Although I volunteered at Sankofa Mbofra Fie this past summer, I had never actually lived in Eguafo.  It has been immensely challenging to be so immersed in village life, to see the struggles and the material poverty of our friends and neighbors 24-7.  As sobered as I was by my first experience in Ghana, I have continued to struggle with my understandings of development, needs, wants, and cultural relativism.  What do you do when the people you are trying to help assess their needs differently than you do?  How do you help in tangible ways when the problems are rooted in such intangible inequalities?

As everyone else has said, we have been constantly re-evaluating our work and our goals, trying to leave behind something meaningful both in terms of infrastructure and in terms of some kind of physical improvement to the facilities.  It has been challenging to set up a large, nice desk and cabinet unit in David’s office, something we deemed necessary to the progress and more organized functioning of the organization, while the kindergarten students at the school don’t have school desks at all.  How do we explain to people who have no furniture at all that David needs to have various things that they don’t have in order for the project to move forward?  Do we need to explain this?  Have we fallen short on something if we are unable to justify our work and our choices to the community we are trying to serve?  Of course, many of the people we are working with do understand what we are doing and are supportive of our work.  But I have a nagging self-consciousness about everything we’re doing.  What do people think of us?  How do they assess our generosity?  Do they appreciate, understand, or agree with what we’re doing?

After a few days bogged down with these thoughts, and with frustrations about how we can realisitically ensure that the suggestions we make are implemented, I am pulling myself back up to excited  in the continuous cycle of frustration and excitement.  We must keep moving forward, moving forward, and help however we can.  To get caught up in frustration is ultimately unproductive, and in order to give at all, we all must continue to hope. The struggle is to balance that hope with realism, frustration with excitement, and our own cultural understandings with the culture we have encountered in Eguafo.

-Sarah/Maame Serwaa