Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Story time....."story, story!"

Hello family and friends!! I have so many stories to tell all of you and I don’t even know where to start. Maybe I should spill the negative first. Hospitals. Probably the worst thing about Ghana. Since it is rainy season, sicknesses are more common, so hospital trips are more frequent. I have been to the hospital about four times in the last week and a half with four different children. We are expected to take the children to the hospital and pay for everything... yes it is the politics. Most of the younger kids have health insurance due to projects of previous volunteers, but the older kids don’t have insurance. The hospital here in Dodowa is far behind our technology over there in the US. To best put it in perspective, picture the movie Pearl Harbor. The nurses wear those silly dresses with the bibs and the little white cap. They don’t really do anything except paperwork, moving of patients and setting up IV’s. There are paper signs on the door showing which room was which. One room for Neonatal Care, one for Lab, one for Emergency Care and so on. When you enter the hospital, you walk in to a hot stuffy lobby with church pews everywhere.  You then have to go sign in so that the secretary can look through the many files in boxes all over the floor. After waiting for them to find your file, you must wait to be seen by a doctor to take temperature, weight and blood pressure. After that you wait in another area to go see a doctor to get a diagnosis of your sickness. The doctor is usually a –pardon my language- bitchy woman who yells at the child and laughs when they explain their symptoms. The doctor writes out a prescription on a piece of paper and then you either go to the lab or go get your prescription. You have to wait in another line for the lab and then watch the child get stabbed inconsiderately by the laughing lab guy. I have had to hold children down so their blood could be drawn. It usually takes up to a minimum of three hours to take a child to the hospital. The longest I have been there is five and a half hours. Crazy huh?! It blows your mind to look at the dynamics of healthcare here. It is definitely a problem.
Cassondra and I in Canishe posing in front of all the crazy graffiti. 
                On a particular day, I had to take Irene (who is 4 years) to the hospital. She had a fever of 103.7 degrees and was very out of it. We took her to the hospital and had to put here through the torture. She did well though. I was proud. Later when we got home in the evening, we had to give her lots of medications. I volunteered to put pills in the anus area. We were given three, three! To give her. The power was out as it frequently is, so we had to get a flashlight and luckily we found some gloves. Irene knew what was coming and became very quiet and stubborn. We kept coaxing her with stickers and bracelets, but she would not have it. Finally I picked her up, put her on my lab belly down and pulled her pants down. She immediately started crying but we just had to get it over with. Mom! Are you proud? I am doing so many motherly things here! It has really opened up my eyes to being a mother because in so many instances, I literally have felt for the children as I know my mom has felt for me and my siblings. It is amazing. I cried when I watched a handful of the sponsored children leave on the bus for school my first week. I am the proudest mother ever and they are not even my children! I cry with the kids when they are hurt and I want so badly to take away their pain when they are sick.  I really appreciate mothers more. I have cleaned up vomit, been peed on, drooled on, been contaminated by dirty hands and fingers, patched cuts, cleaned pus out of cysts, taken care of burns and infections, and loved more than I ever knew that I could. Mom, I love you and want to thank you for everything. I know Mother’s day is long gone but it was not until now that I am fully coming to realize your hard work and unconditional love for me. To all mothers out there, you mean the world to me.  I get it now! And I can’t wait to be a mother.
Stickers!!! You can see Irene in the top left corner, lucky on my right, Prince on my left, Gifty and Sophia on the right. of the most exhilarating things to do in Ghana. In the picture on the right, George and Stephen are trying to teach me how to do a certain rhythm. The picture on the left is of little Lucky wanting to join in. We believe that he has some sort of autism.
Here are my amazing boys playing the drums. from left to right: Junior, Prince, Ezekial, and Stephen
Kwame Adu... what a kid. He is probably one of the rudest boys I have ever met. BUT! when he gives love, he gives it! He recently threw a fit and turned half of the little boys against me. Oh the fun! but i really do love this kid. I have been trying to be super nice to him. 
Baby Goats! They are so cute and are everywhere! Goats and chickens wonder the street constantly and are always making the most hilarious sounds. We saw these cute little ones and decided we have to have a picture.
This ladies and gentlemen is a TRO-TRO! Do you see the American flag in the window? Ha all advertisements here usually have God in them. There are pictures of Obama everywhere as well as Jesus Christ. 
                Some of the children have been vomiting and complaining of major stomach pain. One day I was sitting with some kids when Bismark and Famous called over to me and pointed to a girl lying on the ground. I ran over and it was Malwine. Malwine is 15 years old and completely gorgeous. She had passed out because of stomach pain. We tried to move here to her room which made her scream in pain and cry. We could only get her to the floor just inside where she laid twitching and shaking. We checked her fever but it was not too bad. I went with Famous to buy some food because she had not eaten all day. She laid there, cried and refused to do anything. It was a very frustrating situation not only because I didn’t know how to help her, but that so many kids had swarmed into the room to watch.  Johnson, who is 17 years and the “future pastor” of the group, came in to help. He placed is hand upon her head and said a passionate prayer asking God to heal her. As soon as he was done, all the children started saying their prayers for her out loud. In this culture, their religion is very loud and energetic. I sat there in the middle of the room overcome with emotions. I cried because of the love these kids had for each other. I cried because I wished that they could experience a real priesthood blessing, and I cried because of the emotional stress that was put upon me as her caretaker. She was able to calm down and relax for a while, but we ended up taking her to the hospital two days later.
                Watching the children worship and pray is one of the most eye-opening experiences for me. They sing and dance, pray loudly and passionately, and raise their hands in the air with their eyes closed worshiping Jesus Christ. Every single child gets deeply into their times of worship. They smile and clap praising the Lord. “Hallelujah!” It is amazing to watch. Even the littlest ones participate. Watching this made me long for my ward at home. It is amazing how religion does bring people together. With a different church on every corner and their bibles in their hands, many people of Ghana go to worship. I am grateful that I am able to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It comforts me to know that God is kind, and loving, and that my family can be together forever. One evening one of the older boys was playing some music on his phone while a bunch of us were dancing. Cute little Coco pulled on my arm and told me that I needed to stop dancing because it wasn’t gospel music. If I kept dancing, I was going to go to hell. Some of their beliefs here are skewed to me, but it is how they live and I completely respect it. Gratitude fills my heart when I remember what I believe.
                One special person that I want to talk about is my good friend and brother, Shadrack Ohene. He is a member of the orphanage and has been for just under a year. He is 17 years old, is in seventh grade, and wants to be a footballer when he grows up. Football (soccer) is very big here. Most of these boys are amazing at it! It is so fun to watch them play. Anyway, Shadrack is one of the people that I have come closest to. He is very nice, polite, and respects women more than I have ever seen. He is older than his years in giving advice and in his attitude. I feel like he is my older brother when really he is younger than me. He is very religious and always asks me if I am praying. We have had many intellectual and meaningful conversations that have made me appreciate him even more. He is such a good boy. His story about how he came to be at the orphanage is amazing. He and his little brother lived with their father who made them work instead of going to school. They would do extremely hard work while the money they earned was being spent on the father’s girlfriends. They were not allowed to go to school because the father couldn’t afford it, or so he said. Shadrack really wanted to go to school. He finally made a decision to leave his father and go out on his own so that he could earn money for himself for school fees and things. This happened when he was 13. So he lived on the streets for about 3 years doing lots and lots of work in order to pay for school. Unfortunately because of all the work, he could only attend school a couple days a week which put him even further behind. He heard about the orphanage and went there to finally have a place to stay, food to eat, and education. He always says that his father doesn’t love him, and the same feelings are shared toward his father. It is so sad to me. Shadrack and his little brother Ema have not seen their father until about five days ago. We ran into him on the street. I met him. It was weird and awkward. The father showed no affection towards his son and it made me uncomfortable. Each human being has a different story.   The stories of those children here in Ghana amaze me. They are so incredibly different than anything I have ever been near to, yet these kids are so happy. They love each other and love volunteers.
                Shadrack and I have become really close. I talk to him about my family all the time and he thinks it is so interesting to hear about them. It makes me miss them. I especially miss my brother in America, Jacob. They are the same age and I think they could really get along. Shadrack advises me on how I can be a better sister. He is so wise, it is almost unbelievable! I gave him a Book of Mormon with my testimony in it. He was very grateful and said that it made him happy to know I loved God and believed in him like he did. The other day he told me that he has been reading the Book of Mormon every day! That made me so happy. I want him to come to church with me, we will see how that goes.
                I know I have blabbed forever, but I seriously have so much to talk about!!! Until next time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

More beautiful children!! These are kids at Kokrobite (koe-crow-bee-tay). They really liked my camera and wanted picture after picture with us.
This is the beach at Kokrobite. These boats are fishing boats  they use to catch fish. It is amazing.
This is a Tro Station. You walk through and yell out where you need to go and a man takes you by the hand and leads to the right tro. It is insane! But some of the craziest things happen at the station. Kids are begging you for money, some grabbing onto you and your purse. People are fighting, others yelling for us to buy things. It is so cool.
This week has been a great week. We had to say goodbye to three of our volunteers who started with us. I miss them soooo much. The night before they left, we had a party with all the kids. We had Egypt (our dance instructor) come and play drums with his friends so we could perform an African dance  that we learned for all the kids. They went wild when we started to dance. It was so neat. We all watched the older girls dance after and they were amazing! It was an incredible moment where we enjoyed all the kids and they enjoyed us. The music and laughter was so overwhelming. It made me so happy. More to come!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Hello hello hello! I am so sorry that it has been so long since I have written, but things have been crazy and we can rarely get to the internet cafe. So pretty much this is going to be tons of pictures! yes!!

This is the road that we live on in Dodowa

This is our home :) it is made completely of cement with some dirt floors in certain rooms. The black tanks on the left are our water supply for showers and using the bathroom, washing clothes and dishes.

the usual random village kids that run up to us in the street and ask for us to take their picture
The Orphanage!!
This is Beauty. She is three years old. and such a doll! she is very good with English and is often seen with snot running out of her nose :)
This is Irene. She is eating her morning porridge.
The cutie on the right is Connie. We didn't know her name for a long time because she pretended to not know english....little squirt! The beauty on the right with me is Coco. Her real name is Florence and she is so sweet and helpful. She recently stepped on a nail and had to go get a tetanus shot. I had to hold her down in the orphanage while one of the house mothers burned her foot. They believe that burning any wound will heal it, which is wrong. But we cannot change a culture, so I had to go along with it and sob while she screamed in pain. They do this daily to kids with wounds, that is why the kids always want to come to us for help with cuts and things.
 This is Felix. He is usually seen with a frown on his face but we have been getting him to be happy and smile! That is what makes this job worth it. He is so precious and his smile is to die for!

This is Kwame Adu with little Prince Benedict.

Well folks, it takes about five min to load each picture so I will return with much more!! This is just a taste of what I do. It's fantastic! ;)

Monday, May 7, 2012


Hello!! Ok so I have some pictures but don't have a way to get them onto the computer. I know! It's annoying. So next time I post I will definitely have pictures up. Patience....I have definitely learned a lot of that here. Our schedule Mon-Fri is:   1. wake up at 5
                                  2. go to orphanage and get kids dressed and ready for school
                                  3. take kids to school at 6:30 ish
                                  4. go back to house and eat breakfast
                                  5. do laundry and errands
                                  6. go back to orphanage at 3 to play with kids until dinner
                                  7. at 6 go eat dinner
                                  8. 7:30 go back to orphanage and put kids to bed
It is a crazy, long day to do lots of things. but the kids always want to snuggle with you and play. I find that if we haven't been to see them in like a day, that I miss them. Leaving is going to be so hard.
   We have been having some problems with the guy who there to discipline the children. His name is Prince and he is frequently on a rampage yelling and beating the kids. If he ever beats the kids in front of me, he is going to get it. I do not like him one bit. He stays in our volunteer home and at night you can hear him "having a good time" with other women. We have to talk to Eddy about it.
    This last weekend we ventured to Kokrobite Beach which is three hours away from Dodowa. We took a tro-tro, well many tro-tro's to get there and stayed in a nice hotel on the beach! It was so beautiful and we were able to see white people! I only had to pay 10 ghana cedis and 90 peswas for my stay! That is like 6 US dollars. It was wonderful. I got an awesome sunburn that hopefully will turn into a tan. The hotel we stayed in had a running shower and toilet!! Ha is was a nice little vacation. This weekend we are traveling to the Monkey Sanctuary and I can't wait!!
    We have older boys in the orphange who are the nicest boys I have ever met. They are always looking out for us. They walk us home and night and never let us carry anything. They always give us a chair and are so considerate. Ah! I love them with all my heart. Beauty and Godwin are the two youngest and they are characters. They sit and talk to each other in Twi back and forth and back and forth.
     Saturday night, that boys started playing the drums and got a really nice beat going. I started to dance with the little ones and then kinda broke out into my own dance. That is when everyone went wild. They wanted me to keep dancing and dancing. Even the olders girls and the old house mother came up to me all excited and shook my hand meaning they loved that I could do something that is part of their culture. Now everyone calls me the dancer. It was a good way to make the kids feel like they could relate to me. It warms my heart when I can get a sad kid to smile. Felix is like six or seven years old and is always in a depressive mood, but lately I have gotten him to smile. It is my goal to open him up and let him be happy. The best part is when I put him on my shoulders to take him to school. He will actually say things to me now! I want to take him home. Well I will write more later; the girls are waiting for me. We are going to the market! Pictures soon!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

first post from africa

Oh my goodness! I am in Africa!! It is more beautiful then I ever thought it would be. As soon as I arrived off the plane, everything was so different. It is so much greener here; trees and plants everywhere! It is also extremely humid and you are dripping all the time. You also never ever feel clean :) The streets are mostly dirt here in Dodowa (pronounced doe-doe-wah). The people are beautiful and very often when you pass by children on the street they yell "abruni" at you meaning white person. Mango trees cover a lot of the land, yes, dad you are probably way jealous. I have not tried one yet but oh boy I am going to eat a lot of mangos. Banana trees are also everywhere as well. Our volunteer house is nice compared to others. It is a cement house with a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a toilet and shower area. We take bucket showers because there is no running water. The showers are cold but it feels so nice compared to when you are sweating all day!  Our room is the hottest because there are six of us in there. My roommates and volunteer mates are all girls from Canada. They are super nice and really easy to talk to. Kristen, who has been here for a little over seven weeks, has been showing us how everything works and taking us to places.
       Even though all of this has been so wonderful, my favorite part has been the orphanage. As soon as we got there for the first time, all the kids were sitting quietly listening to a church group that came to visit, but as soon and the group left, the kids came to us and began to touch our faces, arms and hands. They asked us our names and we began to try to learn their's. There are 79 kids in this orphanage. The youngest is 3 months and the oldest is 19. They are so cute. They are so friendly and really good to each other. They have to look out for one another because no one really takes care of them. Even the 2 year olds are very independent. They smile and hang on you because they are so excited to see us. They love to be held and kissed and hugged. I think I am gonna like it here!! One thing that is really sad is the conditions that they live in. Most of them sleep on the floor while others have bunk beds. They go to the bathroom wherever they want and are constantly dirty. They get a bucket bath everyday before school. They get three meals a day of mush which they love, and don't have toys or nice clothes. They do have shoes though. If they don't behave, the house mothers beat them. Mamma Jane owns the orphanage and is there very rarely. I am constantly putting band aids and antiseptic fluid as well as calamine lotion on systs and heat rash. I love these kids already and I have only been with them a day!! oh my goodness! Their names are beautiful. They are beautiful! As of right now I am not allowed to take pictures at the orphanage but we are working on that. So, pictures to come!!