Ghana Team Journal

Team Journal, November 19 ~ The Final Day

Friday, November 19, 2010

Team Journal ~ New Akrade, Ghana

Friday, November 19, 2010

First thing this a.m., we had a ceremony where we presented the Mayor of New Akrade with the donations of school supplies and outdoor equipment. Everyone was delighted!

In my honor, the Jr High held a “quiz show”. I was the scorekeeper. Each grade picked 3 of its best students. Jemima was the emcee with Sydney keeping time and sounding the “buzzer” which was the school bell. He was so cute and funny because he was very serious about it and would cut students’ responses off very quickly with the bell. The students and I really enjoyed his performance! Such fun! Each team had a different cheer! The “Warriors” won with the other 2 teams doing a great job too.

After the game, I was presented with several certificates of thanks and a play by a Ghanaian author.

My leaving is bittersweet as it’s time to get back to my family but I also regretted having to leave all the wonderful friends and students.

A few quotes in honor of our experience in Ghana:

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember that you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. ~ Harriet Tubman

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. ~ Mahatma Ghandi

It’s never too late to be what you might have been. ~ George Eliot

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough; money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So spread your love everywhere you go. ~ Mother Teresa

Vote for Global Volunteers!

Global Volunteers is engaged in a contest entitled 'Full Page Project' - put on by the Star Tribune newspaper in the Twin Cities - through November 21 amongst Minnesota non-profits and the winner will receive a free full page ad in an upcoming addition of the Sunday paper!

Please vote for us this week ~ you can vote once per hour!

Here is the link where you can register and then vote for Global Volunteers (please copy and paste the link):

We would also encourage you to pass this link along to your family and friends, colleagues, classmates or students, and post it on your personal Facebook page or blog if you are able. Let us know if you have any questions, and remember voting goes until 5 p.m. Sunday!

Thank you for your support.

Team Journal, November 15 & 17

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Team Journal ~ New Akrade, Ghana

Monday, November 15, 2010

The students began working on their pen pal letters today. We had a slow start as I had to explain the concept to them. Many great letters were written. More letters will be written at the primary school tomorrow. I also organized school donations and labeled boxes for Esther. ~ Kem

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I spent the day helping with math and visiting the primary school. The 4th grade teacher, Susie, graciously agreed to assist with the pen pal letters. ~ Kem

Team Journal, November 12

Friday, November 12, 2010

Team Journal ~ New Akrade, Ghana

Friday, November 12, 2010

Colleen and Kinjil came back to the Jr High today to play BINGO with the 8th graders. Early in the day, a woman came by selling cloth. Christian’s wife is a seamstress. I loved some green fabric. So, Joseph and I walked to Mavis’s shop where she measured me for a skirt. Well, when I got back Colleen and Kinjil wanted one! So, we made several trips to the seamstress.

The three of us showed the teachers the Electric Slide. Also, they hear the children having so much fun with BINGO, now, they want to play. Friday is a short school day as they have “game day.” I took 3 frisbees for the students to use.

All of the team except for Yvonne and me are leaving in the morning, so we had a ceremony tonight. We were so pleased to see many of the teachers and construction workers! Bless prepared a delicious dinner consisting of rice, fried chicken, and salad. Bless is a great cook - the food is all organic, no preservatives, and tasty.

Team Journal, November 8

Monday, November 8, 2010

Team Journal ~ New Akrade, Ghana

Monday, November 8, 2010

We were cheered to see Esther at breakfast. She always has a way of making us laugh.

Five of us (Colleen, Carolyn, Diane, Kate, and Kinjil) headed for construction. They are all excited to see the progress made-the first floor of the school addition is completed along the perimeter and the inner walls are now being constructed. Our “construction crew” is anxious to make more progress before Friday as no more work will be done until new volunteers arrive.

Nancy and Jasmine had a wonderful time in the second grade class. Nancy felt having Jasmine in the class was a big positive as the children received more attention. The students were more focused.

Angie and Travis were in the 4th grade class. Angie is moving from the combative and ferocious 5 year olds! The new class is more structured and the students more disciplined. Angie will be teaching math and English tomorrow and is glad to be able to relate better with the students.

Fred and I were back at the Jr High. Fred enjoyed sitting with the students during classes. We both listened to lectures on chastity and commitment.

Day Six

Friday, November 5, 2010

Today was hot, first instance of going outside the sun and the humidity just struck us heavily. We headed to work in the morning. It was a hard day for us all of us were just drained. After lunch it was pouring outside so we weren’t able to tutor the children. When the rain let up we headed out to the chief’s museum in New Akrade. There wasn’t much compared to museums at home, BUT when you saw the pride in the coordinators face it was uplifting. When we got back a lady had dropped off some of her crafts which included fabrics, clothing, wallets, and other goods. I was preparing for bed when a question struck me…”How do you feel connected with the team?” I think it’s like an energy that draws us to this one instance. We’re all here with many goals and purposes BUT were here as people, humans. We’ve done so much in so little time. I honestly want to say….I don’t want to lose contact with these amazing people. TODAY was a good day!


Today was amazing had a good night sleep. So in the morning I was chipper and ready for the day. Worked at the construction site which was hard work a lot of lifting and carrying things like water, soil, and rocks. It was great everyone missed Carolyn (aka trouble that’s the nickname they gave her). joked and laughed a lot today. After work went to the arts and crafts market it was great got a lot of stuff for people back at home and for myself. Had an early dinner because of our early morning to Cape Coast 5:00 am sharp. Ready for the emotional part of it to see where it all began and ended until tomorrow.


Angie, Kem, Fred & I rode in the taxi to the school this morning. We arrived earlier than usual and saw all of the children, Kindergarten through Junior High, standing in lines on the field listening to the headmaster. This is their student assembly that happens every Thursday morning and it is a sea of royal blue uniforms in the middle of the brown field. Then the drumming started and one class at a time they started singing Ghana’s national anthem and marched to their classrooms. I love hearing them sing – it is a beautiful, rich sound.

The Kindergarten classroom was as chaotic as usual. With 63 children ages 4-9 in one small room, it is difficult for them to keep their hands to themselves. Angie & I refereed as best we could. We had brought Kem’s ipod and player for the children to hear the “Apples & Bananas” song they learned yesterday. The children love that song! We also taught them “This Little Light of Mine” and “BINGO” (which the kids also loved). Their bright smiles are priceless.

It was very hot and humid today so the whole team seemed to be dragging a bit as we walked back for lunch. The tutoring was cancelled for the afternoon because of a thunder storm (the tutoring is outside under a tree) so we had some time to rest in the afternoon.

At 4:00 we walked to the Chief’s History Museum at the Palace. We unintentionally gathered children as we walked along and as we waited at the Palace for the Mayor to show us around the museum, we heard the children singing the Apples & Bananas song! Angie, Jasmine & I were so surprised to hear them singing our song. We had actually taught them something!!

The museum was small but interesting. The highlights were: two big buckets that the ancestors used to descend from heaven, the chief’s warrior coat with little mirrors all over it so he can see his enemies from all angles and a contraption that looked like a large baby cradle that the Chief sits in to ride to the annual festival. Four men carry him; two on each side.
After another nice dinner, some team members played “name that tune” with the songs on Travis’s phone. Listening to their laughter, I feel very grateful for the wonderful people on this team.

- Colleen

Day Five

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Today I woke up not feeling so well. My head was out of place and my body was as well. I decided to catch up on sleep and take a multivitamin - it worked! I feel better and more alive. I came in for lunch and everyone asked how I was doing. We headed up to tutoring and instead of reading Yvonne and I took a walk to explore. the people are wonderful and we discovered another school. I picked flowers for Esther who hadn't received flowers before. After tutoring we headed to Aksombo Hotel - what a view! Beautiful dam and nature around it. I had been requested to take a picture with "Doc" a novelty dwarf from the 7 dwarfs. I did take a couple picture - I also got a shot of him as a "ladies man" with all the women of the group. Today was a good day.


Today was a tiresome day- really hot but it’s part of the work. The children are so wonderful , they come up with hugs and waves brighten my day. Got to see the Ghana museum which was nice we will have an early dinner which is good… we get a night to relax. Tomorrow morning back to work but in the afternoon we go to the arts and crafts market which I’m excited for. Saturday is Cape Coast. A week is over. one more to go. I will miss Africa very much!


Today felt like a turning point on so many levels, perhaps for the most part due to our incredible time of sharing over dinner last night. That dinner felt like a pivotal time for us as a team, and most assuredly for me personally. I arrived at breakfast, feeling raw and exposed, and simultaneously feeling supported and more importantly supporting - because I know for a fact that I was not the only one who felt raw and exposed. This knowledge made me feel closer to the entire group and even more grateful to be here.

After our egg white frittata and two very enjoyable cups of coffee, off we headed to venture to say was our hottest day so far. This trip to date has been all about learning, and this morning's lesson was blatant: When in Ghana, do as the Ghanaian's do! I say this because when we arrived at our construction site, feeling invigorated and keen and somewhat smug about the wall that we had managed to erect during the previous morning. But alas, not only were the tasks that we had left half completed the day before now finished but it appeared that there was absolutely no role for us as this work day began! With our North American mentality far from aborted, we asked, questioned and almost begged "What can we do?" And when the response continued to be nothing as the wooden molds were being constructed by only two of the men we felt useless and I dare say, disappointed. But one side of me kept noticing one thing - all of the young men from Ghana, who were not constructing the molds were not only accepting that they had no task, but they were taking advantage of the idle time by lying in the shade and resting. There was a moment when I realized they were preserving their energy for what was to come. And so I repeat: When in Ghana, do as the Ghananians do! By 10am, we were shoveling sand and cement and stones in order to mix what was needed to pour the pillars, and by 10:30 we were carrying bowls of water on our heads from their water reservoir to the site of the school addition, and I think I speak for all of us in construction when I say I have a new found respect for the women of this culture who carry so much more on their heads with never a spill. By the time we left to walk home at noon, we were physically exhausted, sunburned, starving, thirsty and very much in need of not only lunch but a good, long shower. In our many moments of leisure before the workday escalated, we had the pleasure of watching our teammates as they taught classes, resolved conflicts among fighting children, and assisted the nurses as they gave shots and Vitamin A supplement to the children. Ahhhh.....what a difference we are making in this community! I think I finally experienced a moment of truly appreciating that knowledge this morning. Lunch was early, I was late. I hate being late, but this time is all about stepping out of my comfort I chose instead to enjoy my sticky rice ball dipped into my bowl of curried chicken and soak in the company of my table mates.

Tutoring under the big tree today felt calmer, perhaps because the intense heat affected not only our energy level, but also those of the children. One young boy at my table actually put his head down and slept for almost the entire hour.

Out time at the Voltare hotel was fun - some good conversations with our ever evolving and endearing friends and a chance for many of us to touch base with our loved ones at home. We arrived back for dinner with a sense that we had all been old friends for years. And such is the formula for a perfect day: hard work, an unexpected lesson, good food, the touch of an innocent child, laughter and good conversation, and the trust and support of new and old friends. It was a perfect day.

- Carolyn

Day Four

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What a day! Construction was hot, but I was able to teach others in our group to do the rectangle brackets for the rebar structures. Later in the evening we introduced ourselves to the group. We all had powerful emotions. I loved everyone's purpose for being her. One, woman, named Carolyn from Canada is someone who works with Special Ed students and contributes her time and money to youth in trouble. I expressed my gratitude and cried, saying how wonderful she is. I have a lot of respect for her. Today was a very good day.


Carolyn's response to Travis:
I thought a lot about how profoundly moved I was by Travis' words this evening. We touched each others lives tonight.

What Travis does not realize is that I went to my room after lunch, saddened and feeling lonely and unappreciated, I think because I have not had any contact with my loved ones since I arrived. What you did for me tonight, Travis, could not have happened on a better day. I needed to hear what you said! Everything happens for a reason. Travis, never forget that!

Today was a successful day. I worked construction and got four walls with four layers. It was good and I felt proud of our team. Tonight at dinner we went around the table to share a little about ourselves which was great. We have only been with each other for three days and everyone was so open with each other. Most here were crying – it was amazing. This will be a trip to remember! Ester brought her son, he was so cute. Little Yow. Tomorrow I will teach kindergarten, I am ready!


I am humbled after only a few days of being here. In fact, I was humbled when I arrived at the airport. I have no concept of date or time, but I know right now is the time for all of us to be here. Dinner was delicious, from fresh tilipia, homemade peanut brittle - and the popcorn we have come to know and love after only 2 days. After dinner we all discussed why we are really here. Perhaps the note card exercise should be repeated after the first few days. We think we know why we came until now. Now we know. We're here to serve. We're here to support - we are in fact here to lend a hand. We extend ourselves out to the community, to each other, to the world. And almost immediately, if not instantly a hand reached out to us as well. I am humbled to be here. We know why we have come.

- Kate

Day Three

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that can.” – Margaret Mead

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you will look back and discover they were the big things”

What a great day. We toured New Akrade and Senchi Ferry. We saw the schools and the clinic. We got to work today at the construction site. We were moving construction blocks. After work we were welcomed by the Senchi Ferry chiefs and community. I give appreciation to the librarian due to the fact that he has volunteered his time for 2 years and 8 months. His goal being to teach the children the world through books. Love for Ghana!

- Travis

Today we got to see the village. It was awesome – and walking was good too. I have got to get used to the neat people here, they are so nice and say hello everytime you pass and also get a lot of smiles. We worked for an hour today – I picked up a brick then I was called over to help make the rectangle holders for the pillars around 4pm. We are working on building a new school. We went to the neighboring village of Senchi Ferry to meet the Queen Mother, chiefs and mayor. The ceremony was so great we got to dance and I liked it very much. Starting to miss my family and friends but all over a great day.


We had a lovely day. We walked around Senchi Ferry and New Akrade and toured all the schools and visited the new clinic and library that Ghanaians and Global Volunteers helped build alongside the local Ghanaian people. We also visited the very friendly mayor and saw the magistrate court. Some of us got to meet the classrooms and teachers that we will be working with. Some of our group helped with the construction of a two story addition to the school. We were invited to a community meeting and celebration where the Queen Mother, Chiefs and teachers of Senchi Ferry welcomed us with warmth, kindness and open arms.

- Nancy