The Ghana Experience…

August 12, 2007

*Please note – My camera disappeared in South Africa….so I was using a camera that had video capabilities but no sound on the video. The videos here are silent unfortunately and not as good quality as I would have hoped for but it’s better than nothing! :) I wrote this all in a journal and since I didn’t have internet access..I had to put it all here now.

August 12, 2007

I promised myself that I wouldn’t slack off and that I would actively write in a notebook of my Ghana travels. I hate the act of physically writing things down because since I can remember — my hand tires easily. Typing over 100 wpm is much more tempting but I didn’t bring my laptop so that idea is squashed. So the day has finally arrived. I’ve waited a year for this trip and am certainly excited. I oftentimes wonder if I am going long enough to really help anyone out. Like I said previously…I’m looking to befriend even one child enough so…so that they will never forget me and perhaps choose a more prosperous life outside of their little village. However, Riaan and I were discussing this today — those who live humble lifestyles without the means that we have…should we pity them or envy them? Much of them are content living in small homes with no technology. According to them, their quite uneventful lives are sufficient (providing they are not starving) as they know no different. People with mortgages seem to worry more than those in other countries. However, the whole idea that they do not have proper health care and dental seems to be a negative of course. I guess whether you are better off by most standards as an average American or a bit poorer in a small African village, each has their highs and lows but who knows? Perhaps the people I meet will be genuinely HAPPIER people? Looks like we are boarding now…off to Ghana I go!

————————————————————————————————————

 

August 13, 2007

I’m not going to write too much because Raj and Yao are waiting on me but so far, this looks like it’s going to be the best adventure of my life! We arrived in Accra last night and this city is better than I expected. Outside of this cute humble hotel is a nice outdoor bar and restaurant. I had some decent breakfast this morning and now am getting ready to go on a guided tour of Accra. My South African Rand isn’t really exchangeable here so I’m getting a loan from Raj. Tomorrow we are going to the village and we will be starting the children’s camp. We will be meeting with the chief of the village. I will write more later about my day. I’m excited!

THE FIRST SIGN I SAW AFTER CUSTOMS

 

 

THE BUSIEST STREET IN ACCRA

 

 

 

IT IS A REAL THREAT!

 

————————————————————————————————————

August 13, 2007

All I have to say about today? WOW. Scratch that. I feel like I could write a novel about what occurred today. I’m going to start with what happened from the beginning of the day to the end — even if my hand gets sorer than hell! It first started with a complimentary breakfast as a previously stated. I then ventured off into a taxi with Yao – my tour guide for the day. He asked me what I would like to see as we passed women with items balancing on their heads. We went off to a craft market where everyone hassled me to buy the beautiful artwork and items they created. Yao then asked me if I enjoy politics and since I replied yes, he took me to the site where their first prominent president of Ghana is buried. He took me through the museum where I discovered how brilliant and influential this man really was. There were pictures of him with every major world leader of his time — JFK, Queen Elizabeth (he was the first black person to ever formally dance with her). This man was so amazing and so inspirational. If only every African country and leader could strive to be like this man and Ghana. Africa would then be in seemingly perfect unity. We then went to this beach restaurant! We almost got washed away in the ocean! We tried to take pictures but the waves just got higher and higher. I got some good ones though. We ate Tilapia and just relaxed as we watched the waves. After that, Yao took me to other areas of Accra where I saw everything I had ever seen in the movies and on TV about Africa — the hustling and bustling of marketplaces, people selling fish, fruits, veggies and more. There were goats walking around randomly…roosters, chickens — the whole 9 yards. There were families sitting in front of teeny little shops. Children just swarmed me changing their African word for white man. One boy held my hand and stared at it in awe of its color. These kids smiled so largely and so happily. They all embraced me like no child has ever done. The feeling of this was so rewarding. I then saw some kids playing soccer (aka football). I began playing with them as parents and children alike crowded around and cheered. Yao explained that it never occurs that a white person just randomly begins playing soccer with their children in the city. My trip to the area was awesome. It seemed to me that these people — although poor to our standards, were quite happy and rather carefree. It really was a sight to see. My legs were beyond sore but we picked up an enthusiastic 20 year old volunteer named Scott. We brought him back and now I am going to bed. I will write more tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

THE PRESIDENT’S MUSEUM

 

WHERE THE PRESIDENT IS BURIED

 

 

BEACH RESORT RESTAURANT

 

 

STAR! THE BEST BEER IN GHANA!

 

 

KIDS SURROUNDING ME IN ACCRA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THESE GUYS ARE EVERYWHERE!

————————————————————————————————————

August 14, 2007

Today we finally drove to the village. The sights we saw on the way there were just so cool! We passed a gorgeous big bridge and we stopped to take photos. Shortly after we arrived in the village (it took about 3 1/2 hours), we were shown where we would be staying. We drove up and saw this little lodge with the most BEAUTIFUL view. It seriously is breathtaking up here — mountains, forest, tropical birds — oh it’s great. After we settled in, we went down to the village and met with the chief and the elders. Words simply cannot describe this experience. It was unreal. They all gave us great thanks and in a traditional ceremony gave us Schnapps as we each took a sip and “gave the rest to the gods.” The chief then personally asked me to come over and share a drink with him. He joked to the elders and asked them to grab a ring for me. Haha — thanks but no thanks chief! It was an unreal experience as all of them were dressed up in their traditional African garb. Today certainly was a day to remember as I’m sure most days will be on this trip. He asked us to focus on perhaps inspiring and showing the young females in the program that there is more to life than having a baby and being a mother young and that he wants the girls to feel as if they have more options in life. We agreed to try to do so. It’s what I came here for!

A BOAT IN THE VOLTA RIVER

 

VOLTA BRIDGE FROM NEARBY VILLAGE

 

MANY CARS HAD CHRISTIAN SAYINGS ON THEM…THIS ONE WAS MY FAVORITE!

 

THE VIEW FROM THE LODGE

 

————————————————————————————————————

August 16, 2007

I didn’t write yesterday due to my becoming the sickest I have been in a long time. In the morning I had a mild tummy ache which had then progressed into a fully blown torturous sickness. I couldn’t hold ANYTHING down and painfully threw up 9 separate times throughout the afternoon and evening. This was accompanied by the sweats, the chills, nausea and dizziness. Jennifer (the other volunteer) was rather helpful but of course when you’re that sick, you become a baby and desperately wish for your mom or significant other. Just my luck right? I’m hoping this will be the first and last time I get sick during my stay. Nothing worse than feeling that ill in the middle of western Africa with no electricity and people who are loser to strangers than anything else. Today I feel a little better although extremely weak and a little “off.” Fortunately enough, the first day of our camp proved to be very successful! I was a bit disappointed that the kids weren’t younger like I had anticipated but they were still at an age where you could make an impression. We separated then into six teams and had them name their teams and create flags for them. We then asked that each team choose a team dance. Each performed such amazing African dances and were so excited to be a part of this. We played a balloon race that Scott created and went inside (due to the rain). The kids played their favorite game called Ampe. I couldn’t quite understand it but it involved clapping and steps. They loved that game. I then suggested we play telephone. The kids LOVED this one. They were giggling and loving the outcomes from the original sentences. The headmaster loved it too as he saw a direct correlation with listening skills and communication. All in all, it was a wonderful day — of course until I became sick. Riaan was so helpful when I cried over the phone to him. I will say I am one lucky girl. He’s such an amazing and supportive boyfriend. I am appreciating him even more by being here. I think I will definitely grow more as a person while I’m here since there’s no formal means of entertainment and one has limited options other than to think. I find peacefulness in reading a book, writing in this journal and looking around at the unbelievably scenic view. This weekend i hope to bike and hike and explore this place. Another great thing I’m doing is reading this UNBELIEVABLE book. It’s called “The Case for Christ.” it is a book written by a former atheist who is a widely known investigative journalist. After his wife became a Christian, he decided to investigate whether or not Jesus was just a regular guy or the real thing. He does this completely in a completely unbiased way. It is so interesting. He interrogates well renowned scholars and digs down deep. This book is 100% getting me to think and strengthening my faith in Christ. All of the questionable ideas of him are disappearing. This book along with the Bible — full blown proof — not just wishful fluff. I guess it’s hard to explain unless you read it for yourself. This will definitely help in my way of thinking during this trip — all thanks to my sister Laura and her husband Mark who ordered it for me. It is an amazing book — really. Well, hand is hurting. Tomorrow I go back to the camp. wonder what I’ll do for the rest of the day? I guess just get stronger and prep for a new day. PS – Raj said that this camp we are doing is the first one ever in this village. If it goes well, we will have started a new program for United Planet as well as something these kids can look forward to each year. The idea that we can make such a difference in creating something like this for these kids that can continue inspires me and makes this all worth the while.

 

SOME OF THE KIDS DOING THEIR TEAM DANCE

 

 

THE KIDS GETTING READY TO PLAY THE BALLOON GAME WE CREATED

 

 

A SHY LITTLE ONE WHO CAME TO WATCH THE “BIG KIDS” CAMP

 

 

————————————————————————————————————

 

August 17, 2007

Now I know I’m not here to focus and/or complain about the fellow volunteers but I must say…I’ve been grouped with two other rather difficult people. Jen — a 36 year old is somewhat overbearing, loud and can have that quick to change personality. She is often talking on her cell phone and complaining about being here. It makes me wonder what made her come here if she is extremely high maintenance. Then you’ve got this 20 year old guy who is no doubt enthusiastic about to be here but it 100% condescending and pompous. It has gotten so bad that I’ve had to bite my tongue several times. He’s very blunt and says certain things I simply would not say to another person. When I was ill, he basically told me to shut up about it. We are all such differnt people and have little things of our own I suppose that we can give to this trip but boy is it hard for all of s to really “click” or see eye to eye. I find that SO surprising because I get along rather well with just about anyone I meet — even if they’re diferent. It’s usually tolerable to be around them but these two? I can genuinely say I can only handle them in small doses. Argh — I’m frustrated mostly with Scott I’d say. He’s just rude? Passively rude. Some of me wants to give him a piece of my mind but he’s stubborn and whatever you say won’t matter to him and also — it’s not what the trip is about. He just makes it so hard to get along with him. Several other people staying here (non volunteers but travelers) are very easygoing, kind, polite and cool. Not sure how I ended up with the two most difficult but hey, it’s part of the experience? Today we ran another day of the camp. We did well. My idea of Simon Says went great after the kids finally chose to listen. I spent a lot of my time with many of the girls which I loved. I taught them new hand games, the Macarena, X marks the spot and also played keep away. I sang for them and they loved it. I also explained to them that since I graduated college that I can do anything now. I told them that I wouldn’t be here in Ghana with them if I didn’t finish school and that although I want to have babies someday…that I am going to wait and do everything I want to do first because if I don’t I have to be responsible and stay home. I also tried to explain to them that if I finish school, I make more money wiht a job I receive so then the baby in the future is better taken care of. Some girls I could see REALLY listened to me. One girl even said thank you after I had explained all that. The girls are starting to like and trust me more each day and this will prove to be beneficial overall in what I had intended on doing. On Friday (a week from today) I can either head with Scott to a new village along Cape Coast or stay here. I would love to stay here os I could embed more into these minds but school starts back up for them later and I have little role or time to do the same as I’ll do this week. Not sure what I’ll decide. Tomorrow Scott and I are going on a hike. I guess hiking doesn’t involve heavy conversation so that’s a plus. Some of me wonders if it would genuinely be more enjoyable to venture on my own. Who knows? It’s overall about me, my experience and the kids. That’s what I came here for — so I’ll forget the negatives. :) I’ve waited and anticipated this trip too long and too much not to.

 

THE KIDS DOING “THE KATE FACE”

 

 

 

ME ON THE WALK BACK HOME FROM THE CAMP

 

 

————————————————————————————————————

August 18, 2007

So I just got off the phone with Riaan but since the call was abruptly cut short and since it was only a couple of minutes long anyway..I’m really wishing I could speak with him a little more. I ran out of money on my phone so I can’t call him back — a little sad considering I haven’t spoken to him since I was sick. Anyways, today was a wonderful day. First I finished reading my Case for Christ book which was simply fantastic. Again, I can’t really explain it until you read it but I definitely am interested in strengthening my relationship with Him — more on that later. I’ve been reflecting A LOT. Today Scott and I hiked Mount Gemi. Silly me — I forgot just how difficult hiking can be and definitely was wearing the wrong sneakers. My asthma certainly didn’t help. I told Scott to definitely go ahead of me since I felt guilty that I couldn’t keep up. Even though it was so hard…I finally found myself at another bustling village close to the top of the mountain — sweaty, thirsty and bruised (yes I fell twice on my hike) I bought some water at the little market booth and trekked onward to the cross which stood at the top. I went through an open field and up to a road which had signs about Jesus and other Christian sayings. I hiked a little again where I met up with Scott. The view from the top — I wish I could explain..words cannot describe what I saw — all the other mountains, rivers, valleys, villages…it looked like a piece of heaven — particularly with the sun shining through the clouds. I think I’ll have those images in my mind for the rest of my life. It was truly the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Wow…thinking about it even now has me in awe. On my walk back, I met this 16 year old kid who spoke of his dreams of becoming a journalist. He called it a “crazy dream”. He was so well spoken and so bright. After asking him about what year of school he was in, he mentioned that he was a little behind in school because his next term would cost 350,000 cedies and 500,000 after that. That is the equivalent of less than $80 for over two terms. Some of me wishes I could have paid right then and there but I got his contact info and will try to keep in touch with him and perhaps help him in the future. His aunt told me that she runs an orphanage and that she knows how to make dresses and bake but cannot afford an oven or sewing machine. She says they usually don’t eat unless their cabbage is grown and picked. She was very intelligent and gave me info but I had to leave abruptly because Tony (the owner of the lodge) picked me up. This woman you could tell…was so driven. I told her I’d try my best to help. She did not beg either. I just wish I was fully working. It is so crazy that the money we spend on a night out in the city can buy these people an education or a means of income. You hear it on TV and all that but to meet these people personally and hear their stories is a completely different experience. These African villages have so little but are so filled with life and love. It’s beautiful. This is like a movie coming to life for me. Tomorrow I will be doing laundry and hopefully going up to a Catholic shrine I heard about. Not sure if it’ll be a hard walk like today but we’ll see — today the end was MORE than worth it.

 

 

ONE OF THE SIGNS ON THE WAY UP THE MOUNTAIN

 

AND ANOTHER….

 

ANOTHER!

 

 

ME SWEATING MY BUTT OFF AFTER THE HIKE

 

 

 

 

THE VIEW OF BIAKPA VILLAGE FROM THE MOUNTAIN

 

 

 

ME AND A SWEET GIRL IN THE VILLAGE AFTER THE HIKE

 

VIDEO OF THE VIEW ON TOP:

 

 

 

————————————————————————————————————

August 20, 2007

So today is somewhat boring but relaxing. Yesterday was Sunday and nothing really went on except for doing my laundry (hand washing it in a bucket) and eating goat for dinner. It actually wasn’t bad. There were lots of unpredictable bones but it was rather tasty. Last night I had quite a few dreams but one that was extremely disturbing. I even woke up from it and was scared for about a half hour before I went back to sleep. I was warned that on the malaria meds that you get weird and bad dreams. They weren’t kidding. This morning I woke up to find a cockroach in my bag — not fun. Oh the life of the great outdoors. Today Jennifer has been complaining non-stop about everything. She even counted down the hours until she leaves. She’s really been a buzz kill. If she continues to complain, I will pipe up since I’ve noticed both her and Scott themselves are never quite afraid to say what they feel. So on Friday we are going to Accra and then heading to a new village along Cape Coast called Putibiw. Apparently this is a home stay arrangement which I’m a bit nervous about as I’m trying to picture how these houses will be and if I’ll have my own room or privacy. I guess I can ask Raj but it’s definitely not going to be as great as here. I don’t even know what I’ll be doing there. The initial plan was to be staying in Biakpa the entire time but with Jennifer and Scott gone and the school not starting for a few weeks, staying here would be unproductive. I do wish United Planet would have better informed me — especially with how much money was raised. It can be frustrating to be tossed around with no agenda when you’ve been waiting so long for it. I suppose we will see. Today we ran the camp semi-successfully I’d say. The kids seemed to have lost their ability to listen today due to the weekend passing and us not having camp. The girls crowded around me today while the boys played soccer. They braided my hair. It was pretty fun. I finished reading my Harlan Coben book “Drop Shot”. I believe I’ve now read eight of his novels. On to the next one once I get back home. I’m running out of reading material. hopefully I can pick up a good book in Accra. Until then, I’ll just have to think, write and relax.

 

BRAIDING MY HAIR!

 

 

IT HURTS JUST A LITTLE! LOL

 

FUNNY FACES WITH THE BOYS

 

SHH..DON’T TELL THE OTHERS..I HAVE A FAVORITE

 

————————————————————————————————————

August 21, 2007

I’m going to attempt to keep this short since I’m rather tired. Tomorrow we bring the kids on a field trip — to the Wli waterfalls and monkey sanctuary. It is about an hour away and I’m SO excited because for 95% of these kids…this will be their first time out of the village. Our program fee pays for the rental of the vans (aka “trotros”) and the other fees. The kids are beyond excited. I’m going to miss this place and some of my favorites. I will write more tomorrow.

 

————————————————————————————————————

August 22, 2007

Today was absolutely AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As previously mentioned, today was the day we were taking the kids on a field trip. It started when we were eating breakfast and could hear the two buses filled with singing children riding up the mountain to where we were. Once the buses were in sight, you could see all of them SO happy, clapping and singing — what a sight to be seen! This made me so happy. We first headed to Wli waterfall. We went to this visitor center and got a guide. We took about a 45 minute walk through this BEAUTIFUL rain forest. We went over 9 wooden bridges with lovely rivers. I had so much fun with the girls on the way. I taught them American songs and did funny accents for them. Once we arrived to the waterfall, I was just in awe. I’ve always dreamed of seeing even half as big of a waterfall as this one. It was truly unbelievable! Another amazing thing was that on the mountain that the waterfall was on, there were THOUSANDS of bats! you could see them all hanging upside down as they do and all making noise. It truly was a crazy sight. We all took cool pictures and the kids absolutely loved it. We walked back and drove a short way to an ostrich farm. All I have to say is damn — those birds are big and so funny looking. They would nip at everything and all came right up to the fence as we went close to them. These hilarious creatures had no fear. I got some great video. It was so cool do see the kid’s reaction to seeing them because half of them had never even heard of ostriches before. We stayed only for a few minutes before we ventured off on another hour long journey to the monkey sanctuary. We pulled up to a village and we were taken to an area of trees with a guide. All of a sudden we look up and see about seven monkeys. The guide stuck out a full banana with its peel on. A monkey came right up to the guide, gripped the banana with both hands and began peeling it so quickly like a human. It was hilarious! The guide then gave me a banana and showed me how to hold it and I fed two monkeys! What an experience to get SO close to them. Everyone absolutely loved it. Today was a day to remember. I will say that what made this day so wonderful was the money we raised enabling us to pay for the buses and for all the kids to gain admission to these places. We made it happen! We just gave them the most exciting day of their lives! What a blessing. That alone makes this trip completely worth it. They learned so much today and were so grateful. Days like these make you feel happy to be alive. I’m going to miss these kids. I do think they’ve taught me more than I’ve taught them — cliche I know. This trip so far has truly been something else. Ghana is WONDERFUL. I love it here. I will write more tomorrow!

 

 

HALF THE KIDS ON MY BUS IN THE MORNING…SO EXCITED!

 

 

 

 

THE TOP OF THE WATERFALL

 

 

 

SOME OF THE KIDS PLAYING IN THE WATERFALL

 

 

 

ME!

 

 

 

THOUSANDS OF BATS “HANGING OUT” NEXT TO THE WATERFALL

 

 

 

A MONKEY EATING AT THE MONKEY SANCTUARY

 

 

 

 

 

THESE CREATURES HAVE NO FEAR

 

 

 

VIDEO OF ME FEEDING MONKEY:

 

 

 

————————————————————————————————————

August 23, 2007

I’ve finished yet another book. It was pretty good! It was called the Espresso Tales. Hopefully I will be able to obtain a good book or the next week. So I found out more about my next trip. I will get my own room and will most likely be staying with this big family who I’ve heard is very kind. I hope to work at the nursery or at the children’s health clinic when I’m there. It will be so nice to be able to work with the little ones. Yesterday I saw a ton of little kids in the village. This one toddler burst out into the most terrified tears where I came up to her. Her family was giggling because it was so apparent that this poor little one had never seen a white person before. Another little toddler came right up to me and hugged me. He was adorable! His twin brother hide and cried behind another kid’s leg. Crazy to see the difference between the two. Tomorrow is our last day here and I’m definitely sad. I will miss these kids and the amazing people here at the lodge. Maxwell (one of the people who works here at the Mountain Lodge) gave Scott, Jennifer and I these beautiful Kente woven cloths (this is a type of cloth making that is indigenous to Ghana). These people are truly the kindest I’ve ever met! Tomorrow the kids will be doing a formal ceremony for us. It’s going to be wonderful. After that, we will go to Accra and “paint the town red”. Overall…this trip has given me the opportunity to see how these people live. Many work so hard for so little. Many of the kids only have three outfits each and eat very little yet are still happy. It’s unreal. I guess it is seriously something you have to experience and witness firsthand and cannot be explained. I hope I can bring some of this home with me. So often (I, along with many people) stress about the most superficial things or we just run through our lives so quickly and anxiously. I don’t want to forget this trip or the feeling of all burdens being so minuscule to many others. I guess I should wait to say most of this stuff for when my trip really ends. Adios for now!

ME AND CHRISTIAN…SUCH A GOOD KID

 

 

 

SCOTT AND I WALKING BACK AFTER A DAY AT CAMP

 

————————————————————————————————————

- Part II -

August 23, 2007

OK…so a few more things happened today. I assisted in the assassination of a black scorpion. A kid slaughtered it but it was not fully dead and I hate to see any creature dying a slow painful death so I dropped a massive rock on it. I have definitely never seen a scorpion before (unless in an aquarium at a reptile store and those have been sucked of their poison) and it’s crazy to think that they are here! Wow. Then today I got bitten by a large ant. Holy crap. It hurt so bad! It was excruciating and the pain didn’t cease for a good two minutes or so. Oh the great outdoors of Africa! Tonight is very windy — first windy night up here.

Anyways, we decided to tip some of the workers since they’ve treated us so well and worked so hard. We spoke to a Ghanian man staying here to ask him about proper tipping etiquette and got into a discussion with him. Apparently he spoke with Maxwell (a guy who works so hard at the lodge here) and Rose (the AMAZING cook) and both explained how poorly paid they are. Even the Ghanian gentleman said he was shocked by what they were getting paid and explained that it was far below average. He even mentioned that once Maxwell washed a guest’s car and they gave him a tip, the owner of the lodge found out and grabbed the money from him. It is crazy to think that although Tony is very helpful and works SO hard to better Biakpa, that he pays his workers dirt and denies them the opportunity for tips. The gentleman explained that he didn’t agree with Tony’s money practices and even compared it to slavery. We were told to give the tips quietly and tell them to keep silent about it. Tonight we gave Rose 20 new cedi’s — (200,000 old cedi’s). It was the equivalent of less than $20 American dollars. She had cooked some of the best food we have ever tasted and has been beyond kind and facilitating. Once she saw how much we have given her, she was so happy. I could tell she was almost ready to cry. That was a months pat for her. She works over 14 hours a day!!! To imagine her joy over something so many of s make in an hour’s worth of work was saddening. It was nice to see her happy though. Tomorrow we will also be giving Maxwell the same. That guy has a heart of gold and has gone out of his way to help me. He even brought us palm wine tonight and the Kente cloths as I said he gave before. I hope the money we give him helps him out as well. They deserve even more. They just work SO hard. My heart goes out to them and everyone else here who does as much as they do. I pray they only go upwards in life. They deserve nothing less. On that note, to bed I go. On to Accra tomorrow.

THE CRUSHED SCORPION

 

THE KID WHO KILLED IT

————————————————————————————————————

August 26, 2007

I am now in Putibiw. This place is definitely different than Biakpa. It’s a bit rougher and the people aren’t really used to whites so they aren’t as welcoming as the last village. In Biakpa, the kids and parents embraced you warmly. Here it’s hard to even get many of the kids to wave back. Raj says the last village is like the posh version of volunteering compared to this place. I can see that! Not sure if I can really do much here for a week but we’ll see. I can already tell it’s going to be a tough week but I will definitely stick it out. That’s what Africa is about right? So on our last day in the Volta region, the kids came and did some fun traditional dances. My “favorite” girl at the end said “Kate, do you have anything to give me?” I was quite surprised and disappointed in that because being the one I liked, I gave her a kite, a bracelet, sweets etc. over that time period. I guess she wanted more since she had already received preferential treatment. Then another favorite of mine asked me for something as well. I unfortunately had nothing to give. I had shared the beads I brought so they could all make the bracelets they made but it’s not enough for some. I will say it was a bit awkward. Raj pointed out that many of these villagers have to learn that we want to help enable them….not just give them our money because that doesn’t ultimately help them. We must show them how they can prosper — not depend. On our last day, all of the employees of the Mountain Paradise Lodge put together this lavish and delicious lunch. It was amazing. We toasted, drank palm wine and said our goodbyes and went on our way to Accra. We all had dinner at Ryan’s Irish Pub which was yummy. Then we went out to this place called Champs. It was this awesome bar. It was about half Ghanians and have Europeans/Americans. Karaoke started at midnight and Raj convinced me to go up and sing. Then I met the coolest girls ever. I clicked with them immediately and it felt like i knew them forever. Three of them were from England and one was from Scotland. We had a BLAST! When I go to Accra next week before leaving I may meet up with them. They are also volunteers. Well, back to the tough village.

 

DOING THE TRADITIONAL DANCES FOR OUR LAST DAY

 

 

GOODBYE BIAKPA :(

THE KID WAS NOT PART OF THE CAMP…HE RANDOMLY CAME OUT FROM THE BUSHES AND STARTED DANCING LIKE THIS BESIDE THE “TRADITIONAL DANCE” THAT WAS GOING ON….I COULDN’T STOP LAUGHING SO I TAPED HIM AND ADDED A NICE LITTLE SONG TO FIT HIS DANCE MOVES.

 

————————————————————————————————————

August 27, 2007

So I’m sitting here in bed. Since I’ve gotten here, I’ve been abnormally exhausted. I’ve gotten two pretty good night sleeps (with the exception of this obnoxious loud rooster that decides to cockadoodledoo right out my window sporadically throughout the night) but yeah…all day I feel so weak. It must be the heat. Yesterday I met a hilarious and vibrant young girl who often runs her mother’s shop down the street. We sat, talked and drank Fanta. I visited her today and they’ve got loud music there so I danced a bit. Her brothers and their little friends began dancing too and soon quite a few people surrounded the store to watch the random white girl dance. Some of the villagers are nice but most won’t wave back or will just stare. I understand their reasoning but it’s seriously a very uncomfortable feeling. All the kids who I was looking forward to spending time with — many of them cry upon seeing me. Argh. This all makes it a bit lonely here but at least the family I’m staying with is really nice. Not sure how I will be best utilizing this week because the guy who is supposed to put us to work said he’d contact us later and discuss everything and that we’d start tomorrow. I’m supposed to work with the children but the majority are scared of me so I’m not sure how that will work. I suppose we’ll see. Boy these African days are long!

 

————————————————————————————————————

August 30, 2007

These past few days have been a bit rough. It’s been hard to keep a positive mindset but I’m trying. For the first time in my life..I’ve felt like a complete object — an alien. I’ve wanted so badly to befriend these people but it’s been so difficult because you never forget that you are different from them. People young and old view you as a dollar sign — not much more. A person will speak to you briefly and top it off with saying that yo should give them money. I’ve grown so tired of it. I’ve also grown tired of people calling me white man and not Kate and laughing at my expense. yesterday I tried to congregate with some of the people and while some smiled…I can’t get this one woman’s face out of my head. No matter what I did, she did not smile. She gave me the look of death. Yesterday I was tired of not being put to work in this village and feeling so alone and unwelcome that I cried for the first time during the trip. I just felt helpless. The family we are staying with here is beyond kind but it’s been so hard. Hours go by so slowly. I did however get to play some games with the kids today using Ben (the main contact here) as a translator. Most kids can’t understand English. I hate to admit it but I’m somewhat looking forward to Accra on Saturday. I wish I got to stay in Biakpa a bit longer. Some of me is a bit mad for being tossed here for a week since they did not inform me soon enough before I planned my trip that Ghana’s schools were out of session during my stay. Overall I don’t want this last week to have a tarnished my trip as the last couple week’s before this have been so productive and positive. On a happier note — I will say however that yesterday was a bit of an interesting day. Even though Ben didn’t put me to work…he brought me Cape Coast. It is much like Accra only more of a fisherman’s city. We saw some of the boats and saw an old famous castle where slaves were kept. Also later in the day when I got back, Kudjo, James and Bismarck (the three boys in the family) took us about 10 minutes away in their backyard to some coconut trees. One of their friends climbed the thing! He knocked down about 8 coconuts with a machete and then we drank from them. So cool. Onto the next day.

 

ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS CASTLES IN GHANA!

 

A CAPE COAST FISHERMAN

THE KID CLIMBING UP THE COCONUT TREE

 

 

ME DRINKING ONE OF THE COCONUTS HE KNOCKED DOWN..YUM! :)

 

VIDEO OF KID CLIMBING UP THE TREE:

————————————————————————————————————

September 1, 2007

I am now in Accra. Today was my last day in Putibiw. Ben, Scott, Beatrice and I stopped by the Cape Coast festival. It was unbelievable! Even though it was raining..we got to see many of the chiefs being held on these beds and being paraded around with their villagers. It was a sight to see! Today was a great way to end a hard week. I will say however that during my trip….that girl I befriended kept me ok. Even though most of the village didn’t want any part of us, she did. She was SO kind. This girl (Bernice) didn’t ask for ANYTHING. She even she some tears when I said I was leaving. She asked me all sorts of questions about America this past week and INSISTED we share a Fanta and that SHE would cover the cost. She even wrote me a wonderful letter that I’ll carry with me forever. She made that trip in that rough village WORTH IT. She is so bright and so full of life….she’s different than ANYONE in that village.

 

THE FAMILY AND I PLAYED A LOT OF SCRABBLE TOGETHER SO I MADE THIS MESSAGE THE LAST DAY I WAS THERE

 

SCARY MASK AT FESTIVAL

 

 

GUY ON STILTS!

 

ONE OF THE CHIEFS AT FESTIVAL

 

 

——–

 

The envelope says

 

From: Bernice or Aba Tawiah

To: Kate or Aba Kakra

Don’t forget me!!!!!!!

 

The letter:

 

University Primary School

Cape Coast

Private Mail Bag

28th September 07

Dear Kate,

I am very sad to write you this letter. How are you? By the grace of almighty God you are doing fine. I’m writing this letter because you are leaving me here. You are the first woman in life because you love. You are the best friend and you are good. I don’t think you are a bad friend. My father was disagree with me because everyday I walk you home but my mother is happy because you are kind of me. Please Kate I will missed you. Don’t go far please, so that you remmember me your friend Bernice. I new that I’m not going with you because you said that my parents will not agree. Thank you for reading my poor letter. I love you Kate!!! (Kate love Bernice) B <3 K

My lovely one

Bernice

BERNICE AND I

Anytime I was sad in that village…she would tell me to cheer up and said that if I cried, she would cry. She was so sweet. I will never forget her. I told her we should keep in touch. I do think she was there for a reason…Ultimately I’m glad I got to see both the good and bad in Ghana as far as my experiences go. Otherwise if it was 100% perfect, that would not be realistic right? I also get to appreciate the good that much more. Overall, despite the challenges this trip was unbelievable. I now appreciate things so much more and view particular things in different light. This blog is my best at sharing my experiences although nothing can replace physically being there. I will never forget this trip or the people I met. I’m glad that slowly but surely things are changing in that wonderful country….

 

A VIDEO OF ALL THE VIDEOS WRAPPED UP INTO ONE…QUALITY IS POOR NOW THAT IT’S FINALLY REACHED YOU TUBE…BUT LIKE I SAID – BETTER THAN NOTHING! :)

 

For more photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/katenyc/sets/72157601863150059/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.