Merlot Vinye Wo

It means “I love my children” and boy do I…even though they insist on yelling our names at our windows at all hours of the day, it is something I wouldn’t trade for the world! I have been in Ghana for nine days and have fallen in love with everybody and everything. After a bit of chaos and confusion at the airport I spent my first night in the capital, Accra, with Hannah (my twin) and Emmanuel (Compassionate Journeys Coordinator). The next day we took a four and a half hour ride on a trotro (a packed van) to Tafi Atome, where I will spend the next two months. All the volunteers stay with Wilson, easily the greatest man in the world. Wilson is blind and works to empower others with disabilities all over Ghana. He was voted the Best Physically Challenged Farmer in all of Ghana a few years back. He is an inspiration and always a pleasure to be around, I especially enjoy our long walks. I am helping him learn how to use his laptop and that’s definitely a learning experience for the both of us. I am so grateful to live with him, even though we all probably annoy him with our singing and non sense, he never fails to make us feel welcome. I’ll never forget when he told Hannah and I that he was in love with us! The living conditions are better than I expected…..besides the spider. I share a room with the lovely Hannah, and it is never a dull moment. It’s a daily thing for one of us to nearly amputate our fingers because our ceiling fan is so low and faster than a helicopter, one day it’s going to fly off the ceiling I just know it. But that fan is also one of my favorite things about our house, when the power went out during a storm one night I couldn’t fall asleep until it came back on. With that said, I never thought I would say that I enjoy bucket showers, they are surprisingly refreshing and I’ve really mastered them (I’m down to one bucket per shower). The first few days it was just Hannah and I relaxing, going to bed around 7:30-8 pm, and getting to know Tafi Atome and all the wonderfully kind people in it. I hate to pick favorites but Vinolia will always hold a special place in my heart. I eat all my meals at Vinolia’s Inn Restaurant, Vinolia is not only the greatest cook ever but the sweetest and most loving and beautiful and welcoming woman I have ever met. She’s invited us to church with her and took us to pick mangoes (YAY) at her fathers. Her family has been in Tafi Atome for a long time, she still lives in the house she was born in despite her father and siblings spreading out all over the village. Shortly after we arrived, we learned that her mother had sadly passed away a few weeks ago. She taught us about the funeral/burial process, which is a lot more of a celebration of life. It’s thanks to her and Emmanuel that I really began to learn the culture in Tafi Atome. We immediately learned to only use our right hand; to greet, wave, give things to people, as a sign of respect. It was a bit if an adjustment but now it’s second nature. Tafi Atome is most famous for its monkey sanctuary. There are monkeys all over the village and as long as you have a banana you are almost guaranteed a monkey climbing on your arms, it is something that will never lose its thrill! As for Compassionate Journeys, I am so happy to be working with such an amazing organization. Everyone involved is so amazing, it is now eight of us volunteers (all from FSU…GO NOLES!) and the projects we are working on have me excited to wake up every morning, despite how early! Emmanuel is head coordinator in Ghana, he is a bundle of energy and never fails to keep a smile on our faces. He keeps us busy, whether teaching/playing at the primary school, working in the clinic, or doing construction on the future home for trafficked children and I enjoy every moment. I spend my days surrounded by children and a few of them have really stolen my heart. I honestly could not be happier!

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