Monday, July 30, 2012

Can I just stay here?

Meet Wally! He is our pet goat. He does not like people very much. I tried taking him for a walk and he was not very good at it. When we are done in Sandema, we will give Wally to HCC so they can have a yummy dinner.

My new African tattoo/Moto burn! I was getting a ride on a friends moto and he had just driven 5 hours so theyexhaust pipe was very hot. I know you should get off the moto on the left side but I was in a rush and was wearing a skirt so I hopped off the ride side and broiled my leg. This pic isn't even at it's worst. It popped yesterday morning and now looks like a gray/purple wrinkly brain. It is just smaller than a egg, in case you were wondering. (not sure what the line is, sorry)

Richard! Richard is one of the HCC boys. He was hanging out in our room listening to our iPods so I snapped a quick photo of him. I love the HCC boys so much. They are all so adorable and I absolutely love every minute I get to spend with them.

Science @ HCC! Daniel, one of the HCC boys, is teaching us about global warming. Jeremy, one of our group leaders, helps with a science program for the boys. Jacob, another HCC boy, gave us a presentation on ecosystems just before this. These boys are so inspiring! Both Daniel and Jacob want to be doctors.

Sandema! aka where I could live forever. It is such a beautiful place. The people are wonderful and the scenery is stunning. I am going to miss it so much. I have had such an incredible time here.

Sandema Boys soccer tournament. This photo was taken yesterday at the final match of the soccer tournament that OG runs each year. The early summer program ran the first girls soccer tournament. It was very fun to watch and very exciting as it went into shootouts. Most of the boys play in bare feet which is pretty cool.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Life in Sandema

I love Sandema. We have been here for almost a week now. The town is wonderful; the people are wonderful; everything is wonderful! Our whole group of 12 is living in one house. We have a pet goat named Wally :) We have a cooking schedule so we all cook breakfast and dinner for each other. We are usually out and about for lunch so we just get street food or bread and groundnut paste.
This is me on the road in Sandema. The trees line the red dirt road on either side and make a beautiful canopy.

I have fallen in love with HCC, a boys home in Sandema that OG has a strong partnership with. The boys are all incredible; I cannot even describe it. The HCC coordinator, Joe, and HCC founder, Heather, are two of the most amazing and kind people I have met.  Joe has become a father to the boys, and has done an incredible job creating a true family. Heather's story of how HCC came to be was incredible. It really illustrates how the generosity and desire to help others in what may have started out in a small way, can grow and develop to a point where the lives of so many boys are changed forever. There is a strong emphasis on the social and emotional development of all the boys, which I think is wonderful because those are two areas of development that I think are often neglected at home. The way the boys take care of one another is so inspiring to watch.  They all look out for one another and are all such great sharers. I got to spend some time with Jacob, a 15 year old boy from HCC. We went to the resource and worked on Microsoft word. Jacob has learned how to use word at school, and has been trying to teach the other boys back at the center. However, they have not had very much experience with computers, so it was apparently very difficult for him to teach them how you take the mouse and click and it opens a window etc. I taught Jacob some skills and he took incredible notes. Heather had asked me to do this so that Jacob can bring some of the younger  tboys back to the resource center and teach them his new skills. I gave Jacob a quiz at the end to see if he could do everything I had taught him, and he didn't even have to check his notes once. He is extremely intelligent and a very quick learner. He wants to go to medical school and become a doctor. Listening to the boys talk about their likes, goals and dreams for the future is so amazing.

I am so glad that OG gets us to do the fundraising. The partnerships we have developed in Ghana are amazing and the funds that we all raised will really assist them in reaching their goals. As a group, our money will go a long way, but I can't help but want to do more. I would really love to come back here next summer. I am not sure if that will happen but I know this I want Sandema to continue to be part of my life. I am trying to come up with some ideas to continue to fundraise once I am home because seeing the projects and meeting the people who we will be assisting has been a very inspiring experience for me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I want to live on a mountain

Hiiii! So since my last post, I think I have had the most incredible four days of my life. We went to the Volta region and hiked up a mountain to a village called Wli-Todzi. We were told the hike would be about 3 hours but one of the group leaders, Jeremy, and I kept up with two of the locals and made it to the top in just over 1.5 hours. It was stunning; we were way above the clouds and you could look out onto the other villages in the area. The community members of Wli-Todzi were the nicest people in the world. They welcomed us into their village and into their homes. Their lifestyle is incredible, full of so many tasks that must be completed each day, but also full of a strong appreciation for life, family and nature. They are a farming village and basically grow all of their own food. We got to eat Ghanian food the whole time, which I loved. I tried both cocoa yam and casava fufu and really liked the strange and sticky texture. It is made by pounding boiled casava or cocoa yam in somewhat of a giant mortar and pestle. You have to use two arms to pound it and it is quite strenuous if you're not used to it. I have no idea how to actually describe how amazing it was up there so I will leave it here and tell you all about it in person when I get back. Speaking of getting back, I would be quite content staying here for much much longer. I am trying to forget that I have to come back to real life and school.

We had 2 full days of hot, squishy tro-tro rides. After Wli-Todzi, we stayed in Kumasi overnight and then left  early the next morning for Tamale. In Tamale, we visited an orphanage and a school. The kids are wonderful. Right away, I noticed how the older kids take care of the younger kids in a way that is very rare to see at home. I think the kids really love having us visit as they completely swarm us. They also really love having their photo taken so I have been able to get some really great shots. We have been in Tamale for two nights now and are leaving for Sandema in the morning.

I am having a more amazing time than I ever imagined. So for any of you family members that are worrying about me, please don't! I love it here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Accra and Cape Coast

Hellloooo. I arrived in Ghana on Friday night, after a nice airport stopover in Amsterdam where I thoroughly enjoyed a breakfast of delicious profiteroles  (sp?). I met up with another girl on my trip in the airport and we waited to board the plane to Accra. For people who were wondering, I successfully completed both flights without puking!! Michelle and Jeremy (two of our three wonderful trip leaders) met up at the airport and we waited for three other girls to arrive. I got to have a delicious mango/orange juice as soon as i met up with the leaders, what an akwaaba (welcome in Twi).

Then we squished in taxis and sped through Accra to Mama Tina's house, where we are staying. We dropped our stuff of and then went to meet the rest of the group at Tawala, a bar on the beach. It was really pretty.Then we went back to Mama Tinas and went to bed. We had the ceiling fans on turbo mode so it sounded and felt like a warzone haha.

The next day, we got up and walked to get a popular Ghanian breakfast of egg and bread. It is basically an omelet on two pieces of bread that are then cooked in a pan like a grilled cheese minus the butter. Then we went to The Blues, a bar on the beach and did some team building stuff and learned the very popular OG game of Wa. We came back to the house and a professor who is from Ghana but studied in the west came to talk to us about Ghana. He invited us to a comedy play that he produced so we decided to head there. I had salt and vinegar pringles for dinner that night :)

The next day we got a tro tro and headed to Cape Coast. We went to the cape coast slave castle which was really sad, but a very significant part of  West African history. You should read up on it if you can!

Yesterday we went to Kakum park, where we got to do a canopy walk on narrow wobbly bridges that were 18-40m above the rainforest floor. It was soooo fun! It was really beautiful and reminded me of when Mom and I went ziplining in Mexico, but with bridges instead of ziplines and rainforest instead of desert haha. Then we went to the slave castle in Elmina. I found that tour even more sad, the guide was really great and went into a lot of details which I had not considered in the first tour. We had a really great debriefing as a group about what we learned too.

Today we headed back to Accra, had some egg and bread as well as a giant juicy delicious mango.  We are going to visit an illegal settlement in Accra tomorrow and then head to the volta region thursday for a hike up to a mountain village where we will stay with host families for 3 nights.

I am really enjoying Ghana so far. Will try to update again but internet will likely be sketchy for the next little while!!