Ghana Team Journal

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quote of the day: “However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find fault even in Paradise. Love your life.” – Henry David Thoreau

Journal by: Sarah Andersen

Today was a rather uneventful day. Unfortunately, I was still having some GI trouble, but now I was coming down with a cold as well. My mother and I woke up and had breakfast and then just relaxed in our room. At around 12:00 we took a taxi to the Volta Hotel so we could get access to the internet. This time the hotel was filled with guests. Apparently, there was some sort of conference going on at the hotel so the restaurant was filled with conference attendees and other guests staying at the hotel. We ate lunch there. My mother had a Ghanaian meal of Red Red with fried plantains and I had sautéed shrimp with onions and peppers in a garlic sauce served with West African-style fried rice. The food was pretty good, but a little expensive. At around 3:45 the taxi came back to pick us up and take us back to the guesthouse. Once at the guesthouse we relaxed until about 6:15, when the rest of the group arrived from their trip to Cape Coast. We all ate dinner together and celebrated Will’s 15th birthday with ice cream from Esther. The evening also consisted of the rest of the group telling entertaining stories from their weekend excursion. Then we all retired to our rooms to get ready for another day at the school.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quote of the day: "We don’t experience the world fully unless we are willing to give everything away"

—Pema Chodron

Journal by: Margaret Henly

While the majority of our volunteer group ventured down to the coast, Sarah and I decided to go north. Our morning began at 7 o‘clock with breakfast, after which we met our very pleasant taxi driver Richard. We left shortly before 8, driving north through Akimpoku to the bridge over the Volta. The street vendors were busy this morning, more so than on our previous drive on Tuesday. Dozens of women carrying everything from loaves of bread to kabobs of oysters balanced on their heads rushed up to the taxi to try to sell their inventory. After we crossed the river, we again turned northward, through stretches of lush vegetation punctuated by colorful villages and towns. Some of the larger towns sported elaborate stores carrying garden wares and plastic molded chairs, while others specialized in coffins. Interestingly enough, the town selling the largest variety of coffins also happened to be the one with the hospital right off the main road. It being Saturday, the traditional day for funerals, we saw many more people, young and old, in beautiful traditional dress. We traveled a little more than 2 hours to our first destination, Tagbo falls. Initially, I was confident that we could do both the mountain hike and the hike to the falls, each being about 45 minutes to an hour each way, as the people at the welcome center assured us. As we started out with our guide Daniel, a very pleasant 12 year old boy, it became apparent that the mountain hike and the falls hikes were in two different directions, and likely to take much longer. So we opted for the falls. Daniel pointed out cocoa tress with fruits of varying levels of ripeness, coffee plants, banana and plantain trees (plantain trees have longer leaves), and farmers making charcoal. It was hard, though, to keep one eye on the trail to avoid gnarly roots and the other eye on the flora. As we made our way up the trail, the vegetation became more lush, the air more close, and the sound of rushing water louder. Suddenly the trail opened up, and the temperature plummeted much to our relief, as the thunderous waterfall created a strong breeze and a thick mist. Just gorgeous. After taking lots of photos, and resting for a bit, we headed back down the trail, the return trip seemingly shorter than the first half. After an almost 3 hour hike, we were happy to sit under a large tree and eat the jollof rice the cook had sent with us.

We resumed our trip, heading toward the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary. When we arrived, we joined a woman from the UK on a short drive to the trail head, and a short hike to where the monkeys tend to hang out. There, our guide called the monkeys, with small bananas as offering. Soon there were a many small mona monkeys clamoring for our bananas. We were told to hold the bananas tightly, as each monkey would try to snatch the entire thing. These small monkeys, with their sharp eyes, wizened faces, and soft, almost human hands, seemed more afraid of each other stealing a piece of banana than they were of us. In fact, as we headed back to the welcome sanctuary, the monkeys followed along. On our way back, the guide pointed out the improvements to the village made possible by the collection of the entrance fee, including a clinic, primary and junior high schools, and the introduction of electricity to the village.

Richard, our driver, graciously agreed to take us to one more stop before returning to New Akrade. I had noticed in the guidebook that we were very close to Tafi Abuipe, a major kente-weaving center, so we headed there. There, our guide, whose family has been weaving center for generations, took our entrance fee and a small fee to take photographs. We entered a large pavilion, where several weavers worked on traditional looms set up with yards and yards of brightly colored cotton thread. Their fingers worked the shuttles and the thread while their feet worked the pedals with amazing speed. We chose some cloths and purses of both traditional and more modern designs for gifts for some of the people at home. At that point, we decided that it was wise to head back. Once again, we passed through bustling towns, this time as people headed home from the festivities.

Upon our arrival, we had a simple supper of macaroni and vegetables, and settled in for a relaxing evening.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Quote of the Day: “What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other?” –

-George Eliot

Journal by: Sarah Andersen

For me, and I think Will as well, Friday started with mixed feelings. It was the first day of teaching for those of us who were placed in the JHS. When we got to the school Kay, Steve, and George started working on construction; Margaret, Mary, and Tracee went down to the Peace Perfect International School; Laurie and Grace went to teach in the primary school; and Will and I headed to the JHS. I was nervous about teaching since I had no idea what subject I would be teaching and therefore had no lessons planned. Thankfully, we were asked to observe a social studies class so we could see how the teachers taught and what the students were learning.

After the class, the teacher told us the students were going to have a break and when it was over, Will and I would be teaching them more social studies. Since the headmaster told us the break would be ending in 30 minutes, Will and I rushed to come up with some sort of plan for the chapter we would be teaching: Socio-Economic Development: Tourism, Leisure, and Development. I thought it was a little strange that they had asked a couple of American kids to teach this chapter since it was all about why Ghanaians often do not go to the various tourist sites in the country and what people can do to change that.

Will and I went to the classroom about 10 minutes before the break was supposed to end and started writing our notes and references on the board. Once the 30 minute break time had elapsed, there were only a couple students in the classroom. I thought this to be very ironic since in the section the class was learning before the break, the teacher was explaining how Africans were always late and how that had to stop if they wanted to get anything done. Before class started, Will shared some of his American music off of his iPod which the students thoroughly enjoyed. The lesson went pretty well. The teacher who usually taught social studies was impressed with our teaching and I was thankful we didn’t fail horribly.

After we were done teaching, we went outside to meet the rest of the group. I found out that George had been teaching in the classroom next to ours, Grace had walked home with Laurie who wasn’t feeling well, and the rest of the group had gone down to the Peace Perfect International School. We then walked back to the guesthouse and had lunch. I had not been feeling very well all morning so after lunch I decided not to accompany the others to the library and the Volta River walk. My mother kindly recounted the details of the river walk for me so I could include them in the journal. Before they left for walk, three men came into the library to thank them for their work and contributions and one man even remembered the volunteers coming into his school when he was a child. When they left for the walk, they saw a lot of people out in Senchi. Lots of men and boys in kaftans and a few men with head coverings.

As they walked, Amo told them how Senchi had been a vibrant area with a whole line of two-story buildings containing shops and homes and now only uprights and an occasional half walk remained. When the bridge was built across the river at Artimpoku was built, the canoes and large shops and houses along the river were abandoned. Closer to the river, there are tilapia farms and a man resting in a hammock watching over the farms, greeted and they could see a few long canoes paddled by fishermen along the shore. Overall, it sounds like group enjoyed the walk.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quote of the day: Liberty is not license to do whatever you want to do. It is the freedom to do what you ought to do.

Journal by: Jeff Jackson

We began our July 28th with a typically nourishing breakfast, followed by Grace’s succinct summary of the day before and her thought of the day. We spent the morning either teaching or constructing, with time off for some playing soccer or volleyball. The library is coming along nicely, the teamwork is enjoyable. Lunch and shade were welcome sights, with plenty to talk about. Experiences, both the uplifting and perhaps the frustrating, are easier to discuss within the group.

As usual, an hour of the afternoon was spent reading with the children in the library. Afterwards, we walked to the Palace, excited to meet with the Queen Mother. She was, however, traveling today and not available. I think it’s fair to say we were mildly disappointed, but moved on quickly. After a tour of the museum we walked home. On the way we had an unnerving experience. A man was laid out in on the path, his eyes open and breathing shallowly, if at all. He looked dead, or at least in some kind of altered state. Eventually we discovered he was intoxicated, a funny kind of relief for all of us. After a dinner of Shepard’s Pie and salad some of us hung around and played a game before retiring for the evening.

As a follow-up thought, later in the evening I reflected back on the incident involving the man lying in the path. On the one hand, as a group of caring and concerned volunteers we may have been moved to help or ask for help for the man. On the other hand, the Global Volunteer Principals of self-governance and respect for local societal norms might lead to the conclusion that the situation be allowed to unfold without our intervention. I am not sure what the right thing is to do, I can only make note of the dilemma.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quote of the Day:

I have only one request.

I do not ask for money.

Although I have need of it,

I do not ask for meat…

I have only one request,

All I ask is

That you remove

The roadblock

From my path.

- Okot P’Bitek - “Song of an African Woman”

Journal by: Grace Glick

It’s day 3 and the rhythm of our days has been established. Mornings for work projects. Afternoons are library time.

Margaret was again assisting at the clinic, many of us were at the schools, and Steve, K, Jeff, and George continued constructing the library for the Akrade school.

For lunch we had the pleasure of a Ghanaian meal- rice balls with spicy groundnut soup and chicken. Delicious.

At the Senchi Ferry library, we were welcomed by a smaller group but some eager returnees were there seeking their particular reading friends-Linda greeted me with,“ Let’s finish Curious George today!”

The strolls to and from sites provide us with many opportunities to practice our Twee greetings and as we demonstrate some mastery, the people in the community try new variations to help us learn more.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quote of the day:

“May we, with all Beings, realize the emptiness of the Three Wheels…giver, receiver and gift.”

Gyohatsu Nenju (Soto Zen Buddhist meal gatha)

Journal by: Mary Boutselis

This morning we awoke, knowing a little more about what might be in store for us than yesterday we weren’t complete “newbies.” We had the same nourishing breakfast of eggs, toast, porridge and juice…grateful, again, to have plenty to eat. We left as a group, passing community members engaged in morning routines of sweeping up, cooking, waiting with children for transport to school. Some of us re-doubled our efforts to be ready to respond to a greeting of “maakye” with “yeena” or “yeeagya” rather than simply resorting to a smile and a wave.

We left Margaret at the Clinic while Steve, George, Jeff and Kay headed to help with construction. The rest of us went on to our schools. As some of the initial anxious anticipation passes, many of us are confronted with that delicate yet critical balance which we must find between stepping up to contribute while respecting the structure and customs already in place in our host community. Our service is truly most effective when we blend our effort and knowledge with the strengths of the community…this requires more skillfulness than one might think.

After our morning of work, we were treated to a lunch which was thoughtfully made for us Americans…baked chicken, salad, wonderful pineapple but most importantly, French fries with ketchup!!! After lunch, we were off again to the Senchi Ferry library where we read with the children. On the walk home, there was much discussion about the curiosity, eagerness and intelligence of the children. Some of us wondered what lied in their future, especially for those who appeared to be most energetic in their questioning.

We arrived back at the Guest House around 4:30 and loaded into a van for an outing to the Volta Hotel which was at a bit of an elevation. We sat out on the deck, enjoying a soft drink and the beautiful view of the dam and Volta Lake. We all appreciated a little change of scenery and many of us took advantage of the wi-fi reconnecting with friends and family. Back at St. James, we had a late supper followed by discussion which covered a wide range of topics from forensic anthropology (compliments of Kay) to the Grange Fair in Centre Hall, PA (Will).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quote of the day:

When children are provided sufficient food and nutrition, and protected from infectious disease, they can take advantage of their full intellectual capability through education. When all children are offered these essential services, the positive global consequences will be enormous.

-Global Volunteers Executive Summary

Journal by: Steve Ostrom

We gathered at 7:00 AM in the dining room, and many of us had some difficulty sleeping last night. The rooms were comfortable, but the sleeping issue might be a symptom of jet lag. Hopefully we will become accustomed to the time change soon!

Breakfast consisted of oatmeal, an egg omelet with veggies on top, juice, and toast. Tea, coffee, jam, and chocolate/hazelnut spread were also available. Margaret read the inspirational thought for the day, and her journal entry from Sunday, July 24th.

Shortly after breakfast, we gathered in the courtyard, then hiked to the school. Esther introduced us to the headmaster, and the headmaster then introduced us to various faculty members. We then hiked down to Senchi Ferry and visited the new library. After waiting for the librarian to finish sweeping the entrance with a short hand broom, we removed our shoes prior to entering the library itself. We saw one room with reading books for beginning readers, one room with math and science type books for older children and adults, and one room with 10 or so laptop computers. Before these computers were donated to this community, all of the keyboarding was taught from a poster mounted on the wall.

After visiting the library, we walked back to the school where we split into groups. Some of us were teaching the younger students, other volunteers were assisting with grading exams for the older students, a few were working on the construction of the school’s new library and computer lab, and a couple of us went to the clinic to help copy papers and take blood pressures.

I had the privilege of watching the 3-5 year old children eat lunch at school. It was quite orderly with children called by name to get their food. A woman had carried the meal preparations in a large basket balanced on her head. It consisted of clean bowls for the kids, a pot of hot meat sauce, a bowl of grated cheese, and a very large pot of rice. Each child received a bowl containing about 1 cup of rice covered with about 1 ounce of grated cheese and a tablespoon or so of the meat sauce poured on top. The rice was hand measured by the woman who wore a disposable plastic glove. Each child ate the meal with his or her fingers, and when finished, returned the dirty bowl to the front and stacked them neatly. Every bowl of food was completely consumed.

Our Global Volunteer team then gathered and walked back to the St. James Guest House. Lunch consisted of rice and beans, watermelon, mango, and fried plantains. We pretty much cleaned up everything, except for Esther’s favorite, a few plantains. A one hour rest period available before the afternoon session started.

At 2:30, we met and walked to the Senchi Ferry library with Amo, where we met a room full of eager readers. Each volunteer grabbed a corner of the room or carpet with one or more students, and together (student and volunteer) we read well past the one hour time allotted to us. Our walk to and from the library was filled with sights, sounds, and aromas. Many goats and chickens were everywhere. A few dogs and at least one cat were observed. As we approached St. James Guest House, there was a slight sprinkle, which was an omen that foretold of no running water in our rooms.

We rested for about an hour, and then met for dinner of chicken and sauce, rice, salad, popcorn, and bananas. We asked Amo about some aspects of Ghanaian culture, such as uncommon delicacies, domestic animals, and the duties of the mayor. After dinner, we discussed our experiences of the day and tried to plan activities for the next few weeks. There are many great new experiences heading our way!

Getting back to our rooms at 8:10 pm, we found we had running water again. Yeah!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Journal by: Margaret Henly

Most of us reconvened at breakfast of omelets, toast, oatmeal, pancakes and baked beans. Well, this once was a British colony, and beans and toast is comfort food. At 10 am we packed the vans- one with all of us volunteers and the other with the driver, Esther, and all the luggage. After an hour and a half drive northeast of Accra, passing roadside lean-to’s and sheds made of wood or cinder block, some with thatched roofs, others with corrugated tin, selling anything from bread to fruit to cell phones, we arrived at the St. James Guest House in New Akrade, and shown to our rooms. The rooms are spacious and clean, with large bathrooms and tubs, but alas, no hot water. Although I have seen only 3 mosquitoes since arriving in Ghana, I will use my mosquito net.

We reconvened at a large communal table in the dining room. Esther laid out the ground rules and described the contributions that Global Volunteers is making in the communities of New Akrade and Senchi Ferry. She taught us the basics of greetings in Twi, the correct way to wave (with the hand open as opposed to “some here” bending the straight fingers at the knuckles). Donations were collected at the door- a bucket of pencils, stacks of paper, soccer balls, markers, etc. .. We each contributed our goals for the weeks ahead, and categorized them into 4 subsets: to learn about the local culture, to serve others, to grow personally, and to have fun (this was Esther’s favorite!).Lunch following was delicious! Curried chicken, rice with green peas, salad of lettuce, cabbage, carrots and cucumbers, and fresh mango and pineapple.

Soon after lunch we walked along the path to the town center, where we were welcomed by our host Samuel, the mayor of New Akrade, the chief of protocol, the headmaster of the middle school, and other village elders. We learned more about the work of Global Volunteers as well. We each stood and introduced ourselves and where we came from. There was lively music, and after the official welcome was over, we were invited to dance with the children and some of the elders. The children were happy t dance on their own, but some became shy around us. They are a lively bunch, with wide smiles and bright eyes.

We had the opportunity to meet with some of the people with whom we will work: teachers, construction leaders and the nurse from the clinic. We also met Amo, Esther’s valuable assistant.

We were all a little more comfortable with our “ya enna” and “ya eja” on our walk back to the guest house. We had a little time to rest before dinner. Dinner again was delicious- pasta in spicy tomato sauce. After dinner, after Amo went home, we volunteers sat down and talked, a very comfortable and collegial group

~A new team arrives in Ghana~

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quote of the day:

"Only in an open, non-judgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling. Only in an open, space where we’re not all caught up in our own version of reality can we see and hear and feel who other people are, which allows us to be with them and communicate with them properly."

-Pema Chodron

Journal By: Margaret Henly

I am starting the journal for our group of volunteers since I am a returnee. Our journey as individuals started from different places, but as a group began when we arrived in Accra. A few of us met in Dulles airport before the 10 ½ hour flight. We gathered at baggage claim in Accra, not sure where to go next. We followed the rest of the passengers through passport check and customs, and out to what we would call ground transportation. There we met our enthusiastic team leader, Esther, who greeted us with a warm ebullient hug. We were shepherded onto a waiting van and driven to our Accra hotel, clean stucco and blond-wood building. Watch your step between rooms, though, as each section is on a slightly different level.

We met the others in our group, along with a few from the previous group, at dinner. A buffet of chicken, fish, and beef entrees, along with a plate of fresh vegetables, fruits and breads (all white bread, I noticed) was delicious. Esther had us introduce ourselves by reciting our names after the names of the people sitting to our left so the unfortunate one who went last had to recite everyone else’s name! After dinner most of us were surprised how tired/sleepy we really were and went off to bed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Quote of the day: “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it knows and loves the One who is leading.” Oswald Chambers

Journal by: Angie

We woke to gather for breakfast and conversation. It was fun to watch Esther’s expressions while Katie retold her adventure in the tro-tro. After we ate, we gathered all the supplies and carried them off to Esther’s car.

Taking two trips, we all arrived at the palace to present the donations global volunteers had sent. Amo and Esther gave a presentation about where the donations came from- past volunteers who had sent them along and some current. The chief thanked us and accepted the donations on behalf of the community and then presented them to the different schools, which were all very grateful.

We all went to our schools for our last day. Nancy delivered her school improvement ideas and was presented with a token of their gratitude that was well received. Julia and Katie enjoyed playing with their kids one last day before they left. Lisa and Angie met Nana Amo himself, the proprietor of the school. He graciously welcomed into his home and described the history of the school. We enjoyed talking with the teachers and helping the students review. It is easy to see that this was a very emotional and memorable day for us all.

The team came home to eat lunch, (after our long goodbyes), and stumbled upon a man outside the Saint James making baskets from palm leaves. He patiently explained the process to Katie and the group. Later, we gathered for a lunch of chicken and potatoes with salad.

We returned to Senchi Ferry one last time for our tutoring at the library. We read for a while and then Samuel surprised us with some puzzle time. The kids were thrilled and it was fun to watch them put the pieces together. After puzzle time, we were again treated to wonderful children singing their hearts out and filling our hearts. We gathered outside for our last “Skip to My Lou” circle, game of “Rock Paper Scissors” and “Hokey Pokey” in Senchi Ferry. It was hard to say goodbye.

There is no doubt that each and every one of us has been changed for the better by the wonderful people and children in this area. I know I can speak for everyone when I say that Senchi Ferry will always be in our hearts.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quote of the day: “Laughter is the best medicine” – anonymous

Journal by: Katie Cannon

“Why obroni why?” seems to be the theme of this trip; including what we’ve passed on as normal- wearing the same 3 t-shirts everyday, washing our underwear nightly in the shower, contemplating if you’d ever wear this outfit at home, finally wearing tennis shoes for the first time, make-up... what’s that? Home is in the near future- and hair product will soon see our roots again.

As for Senchi Ferry our three-week journey has been slightly repetitive especially with this last week consisting of testing. Today, Julia and I got a break from our class as we watched Harriet take the floor and practice counting with the kids. Julia ended up getting hit in the face with a Frisbee- but this excitement doesn’t beat our 3-5 yr. olds unexpectedly calling our tube socks “condom socks” hours before. We later headed to help Nancy out with small groups after her kids finished their test on moral education. After getting a glance, my favorite question by far was “What type of song do mothers usually sing when cooking” – the selection of answers were as follows; a. gospel, b. pop music- and the others don’t matter, as you can see this was a ridiculous question to begin with.

Angie and Lisa rummaged through their photos that were mistakenly put on the computer by a student in the computer lab. Coincidently, with the help of Samuel, they discovered they’re both wanting to adopt the same kid, Oliver, and taking him back to America. Big thanks to Samuel who cleared that one up- at least they can share him since they both live in Nebraska.

Before lunch Esther threatened to steal a hat off a mans head for not providing her with a plastic bag. She’s feisty, we like her. Our favorite was served- Peanut soup, and this time we weren’t fooled by bless’ smile as we had discovered the day before that Milescent is the cook. She was a hidden ghost this whole time; discard any past journal entries about Bless’ cooking, and there are plenty of them. After lunch Bless and Esther showed us up with their balancing skills. They tossed and turned; ducked and dived, with boxes on their heads- we however, couldn’t walk one step. Angie blamed it on her moving scalp- Esther’s theory is that her head has become flattened from all the years of carrying things.

After the library Nancy headed to the Volta hotel to get some blogging done. Lisa and Angie read, cleaned, packed and relaxed as Julia and I headed to town to pick up candy for our kinders. There we saw the first obroni we’ve seen in Senchi besides our own group. He was just as surprised as we were, and the cashier at the store automatically assumed we were together. He seemed bewildered when we questioned him for making such accusations. The true excitement was just minutes before as we stepped out of the tro-tro. My skirt got caught on the seat; which threw my face forward and my skirt down to my knees. The entire tro-tro got a pale moonlight view of my butt, and as the man behind me generously helped me pull up my skirt, one woman yelled out “why obroni, why?” and thus we find the theme of this journal entry. Julia caught a glimpse of me on the floor, and within a millisecond, I was yelling at her to RUN. Dinner was the usual, rice- and through our experience of today we can’t wait for what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quote of the day: “God grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” –

Serenity Prayer

Journal by: Julia Goss

Today was rather uneventful, but nonetheless not a bad one. Katie and I laughed about how we have perfected our morning routine – first I wake up at 6:30, get ready in the bathroom, and then at 6:45 Katie wakes up and we’re ready by 7:00!

At school Harriet informed us the kids had a promotion test next week and we would be reviewing. However, we only “reviewed” for about an hour and then had a two and a half hour recess. Angie and Lisa helped grade and pass out tests at their school and also learned more about the teachers’ lives and the limitations the school must cope with. Although Nancy’s school is testing she had a very interesting conversation with her fellow teachers about religion. Frank, in particular, was confused about Judaism and had trouble wrapping his mind around the differences between Judaism and Christianity.

After a great lunch of traditional Ghanaian food we headed to the library. I had the enjoyment of reading Beauty and the Beast to two children and had near forgotten how beautiful and entertaining a story it is. About half way through our time at the library it started raining extremely hard. The sound was deafening. However, it stopped pouring around 4:00 and we arrived home untouched by the rain, but not by the mud we tried to gingerly walked through on the way home.

We all decided to just hang out after our time at the library, reading, studying, and watching TV etc. We enjoyed our dinner and our conversation with Amo about our driver from Cape Coast. Afterwards Katie and Nancy played more bananagrams while the rest of us relaxed. Overall it was an uneventful day, but a great one.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Quote of the day: “The soul is healed by being with children.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Journal by: Lisa Krieser

Our last Tuesday here at Senchi Ferry was purely routine for the 5 of us. Esther drove us in two groups to our respective schools. The Junior High is testing, so Nancy, Angie and Lisa didn’t teach today. All 3 of them graded some multiple choice tests and helped hand out test papers. Julia and Katie went to the pre-K classroom once again, but worked on animals today.

Walking back today seemed hotter than usual, but I think it was all in our head. We all met up again for lunch where Esther joined us as well. Bless is doing a great job of keeping us all well fed. After lunch Nancy, Angie and Lisa helped Amo and Esther separate all of the school supplies into 5 piles-4 piles for the different schools and 1 pile for the library. There was a considerable amount of supplies to divide.

We headed to the library for our usual reading session. There wasn’t electricity there today, so students couldn’t use the computers and we couldn’t feel the breeze of the ceiling fans that usually run at high speed when we are there. We were all ready to go when 4:00 rolled around.

We walked back to the guesthouse with Amo and our usual entourage of 3 students who walk with us. When we got back Julia went to study, Angie and Lisa went looking for A/C and Nancy and Katie ventured to the local Internet café. At dinner when we asked them about the Internet café they confessed that they might have hitched a ride there instead of taking a tro-tro. They weren’t sure what mode of transportation they were on. They were both laughing while telling the story. They said they definitely came back on a tro-tro that left them off up the road a little ways when everyone on the van yelled at the driver that they both wanted off. Their version of the story is obviously funnier when they tell it.

Today was a good day. I don’t know if the realization that this is our last week has truly hit us yet. I will truly miss the people I have spent the last 3 weeks with. I think we are all going to make the most of the last 3 days we have here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Quote of the day: “I went to America and asked for a bucket of water and they thought I was crazy!” Esther

Journal by: Nancy

We woke to a rain-soaked earth after a night of thunder and downpour. Our “usual routine” is a welcome one; feels like home here to us now. A delicious breakfast from Bless, catching up with Esther, and reading our journal entry. We were moved to read a very beautiful “goodbye” letter that Veronica and Maria had left for us. We had lots to tell Esther about our weekend at the Cape Coast. We are playing catch-up with our journal writing and decided to postpone Julia’s description of Friday the 16th until after lunch. Julia seems to be on the mend from her “digestive challenges” of this weekend. Katie seems to be dragging and may stay back to rest.

Esther offered complementary chauffeur service to our schools, and no one objected! During our car ride, Esther made the above-mentioned statement, which left us all laughing (some of us still recovering from the shock of seeing buckets of water outside of our room as replacements for showers, toilet flushing and the like). Since our recent experience with no water, we have gained a new appreciation of the luxury of running water for taking showers and flushing toilets. Esther had prayed that the water would NOT come back on after our return from the Cape Coast, in order to teach us spoiled Americans a lesson, but, alas, she was disappointed; we were gleeful when we came back to the St. James and running water! I know I speak for all of us volunteers when I say that we will never take for granted either consistent electricity or a nice hot shower with decent water pressure!

We headed out to our respective schools to teach. I was eager to return to the Methodist Junior High School since I had missed last Thursday due to illness, and Friday due to visiting schools using the classrooms for their students’ exams. Alas, I quickly discovered that this week is the beginning of the student’s promotional exams and I would have no more chance to teach! Feeling disappointed, I decided to make the most of it. I helped monitor the 1A and 1B students (7th graders) during their exams.

Julia stopped by to see if she could help teach, but due to the testing, we had to come up with “Plan B”. I introduced her to Frank, my supervising teacher, and then gave her a tour of the school. I could see that she was shocked by the deplorable state of the classrooms. Our plan is for her to return on Wednesday to see if Frank is able to organize some time for small group work.

Angie and Lisa went to their usual site -- the private school, which was also testing. Angie has shared some great insights into the success of this school; I hope to find a diplomatic way to share this with the folks at the Methodist School.

Katie stayed back this morning because she was feeling under-the-weather. We all agree that being sick is a total bummer, but being sick away from home is even worse. We wish her a speedy recovery.

Lunch was delicious! Red-red has become my favorite Ghanaian dish, and fried plantains as well. I was thrilled to see that Bless had prepared red-red, plantains, and the fruit of the gods, mango. Doesn’t get any better than this, as far as I’m concerned.

After more debriefing with Esther, we headed back to our rooms for a quick rest before tutoring at the library. Not as many showed up today at the library, so our reading groups were small, cozy and quiet. Actually quite relaxing. We sauntered back through the community to the main road in search of a taxi to take the 4 of us (Katie still resting.) to the Volta Hotel for some Internet access and Wi-Fi, something to drink, and just cooling off. After some misunderstanding with our taxi driver about the cost of his transportation, we arrived back at the guesthouse in time for dinner. Katie resurfaced but is not yet her usual chipper self. We kept conversation short and headed back to our rooms by 7:30. Angie, Lisa and I wrote our journal entries. Back to bed, before, as Jackson Brown said, “We get up and do it again.”

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quote of the day: “The only real happy people are those who have learned how to serve.” –Albert Schwweitzer

Journal by: Angie Drees

“Team Senchi Ferry” woke up in Cape Coast to a nice breakfast of eggs, delicious bread and coffee. It was nice to sleep in until 8:00 AM. We left at 10AM to visit the Cape Coast Castle we had heard so much about. After a short detour from the Elimina Castle, we arrived and were welcomed by our guide. He showed us to the museum where we started before the group we would join was ready to go.

The museum was very informative and I think we all came away with something new that we had learned. We had to cut our museum tour short, but were sure to go back and finish after the tour.

Our guide was excellent and really gave an amazing tour. He started us off in the men’s area, we stopped in the opening and he shared a brief introduction and history to how the castle started and how the slave trade started. We proceeded down the extremely dark and intimidating tunnel with a few flashlights and cell phones to help guide us. The group stopped in the men’s cell. A tiny little square of light peeked through a hole way above our heads. Our guide explained that many of the slaves had gone blind due to the light conditions they had for 3 months in this cell. The “unsanitary conditions” stated in the museum put it lightly for what these men and women had to endure.

Our guide proceeded to show us the tunnel and explained the church above where the Portuguese would worship, RIGHT above the men they have enslaved are being tortured. He said it best as “Heaven over Hell.” We were shown the women’s area, the torture room and the “Door of No Return”, the last place the slaves were pushed through before heading to the ships to be sold. They brought back two slaves and walked their coffins through the “Door of No Return” and have since renamed it, “The Door of Return”.

We left the castle with heavy hearts but appreciating the lesson we had learned. Certainly this was a memorable experience to help share with our students when we return home.

The team went to the restaurant next door that overlooks the Gulf of Guinea and enjoyed a pizza, some “red-red” and a club sandwich, as well as a nice “Coke Light”. J

Next, it was back to the van for our long ride home. We were welcomed back by Bless and her amazing cooking. She had chicken and rice with a delicious sauce waiting for us and the most wonderful surprise of RUNNING WATER! J

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Quote of the day: Whatever we do in this life will be insignificant; to the next person, that act is what made all the difference.

By: Katie Cannon

The earliest day yet, but notably one of the best- we began our journey to the Cape Coast and said farewell to Veronica and Maria. Despite the killer fumes, bumper-to-bumper traffic, we finally arrived.

As lunch approached, some of us were ecstatic to see signs “come in try our delicious pizza” but as we sat down, disappointment filled the air when an entire menu filled with delicious plates quickly turned to our only choice being rice and chicken. After we ate and settled into the guesthouse, we ventured out to the Kakum National Park. Three weeks of exercise was shortly compiled in one set of stairs- and many fears were conquered as the 5 of us bravely walked above the rainforest on the 7-rope canopy. Nancy, Lisa, and Angie quickly made it to the other side where they relaxed and heard stories about the animals that have been seen during the tours (such as leopards and elephants). Julia and I decided to take it slow and step away from the group of 20 in front of us to relax and enjoy the sounds of nature. It was there that we had both tried our very first coconut water and shared it amongst the group as we returned. After a few beers and great conversation, we made way towards Ghana’s most luxurious hotel, the Coconut Grove.

The bumpiest car ride to date, and far more obronis than we’ve seen on this entire trip, the Coconut Grove exceeded all standards and was a beautiful get away- there we spent awhile playing in the African sand and enjoying the sound of waves crashing; to be followed by an impeccable ocean front dinner entertained with, to our surprise and an answer to Angie’s prayers, a Lionel cover band. Although we didn’t take part in the limbo competition- the lit fire amongst the sand, endless array of palm trees, and the moon shining onto the water shortly became a memorable experience for all of us.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quote of the day: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift” - Prefontaine

Journal by: Julia Goss

TGIF – Thank God it’s Friday – Although Katie and I love our KG class we were definitely a little worn out come Friday morning. Thankfully, our teaching portion of the day was fairly relaxed. When we got to class we found out Madame Harriet’s baby nephew had passed away. Katie and I went ahead and took charge of the class, working on their ABC’s and coloring from a coloring book. Normally, we let the class free draw so it was amazing to see what beautiful pictures they could create with some structure. After coloring and hanging 50 something drawings around the classroom we went to the library where Samuel, Nancy, and I read to the kids. Unfortunately, the Methodist School didn’t have class on Friday (unbeknownst to Nancy) so she joined Katie and me for the morning. It was great having another helper in the classroom and library and I know the children enjoyed her animated storytelling. I believe Lisa and Angie had a good day as well and they got all of their pen pall letters corrected and ready to send. Hopefully, they will be able to figure out the best way for the 8th graders to receive them. Today was Veronica and Maria’s last day of teaching. They lingered behind us on our walk back to the St. James, but only to say goodbye to their old friends, new friends, and students for the past two weeks.

We went to the library as usual in the afternoon. The library was not crowded and made for a peaceful environment to read. However, a big storm rolled in around 4:00 and we all quickly scrambled our things together and headed home in a hurry.

Katie and I were feeling a bit restless so we decided to find an Internet cafe in town. We found two, however, because it was raining so hard the Internet didn’t work at all! Instead, we decided to sit down at a bar on the side of the main road and get a drink. We had a great time talking, watching the rain, and most of all the observing the community around us. Katie and I both decided we wished we could assimilate more into this community and maybe coming down into “town” more often would be a good way to accomplish that.

We realized it was almost 6:45 and made a mad dash to get back to the St. James for the 7:00 dinner with the chiefs. I was impressed with the dinner. I naively assumed it would be a ceremonial tradition that would involve pleasantries about our time here etc; however, it ended up as a discussion involving constructive criticism and new ideas for the future. The most amazing part of the night came when Veronica gave a moving speech about how deplorable the conditions were in the Methodist School and that money should be directed to fixing it. After Veronica’s speech, Esther helped translate to the chiefs in Twi. I am constantly marveling at how strong, assertive, welcoming, and caring, Esther is as a person. Although I could not understand what she said to the chiefs that night I knew it was direct and purposeful and by the end of the night the chiefs said they would direct money to fixing up the school instead of the community center.

Needless to say I was floored and very proud of Veronica for voicing this issue. I believe because volunteers are only here for up to three weeks it is easy to pass problems along and deem them unfixable, however, today, Veronica showed us that is not true.

Soon after dinner we headed to bed to get some rest before our big weekend visit to the Cape Coast.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quote of the day: “Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just listen”

Journal by: Veronica Buxton

The day started with one man down – Nancy took a break due to health issues - and we headed into town for another day in the Senchi Ferry School System. Angie reported back that her letters for the eighth grade might not actually get to these eighth graders until they are 9th graders – the jury is still out on where they will be. A mystery at this point. Julia and Katie apparently didn’t do much in the morning as there was a major awards presentation being given for her pre-K and there were parents there and everything so a big show was put on and they even had to leave early as it went on quite a while. Maria and I played at being teachers in the 4th grade, which is possibly the toughest and most unruly crowd I personally have ever had to face. The grade levels are not consistent, but to make matters worse, the kids are just very rambunctious. We tried splitting the class into two. At one point, a student decided she wanted to be the teacher so I handed her the flash cards and said “It’s all yours honey”. That lasted about 10 minutes at which point Maria’s students came back with their desks and the teacher who had been absent to run a 45-minute errand for the head mistress returned. Lisa seemed pleased with her day though she is itching to get at some construction work soon.

The afternoon offered a chance to visit the crafts district – a veritable strip mall of artisan delights featuring mostly masks and other woodcarvings, drums and other things. Most of us bought things then I think wondered where we would put them on which walls and how to redecorate our homes to fit the new look, or whether or not the recipient would appreciate it as much as we do. We stashed our stuff into the van, stashed ourselves in after, and headed for the Botanical Gardens. The air was fresh and we could breathe which put everyone in a better frame of mind. So we sniffed allspice, tasted cinnamon, smelled crushed bay rum leaves and wondered at how different it all was from our usual surroundings. This was all under the expert guidance of Ethan – a trained botanist – who took us to the main events and even to the tree that had strangled another tree, which, though creepy, was actually kind of cool. Angie got her baobab tree, some of us scored mangoes to get us through the week and we arrived almost on time back at the St. James with gigantic appetites – except for Nancy who is still on the mend. Tomorrow is another day. While it’s our last day in the village as teachers, the group will continue with the mission without us for another week. So we leave you with the words of the famous Everest explorer who, upon realizing there was not enough food and virtually no chance of being rescued from the staggeringly wretched snowstorm, got up, opened the tent flap and as he walked out into the blizzard, said “Carry on. I may be gone for quite some time.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Quote of the day: Like water, be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth, and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world.

Journal by: Lisa Krieser

It seems that we are all getting into the daily routine. To Amo and Esther’s delight we can even find our way to and from the St. James Guesthouse. We started the morning with a delicious breakfast of eggs with tomato, green pepper, and onion in them, porridge and toast. Bless is a great cook!

After breakfast Amo showed up and we all headed to our respective schools. We were all busy last night making charts, looking at pen pal letters, adding up grades and preparing lessons. We were all hoping our hard work would pay off.

In the morning Nancy retaught her students English figures of speech, Lisa and Angie got their first final draft of letters and Katie and Julie discovered new posters, supplies and toys for their little students. The walk back to the guesthouse was another hot one! Lunch was served and Esther showed up. A discussion was held as to how to teach teachers to use the supplies they are given. The seamstress came to take measurements so that all of the material we bought could be made into clothes. We are all excited to see the final result, which should be done on Friday. Some of us talked to Esther to finalize our weekend trip to Cape Coast and Kakum National Park.

We walked to the library, but had to read and tutor students without Samuel, as he wasn’t there today. There were lots of students eager to see us and learn. On the way back Katie witnesses lightening and we all heard the thunder and felt the cool breezes that were there because of the storm. It didn’t rain on us as we walked home.

We all rested before dinner and met again for dinner. We had shepherds pie and popcorn-yum! A routine of ours has been to sit around the table talking about all sorts of topics. I think we all find out something new about one another whenever a meal is finished. Overall, it was a great day!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quote of the day: “With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” –

Sir Thomas Foxwell Buxton

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” – T. Roosevelt

By: Maria Buxton

Tuesday began bright and early, as we all somehow managed to drag ourselves out of bed in time for breakfast. As per usual, we walked to our respective schools to join our classes. My class was particularly excited to see me, as they had long ago assumed I had thrown in the towel, flown home, and reunited with my cheeseburger. Meanwhile Katie and Julia seemed to have a big success making and flying kites in the Kg, and Nancy, Lisa, Angie, and my mom tutored a few students one-on-one in French, math, and English.

After a short break and lunch, we were off to tutoring, which ran smoothly as usual. A few of us then went on to the Volta Hotel and used the Internet, which never seems to get old. We got back, had dinner, and enlisted Amo to teach us something to surprise our guests on Friday. This has proved to be more challenging than we had expected, but we’re down for the challenge. After that, the group had a long discussion about the communities need for certain technology, in particular, how they might benefit from something that would project as a laptop screen. We went back to our rooms- many of us continuing work we had to do before tomorrow’s school day. Hopefully we all had quiet, restful, and a bat-free night to prepare us for the coming day.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quote of the day: “People don’t care what we know until they know we care.”
- Rick Stevens

Journal by: Angie

After another nice breakfast it was decided Katie and Maria could use more rest and should stay back. The rest of the group started out on an unusually cool (for Ghana) day. It had rained and the overcast gave us some cool relief from the demanding sun.

We all went to our respective schools, although Lisa joined Julia in place of Katie for the day to help with their 52 little kids.

Esther came at noon with a pleasant surprise- a ride home! This was our first official care ride through Senchi Ferry. Another fun surprise- Esther had a woman bring beautiful fabrics for us to look through and purchase if we chose, which many of us did.

We all sat down for an authentic Ghanaian treat of egg sauce and rice, Ken key, cook yam, avocado, watermelon and salad. It was fun to try the foods we have heard about and have seen the children eating.

After lunch, half of us grabbed a tro tro (only after Esther had shared that we were all pointing in the wrong direction and corrected us =)- we could either have been there for a long time or found our self way down by the bridge!) The other half- feeling a bit better went with Esther to the market.

Esther showed us a particular fabric store of a friend and then we all divided up to meet again @ 2:50. Interestingly enough, although she did not tell us, we all ended up at Esther’s own store! Some of us purchased right away and many of us would like to return to purchase.

The group found a tro-tro and with a minor detour found us at the library in time to read with the kids. It has been such a delight getting to build relationships with those students and seeing their familiar faces each day.

After a rain delay and another incident we headed back to S. James with our guide “Obed” from Nano Amo School.

We enjoyed Tilapia, rice with a delicious sauce, potato, and popcorn by our beloved cook Bless and started talking. Veronica shared a wonderfully romantic story about the origin of Maria’s middle name. Later, Esther and Erica came by for some math and French tutoring.

Another great day full of new experiences here in Senchi Ferry.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quote of the day: “We shape our self to fit this world and by the world are shaped again” – Dand Whyte

Journal by: Angie

Woke up late to another good breakfast by Bless, it was was nice to sleep in for a little bit. Julia and Katie were invited to their teacher’s church so they left after they ate.

The rest of the group relaxed, napped and regained our strength from the busy week. After the three-hour service the girls returned and told us about their experience of a service all in Twi.

Their teacher had invited them to a dancing/ drumming performance and they extended that to our group. Nancy joined them while Veronica, Maria, Lisa and I went to the Volta Dam Hotel by taxi.

We are happy to see Maria eating at least a bit more and seeming to regain her strength little by little. However Katie now has a horrible sinus cold and our thoughts go to them both.

All in all a nice and relaxing day spent in a variety of ways.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Quote of the day: “Do not judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.” – Native American saying

Jounral by: Nancy

Today, we ventured out on a bit of an adventure. We visited both the monkey sanctuary and waterfalls, north and a bit east of Senchi Ferry, close to the border of Togo.

We departed the guesthouse early with our driver. We traveled for about 2 hours, through village after village, through farmland, across big green stretches of land. Sometimes the road was paved, sometime snot. Always alongside us on the road were people walking, carrying branches, water, laundry, yams, mangoes, and much more on their head. Walking slowly, and gracefully, there simply is no other way for most to go where they need to go and bring what they need to bring.

We passed several funerals along the way – a community affair, many dressed in black or dark colors – the mood was rather festive. Music played, people sang and food was being prepared.

As we traveled, the land around us began to change. The hills in the distance became higher, tall trees poking up from the undergrowth.

Once at the Monkey Forest, we were given a guide and headed into the forest for our hike to see the monkeys. First, it was very quiet, but then our guide made strange sounds to call out to the monkeys. They began to appear in the trees around us. We crossed a giant puddle and continued to walk a bit. Soon, with bananas in hand, the monkeys leaped from the trees right onto our arms, peeled the bananas, ate as much as they could, and leaped off. Some hung from tree branches as they reached for our bananas. It was a startling and magical experience.

As we walked back, it started to rain. A lot. We huddled under a huge canopy of trees and very practically dry under the protective branches. We moved to the covered porch of a little house nearby, huddling together and watching the tremendous rainfall. When the rain stopped, we ate our lunch and headed our with our driver to the waterfalls.

After what felt like a lifetime of bumps, potholes, dust, smoke from fires, exhaust from the cars, many more bumps, we arrived, exhausted and relieved, at the waterfall center. Our guide took us across 9 bridges deep into the rainforest. He showed us coffee beans, bananas, cocoa trees and more. The walk was long, but beautiful. We caught glimpses of the huge mountains ahead through the branches.

Finally, we arrived at the waterfall, an awesome site! Many young people were in the water, and Katie and Julia decided to join in. Quite a sight as Katie stood in the waterfall, arms stretched out, and her beaming smile reaching us across the water. Julia joined in and the two were a soggy happy mess when they returned to us on the shore.

A quick stop to shop in the village of the waterfall visitor center, and we headed home. We were all utterly exhausted from the walking and the driving. The sunset, we made our way home, in a daze and full of thoughts and feelings from our day.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Quote of the day: “The best mind-altering drug is truth.” –Lily Tomlin

Journal by: Nancy

A soft breeze blew through the window, the curtains fluttering. And with that, they were gone. Today, we said goodbye to Carl, his grandson, Tyler, Pat and her granddaughter, Samantha. We had only known each other for one week (this is hard to believe!), and yet I feel like we are all old friends. The presence of Carl and Pat were especially reassuring to us as they had previously been to Ghana with Global Volunteers. Their sense of humor, kindness and welcoming spirit really set the tone right from the beginning and we will really miss them. Tyler and Sam were just a joy; teenagers with courage, spunk, and incredibly good manners. Even in just one week, we saw them grow and mature.

So, our day! Today is Friday, and I am quite sure that those of us who are staying here longer are grateful for the fantastic week we’ve just had, but also for the weekend break! Each day has its routines, plus unexpected challenges and delights. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my life! Here is our typical morning routine:

Get up around 6:15 a.m. Take a shower. Remember to take malaria pill and put on bug spray. Eat breakfast. Have our morning meeting. Walk through the community to our jobs at different schools and construction. Arrive. Sweat buckets. Drink water. Teach (or construct!) Drink more water. Sweat some more. Walk back through community. Children grab our hands, ask for photos, and accompany us cheerfully as we walk back towards the guesthouse. Arrive in our rooms. Rip off sweat-drenched clothes. Take shower. Put on clean clothes. Inhale a delicious lunch (today was rice balls and peanut soup). Go back to our rooms and rest. Put on more bug spray. Walk with our group through the community and arrive at the library by 3 p.m. Sweat. Drink water. Read to children. Sweat some more. At 4 p.m., we head back to our guesthouse, the children holding our hands with sweet smiles. We say goodbye to them for the day. Arrive at guesthouse. Rip off our clothes, drenched in sweat. Collapse on our beds under the mosquito nets and rest before dinner. Eat at 7 p.m., hang out together and talk, maybe play a game. Go to our rooms and try to get a good night’s rest.

Lunch was fantastic. Bless, our cook, served us more traditional food – rice balls and peanut soup. Plus mangoes. Delicious! A lovely woman had brought various fabrics, shirts and jewelry to sell to us. Many bought some items from her. All beautiful and reasonably priced. We then said our goodbyes to the Minnesota gang, culminating in a group photo in the courtyard.

I have to give Katie and Julia the “teachers of the day” award! After less than a day’s notice, they created a well-conceived plan to teach their 50+ kindergarteners about the alphabet and shapes. (Their teacher was away at a funeral and the “disciplinarian” did little to help.) From the looks of their classroom when we swung by to pick them up for lunch, it was obvious that they had conducted a highly effective lesson using limited materials, lots of ingenuity, and plenty of spirit.

After a delicious lunch, we did some shopping right in our guesthouse! A woman had brought jewelry, shirts, fabrics and more, and we had fun picking items to bring home to family and friends.

Samuel (the librarian) had to go to a funeral, too, (probably the same one) so the library was closed and we had the afternoon off. After some rest, we decided to go to the Volta Hotel again to use their Wi-Fi and computers. Veronica had hoped to go swimming, but sadly, the pool closed at 5 p.m. Next time, we’ll get an earlier start.

We returned to the guesthouse, ate another great meal, hung out and shared musical favorites, and collapsed in our beds.

Of course, our thoughts are always with Maria, who has been sick all week. She is doing her best to rally herself and join in what she can, but clearly she is suffering.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Quote of the day: “In this world we must help one another”- anonymous

Journal by: Tyler

So after another rough night for some, our day began with breakfast with the whole gang there- including Esther who was feeling much better and decided to join us today on our journey- but that was short lived with Maria not feeling better. Esther took Maria to the clinic were she received treatment and now she claims to be feeling much better. When lunchtime rolled around, we all had stories to tell about our day. We had a little break before we went to the library.

After we were done reading to the kids, Samuel put on a show for us with the kids singing “good morning Jesus” and a variety of others. We had dinner early today so we could go see traditional African dancing. We had a blast there were we all danced and drummed to the music. Tomorrow is Friday, the day I’ve been dreading, because I’m going to be leaving the group of people that I just met and have cared about.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Quote of the day: “Each day is a new life. Seize it. Live it.” – David Guy Powers

Journal by: Samantha

Another bright and early morning after a rough, sleepless night for some. After eating breakfast we talked with Amo and Ester for a while, and Ester broke the news to use that she had gotten Malaria for the second time. We all hope and pray she gets better quickly. Afterwards we went to our second day of teaching and for some, their first day of construction. They were brave enough to face the heat (and apparently some other critters- scorpions and such). After work we headed back for lunch where Tyler was sure to finish off all the French fries. We then returned to the library for the always enjoyable time reading to, or with the kids- or teaching them computer skills. We then ventured through towns and traffic to the bead factory and managed somehow to not pop a tire. At the factory we witnessed the entire bead making process.

Another bumpy ride back to St. James, just in time to enjoy some soup and popcorn, and share some laughs over a great game (with no name) after dinner. It seems like I had just got to know everyone and already everyone seems comfortable around each other. It’s so sad to think four of us will be leaving soon.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Quote of the day: “Who is the happiest of men? Those who value the merits of others and in their pleasure take joy, even as though it was his own.” - Goethe

Journal by: Pat

Our first day of “teaching” – although some of the team had “Baptism by fire” on the 1st day- including Tyler, everyone did great. Yesterday and today went well- all around. We have 3 real teachers on our team and they take their work in the classroom very seriously. (Not that the rest of us don’t care, it’s just that our expectations of ourselves aren’t as great as theirs). We’ve had lots of discussions about the education system here, and in the US. Many challenges! The afternoons are spent in the computer lab and library- very noisy and busy, but also rewarding.

I love our team! Everyone is fun, nice and very supportive of one another. I can see it will already be hard to leave this group after a short week! I have to remind myself and Samantha that we will remain in contact after our time here. Carl and Tyler are our token males on this trip. They’ve been great sports. Everyone’s handling the heat well too! No one has been cranky or complaining, which is pretty amazing considering how hot and humid it is. The cold showers actually feel great after a few hours of being out.

Esther joined us this morning for our morning meeting. We were actually surprised to see her after hearing that she had to receive treatment at the hospital on Monday. She said she felt better, and definitely looked better. Amo has been doing a wonderful job in her place. He’s been so helpful setting up our free-time activities, as well as delivering and retrieving us from our various work places.

Tonight we went to Akosombo Hotel to enjoy the view; snapped some photos and have a drink and some appetizers. It was relaxing and easy being together- a nice change from St. James.

Highlights of the day: The unbelievable heat

The smiling faces of the children

The children singing

The job of “bingo”

The great growing friendships among our team

Low of the day: Carl breaking the chair in the library and popcorn again at dinner.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Quote of the day: Just a thought- Just one person, in just one day, can bring hope and joy in some measure to so many- while seeming to do so little.

By: Carl Carlson

Breakfast at 7am, after an exciting excursion to the continental hotel last night and its world famous zoo. Esther had to give us some more rules about not getting romantically involved with anyone here. She only had one problem child and let her know she was watching her – after a good laugh we were assigned to our various schools. Then it was off to the village welcoming ceremony. After entering the palace and greeting all the village chiefs the ceremony began- then off to work. Noon came and we headed back to the guesthouse for lunch and relaxation.

At lunch we found that some of our group were tossed right into the fire and placed before the class. Tyler decided he wanted to go from 7th grade science to 3rd grade math. Actually his frustration was with techniques and short cuts. It was a common observation. A great lunch, a short rest, and back to the library for the afternoon reading session. 4 o’clock came and the hour went fast, as we walked back to home base we each had 2-6 children attached to us. The children are filled with such joy it becomes contagious. At dinner we have another chance to reflect and share our thoughts for the day.

Special thought- it’s selfish of me, but I have to share the utter emotional uplift I received when my special little friend Clement ran into my arms. Meeting old friends when you return to the village. For Pat, Veronica and Maria, it is our second trip to Senchi Ferry. We all can see the impact of Angie, Lisa, Julia & Katie all came to the house from the bar with news that Obama was killed (the fox news hacking story). Samantha called home and her mom verified that the story was false, great! Excitement and relief from the news.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quote of the day: “Service is planting a tree you will never sit under.”

Journal by: Veronica Buxton

After meeting up at the Airport View hotel we had dinner, dashed off to the hip and happening mall for an umbrella for Katie and came back to crash. Our Nebraska teachers, Lisa and Angie sat by the pool sampling local brew, Maria, Veronica and Katie went for a swim and everyone else either disappeared or tried to get on the internet.

In the morning we drove to Sanchi Ferry, met the staff and did our orientation- all by the book. After getting our rooms, we had lunch, talked about weekend excursions and then took a tro tro to the world famous intercontinental hotel where we saw crocodiles, monkeys, and a few other animals of undetermined origins. Some beer and wine all around, then Carl negotiated transportation back to the St. James.