It feels like we have been here for so long already! I can’t believe that it is only a week since we left (I’m picking up the local dialect of English..sorry!)
Accra was a really good transition to Ghana and Africa in general. It was really interesting and also slightly stressful to be in the city during the second election. It reminded me of Oberlin after Obama won the election. I found Accra to be a little intimidating. Probably because we stuck out so much and I tend to feel uncomfortable when I’m such a blatant outsider…but in Ghana, it is difficult to avoid that with our group…we’re hard to miss.
I’m finding that there are just many things to balance and negotiate here that I had not expected, or maybe didn’t understand completely before I left. For instance, I had a conversation with a young woman from Accra who is studying to be a lawyer while we were on our way to Medina Mark. She asked me some tough questions, like why I thought people from Africa wanted to go to America/why America was so good; why was I excited about Obama abd what did I think he could/should do for America…at one point she pointed to my skin and said that I was fair and she was dark and asked if I thought we were the same. I said yes and she laughed and said no. I said that although we looked different I thought we were still the same because we were both people and tried to say that our bodies worked the same way and we felt the same things. I think she was ok with that assessment, but I don’t really know.
In Eguafo, there are also things to balance. I can’t really imagine what the villagers are thinking of us…I mean we arrive and bring so much stuff and then go to the market and buy even more things for the house, and they have so little. I mean, part of our goal is to set up this volunteer house and to make it comfortable for future volunteers, but still…it makes me feel a little weird. Also, it’s hard to explain or express to people that although we may have more than they do, that we are still students and that we cannot feed the whole village, or provide things for everyone who doesn’t have as much. It’s just frustrating and can make you feel guilty at times. I hope that this will get easier as we are here longer and that we will be able to help in ways that will benefit the whole village and their future and not have them looking to us individually for material things.
That being said, I really love Eguafo and the people there and in the short time we have been here it has already found a special place in my heart. David is so helpful to us and the children in the orphanage, especially Edwin, are so lovely to be around. Our porch is always full of children who want to talk to us and see what we are doing, and now that we have figured out how to ask for time to ourselves, it is nice to have such a social home, and also be able to have some time alone. Everyone in the group is getting along really well and we are all very excited about getting down to work and putting some things and ideas into action…like grant writing, assessing the needs of the school, and setting up some documentation templates so that David can keep track of the school’s needs and finances and take the stpes to get certified. Our house is really nice and we have nightly check ins which keep us all on the same page. I’ve been so impressed with the group’s optimism, honesty, and openness so far…I can’t believe that we came together as a group so well and so quickly!
I’m getting better with my bucket bathing and latrine peeing techniques eachday…it was very exciting the first time I went to the bathroom and didn’t get pee on my feet : )
Brushing my teeth and washing my face on the porch, handwashing clothes, and making the trek to the bathroom by flashlight already seems normal and it is really eye opening to see how much you can do with so little. I’m very proud of myself and the group for adjusting to village life so well, and I think we have been respectful and graceful in the transition…
Mom and Dad, you’ll be proud to know that I haven’t screamed about a bug once yet! Even last night, when I was awoken by a cockroach climbing on my leg (luckily there was a mosquito net between me and him and Rebecca and Yolanda rallied to save me!)
I guess the overall message of this post is that things I thought would be difficult for me to adjust to in Ghana have not been so hard and things such as meeting people and interacting with them, or balancing my life and their culture are a bit harder than I thought…especially the gender understandings and expectations.
I’m so glad that we are able to be here and meet these people and think about things in this way. I wish you could all be here and experience it with us! I also wish you could meet these kids and see the school for yourselves…David has such big dreams that could really change the lives of some of these kids and I hope we are able to help!!
Lots of Love from Ghana!
Oh one more thing…the new President of Ghana was announced yesterday and Pat, Sarah, and I were in Cape Coast and saw all of these parades and celebrations because of it…everyone was dancing and dressed up. At one point we couldn’t move because there were so many people celebrating. But it was fine because everyone was happy and just wanted us to dance and celebrate with them. You see alot of shrits with Obama’s picture and Ghana’s new president on themsaying “real change” or “the change we need”. I bought one and I’m really excited! Yay for democracy! I hope thongs continue to go well and that America and Ghana can have better relations…keep your fingers crossed I guess!