Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More Pictures!

Sean Blaufuss hard at work
Baby weighing in Gushie, Northern Region Ghana
The home stay family in Anyinasin. Michael, George, Felix, Yaa, Yaa, Akens

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm getting a Dog!

Life in Jeyiri is one that goes by moment by moment. I can try to make a list of what I want to do throughout the day, but it never seems to work and is not as fun.  Maybe I’ll go greet the 6 new training teachers at the school. What actually happens is that I get roped into teaching a class. I started talking about malaria and then went into life in America. Some of the questions were: Is it easier to live in America? Does
America have night and day? Do you have a plane? I also told them that there is poor in America where schools don’t have books or supplies. We spent most of the time talking about farms. Their minds were blown to here that we have farms; however, they are under the impression that they are all massive and computers run them. I hope that it opened the children (actually teenagers) to come to me with more questions. The third goal of Peace Corps is to share American culture with Ghanaians. Check.

Another instance of doing something completely unexpected occurred yesterday. I thought it would be a day of mostly relaxing because it was too hot and the village was at farm. In the afternoon a nice new white truck pulls in front of the clinic. The men get out and call me over. They were scientists from Ghana Health Services. They are collecting flies in the town down the rode that cause River Blindness.  They want collect the DNA from the flies and see if they are still carrying the disease or are becoming resistant to the drug that they are giving the people.  The community health nurse, Paulina, will be monitoring the fly collectors. I told the men that I studied biochemistry and I would like to help in any way I can. Unfortunately they were from the Upper East Region and not the Upper West so I won’t be very close to do any of the heavy science things. I will help Paulina out in the fieldwork collecting and recording data. We all piled into the air-conditioned truck and took a ride to the most remote village that happens to be in Mole National Park and has monkeys and if you go into the bush a small ways you will see elephants.  It is beautiful going down the red dirt road with tall green grass on both sides. When I start running at 4 in the morning I will definitely go down this road.

In order to make my house a little homier I have decided to get a dog. When I went to market I walked with Naama (Chief’s mother), the PCV next to me, to go pick my dog out of a litter of six 8-day-old puppies. I choose the only black one. It has a white belly and tail. Keeping up with the tradition of naming pets after American food that we miss, the little boy is called Master P. The idea came to me after we ate pork in the market and I brought my Masterpiece BBQ sauce to put on it. I can’t wait to here the Ghanaians yelling, “Master P wa wa wa [come come come]!” All the dogs here are about the same medium size with short hair. Most of the dogs are a brown red color. If it happens that I fall in love with this dog and bring it back to America (yes mom welcome this possibility J), than I will tell everyone that Master P is an African dingo.

I hope all is well with you all readers and you are enjoying the beginning of the change in seasons. Ghana is really making me appreciate America. Here are some things Naama and I discussed:
1.   Teachers that take that job because they want to educate and not because the job is available (generalization)
2.     Free public flush toilets, even in McDonalds
3.     Malaria is eradicated
4.     Parents don’t yell/forbid for kids to go to school (generalization)
5.     A woman can tell off a man if he calls her “Woman” even if he knows her name
6.     Free Internet in libraries
7.     Abundance and diversity of food (generalization)
8.     Washing machines
9.     Running water

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meeting the President

On September 1, 2011 the Peace Corps class of 11-13 met with the President of Ghana. This just happened to also be my 23rd birthday.  We originally found out that our going to site would be delayed because the President wanted to recreate a picture with us. 50 years ago on August 30th the first ever Peace Corps group came to Ghana and met with the president.  These were group of strong idealist individuals that had no idea what they signed up for. Imagine the US President John F. Kennedy choosing you to go to Africa to help them.  No one has ever experienced or done what you are about to do.  The personal willpower and ingenuity of these people completely blows my mind. We were able to see some of the first volunteers at our swearing in.  I just kept thinking what if my mom, dad, grandma or grandpa were one of the first PCVs. What stories they would have! I will think of these people and channel their strength every time I have a tough time here.

Alright back to my birthday. I woke up that morning extremely worried. The day before I left my wallet on a tro with my PC ID, ATM card that had all my moving in allowance, a lot of cash to travel to my site and a flash drive.  We were sent to the PC Accra office before we met with the President so I figured I would talk to the safety and security people when I got there. After being in a very sassy mood all morning the PC staff said that a man called and said he had my wallet.  The first wave of relief hit. Although this man was far away, I was put on a PC car and sent to go pick up my wallet. I heard Rob the PC training Coordinator say that we have to be back at the site by 12:30pm or we won’t meet the President. It was 10:30am.  I didn’t even know if there was still anything in my wallet. A very large group was going to the bank because they were having ATM card problems. What if mine has problems? When will I have the opportunity to get to a Standard Charter branch bank? Worst-case scenario: I get my wallet back with no money in it, my ATM card is hacked and I miss meeting the President. This is all too much for me to worry about especially on my birthday.

Here is what actually happened.  The driver and I got stuck in traffic. It was almost noon by the time we reached the guy. I actually recognized him. Isaac was sitting in front of me in the tro and we had small conversation.  He returned my wallet with EVRYTHING in it.  I was so shocked. People really can be honest and trustworthy. My expectations now for the human race are very high.  Another wave of relief hits me.  Now its time for the race back to the Accra office.  The office calls us and tells us to hurry up (you would lol if you knew what the Accra traffic is like).  They give us until 1pm to get there. We do our best, but 1pm comes around and we still got a ways to go. The tell us to just go directly to the Castle.  I start thinking this ain’t that bad. Maybe I will miss the beginning of the ceremony, but I won’t miss all.

We make it to the Presidents Castle on the beach.  We have to go through many gates with men with big guns. The driver rolls down the window and tells the men with guns, “She is with the group.” They say ok and wave us through.  I felt like such a VIP. I then get escorted to the royal gardens where there are tents and a red carpet. I sit next to Sean and he says, “Happy Birthday! I arranged this all for you.” A man comes and brings me water on a silver platter. I feel underdressed in my Ghanaian made dress in such a high-class place.  Could this be happening? I hadn’t missed anything.  The Country Director, Ghanaian US Ambassador and Ghanaian President all give a speech. The President talked about how he had a PC English teacher and how he has not forgotten them. He told us that there is no way to repay the volunteers that have come to Ghana. It was a really touching speech that I believe you can find on the Internet. After the talks was a reception where they gave us friend chicken and beer. It was so laughable. There we were dressed the best we could, in a castle gardens, the President just walked down a red carpet and took a picture with us and feasting on chicken and beer. We could not have been anymore content with life. 

That night I said goodbye to some people, but Sean convinced PC not to let me travel 7 hours on my birthday. I stayed in Accra with him and friends to celebrate my birthday. I did not spend any money and had a fantastic time with people I am so blessed to be able to work with. BEST 23rd BIRTHDAY OF ALL TIME.