My last week :( I have been dreading this week, for well 9 weeks.
For my last week in Ghana it is the PANAFEST, which is the Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance. I liked to think this was Africa’s way of saying goodbye to me. But really this is a time for there to be remembrance and celebration for all ancestors who suffered on the way to the castle, in the castle, on the ships, and once the ships landed. Each day there are many activities. On the first day the president came to speak at the castle, which was really nice because the streets were cleaned, yet it was all in Fante and I could not understand. One day that was really special to me was the candlelight visual at the Cape Coast Castle. Upon arrival candles were handed out and the drums played softly. Then all of the speakers, presenters, chiefs, and some elders from villages walked out of the door of the dungeon. The choir was absolutely beautiful and the dances were like I have never seen before. There were poems read that were amazing and Martin Luther Kings I Have a Dream speech was acted out and spoken. This was a very powerful and inspiring night.
On Monday I did not feel like going to work because I said goodbye to so many people. Yet, walking in and giving a lesson on person-first language made me realize that I have to keep a positive attitude. (Lesson: A person is a person before they are anything else, so if you are describing someone say the person with the yellow shirt instead of the yellow shirted person. This is more inclusive so individual’s differences are not pointed out before acknowledging that they are human too.) Now that my project was done with the interns that I worked with I fully joined the project on Non-Government Organizations. This was rewarding because I started this project on the side when I first got here, to get it started for these interns. The goal was to create a workshop and invite all the NGOs to learn about NGOs, teach about fundraising in Ghana, explain the process of report writing, and network. Speaking at this meeting was fun because I could tell the individuals that attended understood the importance in all of the aspects.
I went to 11 communities that were all involved in Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP). These 11 communities were chosen to have some individuals receive a card that will allow them to get small payments for a little extra help each month. Although, this month is the first month in about 6 that the money has actually came. My job that day was to tell the communities, with an interpreter, where and when they can get their last manual payment. I also was fortunate enough to be able to register more individual from the different communities. Then I gave them good news that it will be added to an account now so they can get the money whenever they please. The communities were ecstatic with all the Fante that I knew and made these trips really fun!
Thursday I took off work to buy a Polytank for the village Asemanso. This is a clean source of water that will be available for everyone in the community that will be good for over 20 years. The water is filtered and will allow an individual to get a large portion of water at one time. There was a little more work that needed to be put into buying one, than I originally thought. Buying it was easy after going to the bank but I needed to find a reasonable priced truck to drive the huge black cylinder to the village. Then I had to go buy a few tubes and technical stuff so that it would work. I am going into social work not pluming so please forgive my professional terms. I know that the community will be able to have better health and live a little easier do to this clean source of water. I am just so grateful that I got to meet so many of the wonderful individuals in the community.
At night I cooked for all of the ProWorld participants that are still here. This was a nice little taste of America before coming home to try the real thing. I made Alfredo pasta, mango salsa with plantain chips, and a frozen peanut butter and banana dish. They loved it and were very grateful.
Friday was my last day at work and I got my little party that was unfortunately cut short due to my doctor’s visit in the morning. I had a little something going on with my stomach so I am glad I went even though I was hesitant to go back. I am fine though :)
Not Goodbye Weekend
This is not my goodbye weekend because I do not want to leave and I am even tearing up writing this sentence.
Friday I went to my really good friend’s masque for prayer. This was different than what I am used to on my Sunday services. It is Ramadan and I went to the service when everyone was ending their fasting for the day. After the fast was broken the men stayed downstairs and the women went upstairs. It was a beautiful building and overlooked the town so I am glad that I am a girl. I had someone to watch as we did the particular motions for prayer and she did not speak much English, but was very impressed with me being able to keep up. I am really grateful I was welcomed by the community, even though many of the individuals saw me on my way to church.
On Friday night I also went to a funeral where only black and red are worn. Funerals last three days in Ghana and are always Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The body is buried on Sunday and on Saturday it is a full day event of prayer and mourning. Arriving on Friday, luckily having a black dress, I walked into this large open tent with many chairs in rows and sat with my friend. After many songs that we sang and danced to, it was time to greet every family member. The family members were all in a line into a building where the women’s open casket was. She was dressed like a queen and was in a very detailed casket, which she picked out. (Side note: the caskets here that I have seen being sold on the side of the road are extremely interesting. I have seen caskets of rocket ships, airplanes, painted oceans, Club and Star beer bottles, and some with diamonds all over.) This experience was very interesting and made me want my funeral to be nothing besides the Ghana Friday’s, with all of the singing and dancing.
After seeing one life end it was really refreshing going to a wedding on Saturday to see new lives begin. Waking up early was worth it to experience the beautiful wedding where I had the opportunity of riding in the car right behind the newly married to the reception. That night we went to the beach at night because the stars were especially gorgeous for my roommates last night. To get to the beach we had to walk through town to get there and I usually love town. Although, walking into town was not as fun as usual because there were many people sleeping outside of the shops, where many did not even have mosquito nets. This made me really sad and it was really hard to walk past, especially after seeing so many of them during the day as they greet me with the biggest smiles.
Sunday was church, but this service was not like the others because it was for me. There was a lot of English spoken and the songs were all ones that I could recognize. I even had a speaking part as I did the second reading. This was fun because a few weeks ago I taught them the phrase,” God is good, all the time,” from St. Alexander’s and Deacon Mark and they repeatedly said it as I was walking up to the podium. Wanting to ensure that everyone understood I even spoke some of it in Fante. Finishing the service the church presented me with a gift as I spoke my parting words.
Going into town the last time to say goodbye, to some of the shop owners, did not seem real because I passed by them about 10 times a day and got to know many of them. Dad I know you are not surprised as you can see my bank account. But the best part of this trip to town was the taxi ride home. I was the first one in so I sat in the front seat and greeted the driver speaking a little Fante. He was so surprised and really started to try to get to know me. Once he started asking a few questions the song “no air” by Jordin Sparks came on. We started belting out the words, laughing and dancing. He had his music plugged in and he only played songs that I knew. As he picked up other passengers on the way, everyone in our car sang any song that came on. He then dropped me off on my house 5 minutes up the hill with no charge he just thanked me for making his day.
Medaase Pa Pa Pa Ghana (Thank you very much)
I have learned so much coming to Ghana about myself, other people, different cultures, my future, and how to treat people. My motto in life has always been you get what you give. It is easy going into a place with the mindset, I will change the world but if that is ones mindset nothing will get done. One must work with the culture and adapt to the process of getting work completed. If I did not write the new bye-law, do inspections of Day-Care Centers, collect child support, buy a Polytank, enlighten NGO’s, solve family civil cases, give educational presentations, or get involved with LEAP, I would be perfectly happy. I would have been so pleased because of all the lifelong lessons that I will be taking away from this. If anyone asks me how my trip was it would be the people that I would want to talk about. My experience would not have been the same without staff and participants at ProWorld, people at work, home stay family, community members, friends I made, the little kids on the street, and the perfect strangers who had the openhearted attitude that I love. I feel like I am going to come back home and pick up random kids on the street, try to share taxis, barter with the clerk over a price at a store, come a little late thinking I am on GMT, greet everyone I make eye contact expecting a response, or even speak a little Fante to try to get something I want. All of these things will not work, as I need to keep reminding myself! I am beyond words trying to explain how grateful I am for this experience and know that
even if I go back, when I go
back, I will not have the same remarkable experience again. Another amazing
journey indeed, but one cannot travel in the same river twice having the same unique
experience. Going to America and having Chipotle seems unreal and I know that I will experience extreme reverse
Looking back you see with great clarity that what once appeared as difficulties now reveal themselves as blessings.