Where should I even start, not having blogged in almost 2 weeks?? So much has happened, I dont know what to talk about (and the apostrophe button isnt working correctly on this computer, so I apologize for all the misspelled words!) On June 30 we flew from Accra to Tamale, then drove to Damongo, where we stayed for 9 days. We worked with Abraham, the director of the Redemption Childrens Home, an orphanage in Damongo. I was uncomfortable at first, working with children - I dont know how to relate to them very well - but it got a little better. Luckily I could also make myself useful by helping out the aunties (workers) by mopping the floors. On Wednesday and Thursday, all the volunteers (including the Dutch volunteers who stayed at Abrahams house) painted the outside of the buildings. I really enjoyed that, because I felt like I left a physical mark there, a way that I could be remembered. I have been struggling with that - feeling like what I am doing here is meaningless. Those children probably wont remember me next week, let alone in a few years. Meredith and I talked about this a bit, and she told me something very important: its true that I cant make a lasting impact while Im here, so what matters is what I do when I get home. How can I keep this trip alive, and tell others about what I learned here? How can I be an ambassador for what we saw? How can I keep Ghana in my heart everyday? I still havent found the answer, so its something that will be weighing on my mind probably for the remainder of the trip.
We flew back to Accra yesterday (after our flight was delayed 6 hours), then took a tro-tro from Accra to Winneba. This is where we will stay for the rest of our time in Ghana (except for a weekend trip to Cape Coast to visit Ross, see the slave castles, and go on the canopy walkway at Kakum Park). Our hostel is very nice - it is right by the beach, so it is quiet and breezy (makes it nice and cool!) There are community bathrooms though, which takes some getting used to (plus the fact that they are outside) ... so last night Ross, Eric, Kaleigh and I showered together, in the dark, with our flashlights, underneath the palm trees ... it was so cool! When else can you say that you showered under the stars? Im actually looking forward to doing it again tonight.
Tomorrow sometime we will meet with James Annan, the founder of Challenging Heights, then we can start our work here. Today, however, is just a day to relax (which is needed after two days of traveling!) We all took a trip to the market this morning to get food. Our hostel has a kitchen, so we can cook our own meals (the owner said he would cook with us, and teach us a few things!) I stocked up on a ton of things, including oats, pasta, tomato paste, bananas, homemade bread, strawberry jam...I should be all set for a while!
One of the things I like most about Ghana is the friendliness of the people, especially the kids. Many will yell "obruni, obruni!" as you walk by (which means "white person" or "foreigner"). It seems like theyre always smiling and happy to see you! Adults sometimes will talk to you, sometimes not. If they do theyll say "Good morning" or "good afternoon" and "How are you?" Back at home that behavior would seem almost creepy, like somebody is trying to get too friendly with you ... but here it is normal. (Although it is creepy when men - especially when they are drinking - tell you that you are beautiful, or "nice to look at" ... that is when you get away as quickly as possible! Also why you should always go with a friend, even if it is just down the street).
So far I really like it here in Winneba. It is very quiet, and cooler than up north. The breeze is much appreciated! Ross and I walked to the beach this morning and took pictures, and it was just so serene, hearing the waves crash. I might like to go down there from time to time to journal and reflect on everything that happens.
I sincerely hope that all is well back at home! Thank you everybody for supporting me and following me on my journey. I appreciate all the help and support that I have gotten from everybody; I truly love you all! I miss you, but the last two and a half weeks of the trip will fly by and I'll get to see you before you know it! Thanks again, and take care!