Ghana Team Journal

The simple things in life...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Prepared by Christy Davidson

The day was off to a good start when we woke up for breakfast and saw that there were some new items introduced on the menu, many of the girls were excited about oatmeal and I was excited about the French toast. The French toast was the first thing I had eaten in a long time since I was sick the previous day and it tasted great!

After breakfast Jaimie and Ashley headed to the clinic, Lauren and Tara headed to the private school and Patty and I went to the computer lab again to teach. Most of the B Akoto students have never used a computer so we decided to do a basic lesson on the mouse, this seems like something simple but for them this is a whole new world.

Before lunch the other girls and I decided we should work on our tans outside in the courtyard of the hotel, this attracted some strange looks from the locals, wondering why on earth we would want to sit in the hot sun for fun. After another tasty meal with French fries and fruit we went back to the village for tutorials. I was happy to see that the computer lab is now complete with a fan installed on the ceiling and monitor for the broken laptop, everything is coming to together! Our trip is getting closer and closer to the end but I feel like we will be leaving a good note and a good sense of accomplishment.

A good start to week two!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Prepared by Tara O’Neil

Breakfast seemed strange today without Kathleen, Maggie and Eddie, but of course still enjoyable. After a weekend away we all felt refreshed and excited to be back to work in the village.

Jamie and Ashley headed to the kg classroom again prepared to spend the morning teaching the kids about shaped. With lessons planned and time management skills mastered, their day flew by and the kids learned lots!

Lauren and I spent another day in the clinic. We spent time checking in patients, filling out new patient health folders, taking temperatures and weights, and observing prenatal and postpartum appointments.

Unfortunately, Christy spent the day sick at the guest house so Patty went to the library alone. She spent another long day trying to not only teach the students the basics of the computer, but the importance of the basics to the teachers. She is hoping to create computer lesson plans to leave behind before the end of the trip.

Ashley, Jamie, Lauren, Amo and I walked to the Volta River after tutorials before relaxing for the night. Patty and Christy’s night, however, was just beginning. They headed to the hospital so Christy could get checked out for safe measures. Thankfully she has not caught anything serious and hopefully whatever bug she has will be gone soon.

PS. A big thanks to our team leader Esther who has helped the injured, the sick, and the student on budgets. I don’t know what we will do without her back home!!

End of week one!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Prepared by Ashley Zobeck

Today, we learned that Kathleen would be leaving us early. We had one last day to spend with her, Eddie and Maggie.

Kathleen stayed at the St. James Guest House trying to get last minute tasks in order while Eddie headed out to the construction site finishing the hard work week strong. Patty and Christy were busy at the library focusing on the computer mouse which ended up taking the whole lesson time. Tara spent her time at the clinic with the midwife doing prenatal and postnatal appointments and Lauren struggled with the language barrier at the registration desk taking vitals and writing new patient folders.

Jamie, Maggie, and I walked to the public school and soon realized that there were not many students to teach that day. Maggie memorized a story during her English lesson and ended with a game of hang man. Jamie and I spent the day with the KG singing songs, playing games, and realizing our first test of patience.

We decided to not plan an activity following the library tutorials; however, ended up having a very laid back and enjoyable night with each other.

Beautiful day in Senchi Ferry!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Prepared by Eddie Martino


The day as always begins with a hearty breakfast, eggs, coffee, goat’s milk, jam and the quote of the day along with the journal. Tara gave the quote: You are rich for what you give, poor for what your refuse. Jamie, read the journal. While very upset about not getting pizza at the Volta hotel yesterday, she recovered last nite with a great pasta dinner with the team.

The day always starts off great. How could it not. With cheerful good morning exchanges in different languages from young and old while traversing well-worn paths and dodging baby goats and fallen mangoes.

Patty and Christie continued their work teaching computer skills to a jammed packed room of kids’ in the library. The electric shocks situation continued but was lessened by running laptops more on batteries than electricity. Also, kids needed to break religious tradition and wear shoes. This helped reduce shocks by acting as a conduit. The whiteboard marker was supplied, big progress. Patty’s highlight in afternoon came when one boy – just introduced to a computer – wrote a short bio of himself on the laptop in MS word.

Tara spent the day on child health promotion in New Akrade. There she participated in helping many families understand how to deal with anemia and polio as well as family planning.

Kathy spent the day developing a plan with government officials to obtain approvals for resources needed to staff computer classes and the library. A meeting is planned Monday with all headmasters and teachers.

Eddie, Jamie, Ashley and Maggie joined Reuben, Shaibu at the construction site where work is being done to build a new kindergarten school. Reuben is the overall project manager and spends time plastering mortar while the team led by Shaibu’s high energy helps mix and carry mortar and cut blocks to specified shapes. While removing rocks to clear the way for scaffolding we also came upon two scorpions that have unfortunately moved on to another life. Shaibu made special hats out of emptied cement bags to make carrying trays of mortar on our heads so much easier. The construction workers have now formed a productive team each respecting the others abilities and sharing in all required efforts to complete the project no matter how hot the day gets. We do get some breaks like when Cristabell comes by with very refreshing sugar cane. There were a few visitors to the site. First a group of pesky children that played with the large water barrels. One small child fell in head first and was quickly yanked out by Maggie. Later a group of teenage boys came by to get pictures and share sports interests.

We finished up the day as usual at the library. Kids swarming over the team who are reading books with them. Patty and Christie again jammed in the computer room teaching skills.

After a dinner with French Fries, we set out for the special drums and dancing event in New Akrade. Unfortunately, along the way Kathy fell in a hole the size of a moon crater along the road. Kathy and Ed went off to the hospital and made new friends including a terrific surgeon. Happily, Kathy is ok and should be back on the trail in another day or two. The drums event was fabulous. The kids showed their talent and made the night a memorable event.

Hardwork & Teamwork

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Prepared by Jaime Liles

I think it’s just starting to hit me that I’m in Africa. Ghana is so beautiful, is all aspects of the world.

Eddie headed out early to the construction site while we all finished our breakfast. Kristi, Patty, and Maggie walked us to the construction site to check out the progress and then we all parted ways.

Patty and Kristi discovered science today: negatives and positives cause electrical charges and their computers were shocking them with each touch. They soon learned that many variables including shoes, battery, and balance all had an impact on the electrical flow and that problem was solved in no time.

Maggie taught as usual. She seems to be getting more comfortable and more confident as time goes on, however, she is beginning to lose her voice from the tendency to yell above all the noise from the neighboring classrooms. KGs are younger so she taught them their ABCs which is simple, yet essential.

Kathy vanished as usual. She’s what you would call a “professional volunteer” because she has an abundant amount of experience. She was out all day doing her own thing which is easy because she knows 99% of the village, HELLO MAMA OBAMA. She ended up spending most of her day in the library with Patty and Kristi and helping them with the computer lab.

Tara, Lauren, Ashley and I joined Eddie and headed back to the construction site for another intense work day. The sun was hotter than usual and the snakes and scorpions were out so it developed into an interesting day. Not only are we finally forming a bond with the other workers, but our construction team has developed a good system. Eddie and I carried molter, African style, while Tara, Lauren, and Ashley lugged buckets back and forth. Hardest I’ve worked my entire life. The building process here is unique, intricate, and requires a lot of integrity from the builders. It’s a privilege to work side by side with the men we do.

Another adventurous day in Senchi Ferry

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Prepared by Patty Davidson

The group went in 3 different directions this morning with Eddie leading the charge to the construction site at 7:30am. Our 4 nursing volunteers were soon to follow and all returned with a great sense of accomplishment and exhaustion after working in the heat all morning. Eddie was covered from head to toe in dirt, perspiration and mortar after hauling large pots of mortar for the local workers to help expedite the work they were doing. Everyone was impressed with the expertise and commitment of the local workers.

Maggie was only one to head out to the Nanamo School for teaching but it sounds like she was a great contributor to the English curriculum. To her surprise she was thrown right into the job of teaching prepositions, verbs and phrasal verbs.

Christy and I were stationed in the new computer lab at the library all morning teaching classes as they arrived. We didn’t get the prompt 8am start we expected because the kids were called upon to sweep the grounds and pick up rubbish. Once we finally had them in the lab, they clustered into groups of 3 or 4 per computer. The lesson of the day was learning how to type a letter in Word and for the more advanced we introduced character formats like bold, underline and fonts. They’ve been learning computer theory in the classroom but have had little practical experience so basics like learning how to use the shift key, backspace and getting the cursor in the right spot before pressing enter was a challenge.

In the afternoon we went to the Arts and Crafts market in Aburi and picked up masks, necklaces, knapsacks and more, but the humorous part of that trip was when 4 girls in the van had a bathroom call that would not wait so we had to stop and allow them to relieve themselves on the side of the road.

Another adventurous day in Senchi Ferry.

"First Day on the Job!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

Prepared by Christy Davidson

Today was our first day on the job. We started off with a tour of the village and then separated to do different activities. Some of us worked in the clinic, some of us worked in the library and others went to observe teaching. I observed the grade 4 class at the private school. The class was very welcoming and accommodating to me. After learning some basic math on squares and rectangles the class had a break to run and play with their friends. All of the kids were so interested in talking to me. One girl introduced herself as Gifty and offered me some of her snack, I thought that this was such a nice gesture considering that this may be a big portion of what she gets to eat for the day and knowing that we likely have much more food at the hotel.

After a nice lunch at the St. James hotel we went back to the village for some after school tutorials. It was nice to see some of the kids from my class showed up. I was helping in the computer room and the kids were so intrigued by the typing exercise they could barely wait their turn. I was having such a good time helping them that I decided not to go to the market so we could continue helping them. After we were finished we were lucky enough to have two of the girls from the Methodist school walk us back to our house because they lived close by. I can’t believe this was only our first day working with the kids and I already feel like we have done so much to impact their lives.

May team arrives to Senchi Ferry!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Prepared by Maggie Martino

On Saturday May 14th 8:00am we arrived in Accra, the capital of Ghana. When we first arrived I realized it was much hotter than I expected. My Dad and I were picked up at the airport by Esther and greeted with a warm hug. I was so happy to finally meet my team leader, every emotion I was feeling from this trip became alive. I was excited to start my journey and couldn’t wait to see what things I would be doing next. We drove to the airport view hotel, where we would be staying that day. We were able to check out the city scene and catch up on some sleep. Later that night we joined with the rest of the team. It was a team of 9, Kathy, Paty, Christy, Tara, Jamie, Ashley, and my father and I. We were all from different locations but all had the same interests. We were all eager to start our journey full of new experiences, laughter and learning. After a nice dinner at the hotel and getting to know each other we headed to bed to prepare ourselves for our trip to Senchi Ferry early the next morning. After hearing so many great things about the community of Senchi I felt so happy and excited and I was ready to experience a whole new world!

Day 2: May 15th

Early Sunday morning we packed the vans and left to Senchi Ferry. It was a 2 hour ride to Senchi but it went by very fast because of all of the sites to look at while driving. We were able to see a lot of different parts of Ghana. We passed by many markets, the people waiting for “Tro Tro’s” and beautiful landscapes. When we arrived to the St. James guest house in Senchi I found it was greater than I had expected. It was exciting to see the mango trees right outside of our house and I was also happy to find we all had our own bed, bathroom and air-conditioned room. I was extremely pleased. We took some time to learn Twi, the local language. We learned many basics like how are you? What is your name and the different responses and greetings. Shortly after that we walked over to the village for a ceremony! I was so grateful to meet the chiefs and other people of the community such as the mayors and teachers. It was so interesting to see the way they dressed and the traditions they had like praying and blessing the ground and passing around the schnapps. As soon as we approached the village we were greeted so nicely by the locals and I felt very welcomes. The kids were more than words could explain. They were so joyous and happy and very respectable. They raced to each group member just hug them and learn our names. I could not ask for a better outcome, everything was filled with many positive emotions. I wanted to learn more about each individual and learn more about they’re culture. Today was a great day and I cannot wait for all the activities I will be doing tomorrow in the community.