(I’m sorry that this is wordy…it’s hard to edit myself  when I’m still processing this experience)

Yesterday was both a frustrating and exciting expereince  for the members of our group. I think we were all prepared for the language barrier to make communication and explinations difficult, but I certainly was not prepared for the challenge that it has been thus far…it is not even that people don’t understand our words, but they don’t understand what we are trying to do.

For instance, the teachers wanted us to teach the classes, they expected us to come in and take over, atleast that is how it seemed. When we tried to explain that we were here to help with administrative issues, and documentation, and taking the neccessary steps to give the school legitimacy and a sustainable foundation the teachers wanted to know if we would build a school before we left, or wondered why were not at school to teach as the other volunteers who came before us had been. As a result of these expectations, when we went yesterday at 1pm to work with class 1 for an hour on phonics, the teachers dismissed the rest of the school early and went home. We found ourselves feeling very confused and frustrated because our students could not understand us and we could not explain the lessons in their language. Mean while, the other members of our group were in Elmina with David finding out that Ghana is no longer certifying orphanages and that the government is shutting them down because they believe they are destroying the Ghanian family structure. Alos, basic things that we understand regarding health standards are not things the people in the village do…this has led to some conflicts and confusion when we throw out moldy food and have tried to explain that since it is hot and there is no refrigeration that you cannot feed children moldy food or spoiled food because they will get sick.

We met as a group, all alittle frustrated and at a loos of what to do…but luckily, we are an optimistic group and David is excited about our ideas and understands that while we cannot offer money, we can offer ideas, and for that he is thankful.

We sat on our porch and reevaluated our goals, and what we could actually accomplish. We found out that the teachers opened school early because they knew we were coming and thought that we were coming to teach, David told us that he was excited and eager to learn about the food safety and preventative health tips we had to offer, we realized that there were more productive things we could do than going to the school and introducing an entirely new way of learning English than the students had been used to…We all felt so much better! We now have new ideas and goals that we can actually accomplish in the time that we are here, that can truly make a difference!

So here is what we are doing…

3 days a week we are going to have open activity hours at the center for any children who want to come. We will have arts and crafts, games, books, and other activities to do with the children. We are also going to focus our efforts on the 6 children that live at the center/ We are going to take them on short day trips with us and have reading time each night with them at the center. We are also going to work on creating a rec center in their home and empowering the six children to feel proud of their space and giving them titles, like librarian or game monitor. We are also going to fix up David’s office, which is key to getting the NGO status completed. Also, we are going to continue working on fundaising for a permanent school structure and getting some more official documentatino systems set up, working on preventative health skills, and creating a volunteer program.

We have alot on our plate, but we are so excited about the challenge and the work that we can actually accomplish here. Any frustrations any of us had completely disappeared last night when we all sat on our porch with the children from the center and worked with them one-on-one reading books and working on their English…it was the boost we all needed and showed us how we could truly make a difference while we are in Ghana. Working with Edwin on his book last night was the highlight of my trip so far and I can’t wait to continue to work with him tonight!

On a more personal note, I have survived my first encounter with projectile vomit thanks to the wonderful nurses, Rebecca and Sarah and I have accepted that may hair is not going to feel clean while I am in Ghana. I’ve forgotten the concept of being cold and how to pee sitting down as well. I’m really enjoying my time here and the people I’m meeting and the stories I’m hearing!

I wish you could all be here to expereince this, to meet these kids, and to hear David’s story…it is truly inspiring and humbling to be here.

I hope you are all well…more soon!

Lots of Love from Ghana,

Liz/Elizabeth/Buggy

Advertisements