Back home it is a miracle if I am out of bed by 10am. It is currently 6:46 am and I have already been awake for 46 minutes. I know, this is something that is unheard of for me! Maybe its because I am more excited to get up and start my day when I am here, maybe it is because I go to bed at a more decent hour, maybe it is a combination of both of these things, but whatever it is, I somehow happily wake up at the crack of dawn when in Ghana. I wake up to the sound of my fan billowing from the ceiling, the cries of babies as they are bathed, the sound of people talking, the sound of roosters signaling the beginning of the day and the sound of goats crying out for their kids. Over time, these have become such comforting sounds.
In a similar way, the sounds of the kids at Christ Orphanage crying, laughing, talking, and singing has become something I am used to when approaching the compound. And of course the chanting of my name as I approach never gets old although it starts to die off as the children realize that I am here for a prolonged amount of time.
The first question the kids at Christ Orphanage asked me when I returned to the orphanage about a week ago was where my elephant was. Since returning home from Ghana in December, I had replaced my elephant necklace with a necklace I had purchased in East Africa. The new necklace is of Africa with a small elephant on it. Even though this new necklace has an elephant on it, it is not the same as the previous necklace that all the kids had grown used to and remembered me wearing every day. I couldn’t believe that the kids remembered what my old necklace looked like and asked about it. And it wasn’t only one or two of the kids that asked about it but a great number of them inquired about it. They now come up to me and point to my necklace, “Africa AND elephant.” Maybe its one of those things you have to be there to understand.
This past weekend, I stayed in Wegbe as I love being here (and because I feel like I have been to most of the tourist places in Ghana and because I do not feel like I am a tourist when I am here). Saturday was spent getting some work done and resting from the week’s activities. On Sunday, we followed the sounds of singing til we reached the church (which is across the street). The children, including a number of Christ children, were ecstatic that I was at their church. They would stare at me and wait until I made eye contact with them. At that point, they would laugh and turn away. It was somewhat like peek-a-boo but across a large distance in a church, and played with more than just one child. As the service went on, children came and sat with me. One young girl whom I don’t even know came and sat between Alex and I. She proceeded to lay her head in my lap and sleep for most of the remainder of the service. Other children came to sit with me and wouldn’t stop talking so it became my task to quiet them as the pastor was giving his sermon. This task was not quite as easy as it may sound.
Following lunch, Alex and I as well as a number of other family members went to visit the home of a cousin who had just given birth to a baby the previous week. It is tradition to keep the baby inside for the first week of life so this was the baby’s outdooring ceremony, meaning it was the first time the baby would be brought outside. The baby was fetched from its bed and somehow immediately ended up in my arms. The baby, so small and light in color just slept in my arms as the family chatted in Ewe. Of course I was in heaven and had absolutely no issue with holding the newborn until I was forced to give him up.
Later that day, I was taken to a birthday party in Wegbe for a girl who was turning 14 years old. I did not know the girl, but her and her family were happy to have me there. They were so happy to have me there that they brought me a cold drink and biscuits which I was instructed to finish before getting up to dance. I danced for hours with the other guests and kids, some of which I knew from Christ and from around the neighborhood. At one point, the mother of the birthday girl even brought out a beautiful fabric which she wrapped around me. Then, I was instructed to stand with family members and be part of practically all of the ‘professional’ photos that were taken. They were so excited to have me in their pictures yet they didn’t even know me. After a few hours of dancing and taking tons of photos, I returned home to help prepare dinner and get some much needed rest.
It is now only Tuesday, but this week has been very productive thus far. I have been working on taking new photos of all the children at Christ for the website and collecting data for my research. Hopefully the rest of the week will continue to be as productive.