Fortunately, after a short period of time Conor and I worked in the third and fourth grade classes. Meanwhile my mom AKA Patty worked with Sophia in her fifth grade class. Lauren enjoyed working with the second grade class with R ichard. Margaret and Rose worked with the Kindergarten kids.

As we walked through the scorching heat back to the St James guess house, we all were focused on our showers and break relaxation time. After lunch we headed to tutoring, where we all seemed to have a very rewarding time. Where some of us were reading, writing, drawing and singing, Laurel was dancing with the children. After tutoring, the whole group and some of the teachers went to the Volta Hotel where we had dinner and were surprised by the drums and dancing. It was also great to see Rose, Lauren, Laurel, Margaret and Shirley dancing to the native music. I am so glad I had an opportunity to learn about a young person’s way of life in Africa through Philip. We also learned traditions to assisting in a class. Philip also sews clothes, and Conor and I are going to have him make us one.

A Letter from an 11 year old Student in Senchi Ferry

Monday February 22, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

contributed by Patty

“I expect to pass through life but once.
If therefore, there be any kindness I can show,
Or any good thing I can do to any fellow being,
Let me do it now, as I shall not pass this way again.”
- William Penn

Today was our introduction to New Akrade and Senchi Ferry. As we walked to New Akrade Presbyterian School we were welcomed (Akwaba) by the friendly children and families.

Samuel did a nice job of explaining the projects that Global Volunteers has supported in the past as well as shared the villages hope for expansion of the marketplace and new K-6.

Fortunately for me I was able to accomplish one of my goals this week and reunite briefly with Richard, Philip and Sofia as well as Mistress Stella (the school teachers). It felt great to be welcomed.

Christopher and Conor had a chance to look at the daunting construction project. We continued our tour to visit the Junior High where the master was pleased to learn that Rod would be joining him tomorrow.

Next we walked to Senchi Ferry where we were able to stop and talk to a lot of children, mothers and workers. We all got to take lots of pictures, especially Margaret who really enjoyed stopping along the way.

Once in Senchi Ferry we went to the clinic and again I got to reunite with Sisters Comfort and Charity. Shirley, who is our resident skilled nurse, was able to get a first-hand look at local village care in Africa. Laurel was also excited about the prospect of helping out in the clinic. Amo was nice to take many pictures of the group at the clinic. For all of us it was an eye opener to local healthcare in West Africa.

Although the weather was at times overwhelmingly hot, we all seemed to be glowing from the inside as the many children gave us high fives and rallied around to have a picture with us. It is amazing that such a simple gesture can mean so much to a young child.

We got back very early for lunch for some much needed rest. The weather had taken its toll on us. Lauren went on an errand run that turned into an excursion. We now know that driving in unbearable heat isn’t a good plan. After lunch the rest of us minus Lauren (due to her already long day) but plus Rod, who looked more refreshed than the rest of us, went to the markets. The ride there was rough – hot etc etc – but the shopping was good. I especially enjoyed my conversations with Rose, who I had the pleasure of sitting with to and from, and Amo. Lastly we had dinner and went about individual nightly plans. But it should be noted that Christopher and Conor did rescue both Rose with her Hello Kitty net and Lauren from the huge spider.

Sunday February 21, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

contributed by Shirley

We began our day at 8 am. Had breakfast at the Airport View Hotel (toast, hard boiled eggs, baked beans, sausage, scrambled eggs, pineapple juice, coffee.) We left the hotel at 10 am after exchanging money to local currency. Our journey was expected to take 2 hours to arrive at our Village – New Akrade and St James Guest House. We all piled into a non air conditioned van with two jump seats. A second van carried all of our luggage. On the way we traveled through many villages and saw multiple outdoor churches with worship services being conducted. As we traveled, we saw a variety of animals along the side of the road including beef cattle, sheep, goats of all sizes and colors, chickens, and dogs. We arrived at St James Guest House early and received our room assignments. Esther held our first team meeting, where we were requested to share four goals of why we chose to come to Ghana. Prior to this exercise, we played a name game to get to know one another. Our goals were shared with the group and then were grouped by subject matter:

1. To experience African culture and share our own.
2. We came to Ghana to help people in need.
3. Experience personal growth.

Following the exercise, Esther then did an overall orientation regarding the do’s and don’ts while in Ghana. Examples:

1. Don’t use the left hand to gesture when speaking.
2. Do not wear shorts above the knees.
3. Do not cross your legs.
4. Do not become intimate friends.
5. Walk in pairs, not alone.
6. No gift policy – things bought for children may be taken to school each day and brought back at night and left for the schools on the last day at St James Guest House.

Developed and reviewed 10 characteristics of an effective team:

1. open communication
2. respect each other
3. trust each other
4. good listener
5. flexible
6. patient
7. helpful to another
8. positive attitude
9. considerate
10. share ideas and approaches

Esther then taught us local phrases of twi language

Obroni – hello from afar
am greeting – makye
afternoon greeting – mahaa
evening greeting – madwo
add to greeting:

ye ena – to a woman
ya agya – to an older man
ya nua – to a friend
ya oba – to a child
me das see – thank you

We ate lunch and then went back to our room for a rest. We had a 4 pm appointment to meet the chief. We walked to the community center in oppressive heat over very rough terrain. When we arrived, we were situated on one side, and the villagers were sitting across from us. We were greeted and asked our names, and then when the meeting began we stood and introduced ourselves and told where we were from. We met with our country host Action Association under the direction of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health. We had an opportunity to break into groups and met with the teachers and the construction crew.

We were introduced to the chief who had just returned from a meeting, and he extended his welcome to us. On our walk back, we met a few of the village residents and tried to practice our new language. When we arrived at the St James Guest House, some enjoyed the local brew (beer) and waited for our dinner served at 7 pm. Following dinner, the group planned for some activities during our free time.

Saturday February 20, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

contributed by Rose

Our Ghana adventure began with a 7:30 am arrival at Kotoka International Airport. Customs was very efficient – we were through, and at, baggage claim within 30 minutes.

While at the carousel, we were greeted by Lauren (from New York) as she struggled with a huge duffel bag she filled with soccer equipment for the school students at New Akrade.

“Akwaba.” Esther and Amo greeted us with a warm welcome. Shirley, Lauren, Laurel and I arrived at about 8:30 am. The Airport View Hotel was within a ten minute drive. Upon learning that there were no planned activities, Shirley, Laurel, and I decided to explore the mall. We were amazed with the chic boutiques – elegant bridal shop, unique millinery store, exquisite shoes (upward 400 cedi), and of course, flat screen TVs – Sony and Panasonic. One would have thought we were back home!

After dining at a plush restaurant, we headed back to the hotel for dinner at 6 pm with Laurel, Lauren, Shirley, and me.

We concluded the evening with a glass of local wine at the hotel bar.