Saturday, 23 July 2011

Babies, reading, the illuminati and more babies...

    My time spent in the SOS village will always be in my heart. I met some of the nicest and caring people from ages three to seventy-something. I learned a lot about myself actually. I really like to teach, love babies, and lack any sort of patience for sixth grade girls. 
     I worked at the Austria House where I went after the orphanages school  hours to help Lachelle learn how to read. Lachelle is a ten year old girl who was admitted into SOS only two years ago. Because she was admitted in later, she was behind in school from everyone else. Most nine year olds can read pretty fluently but Lachelle could barely sound out anything. I was a little nervous naturally since this was my first really teaching anyone how to do anything that really mattered. Even though i was only going to be there a few days I felt a tremendous amount of pressure to make a difference with this girls literacy. So since I entered the school while school was still going on and the hostess of the house I was staying at was a teacher, I was made to get up early morning and go to school. Going to the Austria house that early would be silly since none of the kids were there and the boy in the house that's my age was way too shy to actually keep me busy for the morning. Instead, I went into the sixth grade classrooms where Edwina, a girl who lives at the Austria house, was. Now those kids were something else. The girls liked to sing and dance and get lots of attention and thought they were super cool. The boys all attempted to flirt with me and even tried to get my number which was just embaressing for me because I obviously had to politely decline. It was all sort of an awkward experience since its that weird age that isn't really far away from mine, but it is since I'm so different from them. Oh and I must mention that all the boys loved our man Wiz Khalifa and even dressed like him (the whole nerd meets major swag).
   I was always really excited when I got back to the Austria house from the school. Lachelle was always very excited to start studying. I won't go into the details about us studying but we used lots of flash cards and repeated letters and their sounds a lot. It was difficult to get the best out of her though because their were about fifteen other babies running around the small house of Austria while we were working. Obviously it was difficult for Lachelle to have my full attention too while there were babies about to jump off the back of the couch or two year old getting into fist fights over an apple slice. So I don't think I made as great as an impact on her literacy as I wanted but I did have an awesome time with that family. The kids were great and they all loved me. My one friend asked me in a joking way "do you just love all of the attention theyre giving you olivia?" and you know what, i really did. I use to be this whole, look at me give me attention kind of girl, but being over here I don't really ever want to be like that again. These children loved me not for anything shallow or silly. They loved me because I gave my time and attention to them and I was sweet and caring not because I was pretty or fancy looking or said anything impressive. Their kind of attention was the most important kind I've ever received. I don't think I'll ever really forget those children or at least not forget what kind of impact they had on my life. I was very sad when I had to say goodbye and even had to lie and say I'd be over the next day to make the goodbye, not so much of a goodbye. 
     The family I stayed with was amazing and I couldn't ask for kinder more generous people. Edith and her husband were the nicest people to put me up in their home (fyi they didn't even know me at the beginning of my stay). Their son was my boy. Emmanuel was the sweetest little thing ever. Linda, Victoria, and Alice also lived there. They were all very nice and always fed me lots of yummy food. Isaac also lived in the house. He was Edith's nephew who soon became my 1AM buddy who always watched movies and hung out with me in the late hours of the night. He also told me that Jay Z and Lady Gaga are in the illuminati and sold their soul to the devil to get their fame. I don't know about all of that but he was deffinatly entertaining in the wee hours of the night.  I'll miss all of them terribly. 
     This is the last of my big adventures in Ghanna but I'll be writing a last conclusion post after I get back to the US which will be in two days. Much love everyone. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

I am working at the orphanage!

     I was wrong about nt working in SOS the orphanage! I actually got to start work today. I am part of a family home called the Austria house in the SOS village and there is the house "mother" and then ten kids in the house. Today there was a field day so the school had a bunch of sports going on so i got to hang out with a group of young girls in the stands and get completly fried by the sun. It was totally worth it though. The girls are some of the kindest most sweet little children I have ever met. They all call me Auntie Olivia.  Tomorrow I will start to teach the young ones of the house I'm working at how to read. I talked to Dorris the mother of the house and it shocked me how many orphans are in Ghanna. There are 3 categories in SOS. The abandoned, the orphans, and the destitute. Some kids don't know their parents and some don't even have parents. It really made me remember how lucky I am to live in such a stable and loving home.
     I changed living spots. I am now living with A woman named Edith who works at SOS. She is so awesome and full of energy. Her son (who is like OH MY GOD ADORABLE) is six years old and I've already decided if I decide to just stay in Ghana the rest of my life it's because of this little man.  He also calls me Auntie. It's a name that children call young ladies and older women who are mothers they call mommy.
     The project that I mentioned in the last post is not well thought out yet at all, but I am determined to make it work. There are programs in Ghanna that have people raise or send money to them so that they can build wells in villages in the remote parts of Ghanna. So if I started a program in Franklin and raised money then sent the money to the progran in Ghanna that would be prettttttty flippin cool. So that's y rough draft of my plans.
     Write more later! See you all soon!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Just got back from the Northern Region!

    As i said in my last post, i was to journey to the Northern Region of Ghana for the weekend. Obviously being pretty ignorant to the goings on in Ghana, I had no idea what I was in for. Now before I tell you all about my weekend I'll give you a little bit of a backround on where exactly I was. Ok so where I am staying is The Greater Accra Region. Its a large city mostly and even though there is a lot of poverty, most people are living in shacks of some sort and wearing normal jeans and t-shirts. For our society today, they are what we would call pretty civilized. Our goal was to get to the Northern Region. What we had to do was pass through the Eastern Region, then the Ashanti Region and then we could finally get to the Northern Region. Above the Northern Region are the Upper West and Upper East Regions. As we journeyed up Ghana the villages and towns became more remote and more...well...what you would maybe consider "tribal africa." Our of all of the regions, I'm sure some of you have heard of the Ashantis. The Ashanti region is a reputation of a being a very proud and aggressive group if people and they're country has a lot of history too with all of their kings and wars. From there though we went into the areas where the most remote and poor villages were. 
     Along with my family, Vivianne and her daughter, Roda came along for the ride. Since Vivianne hasn't travelled much and we are lost Americans, we hired a tour guide and a was actually rather humorous as we drove through the little villages with the different tribes as we sat in our air conditioned van being told all the history of the places we passed. The beginning of the trip had rather a bumpy start. In the first half hour of our three day excursion, my mother threw up three times in the middle of Accra. Everyone around the town got a real kick out of it as my mother was doubled over throwing up any sort of hydration left in her. So that was fun... I felt pretty bad for our driver, Atison and our tour guide, Nathan, though. It was only the beginning of our trip and we weren't even out of Accra and we had stopped for food, stopped to throw up three times, and stopped for a restroom stop in the first hour. You could see in their faces that they were not exactly thrilled. So we were all not exactly fond of the fact that our tour guide talked the entire time during our first twelve hour ride to the Ashanti Region. We all knew exactly when he was going to start talking again too, he crossed his fingers in a prim way, looked side to side, leaned back, and began to rant about Ghanna. We, for the most part, all tuned out. 
     In the Ashanti Region we stopped once to go to the palace where the Kings of the Ashantis use to stay, but it was boring not something that I'm going to write about. Our first night we stayed on the edge of the Ashanti region in a tiny little motel. Sofia and I weren't exactly use to African hotels so the lack of sheets and the chipping walls were a little intimidating for our first night in our journey. The next morning was to be the day that we would be able to get to the Northern Region. It was only about an eight hour drive that day and on the way we stopped at the Kintampo Waterfalls. Our tour guide down to the falls name was Robert. In my mom's words he was "as cute as a button," and he was truly just that. He looked to be about six years old but he spoke english very well and had quite the personality. The water falls were beautiful of course. All those photos are on my facebook. Robert ended up being 25 years old though. He told us all that he was born in 1986. It made sense then, with his defined smile lines, his fluent english and his posture. Robert had a growth hormone defect so after he was about five he stopped growing. I was shocked and really felt awful. I mean how can someone find a wife, or lead a normal life with that sort of defect. I mean, I'm sure he's use to it now but it made me think a lot about how us as americans are lucky to have any kind of health care and medicines available to us when we need it. That's all i really have to say about that...
      Our next stop was not planned. As we were coming closer to the National Park we kept seeing a bunch of termite mounds. My dad, the curious man he is, wanted to stop and take lots of pictures. It was hot out though so i didnt get out at first. The termite mound was very close to a village too so my dad, mom, and Vivianne all started to (try) communicate with them and take their pictures. They were the Fulani tribe and didn't speak a language that any of us knew and Vivianne and Nathan know lotssss of languages. They were all girls about my age. Some younger and others older. Then there were about ten little babies and children. I fell in love, naturally. I've always loved kids but after this trip...i don't know it's like I saw the baby light. There were two tiny babies. They were literally the size of a football. And the others were all cute too. The part that disturbed me a little bit though was the fact that the girls my age and younger were having all of these babies. The women in the Fulani tribe can get married as young as ten years old which means will start having babies as soon as their bodies let them really. They were all very kind though and all had beautiful faces and smiles. They loved to get their pictures taken too and to look at the pictures afterwords, just like the girls around here. The little ones kept signing that they wanted clothes and bottles too. Its not that they wanted the water out of the water bottles but the bottles help them get water from a well that they may have. So how could i say no to such pretty little baby faces when they wanted my shirts. So I gave them my franklin knight's t shirt and my brand new...Urban Outfitters tye dye could say I was a little sad to see them go but it made me so happy when they put them on. I also gave them our waterbottles and bracelets. I hope we made their day.
     Our second stop was again, not on the schedule. It was a Muslim mosque in the center of one of the tribes. So we're all like ya ok sounds cool. As soon as we get out everyone swarms us. It's a little different than the Fulani tribe. Those children wore pretty necklaces and wore nice fabrics but this tribe was in destitution. The babies wore nothing or just torn undewear and they all seemed very excited to get business and for people to come see their mosque. Our guide to the mosque was telling us all about the history of it when all of a sudden everyone comes out of the mosque and an old man with a scary lopsided face started to yell at our guide in a different language. Then he looked at me and my family and friends and started yelling at us in perfect english! He told me that God is going to cut me because i came to tour the mosque during praying hours. Obviously we were not welcome. We tried to stay a bit longer but then he told Nathan that he was able to pull out a knife so we left in a hurry after that. So that was interesting. 
     Finally we made it to Mole's National Park in Ghanna. We saw some that was interesting but that was really the only cool part of the actual safari. Oh and we saw a warthog. Honestly after by being threatened by a Muslim and metting awesome Fulani girls the safari seemed a little bland. 
     So that was pretty much my weekend. It looks like the SOS orphanage is not going to work out for me this time unfortunatly. I'll still be able to visit some other orphanages around Ghanna though.  Since that was my reason for coming to Africa, my graduation project, and really a very good thing to put on my transcript, I'm already brainstorming a bigger and better idea of what I can do to help our Ghanna. Write more about that tomorrow!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I'm homesick already...

     It's 1:30 AM over here in Ghana...I'm suppose to get up around five to journey to the north here in a few hours too...but you see...the dogs that i mentioned in the previous post? Ya know the "guard dogs?" are barking and howling louder than anything I've ever imagined to come out of a canines mouth. So here I am catching up on my blogging. At one o'clock in the morning, I repeat. 
    So today i had a bit of a rough start. You see the orphanage that I plan to start working at this coming Monday was having a graduation for the kindergardeners and my family and I wanted to go see it. But Vivian's car decided to overheat on our way there. So here we are. Walking around Accra. I must tell you...I am QUITE the minority over there. I feel a little odd walking down the markets and streets just because of the fact that I am stared at so much, along with my family. But everyone is very welcoming. That's actually what the standard is to say when you come into someones shop or home; "you are welcome here." Ghanians in general are very hospitable people. So anyhow, we take a taxi back to the house and get Vivian's other car to drive over to the school/orphanage. 
     The school/orphanage is called SOS. I'm not quite sure what that stands for yet, but it was actually a really nice place. I was really a bit confused with that part actually. They are funded by lots of sponsors and are really set up pretty well. SOS is actually not the sort of orphanage that you'd imagine. Yes, it takes in abandoned and orphaned children, but the beautiful part of it is that it also takes in children who's parents are not in the situation to take care of their children. Like lets say a woman had a baby and she still wants to see the child on a regular basis but also wants it to be raised in a good home, well SOS would take in that child, allow the mother to come see the child on occasion and also support and raise the child till its indepedent enough to be succesful on his or her own. So right now the kids who have sponsors (which are like foster parents) take those kids who's biological parents have the money to afford them to their homes for the summer. The children's who's parents can't afford that have to stay at SOS. Those are the children I will have the pleasure to hang out with.
      The graduation ceremony was awesome. I was totally jealous that mine wasn't this cool. They all dressed up in nice colorful outfits and danced around to drum music. It was a tribute to their culture and it was sweet as heck. And these kids knew how to dance! 
     Well I should try and sleep now I guess so goodnight everyone! Till tomorrow!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

First day in Ghana

     So after about 14 hours total of air time, more than 24 sleepless hours, and airports refusing to attend to my vegetarian needs, we finally make it to Acrra, Ghana. The weather here is completely ideal. It's beautiful and sunny and just sitting in the jeep made me feel like I was getting my tan on. Customs took a nice chunk out of our time as well before we finally get to meet our hostess for the next two weeks. Our hostess, Vivian, was easy to spot out as she walked towards us with a beautiful bright orange and blue dress and neon orange stilettos. She is the nice lady who is letting my family and I stay at her house for two weeks. Well, my sister and dad are leaving monday, but my mom and I don't leave for another couple weeks. 
    The traffic on our way to our temporary African home was pretty much some of the worst I've seen. There are no lines on the road which made the driving look very confusing even though Vivian knew exactly what she was doing. Since half the ride home was us being stopped in traffic it gave the dozens of venders a great chance to come up to our open windows and shove bags of peanuts and statues of elephants into our faces. The venders wasn't what surprised me though, it was the fact that they were so quiet and not forceful. My trips to Mexico and New York City gave me lots of experiences with venders but they were all very loud and persistent. All you had to say to the venders in Ghana is "no thank you" and then they leave you alone. 
     The house I'm staying at is very nice. Almost all the houses around have large walls to hide their houses and at the top of the walls there is either barbed wire or broken glass for protection. Most families all have dogs too, but they're not like our dogs. They're not pets to the families, they're more like guard dogs. They aren't for fun or anything like that. They're actually kind of scary, and I'm a big fan of dogs too. 
     The family is super hospitable and friendly and I've already made friends with Vivian's son and daughter. Tomorrow I get to visit the orphanage I'll be working at. I'll be posting more tomorrow!