Life in Ghana is no walk in the park, I will tell you that with certainty.
You are constantly being poked and prodded and screamed at because you are white.
You have to face tough subjects on a daily basis.
Your electricity goes out just as you were about to hit send on an email.
You get pulled you off the road and asked you a million questions in a language you are just learning.
You live without running water.
You stick out everywhere you go, and sometimes just wish to blend in.
You get asked hard questions like “Why are you here?” and “Are you really making a difference?”
You see children die from treatable illnesses.
You are expected to know everything about every subject.
You are sometimes treated as an object, and shown off to lots of people.
You feel out of place, yet part of the community.
You are hot, sticky, and sweaty pretty much all the time.
You face suffering, hunger, malnutrition, death, and sickness on a daily basis.
This is what I like to call “the uncomfortable life”, life in Ghana.
Compare that life to the “comfortable life” in the United States. All the amenities are provided to you in the US; the supermarkets, department stores, air conditioning and heat, fast food restaurants, free and fast wifi, incredible schooling, and endless opportunity.
I lived in the comfortable life for 18 years until one day I stepped on a plane and was thrown into another world. And from that day forward, nothing has been the same.
Sometimes I think of what my life would have been like if I hadn’t gone to Ghana for the first time. I probably would still be in film school, working a few part time jobs, interning for some documentary film companies, thinking about grad school, deciding whether to move to LA or New York, networking like crazy, thinking about getting married and having a family and settling down in the suburbs.
But instead I’m on a path that could end in complete disaster. I’m building an Education Center with a budget equivalent to one year of private college in the US. I have 20 children who look up to me as a role model, big sister, and mentor. I almost became a mother to a 4 day old abandoned baby girl. I might be starting a non-profit. I am constantly living in the unknown and taking each day as it comes.
And even though I might be headed for disaster…I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life. This “uncomfortable life” in Ghana is what I love. I love the long days, early mornings, sleepless nights, and even the roadblocks and obstacles because every single thing is worth it. All of it is worth it when my kids hug and squeeze me so tight, when the students jump and cheer when they hear about the Education Center, when the community says the Center will bring about so many positive things to the village, when I walk down the street and almost every single child knows me by name, when organizations want to partner with us to build the Center, and the indescribable love and happiness reverberating from the streets of Atonsu.
You may say this is the “uncomfortable life”…but it’s the only life for me.
The quote I’ve been living by for the past weeks in Ghana:
“Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don’t, and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”