Thursday, June 23, 2011

Central Region, and winding things up...

A Chorkor mom receives a food donation.
A student peaks out of her classroom.
Little ones in Chorkor were very excited to see a white person!
Chorkor. That's actually the gray ocean in the background.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. There is so much swirling around in my head, but by the time I have a free moment to write about it, I would rather sleep!

Yesterday and today were fruitful days. Yesterday morning started in Keneshie, meeting the director of an organization that is doing very good things near Cape Coast, Ghana. Africana Child Foundation runs a sort of activity center for orphaned and vulnerable children in their area. They started out running the center every day, so that children who were not in school had a place to come. However, due to lack of funds, they are now only able to run the center on weekends. The serve 33 orphans and about 150 vulnerable children each week. They come to the center to learn some basics, do activities, play sports, and EAT. It's very easy to throw your support behind an organization like this. I look forward to supporting their good work in the future. Some of the monetary donations you sent before I left will go to make sure they have enough food to feed the children for a while.

After meeting with Africana Child Foundation we headed towards Cape Coast. It was a beautiful drive (of course). In a small village outside of Cape Coast proper is Alliance for Youth Development. Wow! The director of this NGO is on fire and making a huge difference in his area! There are sports programs; feeding programs; HIV/AIDS education; and care for children who have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. They are in the final stages of finishing the first phase of a children's home. It sits on beautiful property, and just the first phase will care for many children! Right now the children are living in a very small building. I am very thankful to have learned of this organization. We were able to give them new sheets, shoes, books, and other supplies, in addition to a donation for food. Food! That is almost always the biggest need.

Next we visited Good Shepherd Orphanage. I don't think I have ever seen a larger compound. Wow! This place serves over 400 children for school, and over 60 children live there full time. They are trying to start a chicken/egg farm to support their efforts, and have several other programs as well. TONS of volunteers at this home. Unfortunately, the home's electricity is about to be turned off due to a past due account. Thanks to the donations you sent, we were able to give a portion of what is needed to keep the lights on there.

Next, we began our mini-vacation (if you can call 3 hours a vacation)! We (myself, J, and M) relaxed and ate dinner at the Oasis Beach Resort. If you've been to Next Door Beach Resort in Teshie, it has a similar feel. The waves are much bigger at Cape Coast, and the setting even more beautiful. My friends were chilly from the ocean breeze, but it felt just right to me! Unfortunately, the Oasis Beach Resort's rooms were just a bit too rustic for our tastes, so we headed a bit inland to Mighty Victory Hotel. It's not fancy, but they had lots of details that make a difference. TWO towels, a nice top sheet, fluffy pillows, A/C, and good water pressure. I would stay there again with no complaints.

This morning we headed out to see the activity center (mentioned above) and then back towards Accra, to Chorkor. It's sad but true...I know we're entering Chorkor by the smell. Waste trucks LITERALLY dump tons of waste straight into the ocean every day here. Then, the people in the area are forced to use the ocean for fishing, washing, bathing, etc., even though it is highly contaminated with waste. The people of Chorkor are unlike any other people I've met in Ghana. They are beyond tough. They have to be, to survive. They are leery of strangers (the adults, not the kids). They do not take kindly to the idea of charity, even though many of them are in desperate need and therefore accept the charity out of necessity. The images of Chorkor have been stuck in my mind for 4+ years, but I don't have many images from my camera. It feels too invasive to take photos. And in fact, the people there will definitely let you know that sometimes photos are NOT welcome.

Several of the children being sponsored through our program live in Chorkor. I was able to see all but one child today, and all of the moms. They received the box of foodstuffs we brought for each of them with quiet humbleness. They don't WANT to accept charity, but they need it. These have got to be some of the strongest moms on earth.

At the end of our visit in Chorkor we visited a school where some of the kids go. Oh my goodness! I felt like the most popular animal at the zoo! LOL! Seriously, the school ERUPTED when I walked through the corridors. I felt very bad for disturbing an entire school of children. I was a teacher and did not like someone disturbing my class! Some of the teachers were very put off, while others were calling me in and asking me to take photos. At one point there were hundreds of children chanting the Ga word for "white person" (not obruni). I was able to get several photos of the school. What stood out to me is that this is one of the better schools in the area, and yet I saw absolutely no teaching aides. No books. No posters. No colors or markers. Just simple chalkboards, simple desks, and lots of children. We complain in America that we ask our teachers to do too much (and it's true!). However, they are asking teachers for miracles here in Ghana. I've often complained about Ghana's tradition of rote memorization. But what else are they going to do?! They have no other choice!

After a yummy lunch/dinner at Dynasty Chinese Restaurant (recommended!) we headed back to Teshie. Once here I had another meeting with a woman who runs a free school near Malata. Her school charges no tuition for over 100 students. Those that can, pay .50 p to 1 cedi each day for food. Those that can't, don't. Sometimes they each get a small amount of plain rice. Other times, when a visitor from the U.S. comes, they might have a large portion of banku with fish or chicken. Once again, food is a huge need. As you can imagine, they also need educational supplies. Yet another organization worthy of our support. There are so many.

Tomorrow is my last day in Ghana. My final visit is to City of Refuge, where I get to meet some great folks and one very special baby girl. =-) It's about a 2 hour drive each way, so I'm praying there are no delays along the way. I don't really like traveling on the same day that I'll be headed to the airport, but there was too much to do on this trip not to do that. Hopefully I'll be back in Teshie by 2pm, with plenty of time to pack up before I leave for the airport at 5pm. I'll be back in Tulsa at 9am on Saturday morning!