Saturday, March 19, 2011

and again, from Ghana

(Thursday) the orphanage

Elizabeth, the headmistress, is proud of the new building for the older kids at the Happy Kids orphanage in Hohoe, Ghana. Indeed, this past summer, Cross Cultural Solutions volunteers helped with its construction, including the painting of the interior.

You reach it by following a path from the school, past grasses and a church, and a fair amount of rubbish.

You have to develop a sense of indifference to rubbish here. Markets use black plastic bags and though people reuse these again and again, eventually shreds wind up in the fields. There aren’t grocery stores in Hohoe and markets don’t sell goods in cans or plastic containers and so this cuts down considerably on what you may find in the gutter. And, poverty is a great force behind recycling. But still, you’ll find litter. Less on the road, but abundantly behind houses and in vacant lots.

Any campaign is focused more on getting kids to wash hands and prodding parents to take them to the doctor at the first sign of malaria than on picking up shreds of plastic bags.

The path continues past the mud and thatch huts, past goats, chickens -- the typical Hohoe animals that you find everywhere here.


And now we are at “The House.”

Boys’ quarters next to girls’ quarters. The boys’ quarters are neater so I’ll show you those:


All your possessions (what possessions?) in a room.

Elizabeth is justifiably proud. The bigger kids now have good, solid beds.

And an outside faucet for water. And a separate house where Elizabeth’s daughter, with the help of another woman who comes in from the village, cooks three meals for a pile of kids each day. Right here, in this pot.

DSC06275 - Version 2

In the classroom, I have lesson plans and we work through everything at a solid pace. New songs, new words, and tough concepts like opposites, and similarities and differences, and even if the littlest ones do not fully understand, they pick up bits and pieces.

We rumble back in the van in the heat of the noon hour.

(as seen through van windshield)

In the afternoon, the CCS volunteers have one more brief introduction to Ghanaian tradition: that of batik fabric printing. We visit a seamstress who makes her own batik fabrics (so many women do that here!) she teaches us how to dip the carvings in hot wax and then use dye to infuse the whole piece with color.

(on the walk over to the seamstress shop)

(this, too, on the walk to the seamstress)

(the printing blocks)

And so quickly, it is evening. A handful of us walk to the Internet cafĂ© – me, for the obvious emails and posting. I am negotiating a sale of the condo and this is just so strange to do, from this village Internet shop in the Volta Region of Ghana.

I walk home alone, late as always. It’s dark, but every bend in the dirt road is so familiar now that I don’t bother with the flashlight. When I come to this house, I know I am almost there.


It's well past midnight now and a small group of us stays up at this late hour, even as we’re up by 6:30 each morning, ready to rumble over to our placements soon after. We laugh hard now. Such a welcome release.

[Post Scriptum: another storm, another struggle to connect. But, I'm about to begin my last day in Ghana. Internet will improve after I fly out Saturday night to France, and then the next day to Madison. But will anything improve for these kids here? More thoughts on that later.]