Friday, July 03, 2009

Party

Happy 4th of July to all of you in America! It amazes me that it is already July. It feels like just yesterday that I landed at the airport in Accra. Its crazy that in a few short weeks my sister will be here with me. I think Mark said it well – “the days are very long but the weeks go by so quickly.” It’s so true.

This week has been a fun one. Wednesday was Republic Day. I am still not exactly sure what that means except for the fact that children don’t have school. But due to the fact that I am working at an orphanage, we do not close on the holidays. I was greeted by more children than usual this morning. I got a huge hug from my little baby who lives on the path that I walk to get to the orphanage and then nearly got pushed over when all the children at the orphanage ran to me, hugged me, and gathered all around me.

Brother Mark had organized a party for the children to take place on Thursday but upon his arrival at the orphanage on Wednesday, Raymond informed him that the party would be taking place that day. This meant that Mark and Co. (Mark, his friend, his sister, and his brother’s friend) as Raymond likes to call them had to go out and get all the supplies that morning.

Classes went on as usual that morning as the children had not been informed about the party. The moment that Class Two was called upon to start bringing the benches over to the site for the party, the word spread like wild fire. The children could no longer concentrate on school work so we packed up their books and let them run around on the yard.

I headed over to the site for the party a few minutes before the children were brought over. The children from Class Two were already there and were dancing to the Ghanaian music which was blasting out of the huge speaker system. Mark and Co. were blowing up tons of balloons and finishing making up the goodie bags before the children arrived.

I heard the children getting closer and walked towards the gate so I could photograph them as they came in. The music could be heard from the orphanage and the whole village so the party attracted local children who had a day off from school as well. The children ran through the gate and joined the older children in dance. I danced with the children for a long while, occasionally taking a break to go around and take photos (of course, right?)

I twirled around some of the girls. Jumped around with others. Got others up from the benches and encouraged them to dance. The children were adorable and had tons of fun dancing. They were so into it that they got upset every time the dj would stop the music.

After a long time of dancing, Dina, Raymond’s wife arrived with lunch for the children. The children were instructed to wash their hands and then sit on the benches. We served them their rice topped with a special treat – chicken. After they said their prayer and devoured their meal, the children were given soft drinks – Coke, Sprite, Fanta. They were so cute with their drinks and enjoyed them very much. Each child was then given a goodie bag with biscuits (crackers), a lollypop, and other candy (toffee). The children held on to their bags, some refusing to open them until they got home later that afternoon. Others dug in and made quite funny faces when they tasted the sour lemon candy.

The music was put back on and the children quickly headed back to the dance area. The balloons were passed out and could be seen in the hands of almost every child. They then started approaching me and the other volunteers, requesting that we untie the balloon for them. By untying the balloon, they would be able to take it home and blow it up again. If it is blown up, they take the chance of it popping, something that made them cry.

After spending three hours at the party, I decided that it was time for me to return to my hotel. I was still recovering from being sick and did not want to overdo it. Apparently the party came to an end less than half an hour after I left anyways.

I rested for awhile before heading into town. I had some errands to run such as going to the bank, buying body wash and lotion, and visiting the internet cafĂ©. Of course it took longer than planned but it was no problem. I arrived at Mark and Co.’s hotel one minute before 7pm for our staff meeting. When I arrived, I found Mark and Co. but none of the local teachers. One of the teachers arrived and walked over to the seamstress with me as I had purchased some fabric that I wanted to be sewed. By the time Nicholas and I returned to the hotel, there were still not many local teachers there.

Eventually, everybody showed up and we ate the food from the buffet that had been prepared for us. After eating, we had our meeting and discussed how to best achieve Raymond’s goals for the orphanage. We talked openly about rules to guide teachers, students, and volunteers as well as classes, resources, and the schedule. It was a productive meeting as the volunteers were able to give advice and suggestions that the teachers could choose to use or not use.

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