Mar 20, 2013

One Week Has Passed.....

Last Wednesday I arrived back in Atlanta, after a 7 day stay in Kissemah.  

I went back to work the day after I arrived; I blocked my calendar the first day back to get a chance to catch up, I had 687 emails to go through.  Saturday and Sunday I did lots of sleeping. I am thankful that I did not get sick in anyway.  No stomach anything while I was in Ghana and I did not pick up any sniffles on the 10+ hour flights to and from Ghana.  

I had 2 wonderful travel companions. On the way back from Ghana, I sat next to Matilda, who is originally from Ghana, she moved to the States when she was 26. Now she is in her mid 60's retired from working as a nurse in New York. She was returning from an 8 month stay in Accra, in the Achimota area which is right next to Kissemah. Matilda invited me to her home in Ghana when I go back in August. She told me about the church that belongs to, Our Lady of Assumption, I was invited there also; she said "she prefers the early early service on Sunday morning".  We had a nice conversation on the way up to cruising altitude, she was in bulk head for the first time and was very excited to have the extra leg room.  

I had my handy dandy purple plastic leg support gadget and I recommend 150% to anyone who is flying longer than 2 or 3 hours. The tiny plastic pedestal works like a charm and provides great relief.  I will post the official name, I ordered via Amazon based on recommendation from a friend that has traveled extensively to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Thanks Dixie ! ! ! 

From NY to ATL I sat next to a gentleman who is an Atlanta native.  He was traveling back from Israel, his company has their software development team there.  He gave me a complete tour of Jerusalem and TelAviv and other wonderful places, like the Red Sea. He has an amazing NIKON camera, is a most accomplished photographer and he had uploaded 1000+ photos to his iPad. I was thrilled. For about an hour he shared his photos, all in order of how he visited all the amazing sights - it was like I had been there with him. He was descriptive, provided details on weather, food, hotels and the history specific to all the photos he shared. It was such a wonderful way to spend the last 2 hours of that amazing week. I love love love traveling even if via a shared conversation and photos displayed with an iPad. He was such a wonderful gentleman, my company buys one of the products he supports, Response Live.  
We were both so tired, we did not even think to exchange names. His birthday was last Friday. 

Also on the flight, in first class, trying to be incognito, Zooey Deschanel - she is the actress that plays in the sitcom the NEW GIRL. Her character's name on the show is Jess. 

Below is a copy of one of the letters written to me by all the children. I got a thick stack of letters to read on the way home and I enjoyed every one of them. The teachers also wrote a very nice letter thanking me for the visit and the dinner outing we all had.  I love the letters, I've saved each one of them from all my visits.  Each student usually includes drawings or figures, they are  always lively and telling, drawings of  the MOP future school building, cars, planes, helicopters, guns, dogs, trees, the sun, flowers, stars, God. 

I am working with Kwame to get an estimate on the last items we need to complete the school construction, items and work like the connection of the bathrooms to the septic tank, the hook up of the main water source for the overall property, the interior finish of 1/2 of the walls, we need window frames, the electrical work to hook up all the lights and fans, carpentry work for the desks, the bunk beds, the kitchen and office set up, we need a border on the roof with pvc pipe to drain the water when it rains, we need a cement slab outside for a kitchen laundry area, we have on the list a summer hut, this will be an area on the property where the children and staff can read, play games, hang out, we need a fence, painting, signage for the school, the internet hook up and more. I have a complete list - my best guess we need somewhere close to $50,000 (plus or minus) to finish and complete the building.  

In addition we are estimating a list of items needed to furnish the school, all the things you can imagine from a flag pole to the office furniture, filing cabinets, tools, a refrigerator, a generator, a copier, a printer; I have an exhaustive list that I am tracking with Kwame.  We should be able to get all the items in Ghana.  Shipping anything there is not easy - unless you know someone, who knows someone, who knows. 

Lastly we are working to estimate one year of operating expenses for the Aiykumah school, salaries for teachers, food program, bills, maintenance, repairs, basic medical, insurance, etc...  While we've done this in the past, the prices of most things in Ghana have gone up, we are double checking all the current costs.  

If you have questions regarding the school, the overall program,  if you have a relative with lots and lots of money who would consider helping the school, if you win the lottery anytime soon and want to help, send me an email elena1025@comcast. We would love to hear from you.