Day 45

Our work is starting to become pretty difficult. We’ve pretty much run into all the roadblocks you can possibly run into when trying to supply a community with clean water. We have moved onto our second community and we are unsure of a lot of things right now. We don’t really know how many people live in Dawanu and if they are counting people from the surrounding small communities. To get a statistically significant amount of data we would have to do 230 interviews when we barely see anyone around the community. Then we face the problem that we can’t use a borehole as a solution as we have been informed by the District Assembly that the water table under the district is not good. That makes drilling a borehole useless. When we ask people in the interviews what they think the best solution would be they always say borehole. We now explain to them that a borehole is not an option and explain why. People don’t understand so they say that they will just continue drinking the stream water. When we try to explain other alternatives they still don’t understand. We are struggling but I think we are starting to really think this through and find the right way to adapt and continue on effectively. 

My passion for getting these rural villages water has only increased since drinking their so called drinking water. It made me sick for three days and I have never experienced that much pain in my stomach before. Honestly, I can say now that I have drank their water and know for a fact that it is not safe to drink. The teacher I spoke to told me how the kids are always sick and showing up late because they had to go all the way to the stream to fetch water. What killed me though is the fact that they honestly think that putting the muddy water into a plastic water bottle and laying it in the sun all day will make it clean. I think all of this has definitely inspired us to seriously consider educating the community as well as doing the interviews.

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Making babies cry like its our job

It seems like just when we start fitting in, we make a baby cry. It’s happened many many times now where all the kids swarm us and yell “yevo yevo”(white man), but there are one or two very young toddlers that just burst into tears at the sight of us. The mothers laugh and say it’s because they’ve never seen a white person. I mean it clearly makes sense that they would be so scared of something they have never seen before. Even the monkey in the town is scared to death of us. Whenever we try to pick him up or hold him he leans away and turns his mouth into the biggest “O” it possibly can! It’s rather hilarious. Until we scared the poop out of it. Let’s just say I had to do wash earlier than I had planned. Haha!

At least, I’m done making babies cry in the clinic. I pricked my last thumb on Friday. While it was a great experience getting to see the actual effect of malaria on the lives of people here, there’s only so many times I can tell someone “baba” or sorry, because I made them shout in pain. Though I did enjoy working with the midwife and getting to feel a baby inside a pregnant woman. I especially loved when she let me listen to the heartbeat! I could do that everyday!

On Saturday, we went to Abuadi to paint some of the materials we got forenjoy working with the midwife and getting to feel a baby inside a pregnant woman. I especially loved when she let me liste the WSS project. We’ve already used the money we fundraised to buy the materials and transport them to Abuadi. They delivered the 5,000 and 2,500 liter polytanks to the school along with the gutters, pipes, and filter. Seeing the money already being put into action is fueling our passion for this project more and more. We have identified our next town in which we will be doing interviews again and figuring out how to solve their water issue. But this one is going to turn out being a bigger project, because we were told that the whole village relies on one borehole that doesn’t even work properly. Most people walk far to the nearest stream to get the water they drink and use. They share this stream with cows and any other animals nearby. We are planning on addressing the lack of clean water for the whole town, not just the school, this time. I am excited to begin that project next week!

For me, it’s been hard to realize how much these communities need. The district we’ve been working in doesn’t even have real roads. Most communities drink unsafe, unclean water. And recently, the toilet situation in our own community has come to our attention. We went to see where people go to use the bathroom. Basically, there is an area “in the bush” where they go to squat on a log. So it’s just a huge pit of poop. There are so many flies buzzing around and the smell hit us hard. I had to try not to gag. It was horrifying, but what makes it worse is that there is nothing being done about it.

My heart has taken a beating. Everything I see and experience around me challenges everything I know and believe. I guess in the end the only thing that keeps me grounded is my time with God. And reminding myself that this earth is just a temporary home. One day the last will be first. But the endless smiles, laughter, and “yevos” from the kids reassure that even in this place there is more love, more peace, and more happiness than even some of the richest men will ever know. For now, that’s enough.

Aside

I still cringe every time I poke a little child’s thumb. We have been working in the clinic in one of the town’s near us and I’ve found it very interesting! I am not planning on going to medical school like Cole and Ellen are, but I have enjoyed learning how to do a first response malaria test and how to enter patient’s information. The staff are all so nice and have been helping us. I think we have learned so much already! I even got to hold a baby that was born the night before! Yesterday, I got to go with the mental health doctor around to different homes where he see’s his patients. We saw a man with paranoid schizophrenia. He would not acknowledge my presence. But the doctor would explain to me what his symptoms are and what medication he’s been taking. He had to change his medication while we were there because it was not working. The good thing was that at least the patient was taking the medication. In Ghana, just like America, people don’t see the need to take medication for mental health because they think they are perfectly fine. Then we went to see a teen girl who has hallucinations and hears voices. The doctor had not seen her before so he was just trying to get some information about her case so that he could start seeing her. Right now she has to go to Ho which is very hard to get to without a car. The doctor wants to take her on as a patient so that he can see her at her home. He would ask me what I thought of the patients and listened to my responses intently. I liked going around with him because he was really great about telling me what he was doing, why he was doing it, and he always wanted to know my opinion(even though I usually didn’t know what to tell him). He even taught me how to identify a malnourished child and children with learning disabilities. Also, I rode around with him on his motorbike and that was exciting because it was my first time doing that!

Over the weekends we usually have nothing to do, but this weekend was much different. We got up early on Saturday so that we could hike Mt. Adaklu! The thing is it wasn’t hiking, it was mountain climbing. First off Mt. Adaklu is over 2500 ft tall so I don’t think we were prepared for that. Secondly, we thought there would be nice path that you walk up. We were not expecting to have little children guide us up a mountain going straight up. I was dying before we even made a dent in our trek. It got steeper the further up we got and finally at some points there were rocks with ropes nailed into to help you climb up. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty scary. I think at that part I stopped thinking about how tired I was and started thinking about how much I had to focus so that I wouldn’t fall. Halfway up I wanted to give up and couldn’t believe that we only made it halfway. But the rest was not necessarily harder, but scarier. I was climbing on all fours over rocks and trees and up another huge rock with a rope. But I cannot tell you how rewarding the view was at the top! We just sat their in awe. Nothing between us and 2500 ft down. it was crazy and wonderful. I think that is the crazies thing I have ever done and it’s definitely been one of the most memorable experiences here. And the craziest part was that the kids leading us up did it in flip flops and didn’t even break a sweat. Whereas, I drank two liters of water and never peed. But thats Ghanaian children for you.

Last thing I want to comment on is the fact that we just found out that polygamy is very popular in Ghana. We were all very confused as to why the kids would call each other brother and sister sometimes and then cousins other times. We never really got how they were all related. It wasn’t until Sunday that I found out that the man that lives next door to us has three wives and pretty much all the children that come play with us everyday are all his. And then to make that even more confusing the wives also have children with other men than their husbands. I just can’t keep track. What I found especially interesting is that the man with three wives told me he is a good Christian man and it is perfectly fine to have several lovers. But out translator, Fred(who is also a devout Christian) says that this practice of polygamy is very bad. I want to look more into this because it has intrigued me thoroughly.

Friday the 13th in Ghana

Friday the 13th, started with an hour walk to Waya, the district capital of Adaklu, where we sat baking in the sun for another hour which we spent waiting for a trotro to drive by and pick us up so that we could get to Ho. Then when a taxi finally gave us hope it took another 20 minutes for us to actually leave. It was a very small car and there were four of us plus the driver and another man he was driving to Ho. So Cole had it easy in the front seat while I was squished between a Ghanaian man I’d never met before, Ellen, and Fred. But I think what made it special was the fact that there were live tied up chickens behind the back seat that were not too happy about all the bumps in the road. At some points I would forget they were there until they sqwawked so loud we jumped. Some may have called that extremely, uncomfortable hour long ride a side effect of friday the 13th, but for us it was just another crazy adventure!

I lost track of all the insane things that have happened to us during the two weeks we have been here, but I will say that every single one has been exciting and a blessing. Last weekend, we attended our first Ghanaian funeral when our town, Anfoe, pretty much doubled in size and started a weekend long party with all the music you could ever need! And it was my first time seeing a dead body, actually we saw two, because they were having three funerals at once.

I swear I have never had to have so much patience in my life. There is so much waiting around in their culture it’s been driving us up a wall. For the most part though, I think we have gotten pretty used to it. I guess it’s just another lesson Ghana is bent on teaching us.

The work we have been doing in Abuadi, working with the community and to get the school clean water, has been absolutely amazing. We have already gotten our interviews done, analyzed the data, come up with a solution, and now we are trying to fundraise for the project! Already we have gotten a lot of donations which is always good news! I think that getting to know the Abuadi community before we decided what to do was a really crucial part not just so we could hear what the community had to say, but also so we could realize how badly they need water. It broke my heart listening to the mothers and fathers talk about how their children had to run home during their breaks just to get a drink of water before running back. And during the dry season the kids would have to stand in long lines to get water causing them to be very late to school. My heart has definitely taken a beating with this project. Even during the interviews when we asked them if they had any questions they would always ask us if we were there to help. Apparently, they’ve had people come before making promises to help but none ever came through on their promises. So the community members were deservedly skeptical about our project. Hopefully we will raise our goal amount soon so that we can start working with the community on this project and show them that we are here to help.

It makes me so happy to know that this is only the beginning of my journey here in Ghana. I have so much more to do and some many people to get to know. Ghana truly is so friendly. I have felt safe, welcomed, and happy this entire time thanks to the amazing people we have come into contact with! I can’t wait to see what else is in store!

 

Day 5 in Ghana!

It still feels a little unreal. But being here in Ho, Ghana has actually been better than I could have ever imagined. I feel like I’ve been here for weeks not just a couple of days. Actually, today is day 5 for Cole, Ellen, and me! I think we all couldn’t be happier! We’ve been taking in every second. Every long second! Long, because here times moves very slowly! When you say it will take 10 minutes it could take up to 2 hours! I think that it contributes to everyone’s patience here and general happiness. I’ve been loving the lifestyle personally!

Now, I’d be lying if I said it was an easy adjustment. It’s not so much shock that got me but the general problems of adjusting to another time zone and all the jet lag. It was also hard because we traveled for the first couple days we were here and did not get to where we are permanently staying until Monday night. Not having a place to keep my stuff or know where things were was hard. Also, since I have been here it is funny to notice how little things can become big problems. We have one toilet where we are staying and it hasn’t been working and that almost became a problem. And then it is surprising how hard it is at first to shower with only a bucket of water. I mean you wouldn’t think about how the bucket is pretty heavy so even lifting it to pour over your head is a feat in itself! But all these things have made me realize even here how lucky we are to have such generous people hosting us. I have not met even a single person who was not welcoming!

Here, in the Adaklu district in the volta region of Ghana, the people speak Ewe. We have been trying so hard to learn it and I am actually surprised at how much we have picked up so far. Yesterday, a 14 year old girl was writing down words and phrases for me to practice and most of the time just laughed. But she said that at least we are trying. She speaks English very well. It made me a little embarrassed to only know one language, but it is now my goal to really learn Ewe. Everyone is helpful in teaching it to us when they are not busy laughing.

All in all, we are off to a good start. Unfortunately, we have not started our actual projects because of many roadblocks and challenges, but if we continue on course then we should begin in the morning! I think we are getting a little antsy and would really like to start as soon as possible. I guess we are learning a little Ghanaian patience.

35Days

In 35 days, I’ll be starting my journey to Ghana. I still can’t believe that I get to spend two months of my summer in Africa! This has been a dream of mine for a very long time. And because of that I want to be ready. The Omprakash EdGE program has helped me tremendously in getting prepared physically and mentally. But even though I’m completely ready and counting down the days, there’s also a part of me that doesn’t even know what this summer will bring. I’m still deciding between whether that fact thrills me beyond anything or if it terrifies me. Either way, this is going to be the best summer of my life. I can’t wait for it to start, to be there, and take every single bit, every single moment of it in. I’ll be immersing myself into the Ghanaian culture, building relationships, and I already know that in the end it’s going to make me more alive than I ever thought possible.