Wednesday, February 09, 2011

learning Ewe

Still very cold. Snow covered cold. Bitter winter cold.


I’ll be spending spring break (which comes in mid-March, a mere four weeks away) in Ghana.

It’s not easy to travel there. The paperwork and the medical preparations alone are enough to give one pause.

Today, for example, I went for the various vaccinations and inoculations – seven, and that’s before we even began the conversation about malaria and gastric disturbances. As the nurse passed on voluminous information about the side effects of this and that, I felt, for the first time this winter, hot. Perhaps from the overdose of information and immunization.

And it’s not as if I chose the full range of preventatives. One vaccination I can have later on. You'll want it if you continue to do missionary work in Africa, she tells me.

Missionary work?? What is it about me that caused her to think that this was my reason for going to Ghana?

In fact, I am not on a mission to teach the people there about my ways at all – religious or otherwise. I merely want, for the one week I’ll have there, to make one, maybe two, maybe three children feel like they are the most special kids in the world and that someone on the other side of the globe cares about them and will travel far to play with them and laugh with them and make them feel important, even as, without parents or family, they must rely on others to fill a void. If I listen hard, I may learn some of their tribal language (Ewe). So that the teaching will be by them, rather than by me.

Good, reasonably safe volunteer work in poorer regions of the world is hard to find. I looked long and hard for something that would be culturally sensitive and would offer a needed and requested service. I wont be the only one in Ghana, of course. In fact, a small group of volunteers will be traveling there at the same time (nearly every one of them half my age). Each of us safe, or nearly safe from most of the diseases that plague the tropics.

Ah, but that all could be so lucky.