Monday, July 20, 2009

Chickens, condoms, and waterfalls...

Hello all! Ok, first of all I'd like to add another disclaimer to my blog: the views and abilities of Guillermo to write a million blogs and post pictures does not reflect my ability to get to the Internet cafe or my ability to post photos. But I did receive the big hug from him. He said it was from, "My favorite Aunt Patty, Millie, and your Mom," so thank you to all!

Next I'd just like to make it clear that I despise chickens (except eating them). Especially the ones that sit in the trees right outside my window and make horrible unnecessary noises at 5:15 every morning. Did I mention its right outside my window? And why are they in the trees? That makes no sense. Today I threw rocks at them. Someone was probably wondering what the white girl was doing throwing rocks at the trees but I swear if I could catch one of them I'd drop kick them across the street. Ok, just had to vent about the stupid chickens. Oh...and my host mom brought me an entire basket full of eggs yesterday. I don't know how I'm going to eat that many eggs...but I'll give it my best. She seemed pretty happy about it. Plus they always tell us to "Eat ALL!" Whether it be two balls of fufu, eggs, or soup. The bigger we get the better! I however am not getting bigger since my body doesn't know what to do without all the milk and fat I used to eat back home. So it just kind of rejects everything. Lets just say I'm excited to get to site to cook for myself.

Lets see... we're working on our SCOP or Small Community Outreach Projects. So my friend Lizzy and I are working with the youth group to do a presentation/discussion on Family Planning, condom use ect.. with the teenagers in the community. We met with 4 of the executive members yesterday and the meeting went surprisingly well! First they had an argument about what "Ghanaian time is" since we started the meeting late. Then they very cordially debated what group we should target. One of them would make a point and then another would add, "I agree with you100% but you need to look at the issue this way..." The youth group is actually made up of members from the ages 15 to 65 so... ya. But, they did build the clinic in the town, remodeled the Junior high school, and they built a bench/shaded waiting area at the taxi station. So they're very motivated and focused on helping their community. It's pretty great to see. Anyway, it went really well and we got the nurse in the community to come and do a condom demonstration. It is a bummer though that birth control isn't available to the youth except with their parents consent. Which they would never get...even though most of the parents had kids at the ages of 15 and 16.

We did go to some Waterfalls!! Finally something not work related! We went to the Akaa Waterfalls which were amazing. It felt good to finally do something active and not just sit and listen and talk all the time. It finally gave us a chance to step back and look at something really beautiful. Away from people standing and getting sprayed from the mist of the waterfalls, in the sun was pretty incredible.

Currently some thoughts on Ghana
1. I love groundnut cake, which is basically peanut brittle and I love sugar and I miss it.
2. I hate chickens. But I already talked about that.
3. You greet EVERYONE. Literally. And sometimes this gets old. And EVERYONE wants to know where you're going. And saying "none of your business" isn't a response. Not one they'd understand anyway.
4. I do love being able to leave conversations by just saying, "I'm leaving". And that's totally acceptable. It's great.
5. Don't worry Will, I know alcohol can't kill everything. And my body also knows this. And it's just kind of a fact that you get sick here.
6. I wish I could carry 60 pounds on my head like the small children in my compound...but sadly I cannot.
7. The women work really really hard and don't get enough credit or respect.
8. I've started making agreements with insects and lizards to leave me alone if I leave them alone. I don't know if it's working...
9. Apparently you need to collect your dead by 5pm especially on Fridays (saw this on a sing today).
10.Wednesday we meet our counterparts and go on site visit so I'm really excited to see my new home!!

Ok, all in all I'm well. Super super busy...I miss you all! Keep my up to date on what's happenin in the good ol USA!

All my Love!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

50 pesewas to Jesus

Hey All!

So, everyday seems to be filled with something new, something odd, and something hilarious. I decided to go to a Methodist church with my Grandmother on Sunday and it was probably the longest 4 hours of my life. There was a lot of singing and dancing (which was fine but I had no idea what anyone was saying) and a lot of "offerings" so to speak. The sermon was interesting. Since their woman's group was raising money that Sunday he wanted to talk about women. Fair enough. But more importantly the role and duty of women. I knew at that point it was about to get interesting. We should wake up early, clean, have breakfast ready for the family because cleanliness is next to godliness. I sort of felt like I went back to the 50's but when he said the same thing in Twi the women kind of laughed so I'm not sure how serious it was. Then he continued to talk about the empowerment of women and how they're getting jobs outside the home etc... so then I felt like I was in the 60's when women not only had to work but clean and cook too! Good times... After about a half an hour of that the Pastor wanted the Americans to come forward and introduce themselves. So my other wonderful feminist volunteer friend Lindsey and I made our way to the front, used the little Twi we knew to say where we were from etc.. and we thought that would be it. Oh no. He announced that we couldn't go sit down until somebody donated 10 Ghana cedis for each of us. I quickly looked at Lindsey, "Are we being auctioned off?! At church?! In the name of God?! Without us realizing it?!" Yes we were. Luckily the 10 cedis came quickly and we could sit down but Lindsey was informed that she should now marry that man. Anything in the name of God right?

We spent the rest of the church service donating money during hymes. Its different also since they announce the price people are donating and then you get up and put that much in the box. I was apparently called on to donate a large sum of money but ya... volunteer. So I gave my 50 pesewas and I'm not sure I'll go back. I did meet a wonderful young Ghanaian girl after the service though that said she wanted to learn to play the piano. The church actually has a little Yamaha keyboard so I told her if she set it up I could teach her some things!

My host family is fine and always overly concerned and worried about me. They tried to wake me up at 5:30 this morning to sweep since they didn't understand what my teacher had told them about letting us sleep and just helping us cook etc... So hopefully I'll get that fixed and won't have knocking on my door everyday at 5:30. I know I woke up a lot earlier than that before (you crazy ICP staff)...but training is crazy and I could use the sleep! My host family does however really want to dress me up and buy me clothes and jewelry. Its uh... interesting and I'm trying to figure out how to best get around it. Also, when you invite a Ghanaian person out somewhere its important to know that you'll be the one paying. I didn't realize this and my host sister was very excited about getting us more food and drinks...and I saw why when I had to pay at the end. Important lessons to learn.

I should probably tell you all a little about my site! The town is called Jirapa and it's in the Upper West Region. The population is about 16,000 so its much larger than I expected. I have electricity, a flush toilet (oh ya!), and two rooms and a living room all to myself. Three volunteers have been there before me so I'll be jumping into quite a few projects which hopefully means I won't be board. There's a women's bakery that needs help with organization and marketing, there's a People Living With AIDS group that would like help with presentations and ideas for income to buy their medicine. There is also a clinic, an orphanage, and I'm in the District Capital so I hopefully will do a lot of work with the local government. They eat dog where I am going. But I think I love them too much to do that. It would be like eating a little Chloe...ya no way. We head to our site visits in a few weeks so I'll have more info after I check everything out!

Hope all is well in the states!! Miss you all!! The rain has stopped so we're leaving the Internet cafe!!