No matter how many times I come to Ghana, there will always be moments like today.
Moments that remind me that I am on a different continent, with people, cultures, conditions and situations so far removed and different from what I live everyday. And regardless of the vast differences in scale, economy, culture, living conditions, at the end of the day, we are all people. We are all part of this big thing we know as humanity. Hearts beating, lungs breathing, communities certainly different from what I know and am accustomed to, but at the end of the day, we are all in this world together.
It's always something I think about, a 12 hour flight bridging two totally different everything's. Yes you can certainly come to Ghana and live a privileged life, but that life is in the confines of a country and culture that is impacted everyday by the polarizing forces of the government, infrastructure or lack thereof, the differences in demographics, culture, class warfare, tribal divides, languages, ethnicity, all that you can imagine.
In my very limited view I still have the exposure to moments, situations, experiences that take hold of me and linger in my heart and mind for months and years after I head home.
Today I met Dennis in the school hallway on the morning break around 10am, Dennis is from class KG1, he is a new student from the village across the highway. Apparently he had never seen an 'Obruni' or white person before. I did not realize this until a few minutes later when someone told me. I thought the stare from deep within his gut was a language barrier, I asked him his name, he responded, "Dennis." And after that it was a fixed blank stare, I couldn't get Dennis to smile, to giggle, to respond to anything I was trying to communicate. He stared deep into my eyes and face, I knew something was going on but I thought it was a language barrier. I cant' imagine what that would be like, to walk into a school, a place where he is supposed to be comfortable and safe and Dennis sees a person that looks like nothing his ever seen before. I give him credit, he did not cry, he did not shy away, his stare was fixed on my face.
Not until someone told me, did I realize what was going on in his mind. Here is a body, a person, talking, moving, breathing, that looks like nothing he has ever seen before. And I was close to him, trying to engage him in conversation. I give him credit. In Kissemah many children saw me and started crying and ran for their mothers. Dennis stood his ground, and looked and looked and looked at me. I know he speaks English, when we took the school and class photos a bit later, he answered all my questions and followed the directions of where to sit for the photos, etc. I will take his picture tomorrow and post.
At the morning assembly today, one of the girls in class 4 had a big purple mark on the top of her left foot. From afar I thought it was a tattoo, but I knew that was not right. Later in the day when we did the photos, I looked down and her foot was in bad shape. The wound was dry and scared over, but you could tell something bad, something really bad had happened. I visually checked out the wound, made sure it was indeed all dry, no signs of swelling or infection, and it was a burn. The student told me that hot boiling water spilled on her foot during the long school vacation. I can only imagine. She did say she went to the hospital. Tomorrow the community nurse assigned to the Dodowa-Aiykumah area, her name is Grace Love, she will be at the school to check on all the children. For sure we will have her look at this recovering wound. I've seen that type of burn before, Victor and Peace in Kissemah both came to school in 2013 when I was there for 2 months with horrible horrible burns, all from cooking pots which for these children is all done and experienced outside. Cooking, washing, bathing.
We had children during the school photos today who had never been photographed before and Keith was working with a nice 35 MM Digital Camera with the flash mount, most were fascinated with the camera, a few were afraid of the flash. They all persevered and we got everyone's photo taken, individual and class photos with the teachers. When we took the individual photos we asked each child what they wanted to do or be when they are adults, the two most popular answers, PILOT and DOCTOR. One boy, Jerome, told me he wanted to be a fixer and I had to get more information. He was telling me he wanted to be a car mechanic. We had the range of professions, doctor, pilot, mechanic, soldier, pastor, bank manager, teacher, nurse, police,
We had a visit today from Mr. Sununu, he is one of the elders from the Aiykumah village. I've met him 2 or 3 times before, today was his first visit at the school since we first broke ground long ago. He was very impressed and he was very appreciative of all the effort and work by Mawvuio's, all the teachers, volunteers and supporters and especially Kwame and Renee.
Today we had a new volunteer from US join us in Aiykumah. Her name is Kamira and she is from North Carolina. She came to Ghana as an ISEP university level exchange student in 2013 and is now back with the help of a grant from an organization called OMPRAKASH She is a Science Major, she will be a teacher when she goes back home. Kamira will be in Ghana through next March.
I am typing this update at the hotel where the music plays non-stop until 11pm. Last night they piped in a sermon like presentation on speakers in the hallway. I turned my AC on to drown out the noise. The hotel staff explained how we could turn off the feed if this happens again tonight. Something is always going on in Ghana.
I will go to the Kissemah compound on Friday and stay there for a few days. Teacher Lawrenda and Teacher Abigail have a KG1 and KG2 Class, basically nursery level children. I will spend some time with them, photograph them, learn about them, most are new to school. We spent a few minutes with them when we arrived this past Friday. I am looking forward to meeting the children and spending time with Ceci.
Ghana is still experiencing rolling power outages. We have lights off conditions every other day. Depends on where you live. The generator at the school works well. And the generator at the hotel also works well. I still have my EVERREADY headlamp right next to me wherever I am at night.
I am tired, I am typing in low light conditions, so my apologies for errors, typos, etc.
Sent from my iPad