Sunday, February 17, 2008

New Experiences

Yesterday was an interesting day (as they all seem to be here).

We got up in the morning to take a large donation to a struggling orphanage around 2 hours from Eban House. We had $400 to purchase food and supplies. I was a little disheartened at how little food $400 really buys here. It was a LOT of food that will supplement the home for several months, but I still wanted it to be more.

Prices have gone up considerably since I was here just 7 months ago. A sachet of water used to cost .03 now costs .05. I spoke to one staff member whose daily transportation cost has gone from 1.20 to 2.00. We're speaking of just a few cents or a few dollars, but to people who make less than 100 a month, these are significant increases. Infation has gone up by 14% in Ghana. =-(

Yesterday was the first time I took part in the process of bringing new children into Eban House. I had been on investigations before, but never part of the actual "bringing home" process. It was eye-opening. These children had been in a struggling orphanage for 2 years.

One little girl was crying at the office door. I just knew it must be because she's listening to her parents talk about never seeing her again, and sending her for adoption. In fact, she was crying because she was afraid she wouldn't be "chosen" to go with us. She wanted to leave. And in fact, when we left there were other children who were crying because they weren't "chosen" to go with us.

As we left the home with the children I expected long, sobbing goodbyes, but there were none. The parents smiled and waved with not a hint of a tear in their eyes. I asked if it was always this way and was told that it is. Parents never cry here (when they are saying goodbye). They believe that if they cry they would be bringing unhappiness upon their child that would stay with them--so they are brave and smile, and wave.

We took the children for a good meal, since it was after 5 and they hadn't eaten since the early morning. We went to Frankie's in Osu (my favorite place to eat in Accra!). I foolishly thought the kids would think it was exciting to go to such a place. All of them ordered chicken and fried rice except one daring little girl who wanted "burger." We ordered Fanta for all of the kids. I thought they might down the Fanta but instead they nursed it very slowly--something to be savored. When the food came it was very obvious very quickly that the children were not used to getting meat at meals. They didn't know exactly how to get the meat off of a chicken bone, and some of them didn't seem to care for the meat even after they tried it. The "burger" was a complete flop, so I gave that child some of my fish and finished her burger. The children were not used to using forks to eat with, so they were quickly abanoned for the more comfortable right hand. No matter how much the struggled to pick meat off of the chicken bone they would not use their left hand. =-)

At the end of the dinner I needed the wash room and asked of the children needed to go as well. I felt like a mother hen leading 5 children through Frankie's. Everybody turned to look at us so it must have looked quite odd--a white hen with black chicks!

Once in the wash room it became clear that a western toilet was a new thing. We had a bit of a tutorial and finished up there. Then it was off to wash our hands with running water! Wow! And then pretty blue towels to dry our hands with. All of the sudden the chilren decided they needed to "toilet" as well. So after "toileting" and giving a bit of a tutorial about where we wipe (in the stall) and where we don't wipe (by the sink with others standing around) we all got to wash our hands again. The joy! They LOVED washing their hands. =-)

On the way home I asked my co-workers if this is how it always is. They said, "of course." Hardly any of the children that come to us know how to use western things like a toilet, a running sink, or a fork. It makes me appreciate that much more what a good job the staff is doing at Eban House--because I would have never guessed it.

I'm learning so much...
P.S. Another new food: Tiger Nuts! These are said to be a local aphrodesiac (sp?!). I crunched into one expecting a nut, but it tastes more like coconut. It's got a sweet "milk" inside with a coconut-like flesh. It was kind of hard to swollow the flesh after I had gotten all of the milk out. It was sort of like wet saw dust. But I did it. Then I noticed everybody else spitting the flesh OUT after the milk had been chewed out. Uh-oh! LOL! Everybody laughed that I swollowed it but assured me that nothing bad would happen--it's good for you just hard to swallow. So--when you're here be sure to try Tiger Nuts!


Jen 1:28 PM  

I left Ghana 3 days after they switch from cedis to Ghana cedis. I know many people were concerned that inflation was going to rise quickly with the introduction of the new money. I'm sorry to hear that they were right. I'm so jealous that you're back in Ghana!

Nicole - Raising Animals 1:32 PM  

Oh how exciting!