Tag Archives: Africa

Part Two: Day 3: July 31

Well, the rest of my day consisted of making noises with my mouth to entertain the younger boys and playing “volleyball.” I also managed to work on some English lessons with four of the children.

Playing led to a photoshoot with the children who absolutely loved looking at themselves. I still have so many more pictures I should take, though. In the near future, I want to write a post about each of the members of the family, pictures of course will have to wait until I return to the states…

Dinner tonight consisted of a traditional Kenyan dish, Ugali, and a stew. I much prefer Ugali to its counterparts in Ghana; it was not as doughy or sour as Kenkey or Fufu–more like Omo Tuo (rice ball).

Following dinner, we sat conversing and Joseph brought up his eldest son who’s name is also Samuel (pronounced Sam-well) and mentioned that he is “mental.” When I met Samuel, I knew something was off, but I’m not too fond of the adjective “mental.” Currently he is on some sort of medication (tablets) that are not as effective as an injection he can get at the local hospital/clinic. Having only been here three days, I volunteered to pay for the injection, so hopefully we will notice a change after he gets that on Wednesday. I’m not quite sure why I volunteered to do this, I just felt compelled to help in one of the few ways that I could.

Despite this being such a unique experience, one where I’ve done things I would never do at home (i.e. handle feces), I can’t help but feel that I belong in some weird way–that really says a lot about my host family considering the short time I’ve been here…

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Day 3: July 31

Today was a church day. I set my alarm for 8 AM but was awakened a lot earlier by the cow and her silly bell as she grazed by my hut.

Following the morning chai and buttered bread, I had my first shower in the bush. I was given the equivalent of about three bottles of water and told to bathe myself. Well, I didn’t ration my water well enough so I was left with a soapy butt and even soapier arm pits. I guess this beats a wet wipe bath, though. The towel did manage to get all the remaining soap off. I had no idea what to wear to church, but I noticed everyone else was wearing the same thing they wore yesterday so I too proceeded to wear the same outfit I’ve worn for three days, but this time opting for a shirt with a collar.

The trek to church was no shorter than any other I’ve been on since being here despite all the “shortcuts” we took. We made two visits, well three, on our way. We were looking for Joseph’s father-in-law but he was at wife number two’s home. We then stopped at Sarah’s, a member of Joseph’s church. I guess now would be a good time to mention that Joseph is a pastor; he has helped start three churches in this area.

There were not too many people at church today. Joseph explained that this was because of it being the dry season so since many of the Maasai are pastoralists they were in another area trying to find water and green grass for their herds. Other than the small numbers, it was a really spiritual experience. It was obvious that they believed whatever it was they were singing. I had no idea what was happening most of the time. Thankfully, one of Joseph’s younger sons sat next to me and tugged at my pant leg every time I was supposed to stand or sit or pray.

Now, I’m sitting by a water hole watching one of the boys wash their clothes, while another pets my arm, and another wraps a plastic ball he made with string. Wh0 knows what the rest of this day will bring.


Sankofa

In Ghana they had a term for “returning to one’s roots,” and this was Sankofa. I can’t help but think with my upcoming trip to Kenya that I am in fact returning to my roots. 

While I grow more nervous by the day, I can’t help but become overwhelmed with excitement at all the experiences I will have. This time, my experience will be a rural one. Based at Kimuka in the Ngong Hills, I’ll be about an hour and thirty minutes south of Nairobi. From the Ngong Hills, or “knuckles,” in Swahili, I will be able to see Nairobi on one side and the Nairobi Game Reserve on the other. I’ll be in the heart of Maasailand. Some of Africa’s greatest warriors will be my neighbors and my caretakers. The Maasai are known for the bright fabrics, beaded adornments, and prowess of the Great Rift Valley. I can only hope that I master the art of milking a cow or spearing a lion during my months stay.

While my time will be plagued with no electricity or running water, I am eager for the opportunity to realize just how blessed I am. With little electricity it goes without saying that there will be no internet. However, I plan to keep you up to date somehow, even if I have to visit an internet cafe every once in a while, which I’ll have to do to charge my phone. I guess what I’m saying is, I would love for you to take this journey with me, from the comfort of your computer screen of course… To the right there’s an opportunity for you to enter your email address and subscribe. Being a subscriber will get you an email every time I post a new post. This is probably your best bet for staying informed because my posts will be haphazard.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I prayer. Take the coming week or so to look back at my posts from my time in Ghana. Come up with questions to which you want answers and I can do my best to seek answers while I am there, that will make it really interesting.

Up next: How I’m Going. What I’m Doing.


Patience…

…is a virtue,

This I know…

but mine is wearing thin.

My opinion is that there are three stages to becoming an African at heart. 1) You’re a newbie so everything that could frustrate you, you excuse because it is a different culture. Stage 2) You still realize it’s a different culture but your frustrations are at an all-time high… 3) This stage is reserved for those who are aiming to live in Africa–for you there is no such thing as frustrations because you’ve adopted many of the native practices as your own.

I am clearly in Stage Two, but despite my frustrations I am still thoroughly enjoying myself.  A lot of my frustration comes from the fact that Ghana has rules that people are expected to abide by, but the enforcers choose when they want to enforce them.

The other day we were just trying to cross the street, but it wasn’t a cross walk because there are only crosswalks every like mile and the police were like turn around a go back where you came from; we’re trying to teach you. Bologna. Two hours later we were walking on this path that had been made in the grass and we get to this guy that says turn around and go back where you came from, you can’t walk here. Well clearly we were not the first people to walk here. He then wanted to charge us 20 GHC to pass there. I wasn’t paying his backpocket though…

Then later that night we were trying to go out and dance for someone’s birthday and we get to this place and everyone can get in except me because I am wearing shorts, nice shorts, though. My knickers were unacceptable… That was the final straw for me that day… Then some guy was like I’ll get you some pants and I said I’m not gonna pay you a lot of money for a pair of pants your friend is giving me. He said, “How much you pay?” Um, no more than 2 GHC. “Oh, that’s no good. Gimme 5 GHC.” Okay, fine… So he leaves and then 10 minutes later a different guy comes back wearing some pants that look like he just took from someone off the street and I just couldn’t do it… I’m sorry… So I just decided to sit outside under the steps and wait for the rest of them… They came out in like 45 minutes because they said it was super lame and just a bunch of wealthy Obrunis and Obibinis. We didn’t come to Ghana to associate with the elite group so we left… I probably wouldn’t have been so frustrated if we had just been able to get there but our taxi got a flat tire on the way there so I helped change that… That day was just like one thing right after the other. You know what I mean?

Yesterday we had a very relaxing day at the pool which we all needed very much. So today we woke up refreshed and ready to take on the day. Some people are going to the botanical gardens which I’m sure are gorgeous, but you could see those anywhere. I would much rather take in the culture in another way…


words from an obruni

Wow. Did you think I had died? I promise I haven’t; I’m alive and well! Our flight was from Louisville to Atlanta and then from Atlanta to Accra. Other than the fact that a kid threw up next to my seat on the plane and another girl sat in the bathroom complaining about internal bleeding the flight was good! The first leg was about 50 minutes and the second was about 10 hours. This was the first introduction to my minority status and it was very interesting! The airport doesn’t have gates so they just park the plane in the middle of the runway and bring these big steps that you climb down from and then get on a shuttle (the nicest thing I have ridden in since being here).

Leaving the airport and getting to our residence in Pokuase was a trip for sure. The director of the NGO I am with picked us up but because there was so much luggage and three new volunteers (another girl from Peru flew in at the same time) we had to take a taxi. Taking a taxi in Accra gave us insight into A LOT of cultural norms. First, Ghanaians pee anywhere; very rarely will you ever find a place with a restroom (compounds do but nowhere in public). Our taxi driver got out of the car and walked to the other side of the road (a very busy road) and whipped out and started to relieve himself and he did this again later in our journey. Next, there is no such thing as lanes in Accra and surrounding areas. There are marks on the roads to signify two lanes but this means nothing to the locals, they drive wherever they want at whatever speed that want and coupled with the fact that there are no stoplights, it is an experience. Sometimes the locals just decide to take it upon themselves to direct traffic and our taxi driver wasn’t listening to them so they just came and banged the top of our car, kind of scary. There were several times that I thought my life was ending, but now having ridden in a taxi several times and a tro tro even more I am used to it.

Traffic here is terrible. We think NYC and LA are bad, but that is because most of us haven’t been to Accra yet. From Pokuase to the circle should maybe take 20 minutes, but instead it takes about one hour. I have never been in a traffic jam like the ones here. I’m used to traffic jams meaning cars are just at a stand still in their own lanes on the interstate, but traffic jams here mean that your car is blocked in with cars on all four sides of you going in different directions. CRAZY. Oh, and to make matters even more tiring, there are goats and sheep and chickens that run around EVERYWHERE!

While there are many people who drive their own cars, much of the population relies on public transportation and when I say public I mean public. As I mentioned previously there are taxis, either shared, meaning the driver may stop and pick others up along the way, or chartered, just you and the driver. In addition, many people use the trotro. Trotros come in all sizes, styles, colors, and makes; they are normally about the size of a church van, but instead a vehicle that should hold about 15 people has anywhere from 22 to 28 people packed in. One of the trotros I was in was rusting out so badly that you could see the tires spinning below, but hey…it gets you where you need to go. Another thing worth mentioning is that there are no set prices on any of these. In America we’re used to hopping in a cab and relying on the meter to tell us how much to pay and everything is done by bargaining. Since we’re white they often times think they can charge us more so it can be a little trying, but we’re getting used to it. Last night our taxi driver tried to charge us 5 cedis to get to Kwami Nkrumah Circle, but we just laughed in his face and got it down to 3 cedis.

Once we finally arrived at our compound we were greeted by Princess, the wife of the spiritual chief Nguomo. Together they have one child, Prince who is nine months old, but he has two other children from another woman, Niyobo and Nikoffee, both of whom are in my classes at school. At first Princess was a lot to handle, but she has come to be one of the most enjoyable people here, very bubbly.

After eating dinner around 7 PM the first night we just sat around and talked. During a span of about 2 hours the power went off four times and the water hadn’t worked since we had been there. It is very off and on with power and water here and rarely do they work at the same time. We have been fortunate the last couple of days in that most things have been working. Showers are cold and you don’t leave the water running the whole time because the tank will run out, in that case you revert to bucket showers. Since it is the rainy season here we could just go outside for our showering. When the power is on the heat isn’t so bad because they have THE MOST POWERFUL CEILING FANS EVER! Sometimes we just sit under the fan and feel like we’re in heaven. It definitely isn’t as hot as I expected, but that is because it is the rainy season; it is a little humid though but there is a constant wind here which makes it quite pleasant.

The next morning for breakfast we had two pieces of bread and then headed into town for a tour. We saw Kwami Nkrumah Circle, a memorial thing for Ghana’s first president, the National Museum, Independence Square and we ate at Papaye.

Food here consists of A LOT of chicken and rice and it is often spicy and fried; I haven’t been disspointed so far. I will update later about the food as I get to taste more of it. Usually, when a Ghanaian gets food they will say, “You are invited;” at first I was like what are you talking about but it means that you can share the food with them. They are extremely generous to us with everything; if you walk in to a place and there are no seats they will make the obibinis (black people) move and give their chairs to the obrunis (whites). Now, having said that you probably think I have become a huge racist. No. It is acceptable for people to call one other that here. Everyday we are walking down the streets they will holler “OBRUNI!” and we will respond with “Obibini bye-bye!” It’s kind of cool but something we are still getting used too.

Well, that is all I can write for now. I will update more about the school I work at and the language here in a little bit.


time is near

Well, the time has almost arrived. Time for me to bid farewell to my old kentucky home–the place of 90% humidity in the summer months, my loved ones, close friends, and consistency.

Now, I embark on a three month journey. As I travel to Accra, Ghana I am both anxious and eager–anxious because of a new environment and eager to make someone else’s life a little bit better. It isn’t often that we get opportunities to travel thousands of miles and to partake in a culture so foreign compared with what we’re used to. My time in Africa will no doubt be a test–a test of my patience and flexibility, but also of my calling. Hopefully by the end of this trip I will have a more solidified understanding of my own purpose in this life and how better to accomplish that purpose. It has been my personal motto that the only way to truly make this world a better place is by giving of our time and energy to those less fortunate than ourselves and by giving of our love to everyone, even those we may deem undeserving.

Mother Teresa once said, “Yesterday has gone; tomorrow has yet to come; we only have today, let us begin.” I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity that I do, but I would encourage those of you who are staying behind to adopt this adage as your own. Forget what has happened or what could happen; instead, focus on what you can do right in this moment to make someone else’s life just a little bit better, a little bit happier, a little bit more easier.

I have no doubt that this will be an experience that I remember for the rest of my life, that is why I have chosen to share it with you through this blog. After all, many of you have helped make this experience possible through your various donations. Please however don’t think that your partnership with myself and this trip ceased with your donation. I am taking this trip, but so are you. Somewhere inside of you, you recognized that this was a cause worth supporting and I am grateful for that. Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers; send me any positive energy you have left at the end of your day.

Again, I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

I love you all.

-sam


Sam G

I absolutely dig adventure and travel!

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Verbal tantrums of a writer & an anxious spectator of life.

Mathematical

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