Sunday, June 21, 2009

Painting the Building at the New Site

Last night, Saturday night, I decided to go on a little walk by myself before going to Raymond’s house for dinner. I decided to walk the route I take to get to the orphanage as the children that I see on the way there make me so happy. And my little girl, Atsufe (pronounced Achu-pey) lives on that road. I started my walk and first came across the little girl who stands on the path during the week. She was grinning from ear to ear. I picked her up and threw her in the air. She loved it and laughed every time. I continued on my walk and came to the corner where there are some children who didn’t know who I actually was until last night. I see them all the time but they have never come closer to me so I didn’t want to approach them and possibly frighten them.

They started yelling ‘yevo…yevo’ and Atsufe’s older sister heard them and ran to get Atsufe. The children actually ran up to me and I asked for all of their names and told them mine. I picked up Atsufe and started playing with the other kids who had surrounded me. Some of the children who attend the orphanage and live in that area came out to see me as well. One of the older boys brought me a chair and instructed me to sit down. I did and continued to play with the children for about 30 minutes before announcing to them that I had to go eat dinner but I would come back tomorrow.

I then headed to Raymond’s house for dinner. Alex, one of Raymond’s relatives who had taught my class last year and then turned the class over to me when I arrived was in town for the weekend. Alex who is very well educated and finishing university this month had come over earlier that day for lunch and started asking me all sorts of questions about America. And they weren’t just some basic questions but questions that made me really think and realize that while I know a lot, there is so much about my country that I don’t know. We talked about the difference in culture between Ghana and America, divorce, schooling, religion, and much more. After dinner, Alex and I continued our conversation and Raymond joined in as well. It was so neat to sit down with them and talk honestly about the things they were curious about and the things I was curious about. We talked a lot about the importance of family here in Ghana. They were surprised to hear that the only non immediate family member I see regularly is my aunt. They were also shocked to hear that my grandparents live two hours away from my home.

They told me how here in Ghana when you get married, it isn’t just a commitment between two people, it is a commitment between two families and frequently between two villages. They continued to tell me how rare divorce is in Ghana for this reason. They then asked me questions about divorce in America. And they were in total shock when I explained to them that many divorced couples go to court over the children and often the children spend half the time with one parent and the other half with the other parent. This is not something that they would ever consider doing if they were to get divorced.

As I had talked to my sister while I was at their house and they knew she was coming to Ghana in a little more than a month, they asked me if there were any tourist type places we would visit when she is here. I told them that I was planning on taking her to Wli Waterfalls, the monkey sanctuary, Cape Coast, and a few other places while she was here. Alex asked me if I had been back to any of these places again this year. I answered him by telling him that no, I had not gone back to any of these places this year. He asked where I have been going/ what I have been doing on the weekends. I told him about my family in Ho and told him that I had spent the rest of the weekends here in Hohoe. He asked why I had not gone back to any of these places and I explained to him that when I came to Ghana last summer, I was a volunteer but I was also a tourist and that CCS encourages you to go on weekend trips and see other parts of the country. And yes, I loved the travelling and seeing other parts of Ghana but that this year, I was here as a volunteer and not a tourist. I explained that I felt that Hohoe, specifically Wegbe is my community and that I am enjoying spending my weekends in this community – meeting the people, participating in the events, and learning about things in this community.

Yesterday, I spent the morning with Evanx and he took me to a place in the community where there is a wine distillery and the local drink is made. It was vey interesting to see that and learn about it. They also took me to see some pigs that were located nearby. In addition, I visited all of Evanx’s family members again and spent much time with his three year old niece who is absolutely adorable and loves me. I told Alex and Raymond that this is the way I prefer to spend my weekends – here in the community.

Last night, Raymond had told me that he would be going to the site today to continue painting the building. I told him that I wanted to come with him and help paint. I don’t think that he really thought I was serious as when we got to the site, he handed me a paint brush as the other worker and he got rollers. I told Raymond that I could actually paint and quickly exchanged my brush for a roller. Raymond and the worker had done the first coat of paint on most of the front of the building the previous day but we still had to finish the front and do the other three sides. Now it didn’t seem like that big of a task but trust me, it was. Raymond and the worker worked on the front of the building, putting on a second coat. I worked on the first coat of the other three sides of the building. My hands and arms were sorer when I finished the painting than they are after I go to the gym. It was amazing to see how much the paint transformed the building. I can’t wait until the day when the children finally see this new site and are able to live and school there.

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