Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy birthday to me

Just another day here in Ghana! Jessica gave me a box of chocolates wrapped in pictures colored by a couple of the kids I was soo appreciative of her amazing gesture! Then I went to lunch at my favorite restaurant here in Ghana which was amazing! I also got a gift from the orphans in the form of ring worm on my chin. I got medicine today so hopefully that will clear it all up. Jessica has ring worm on her arm as well. Gloria (our local host at the compound) told us about a traditional remedy for ring worm and scabies. This remedies involves breaking a battery in half, rubbing the battery acid on the infected section of the skin. I don't think I'm too keen to this remedy. I'll just stick to my pills and cream.

I have been having a great time! A couple of days ago we had a huge rain storm so I was soaked the whole day! The kids were also forced to stay inside this very small room. I counted about 28 toddlers in this small and cluttered room. It was a nightmare to say the least. There was screaming everywhere, bodily waste everywhere, tears everywhere, fighting everywhere, and more screaming!

I don't want to go home but I know I have to get back to my responsibilities at home :( Thank you everyone for your love and support! It is great to hear from everyone! Keep the comments coming :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reader beware cynical post below.

It's been kind of a rough last couple of days. I'm going to type out my journal entry from yesterday.

July 15th, 2008 Day 30

I don't know if it was the gloomy weather or just one of those days, but today has been kind of a slap in the face with reality. Once we arrived to the toddler's compound I saw a new boy who was just screaming his lungs out and repeating the same phrase over and over and over again while walking around in circles. He didn't notice us or the other aunties who were watching him. I later learned that he was calling out in desperation for his mother. I have no idea what his story was before he got to the orphanage but he appears to be very clean and healthy. He arrived at the orphanage just last night. I don't know if his parents died, abandoned him or if he was simply lost and found on the side of the road. Either way it breaks my heart to see him calling out in absolute desperation for his mother. I want so much to scoop up this child, take him on the plane and give him a fighting chance in this ugly world. Today was also a hard day with the rest of the kids. I am constantly wondering if I am making a difference in their lives. I know I make a difference in their day but I don't think that because of my short 8 week stint here that these children's lives will be molded to turn out in some other way than it would have if I didn't come at all. What does the future hold for these kids? What mean tricks will the world and life throw in the face of these children despite the severe injustices they have already been delt. There are so many of them and my time here is so short. It is not fair that I am gaining so much more than I am giving. I try every day to give everything of myself but somehow I don't feel drained. On the contrary I feel so filled with love from these children and there seem to be no way to give it all away. Is there any way to give and not receive anything in return? I hate the temporariness of all of this. I am only here for a short time. The optimistic part of me wants to think that I will leave a lasting impression on these kids but then the critical, and sometimes cynical part of me, thinks about all of the other volunteers who have come before me and all of the ones who will come after me. With this constantly revolving door, how can one person really leave their impression. I will forever remember the names and faces of these children. I will always remember and be effected by the lessons they have taught me thus far about life, love, resilience and so much more. Life sucks for these kids but somehow they muster up enough courange and audacity to face the day and say " Screw you shitty situation I'm going to get up, laugh, cry, scream and have fun no matter what you throw at me. I'm going to keep on living no matter what."

Despite the blood, sweat, tears and constant flow of snot, they are strong. Sowah cannot hear or communicate his most basic needs but that doesn't stop him from sitting on your lap, looking up at you and giving you the most genuine, heart warming smile tiy gave ever seeb,

Conclusion to all my thoughts, doubts and questions is this....there is no conclusion. I have no answer. But hopefully obecause of the obrunis willing to travel to Ghana and love and play with these kids hopefully their lives will be better off than those children in this world who are unfortunate enough to not recieve any love in their lives. Hopefully I give enough hugs and kisses and console enough sad hearts to have done my part in the larger scheme. What I have to cling to now is hope. Hope that they never give up. Hope that they can keep strong. Hope that they can finally catch a break in this world. Hope and I guess pray.

The uncertainty and temporariness is killing me.

I'm still having an amazing time don't get me wrong. It's just some days it's hard to not take a few steps back and be critical.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cape Coast

What an incredible adventure! Emily, Crystal and I left our humble abode in Teshie-Tebibiano Friday morning and took a bus up to Cape Coast which is in the Central region of Ghana. We arrived and went to the Cape Coast slave castle. It was sooo eerie and intimidating. It's located right on the beach and there are cannons pointed in every direction. We walked through the various slave dungeons and I could not believe the conditions they were forced to live under. The dungeons were underground with thousands of people packed into these small rooms for months at a time. There were 3 1x2 foot windows for both light and ventalation. On the walls there were markings indicating the level of human waste that had built up. This line reached above my waste. We saw the door of no return and the condemned cell which housed the trouble makers and once you went into the cell not one would come out alive. It was a sobering and informative experience. After the castle we made our way over to Kakum national forest where we were able to sleep in the rainforest. We slept on these little platforms with mosquito nets for walls and a tin roof over head. All night long we listened to a various array of birds and monkeys. We watched the sunrise and went on the Canopy walk which was incredible. It was a serious of swinging bridges connecting to different platforms all along the top of the rainforest with the highest point reaching 40 meters. I got some great pictures! (My camera got fixed by the way! woot woot!) We saw monkeys on the canopy walk which was very special and rare. I couldn't get enough of the scenery and when we finished the walk I was totally ready to do it all over again! Then we went to the El Mina slave castle. This castle was erected by the Portugese and it was a lot smaller and different. I stood where the women slaves were presented to the Govenor and he would select which one he wanted to rape that day. I stood in the cells which still reaked of human decay and waste. I saw the incredible differences between the slaves quarters and the govenors emaculate living conditions. Again, it was a sobering and informative experience. After the castle we had lunch and I had my first sea food dish. It was really really good! Even though the tail, eyes and teeth were still intact. We made it home safely and I can't wait to show everyone all my great pictures!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Under the African sun

On Saturday we made another excursion to the beach with Kelvin and Sowah in tow. I was hoping to teach Sowah a couple of signs while we were there but I got so much more. Here is the story. We were all on the beach, getting used to the water (Neither of them were big fans of the water) when I noticed 2 Ghanaian guys signing to each other and amazingly I could understand what they were saying. Apparently Ghanaian sign language is almost exactly the same as American sign language. I approached them and started up a conversation and I eventually told them of my suspicions of Sowah being Deaf. They asked me to yell his name and snap in his either, to which sowah gave no response. They both said "Oh yeah he's Deaf" I then asked them about Deaf schools in the area. They told me about one that is about an hour away. Peter (one of the Deaf guys) said he would take Jessica, Sowah and I there on Monday to check it out and get some forms to take to the doctor so that he can get enrolled. I was extremely excited about this! In America Deaf schools are a very big deal for the Deaf community. It is where they learn not only their language but they also learn their own culture and learn where the belong in this big bad world. I believe this would also hold true for the Deaf community in Ghana.

So come Monday morning we got permission from all of the aunties necessary to take Sowah to the Deaf school to check it out. Peter and I had decided that we would meet at the beach on Monday morning and he would take us all up there. We got there and waited for about 2 and a half hours and he never showed up. I'm sure something came up because he kept telling me not to forget to meet him Monday morning. But I am bound and determined to get Sowah to the Deaf school! I will need a sponsor for him back home who is willing to pay his tuition (around $45 per semester) and pay for his transportation. Any takers?

I also got absolutely fried at the beach! I wore sunblock but that did not stop the African sun from frying my skin to a crisp.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Changing it up

We're changing up the routine here in G to the hana. In the mornings I will no longer be working in the school but instead we will be taking out 4 or 5 severly disabled children. These poor kids have no choice but to lay on the floor all day with little or no attention from the volunteers or aunties. Today was the first day that we did this change. I loved it! The kids were so sweet yet soo smelly :) I've learned to get past the smells and the uncleanliness of the kids and try to reach out to them. I think at least 1 of the kids has aids but I'm not sure. I'm planning on asking one of the aunties which ones are HIV + and which aren't. I want to know this just so that I can take the necessary precautions and not because I want to stay away from the ones with aids. We've also decided that Sowah is deaf (he is in the picture of me and Jessica on the beach, he is the one that I am holding) Jessica and I are going to try our hardest to teach Sowah some basic signs so that he can better communicate his needs. I know that in the short time I'm here I'm not going to be able to teach him more than a handful of signs, but hopefully we can open the door to communication for him. Sowah is one of the older kids in class and he has never uttered a word and he doesn't respond if you're not looking directly at him. He might be hard of hearing because he doesn't make unintentional moans or grunts. Either way I hope that he will benefit from the little that I can give him.

Jessica and I are also in the midst of planning a couple of weekend trips which I'm super excited about! The first we are planning is a trip up to Kumasi and then a trip to Mole National Park where we will be able to see monkeys, elephants, buffalos and lots and lots of birds. I am super excited!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


So, the crisis is that my camera simply won't work. It won't turn on. I've tried to charge the battery, didn't work. I tried to plug it in using the USB port, didn't work. I don't know what to do! I want to take so many pictures but my camera won't work! :( :( :(