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Week 5   (published in Ghana)

October 11, 2017 by   Comments(1)

Fri: Tine and I were decked out in our handmade shirts for African Friday, courtesy of the girls from the correctional center (we paid them of course). They were quite the hit, and we got some great photos with the instructors. After our little photoshoot, we rushed off to meet the other volunteers to make the 8-hour trek to Wli Falls, a waterfall in the Volta Region. At first I thought that an eight hour ride wouldn’t be too bad. I’m with a bunch of friends, I can take a nap, I can read, no problem. I was sorely mistaken. First, we went to Tema Station, quickly found a tro tro going to Ho-hoe, but waited in it for THREE HOURS before it filled up and could leave. We got so desperate we pooled our money to buy the last ticket. This ride was a bumpy, cramped, miserable blur. All I know is once we finally got to Ho Hoe we were all grumpy and in need of food. We found a restaurant that served only pizza or fried rice, all selected pizza, then waited another hour and a half to eat it. Sadly, it gets much worse. We still needed to get a taxi to our lodge by the waterfall. Because it was so late, for the first time in Ghana we actually had to put in effort to get a taxi. And we lost the first one because one of our friends bartered a little too aggressively. We finally found two more, and after much explaining where we needed to go, as well as waiting for one of the drivers to drop another passenger off, we were on our way. Unfortunately, it had been raining all day and this made the roads nearly undrivable. Car number one got its tire stuck in a hole that Kasper had to lift it out of. Car number two (mine) started smoking not once, but twice, causing us to stop in the middle of nowhere and fall behind our companions. We finally made it to the lodge around 12am, and I have never been so happy to go to bed in my life.

Sat: Today made the disaster of the previous more than worth it. Having not seen the lodge in the day time, I was blown away with how beautiful it was. It consisted of separate domes for each room, which gave us a nice sense of privacy I wasn’t expecting. The dining area was outside and looked out on an amazing view of the waterfall. Breakfast was simple but amazing since we rarely get a lot of food in the morning at our host families. After filling up, we headed out into the local village to find the tourist center. We were given a guide, and walking sticks for everyone. I laughed at the walking sticks because I didn’t think we’d actually need them. I was very wrong. We rejected the “challenging” 3-hour hike in favor for the “easy” 6-hour hike. I am by no means a seasoned hiker, but I have hiked before, and this was NOT EASY. The climb up was a workout of course, but not bad at all. The problem was when we started going downhill. Even with the sticks, my short legs couldn’t reach the ground I was attempting to step down onto sometimes. On the edge of a huge mountain, this is rather undesirable. Therefore myself and several of my companions ended up unintentionally sliding down multiple stretches of mountainside. Luckily there were no injuries, only dirt, and a great photo-op of me getting my stick stuck in the ground as I fell on my butt (unfortunately no one actually captured this moment). All the dirt was worth it however, because we got to see both the upper and lower falls and they were incredible. I’ve never seen a waterfall before and it was so rewarding to have worked that hard to get there, all the while hearing it in the distance, and then find yourself right in front of it. At the end of our hike we even got to swim in the lower falls, and some braver ones in my group got pretty much right under it. Overall it was definitely the coolest hike I’ve ever been on, and maybe one of my favorite experiences in Ghana so far. Once we got our fill of Wli Falls we made our way back to the lodge, where we all took well-deserved naps. Unrelated but a fun story about me being awkward: I woke up from my nap to knocks on our door, and being the only one dressed went to answer it. I was half-asleep, so when I saw it was Kasper I stepped back to let him in, belatedly realizing everyone else was indecent. My response was “AH NAKED” and shoving my hand in his face to both shield his eyes and shove him back out the door. Luckily he was a good sport about it, and it was effective because he didn’t see anything! We ended the evening with a delicious dinner, then gladly went to bed.

Sun: Another rough travel day. Tro-tro to Ho-hoe, tro-tro to Tema Station, tro-tro home. So tired, so smelly. A fellow passenger had me buy her a bag of something from a woman standing outside our tro window, and it turned out to be a bag of little stinky fish. They probably smelled better than me.

Mon: Today was Tine and I’s first day with the children at the shelter. There were so many it was hard to keep all the names straight, but they were immediately very friendly and outgoing. We played so many games with the kids that involved jumping I thought I was going to pass out, but their 40-something year old instructor was keeping up with them so that was good motivation. Besides playing, we mostly observed for the day and began the process of figuring out how we were going to make ourselves useful. The kids are aged 7-14 and have either run away, been trafficked, or gotten lost. When police find them on the street, they are sent here. The shelter tries to locate their family members, figure out if they have been abusing the child or not, then find them a place to stay. Because of this, the group of kids is constantly changing, making substantial educational or emotional progress pretty difficult. I decide that my best approach is to try one therapeutic game or activity with them a day, just to see what they respond to the best. That way they are still playing, but hopefully getting some psychological benefits as well.
When I arrived home, I finally got to meet Ms. Odonkor, who owns the house my friends and I are staying in. She had been in Canada the entire first month I was in Ghana, so it was pretty funny that we were just now seeing each other. She is very nice, but also quite elderly so she mostly keeps to herself. That night the volunteers had a Twi language lesson, which was actually really interesting. It’s fairly easy to pick up, and I’ve been trying to incorporate as much of it as I can into my daily life.

Tues: A new girl arrived at the shelter today, and boy was she a handful. She was fifteen, originally from Niger, and very VERY persistent. She immediately tried to befriend Tine and I so she could ask us 1. If we would take her to our home countries with us. I informed her America was terrible at the moment, but she was undeterred. 2. If we would take her to our host families in Ghana. We informed her that would not be appropriate. And 3. If we would bring her clothes. We informed her that that would be unfair to the other children. Tine and I both noticed ourselves getting quickly annoyed with her pushiness, so had to check ourselves and make sure it wasn’t reflected in our behavior. While I realize these strategies are probably what have kept her going in life, it is uncomfortable to interact with someone who is so clearly kissing up to you to try to get things. I don’t blame her for it, but it was still difficult to adjust to. The rest of the day we played games though, and it was overall pleasant. That evening, Kasper Claire and I tried a Chinese Restaurant near my office for something different from our weekly menu. It was not quite what we were expecting, as it was mainly hotpot with ingredients such as pigs blood and intestine, but we were able to find fried noodles and chicken wings on the menu and they were delicious.

Wed: Today I woke up and did not feel good at all. I debated not going to work about ten times before I made myself go. Upon arriving at the office, I felt even worse, so I stayed behind while Tine went to the shelter. New volunteer Julie and I worked on our empowerment workshops, and I chugged water in hopes of preventing myself from barfing. It was a grand old time. Luckily the water did the trick, and I was able to rejoin Tine at the shelter. There, we met a man named Issa who works for an organization called Street Girls that works to get girls off the street and back to their respective homes, even if it’s in a different country. He was there interviewing the difficult girl I mentioned earlier, but was kind enough to take the time and talk about his work. He even invited us to visit their office one day, which I’m hoping we’ll get to do next month. The highlight of my day was one of the kids grabbed a mango for me from the huge tree that resides outside the shelter. I love mangos and haven’t had one here yet, so I was pretty excited. When I got back to the office I showed one of my supervisors and I think he thought I was pretty weird for how pumped I was. That evening, all of the volunteers went to Afrikiko for salsa night again, and it was even better than last time. I forced almost everyone into dancing, I met a new volunteer Laura who is from Milano (where I was born) and lets me practice my Italian with her, AND one volunteer got drunk and did the Wobble front and center of the stage. What more could one want?

Thurs: Another day at the shelter. I get my hair braided every single time I go there and have to spend about an hour of lunch getting them out, but you can’t say no to those cute faces. Said cute faces also taught me some dance moves which was very fun but also painful because I cannot get low like I used to anymore. That night, it was my dear friend Demi’s last night in Ghana, so we all went out for sushi. Half of us including myself got burgers because we were craving meat so much (please send steak thank you). It’s sad to see friends go, but I learn so much from each new person I meet here that I am always in good company, and for that I am very grateful.

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Week 5
Week 5

wonderful!! xoxo

Anonymous 255 days ago