Thursday, June 21, 2012

Winding Down

Hello!! I am overwhelmed. Time has flown by! It is unreal that I only have a week and a half left. I have such mixed feelings. I am seriously so excited to see my family, but am so heartbroken to leave these wonderful kids. I am constantly thinking about it every day. Am I ready to leave them? How can I? Can I really adapt back into the real world? Ah. It is so hard.

Currently we have 11 volunteers in the house. One lovely girl from Ireland, three people from England, and the rest from the states. It is a little tricky because every two weeks we have new volunteers coming in and others leaving. So, while you have to worry about leaving children, you have to deal with volunteers saying goodbye as well!! Life is like that I guess, meeting amazing people and then saying goodbye. Each relationship we create is meant to happen. Ghana has changed my life. I will never be the same, and will never stop thinking about and missing these kids. They are beautiful. The experiences that I am having inspire me everyday and teach me something new.

Now, you may be wondering about my health. It is ok! I am alive and breathing. I have had some digestive problems do to all the carbs we eat here. I have had diarrhea once, and been pretty constipated the rest of the time. There were two days where I had major stomach issues and threw up twice. I am pretty sure it was because I ate my dinner after it had been sitting out for awhile. Other than that, I am healthy! The Lord has blessed me to be safe. Even though I have spent hours on the toilet, I smile because I do not have malaria, HIV, sores all over, chest infections, or eating diseases. The health here is horrendous.

I have formed a pretty good relationship with a lot of the children. Yes, I have my favorites, but I try really hard to be good friends with everyone. There are so many that I don't want to leave.

This is my baby girl Irene. Her smile is to die for. She is four years old and loves to snuggle.
Hannah and Godwin: so photogenic! Godwin loves to make faces in the camera. 
This is us eating mez. It is cooked corn that becomes hard and tastes like popcorn.

This is part of our fence that the boys built around our house. It is all made of bamboo, and they used their worn our shoes for the hinges. The people here know how to make everything! They are so domestic.
This is George. He is the oldest boy. He is 19 and now lives with Mama Jane, but he comes and visits. We love him.
This wonderful guy is Bismark. We call him Kofi. He is the sweetest guy. He is 19 as well. He takes care of Godwin and is going to be such a good father. He is one of my best brothers.
 The ladies here usually tie scarves on their heads, the girls tried to make me look the same, but as you can see, it just doesn't look as good.
 This is another wonderful boy, Courage. He makes me so happy. He has the biggest heart, and his laugh can make your heart sing. LOVE HIM!!
Here are the kids playing a game outside.
 This little angel is Beauty-ok not so much an angel...going through the terrible 2's. But when she is in a good mood, oh buddy, it is a joy.
 We recently have received about 15 new children bringing the number of kids to almost 100. I know its crazy. The space they live in is so small and does not provide well, but at least they have a place to stay. These two cuties are new. The little one on the left is Bebe (2 years), and the one on the right is Doe (4 years).
 Shadrack and Kwamana Asare: amazing people love them so much
 This is little baby Ema. He is the son of one of the house mothers. He is a little snot but his energy is incredible.
 Every night, either the older boys, or the older girls come to me and say, "you are invited," which means they want me to come eat with them. They are so good at sharing and always give their things to others. Here it is a custom to always share your food and have all sorts of people eat out of the same bowl. They erge me to try everything. On this particular night, they wanted me to try Gyre-aba. It is a dough mixture with some soup . I actually loved it. I am the only one who tries the food here and I think the kids really appreciate it, but the food is not always good...this is Hannah and on the right little baby Benedict. He can sit up now!
 This is Theo. They don't pronounce the "th" sound so it is pronounced like Tio. He is so cute.
 One morning while helping serve porridge, I burned my hand. They serve the porridge out of a plastic storage bin and it is bowling hot. They don't let the porridge cool before serving it and a lot of the time, the children get burned as well. I was burned and the whole side of my finger was a huge blister. It was very painful. Then, because of my stupidity, I hit my hand on a ceiling fan when I jumped off my bed and took off the blister and some extra skin, so it was a battle wound in the making.
 Mercy. One of my little children. If I could, I would take her home. Her laugh is by far the best. She is so happy and sweet all the time.

 This is Lucky. He is special needs and has the sweetest smile. I love him with all my heart. I can relate to him really well.
 Victoria, me, and Lucky.
 My best brother Shadrack and I. We are inseparable. I will miss his so much. I hope to see him again.
 The older girls called for me one day and we played dress up in their room. I tried on their dresses that they have received from donations and they told me they wanted me to print this picture out so they can keep it.
 Mawuli and Ishmael. AAH! the list of children that I love never ends. These boys are so good. They are so obedient and kind to others.
Here are more: Ishmael, Foster, Patrick and Mawuli. They stole my camera and took these pictures themselves. I love them so much.

I can't express how much I love all these kids. They are and will forever be a part of me. I think my biggest and most difficult trial about Ghana has yet to come. It will be leaving these angels. They are my heart. They are joy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Keep on moving forward...

Things have been crazy here in Ghana. It has been way too long since I have posted. If I could, I would post every day because there is always so much to talk about, but I am not able to get to the internet very often.

This last week or so has been difficult, but humbling. I have been exposed to so many people that say one thing and do something else. I would like to say that I don’t have a negative view of Ghanaians, but for what I have experienced, I can only express a negative opinion. Now I cannot generalize and say that all Ghanaians rub you the wrong way, but the adults that I have come into contact with here in my placement have thoroughly disappointed me. They have done nothing but disrespect us as volunteers and foreigners. I could honestly say that we have done nothing but turn the other cheek and ignore them even though we are here to help them. According to a higher authority, we are no good unless we come with thousands of dollars to give to the orphanage for things they need. Even though we spend over 8 hours a day at the orphanage, wake up at five every morning to help, patch wounds, help with homework, clean up pee and throw up, play with dirty children who stick their fingers and hands in our eyes and mouth, deal with rotten teenagers, take the children to the hospital and pay for all their fees, medical supplies, pads, diapers, etc., we are still accused of being lazy, being disrespectful, a bad influence, and inconsiderate. They expect us to understand their culture and follow their guidelines but won’t listen to our ideas or compromise with the things of our culture. You thought my dad and I were stubborn? Just wait ‘til you meet someone here in Ghana! Everything is so black and white here. We are expected to give so much respect to others but get none in return. The dynamic is completely different than what I expected. We have not even been thanked or appreciated for what we do day in and day out. For the first time yesterday, a Ghanaian said “God bless you for being here at this orphanage. You are doing great things. You are a blessing to these children, and it makes me so happy.” This certain individual’s name is Rebecca. She was visiting the orphanage with her church and that was our first conversation and probably our last, but the words that came out of here mouth meant more than I can express. It actually made me cry. When you know you are doing good, and someone tells you, you know that it is worth it. You are appreciated. I don’t mean to complain and rant about my little hardships. I am having an amazing experience here. Sometimes you just need to explain and let others know how your situation really is. This past weekend I have been overwhelmed with emotions. There is good in this world and there is also bad wherever you go. It has taken me a long time to be able to be happy with where I am, to be happy in the moment. I can say that being here has taught me to do that. Life is beautiful and there will always be bad. BUT there will always be good, always. The children are my heart. They give me strength every day. So even though I may be frustrated with the politics of the orphanage, I am blessed because these children teach me every day.

This is Baby Benedict. He is so cute and precious! 
These are some of the kids that go to Word of Faith school. They are fortunate enough to have sponsors from past volunteers. Word of Faith is a private school run by Americans. These kids are so smart and so good. From right to left: Celestine, Rosemary, Famous (on top), Courage (on bottom), Peace.

A certain experience I had this last Friday night was interesting. I have become the head person to take the children to the hospital when they are sick, and another girl had become seriously ill. Her name is Rosemary and she is 14 years old. We weren’t aware, but she had been sick for a week. She had a fever of 103.5 degrees and hadn’t eaten. She was miserable. I took her to the hospital and waited in the lines and talked to the lab techs and doctors. It was determined that she had severe malaria and would have to stay overnight. We went to the building next door to get her a bed in the Women’s Ward. The room was lined with four beds on each side.  She had to get an IV and take lots of medicine. The nurse could not get the IV into her arm and poked her about five times. I went and collected her dinner so she could eat and take the medicine. I was with two other boys from the orphanage and they decided to go back to get one of the house mothers to stay overnight with Rosemary. They left at around 8:30 pm. I waited and waited and waited… but they never came back. So it was up to me to take care of Rosemary overnight. There was nothing else I could do, because I certainly couldn’t walk home by myself in the dark, and Rosemary was very scared. I would be too in a ghetto, cement building with old ladies laying everywhere. They said that there were no more chairs, so I would have to sit on her bed when I was with her. Our communication is pretty divided because she doesn’t speak English very well.  So we could really just make gestures to each other. We played around making fun of the other women who were lying on the other beds. They laid on the beds naked and snoring or yelling things in their sleep. It was wonderful to see Rosemary giggling and smiling. She is very quiet and gets made fun of in the home. She has also been through a lot of trials. She has been raped multiple times at her school and doesn’t have many friends. I am so proud of her for everything she does. She is in 2nd grade. She is so sweet and loves others. We finally started to get sleepy so I layed beside her on the little bed we had. She had one sheet to sleep with and covered herself to be protected from bugs and mosquitos. I however was left with only the clothes on my back, legs and arms pretty bare. The mosquitos had a feast that night and bit me all over. I layed there on the bed and thought about how lucky I am to have family to sit with me in the hospital, how lucky I am to not have malaria, and how lucky I am to have a bed to sleep on that night. It was a little scary being there by myself, but I knew it was what had to be done so my determination overcame my fears. I didn’t sleep much that night, but Rosemary was fine. We were rudely awakened by the nurse the next morning and I was scolded at for sleeping on the bed with Rosemary. I was also scolded for making a mess. I cleaned up and asked a little girl to help me find bread and porridge to give to Rosemary so she could take her medicine. What an experience! Rosemary is ok now and back at the home. She ended up staying another night and was accompanied by a house mother.

 This is Rosemary. She was in the hospital. Love her!!