Ghana Team Journal

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thought of the day:

“When I was five, my mom told me the key to life was happiness. When I went to school they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said ‘happy’, they told me I didn’t get the assignment, and I told them they didn’t get life.”

By Cailin

Journal by: Cailin

Final full day in Senchi. Started with a nice breakfast, but I did almost cry without my peanut butter.

Had a lovely time at the library with Samuel, Kathleen, and mom. All we did was clean, clean, clean. After cleaning the entire library (including Samuel’s very messy office) we all sat around the table and just talked. It was refreshing to sit under the cool fan and just share a warming laugh. In the middle of Samuel’s life story a mother and her 6-month-old baby came in. The mother was kind enough to let me wrap her baby on my back. It was such a touching moment. The little girl held on tightly to my hands and just relaxed against my back. There’s a sense of connection when being so close and bundled up with a small child. I was happy to finally accomplish that goal of mine.

We said bye to the mother and baby and then Kathleen, mom and I were off to the fabric maker to watcher her continue working on our fabrics. All the little ones that were waiting outside the library joined us. The amount of time and detail put into the creation of these fabrics is so amazing.

Then we went back to the front of the library to meet Sandy so we could go to the clinic. Waiting outside the library were my favorite little obibinies Oliver and Gina. I took pictures with them and Gina finally started laughing and giggling with me. I know I shouldn’t pick favorites but I’ll really miss those two.

It was a nice lunch followed by my final nap in my mini bed.

Afternoon library time was overly fun. All of the obibinies (King Bello’s group) were a part of my group for puzzle making. Barbra and I tried to help the little ones make the puzzles as fast as we could. They’re so sweet and extremely cute. At the end saying goodbyes was hard. I didn’t want to say bye to all the little kids. I grew very fond of the young ones and the kids my age. The rain began to fall; it was an eerie, movie like feeling. The goodbyes didn’t feel real but I know that sadly it was real. Kathleen, mom, Barbra, Mathew, Gina (there little brother), and I got a taxi and were off to the St. James Guesthouse. I had to say more sad goodbyes to my really good new friends Barbra and Mathew.

I indulged in a lovely shower with a water bottle and then was off to my last dinner in this remarkable town. Everyone was there and we all squeezed around the table. Looking around at all my new friends I couldn’t believe this was goodbye. We took many pictures, said many thank yous, and finally ended the night with a million handshakes.

It’s weird to think I embarked on this journey to live out a dream and change these people’s lives. Now I’m leaving with one of my larges dreams as a reality and my life changed. You always hear the stories about people who tried to change someone’s life but their life changed instead. I never imagined that I would be able to say I was one of those people. And above that I never thought I would make the friendships I have. I truly have grown fond of this town and the people here. I gained a family of obibinies and it’s unreal to think I have to leave them.

All it took was two weeks, two weeks of breathtaking experiences, two weeks of new friends, and two weeks of a life changing experience.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thought for the day: Kathleen (in honor of Deb McNally as it is her favorite quote)

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

By Jimi Hendricks

Journal by: Susan

Today’s journal is devoted to the oatmeal and the egg pancake eaters. Breakfast was its usual success, and then on to our stations.

Five of us went to the Ericson International School. I have the easiest assignment with the older students who are respectful, polite, attentive, and fun to be with. Waiting for late arrivals to class, I taught the boys how to play hit the penny/stone. One girl dutifully swept the room and was reluctant to try; however, she hit the stone on her first try. She left after that triumph.

We started our day as usual with “Good morning to you,” and “ Itsy bitsy spider”. While Wiafe was putting the test for the day on the board, I introduced my group to “I walked into the bakery shop.” His test was questions about science and technology. On Tuesday his test had been about the environment. The tests have 3 or 4 questions with several parts. It takes the students about an hour to do it, but there’s a lot of talking and staring into space, while he plays on his cell phone. Today two students walked out of the room to go to the younger students across the courtyard to get pencils. Did Wiafe look up? No. Ten o’clock was break time so he collected the papers. The teachers were sitting under a tree and Wiafe and Winifred joined us. He taught me a board game, which is similar to ours. When break was over, I went back to my waiting students. I put a simple math problem on the board, which had given them trouble yesterday (7000 minus 4). Foster got it immediately and others came along slowly. I told them now I was giving them a harder problem. This time I put 17,000 minus 5 on the board. Again Foster was right there. I got Godwin to do it on the board. “Okay, next is a really hard one. 235,000 minus 6. Everyone seemed to be catching on. In the meantime they had been clamoring for a long division problem. I put 7,665 divided by 35. Foster worked at it, but in the end Wiafe helped him along.

Next came grammar. Ali had asked me to teach subject- verb -object. I had noticed in student’s writing that they had difficulty with the 3rd person singular in the present tense. They always forgot that pesky “s.” I put a sample conjugated verb on the board and gave them a list of verbs some with and some without the “s.” We worked through which took singular or plural nouns. After doing that we added the object. Hopefully, it became clearer as we worked through the problems.

I read a folk tale to end the class from The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind and Foster told and Anansi the spider story. I told them for homework they had to bring in another animal tale, but I think that might not happen as we may not be in the classroom.

Lunch and rest were next and then the library. Kathleen led us to a woman making batiks, and yards of cloth laid out on the grass drying were beautiful. The woman showed us the process with the wax and the dipping. From there we went to the Library. As Samuel was away, Kathleen gathered us outside for a sing-a-long before we entered the building. Before unlocking the door, she gave a strong warning about correct behavior. We all promised to be good.

Home, early dinner in anticipation of the drumming and dancing. The skies opened up in welcome. When we arrived at the community center, a covered pavilion, a religious service was happening. We piled out of the van and sat in the back until that concluded.

And then our treat. Drummers pounding with that melodic beat, led the dancers as they whirled, jumped, wiggled, twisted, circled, leaped, and did everything that the human body can do and then some. In the van on the way home, Liz said that was very suggestive which I thought was an understatement. After doing all that for an hour without a drop of sweat or a pant , they brought us up on stage individually. Cailin and Julie were pushed the hardest while they treated this old fogey with care. But we all had a great time, dancing drumming, cheering, and laughing.

And now to bed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thought for the day:

“Our children, our future.”

Journal by: Sandy

Oatmeal for breakfast! Yum, yum. Esther joined us and shared her joy at the participation with Liz, myself, and Pat on the river cruise after lunch yesterday. Liz shared her journal entry and inspirational thought with us and we were off to school and library by 8:15.

It seemed quite warm and very humid today but our school time passes so quickly that I don’t notice until it is time to leave. After our morning greetings and a prayer of thanks to God for food, shelter, family, friends and school, the children and I read our stories about ourselves and found that we could get to know each other better this way.

Next we reviewed the days of the week and talked about which days were school days and what we do on the weekends when we are at home with our families. A lively discussion of calendar month was begun when the children sang/spoke, “Thirty days hath September” which they have memorized. Festivals during certain months were also a lively topic.

The times tables to 5 were our next subject until the break; these still prove very difficult for even the brightest children since they learn by rote and are unable to understand the concept of three sets of three when asked randomly, “ how much is 3x3?”

After the break, we began our English lesson using the flipbooks borrowed from the Senchi Library. Today we covered the words ending in ALL by adding letters in front of ALL, we made many words and used them in sentences. We worked to find the verbs and nouns in the sentences we created. The most difficult word we made was SQUALL. We started on words ending in AT but time ran out before we could finish. The children are also enjoying the story that we read together each day, “The Awful Ogre’s Awful Day”.

Back to St. James via taxi (5) for lunch which was extra special with ice cream dessert to celebrate Pat’s birthday belatedly. Off to the Library at 2:45 via cab. Kids were restless, rowdy, and aggressive today. It is difficult for them to hear us read or for us to hear them read with all the cacophony. Several boys were especially aggressive and bullied others and an older girl, Mary, pushed a smaller child’s head into the wall. Julie asked her to stop the behavior and to leave the library but Mary chose to ignore Julie and to follow directions. Three other boys pinned a fourth boy down and cut his right ring finger with a bottle cap! They were out of control and need to know that there are consequences for this behavior. When we left the library, we walked with Matthew to the St. James’ driveway so that he could catch the tro-tro to Kpong.

Wrote in my journal and took a shower before supper. Shepherd’s Pie with salad and ice cream for dessert! Discussion following supper on the program and related to the fact that this is summer school vs. the regular academic year. The children need some organized physical activities in the afternoons for release of energy. We will try for soccer drills tomorrow with the older children while we read to the little ones.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thought for the day:

“Some pursue happiness, others create it.”

Journal by: Liz

Today we again had a filling breakfast of egg and veggies and toast – to keep us going on another hot day until lunch at 1:00. We heard the journal for yesterday and talked about logistics for the day. Some of us had spoken to the man from Holland who is living here. He is working on the new hotel being built across the road, perhaps as an engineer or supervisor. He says it is a good kind of business. Apparently people from Accra like to come to this area on a weekend and meetings are held here, too.

We went to our classrooms where more children than yesterday showed up in my class and Sandy’s . I had 18 in my class. Rosina wasn’t there when most of the children had arrived, so I started. The children sang two school songs and did their pledge of allegiance to their flag. Then we sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” again. I had made some flash cards the night before and I started with them doing addition and subtraction. They have difficulty understanding the concept of subtraction – Eric told them to get some stones in the yard to figure out the problems. That seemed to help. One boy named Lawrence couldn’t do 2 + 2. I gave him some easy math and later he was doing what the others were doing.

It was getting near recess and the children were getting restless, so Winifred read “Goldilocks” from a book Sandy borrowed from the library.

Then we had break. Most of the adults sat under a tree in the plastic chairs. Rosina showed us some beautiful dresses she has. She told us on Friday we will have a party here at The Guest House and need to wear a Ghanaian dress to dance in.

Winifred does some of the teaching with me and she put math problems and fill-in-the- space word problems on the board for the children to copy and take for homework. This copying takes a long time. Then we check what the children have copied. Some take much more time than others – some help others. Then the children just sit around and talk. They came up to me with their books to be sure they had copied correctly. And then I had the bright idea to give them some math problems in their books. They loved that and kept coming up for more. I made the problems more difficult as they went along. They were having fun and so was I!

When we gathered to come home Eric gave each of us a plastic bag with our names on the outside. We peered in and saw a beautiful cloth bag in Ghanaian colors. When we arrived back at St. James each of us opened our bag and found a beautiful dress in awesome colors. We all thought we were in heaven with our gifts. What could be more typical of Senchi Ferry? But what was overwhelming is the generosity and thoughtfulness of all those teachers, when thy have so little.

When we left school, waving goodbye to the children, I felt emotional about them. I know some of them now, have grown to really care for them and finally feel immersed in their culture.

Susan, Pat, Sandy, Vivian and I were all very concerned about accepting these gifts. In talking it over at lunch with Esther she assured us we could keep our gifts.

Pat, Sandy and Liz went with Esther, her 3-year-old son Yaw and a young woman from The Guest House to the Continental Hotel for a 30-minute boat ride on the Volta. River. The boat had a cover so we wouldn’t get sunburned and had an outboard motor. We all wore life jackets as Esther had requested. The boat ride was wonderful!!! It was lovely to be out on the water, skimming along in the breeze. We passed little villages where children waved. We saw many boats on the river. And the shores with their vegetation were beautiful – refreshing and cool. I had a feeling that I understood why some of the local people wouldn’t want to leave here. The landscape is so lovely and the life is at an easy pace. Why leave?

We arrived back at the library in plenty of time. Many children were already there. Sandy did a very good job at getting the children quiet and she read to them. Samuel arrived and he asked almost every child in the room what they wanted to be in the future. And then he asked some of them to explain exactly what these different jobs entailed. A short big thunderstorm happened. At the end Samuel gave a slide show from Global Volunteers of 2010. All the children loved seeing the pictures.

We walked home, hand in hand with some girls who live in New Senchi. Cailin and Julie walked to the river with some kids.

At supper Kathleen told us that the decisions had been made about who would receive the scholarships to go to high school. There were more finalists than could receive scholarships. We talked about ways money could be raised to give more scholarships.

And now after typing this day’s journal I am going to prepare for tomorrow’s class.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Thought for the day:

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Journal by: Pat

At breakfast we were glad to greet Esther and Kathleen and share our weekend adventures before leaving for school. Those who hadn’t visited Ericson Educational Institute came with us; for Sandy, it would be her first day of teaching, taking the older students from Liz’s class.

But where were the students? Ten from my class drifted in as I read with the earlier ones. It seems the school van was in need of repair so some couldn’t be transported, while others weren’t aware that summer school was extended through this week. With the smaller class, David, the third grade teacher, and I were able to do work with each child as we taught vocabulary development and fractions. We thought about the meaning of “is the bowl half full or half empty?” We were challenged to find a word opposite in meaning to “war”—“unity” was the answer one student contributed, but “peace” didn’t come immediately to their minds.

We also fit in a health reading, taking our weather recordings, geography with several maps, and, of course, a welcome break. The most powerful moment of the morning was when one girl declared that she wasn’t going to stay in Ghana since “some say it’s a dirty country.” David didn’t hesitate to address the students, emphasizing that this is their country, and it is their responsibility to keep Ghana free of litter, protect natural resources, and lead by their example.

Back to the St. James Guest House for lunch, five of us squeezing into the taxi. Liz, Susan and Vivian decide to leave immediately after lunch for the Akosombo market and post office, to return by tro-tro.

Reading at the library was a pleasure, with Samuel permitting my group to use the adult room. As I read a picture book about Moses, illustrations of making bricks, herding goats, and village life seem so similar to Senchi today.

During dinner we had much to discuss, wondering at our bright students, exploring how to reach those with more limited English, and wishing them a successful future. Will they qualify for Kathleen’s scholarships, complete high school, and go on to be the leaders Ghana needs?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Journal by: Kathleen

After a night of little sleep, I left the guesthouse at 9:30am to meet Samuel at church. As I arrived, the service was in full swing with preaching and singing exploding through the windows. I love attending church in Ghana because I feel the power of the congregation’s devotion expressed in their vocal and physical abandonment. These people know how to pray! When the preacher preaches, while in TWI, I absorb his charisma and the congregation responds enthusiastically with shouts of “Halleluiah”. Once the music begins, there is lively swaying, singing and dancing that fills the space as the commitment to faith sweeps the room and surrounds your body to carry you high on its power. Oh to have grown up in a church such as this!

I think that I am particularly affected, as I have spent several months this summer reading and re-reading the book called, “Living Buddha, Living Christ” by Thich Nhat Hanh. He is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk with a brilliant message. However, his teachings are soft and reflective. Therefore, the contrast between my summer’s reading and my current church experience in Ghana…..why I feel that I have just been run over by the love train!

I am fortunate to have Samuel beside me for he is able to translate the communications taking place within the congregation. After about an hour of preaching, singing and praying, the minister opened up a question to the congregation. “Do you see any conflict between the religious teachings of the bible and the actions you see in everyday life?” Well, the conversation that continued for an hour and a half was the most profound I have ever experienced in a church. People shared their problems, their conflicts, their values, their fears, their frustrations as well as humorous stories.

The entire congregation was engaged in a spiritual, no holding back group therapy session. And, there was no judging and there was no embarrassment. There was only honesty, compassion and understanding. I just sat there thinking how deeply the members of this community must know each other.

At one point, a young boy of about 10 stood up and the person with the microphone approached him so that he could share his story. This young boy said that he was angry with his parents. He went on to explain that his younger brother was disturbing him while he was trying to do his homework so he hit his brother and told him to go away. His younger brother went crying to his mother who came back to him and hit him for hitting his younger brother. He said that he felt this was unfair.

After hearing this story, I raised my hand and the person with the microphone came over to me. With my heart pounding, I stood up to speak.

I began by asking a question. “If you parents see one of your children hit the other, do you think that this is wrong?” I asked. The congregation nodded its head and answered, “Yes.” “Well, I continued, I have been in the school classroom when a teacher has hit one of his students for misbehaving. Do you think that this is ok?” I asked. Again, the congregation said, “Yes.”

“Where do children learn to hit?” I questioned. No one responded, so, I continued. “Many believe that children learn their behavior from their parents, their teachers and other adults in their lives”, I stated. “So, when a teacher hits a child for misbehaving, do you think the child learns that it is ok to hit their sister or brother or friend when they believe that he or she is misbehaving? Are we adults teaching our children to hit?” I proposed.

“Well, I have learned that there is another way,” I continued. “The way that I punished my son was to take away his privileges. Sometimes, I would make him sit in a chair, other times I told him that he could not go outside and play with his friends. Taking away his pleasures was another way for him to learn a lesson not to do something naughty. What do you think of this approach to discipline?” I asked. Then I sat down.

From my seat, I saw several individuals nod their heads in response. Next, Samuel stood up and translated into TWI what I had said in order to insure that everyone in the congregation understood. Once Samuel sat down, the following two individuals who stood up to speak said that they believed that removing privileges was a better way than corporal punishment.

As I sat in my chair, I reflected, did I take a risk and offended some members of the congregation as a result of my comments. But, then I was reminded of two things: first, I thought about the Obibinie’s at the library, whom I love so dearly; and, secondly, I remembered what I love most about the Ghanaians…..their directness, their openness, their honesty. This is a culture that expresses itself. People here believe in speaking their mind. It is accepted. This is Ghana.

So, besides having experienced one of the most interesting days that I have ever experienced in Ghana by participating in this engaging, open and learning religious service, I hope that I may have encouraged one parent to consider a new approach to disciplining his child. The answer to this, I shall never know.

Julie’s thought for the day:

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.

For indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

Margaret Mead, 1901-1978, American Cultural Anthropologist

Journal by: Julie

We started at the Rain Forrest and walked the tree top canopies. It was a bit scary, but really cool. The rain forest is so breathtaking. Percy, from the hotel, joined us. He took pictures of Cailin and I on the planks. Percy tried to jump on the planks and make Cailin fall. She thought it was great.

From there we went to the Cape Coast Slave Castle and walked on the beach. Cailin took lots of pictures and got to see her boats. Cailin was so happy to run through the waves. One more item to cross off her “Summer Bucket List”!!

From there we drove to the Shangri La Hotel in Accra and had lunch. It was a great choice by Liz. We got back to our “home” about 4:30 PM. Nice to be out of the van.

Esther stopped by at dinner-back from her cousin’s funeral. She is still not feeling well. She’s had a cold for 3 weeks. Amo has been really sick too. We haven’t seen him since last Thursday morning and we are all very worried about him.

Cailin and I stayed and talked to Kathleen after dinner. She let Cailin use her Internet so she could Facebook a few friends. 2 weeks is a long time to be “out of touch” when you are 16!! Kathleen is a special person with big passion and strong conviction. The villages she touches in Ghana are so fortunate to have her. Ghana is a wonderful country with beautiful people-inside and out.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Journal by: Julie

Today we’re on our way to Cape Coast. First stop is the Slave Castles. It is a somber reminder of the slave and human trafficking trade. The irony was how beautiful it was from the upper two floors and how ridiculous and surreal it was on the bottom floor. For “God loving Christians” it is incomprehensible what they were thinking.

We ate lunch at the Cape Coast Bridge Restaurant. Food was delicious. Town was packed for the festival to celebrate the beginning of the fishing season. There were so many boats and flags. The streets were crowded and smelled of rank fish.

We drove about 40 minutes inland to the Rain Forrest Lodge. Not bad. Shower was hot and had a real showerhead. Vivian shared a room with us. Cailin and I really like her. Cailin and Liz went swimming. Liz is a hoot-especially for her age and I think she and Cailin get a kick out of each other!

Dinner was great. Cailin and I got pizza and salad. A fun change.

Vivian came to Ghana to find her roots. I think her family back in Austin will be a little shocked to find out she found them-Cailin and I-LOL!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vivian’s thought for the day:

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

Journal by: Vivian

We started our day with a nice breakfast of eggs, toast, juice and bananas.

After breakfast we called Esther to finishing planning our trip to Cape Coast and asked for advice from Kathleen on where we should eat and activities for the day.

We had planned to walk to the library and school, but the taxi was waiting when we finished breakfast.

Some of the children were waiting when we arrived at school. The children are so loving and full of energy. In my class today we had a wonderful time of learning. I read a book and engaged the children with questions to determine if they were really understanding what I was reading. The children responded well to the questions. I also played games and modeled some of the classroom rules in the U.S.

We shared chicken, rice, pineapple, salad and watermelon for lunch. We listened to Kathleen enlighten us about Ghana and the people in the village.

Some of us walked to the library in the rain for our afternoon of reading with the village children. After our reading session we walked across the street to watch the pounding and making of fufu. Susan and I walked back to the hotel. We missed the path somehow, but we still managed to find our way back to the hotel.

Hot shower, dinner, another great day in Senchi Ferry!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thought for the day:

A Story about Bai Juyu and Bird’s Nest Monk

During the time when Bai Juyu was a government official, he passed by the Green Creek Bridge and saw a crowd gathering before a Buddhist monk and hearing him talk. He thought it was strange that people would come to such a remote countryside to listen to a monk. The monk must be very learned he reckoned, so he rode his horse in the direction of the crowd.

When the Bai came face to face with the monk, he said, “Master, the place where you are seated is quite dangerous.” The Buddhist monk was the famous Bird’s Nest Monk. After just one glance at the official, he knew that this man was an arrogant and conceited elitist. So Bird’s Nest said to him, “It is your position that is in danger.”

Then Bai asked Bird’s Nest, “Please tell me Master, what is the essence of Buddhism?” Bird’s Nest decided to let him learn a moral lesson. “Do no evil deed and engage in deeds of kindness.” The official who knew a little about Buddhism, immediately retorted, “I’ve known this for a long time. Not only I know it but even a three-year old child knows it.”

Seeing the official disparaging Buddhist teachings, Bird’s Nest said to him, “A three-year old child may well know the Way. But an eighty-year old man many no longer have the energy to practice it.”

Journal by: Susan

Today has been such a day that I’m not sure that I can even remember all that happened.

Highlights are night music, nuclear family, family tree, classroom games, Eric, Kathleen, naked lady, library, river walk, ferry history, Jesus, banana plantation, mahogany tree, newborn…

So where to begin. As we left dinner Wednesday night, I heard music coming from the outside the hotel. How late would this continue? As Liz and I went to bed, I wondered how late would this continue. As I woke up a few hours later, I wondered how late would this continue. After the cock crowed at 3:45, I wondered how late would this continue. The alarm went off at 5:55 it was still there. Liz went out and spoke to the woman who said that the music came from a funeral, which probably would go on for several days. So how long would this continue?

After group meeting with Amo, our group went off to the Ericson Technical Institute: Liz, Vivian, Pat and me. The lesson on nuclear families began my fifth grade class. Wiafe, the teacher, began by asking the students after it had been defined, “What was the importance of the nuclear family.” He copied the reasons from the textbook he was using and after he put as the fifth reason that nuclear families were important so that “property litigation was minimized” I jumped up, went over to him and whispered, “Can I show how to create a family tree”? He said in a minute and went on to put reasons 7, 8, and 9 on the board equally obscure. I drew my family tree and then the students drew theirs. We joked about why it was called a tree because the branches must be in the ground.

At break, Eric, the Principal, came to speak with me. First, he wanted to know how he could get to the United States, then he invited me back to teach, and then he asked how he could get more supplies for his school. He had a strong appeal, as I looked at the rough chalkboard, the broken desks, the metal roof and the open walls. He said that he would try to find how we could send supplies. Break was over.

Our next lesson was grammar, which I gather every class younger than ours is also doing. I made the lesson into a game, by taking a tennis ball and having it pass from person to person as we added adjectives to nouns, verbs to these and then verbally threw out nouns to which they had to add adjectives. I made Wiafe and Ali, a 6 foot Muslin, who sits in the back of the room or talks on his cell phone, play.

And then Kathleen and the naked lady. We were all excited to meet Kathleen as Vivian, Julie, and Cailin had only heard about her, and the rest of us had met her in Hanover. Her enthusiasm and excitement at being in Senchi Ferry was contagious. There we met with the usual crowd of enthusiastic kids who clung to each of us and sat down to read or be read to. Samuel does an amazing job in keeping the kids respectful of the space. Students I had in the morning came over to say hello as others did to Vivian, Liz, and Pat. As the reading continued, the crescendo grew, and students moved closer and closer to hear. When the hour was up, Kathleen, Samuel – the librarian- and our group went for a walk down to the river. Sandy, on the way, led us to the clinic where she is working. Again, minimum facility and supplies, but amazing work being done – more later.

As the river came into view, Samuel stopped us to tell about the stopping of the Senchi ferry and its effect on the town. He talked of farms of bananas and pineapple, hotels, prosperity - all that disappeared with the coming of the bridge down river because the ground was firmer. A little further on we saw the replacement of the ferry as a small rowboat carried a few riders from the other side of the Volta to our side and then went back with some waiting people. I imagine the ferry was a shadow of the original. But how can I forget Jesus with his hat covered with dripping vines, alcohol breath, and a hand out for money. He followed us for a while until Kathleen told him to go firmly.

We went to another side trip to a Tilapia farm down on the river and saw the ferry returning with another group. A breeze was blowing, the river was peaceful, and we all soaked up the beauty. Reluctantly, we headed back home, but before we got on the final path, we stopped at a banana farm with the fruit covered in blue plastic bags to protect them from hungry thieves – birds.

When we came back in to town on the road home, we again passed the clinic. Standing outside was a mother and a newborn in a friend’s arms, the father standing by. The baby was all of 2 ½ hours old. How often are we that close to the miracle of birth?

We wandered back to the St. James Guest House tired but satisfied with all we’d seen, the naked lady nowhere in sight. We went to our rooms, showered and collapsed.