Sorry for the lack of posts in the past few days, we’ve been swamped at work and planning travels for the next month.
Sunday July 10th marked one month of being in Ghana. I could say that it doesn’t feel like I’ve already been here for a month, but right now I feel quite the opposite. I feel as though I have been living in Ghana for months, maybe even a year. This place has become my home, my sanctuary, and my escape.
First off is my work. I love working for Light for Children and all the jobs we have been assigned have been enjoyable and I have learned something from each one. Not saying all the jobs have been easy or simple but I have gained new experiences and knowledge from them individually. Getting into a routine helped me find my place in the organization and right now we are working like an assembly line, getting jobs done left and right. Working with an NGO has definitely contributed to my fitting in because to them I am not an obroni, but rather a peer and co-worker.
Secondly has to be the kids, they make me feel the most at home. Every morning when I am brushing my teeth on the balcony they wave to me as they walk to school and I tell them to study hard. Every night when I am walking home from work they stand at the corner by the water well, waiting for me to come down the street. They run up towards me and grab onto my arms and pull me to play. Most days I do, but some days I have to prioritize and finish work before going out. On my walk home from the office at least 30 children call out my name to say hi and ask how I am doing. I’m not quite sure how every child seemed to learn my name, the only explanation I can think of is if the kids I play with told all their friends at school, so on and so on.
Lastly, is the Ghanian environment. Every second of the day I feel at peace. I fall asleep to bustling outside, and wake up to the same sounds. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night to silence, no noises outside, just the humming of the fan in my room, so I just laid there. I laid there in the complete darkness and thought just how lucky I am to be here. Most people would associate darkness to lonely, troublesome times, but in Ghana the darkness of the nights means serenity. The streets go silent and slowly wake up the next morning.
I also feel really safe in Ghana. Never once during my stay here have I felt in danger or in a bad situation. This doesn’t mean I have let my guard totally down, because I do still have to remember I am a foreigner and there are bad people everywhere, but I feel much better knowing that I am under the good protection of Mother Africa. Many times I have gotten stuck walking home in rainstorms and people invite me into their shops to shield from the storm, we talk and chat until the rain lightens up and I am on my way home. People know I am obviously not from here and if someone sees that I need help, many will jump to my rescue. Because people around my town know me I feel altogether safe walking home alone at night. If I am working late and have to walk home when it’s dark out I don’t feel threatened or in danger in any way.
After living in this place for a month, I believe I have learned my bearings and can navigate around town town no problem. If you asked me to draw out all the tro tro and taxi routes leaving from Atonsu-Agogo station I probably could draw out exactly where they go and how much they cost. I might even be able to tell you where the road gets really bumpy or some of the shortcuts the drivers take during traffic. Knowing this makes guiding my travels a lot easier and I am confident to take tro tros alone.
Just today I had a moment that made me smile and reinforced all the feelings of being at home once again. After walking up the stairs and unlocking the doors I walked into my room and put my bags down. I hadn’t closed the doors on my way in because I was going right back outside to play. I was taking off my shoes when I heard a patter of little feet in the hallway. All the kids know where I live so they will often come up the stairs and knock on the door to coax me to play but they know they are not allowed to come in unless invited. I turn around to see not just any kid but Henry. If you read my last post you know Henry is the HIV positive child I am sponsoring for next year through Light for Children. He stood in the doorway of my room smiling and said hi to me. I was so shocked to see him there and smiling too. The last time I saw him in his house he was really shy and was a deer in headlights because I’m sure he had no idea what was going on. He doesn’t speak any English so body language and hand gestures do all the communicating. I gave him a big hug and we walked down the stairs and outside to play. He was running around, laughing and smiling, and playing with his friends. It was so comforting to know that he remembered me and somehow found where I live. A played with them and went inside to do some wash, but while I was eating dinner I heard Mike talking to someone with a quiet little voice. I recognized the voice and knew it was Henry again. Mike was talking with him and said I was eating dinner but he wanted to come upstairs again. So there I sat, eating dinner on the balcony with Henry sitting across from me and the sun setting in the background with colors of yellow, orange and pink. He would get up and run around the balcony and scream to his friends playing below. We must have just sat there for a good 20 minutes in silence. I really wish we spoke the same language and could communicate but I guess this just goes to show you that most of our communication is non verbal. Henry would run to the edge of the balcony and wedge his feet into the holes and climb up so he could see over the balcony edge. The mother in me wanted to grab him before he slipped over the edge but he was having too much fun waving at people below. His bright smile just adds to his big ears to make one adorable kid.
All in all the work, kids, environments and moments like I had with Henry join to make this wonderful place I call my home. One month might sound like a long time to be away from the place you have lived for the past 18 years, but I know the next two months will be filled with nothing less than indescribable moments.