Getting there...

The people of Ghana are said to be some of the kindest and most heartfelt people in the world. Today clarified this to be true yet again. The flight to Accra is direct from John F. Kennedy airport and is about 10 hours long.  I happened to be sitting next to a man who was originally from Ghana, but now worked as a doorman for the Marriott in New York City. He was returning back to Ghana for a vacation with his family. He saw that I was alone on the flight and after waking up from 9 out of the 10 hours he had saved me one of the breakfast boxes as well as organized all of my immigration paperwork. He claimed that I would be his “daughter” for the flight since his other children weren’t coming home with him. He preceded to tell me about how he loved Patrick Leahy (after I said I was from Vermont) and then showed me a picture with Hillary Clinton. When we landed he told me to follow him as he knew people at the immigration stations, he knew everyone there and and we walked through the door without any troubles at all. When we got through to the other side he had a boy waiting for him with two carts, another one of his airport friends, where they both waited with me until I had all of my luggage. As I was waiting though this little boy about three years old was looking for his mother and came up to me and wrapped his arms around me until I picked him up and held him, until his mother came back. We left the airport saying our goodbyes as I met up with Kofi who is my partner on the reproductive health project at the Village Exchange.

Kofi and the driver helped me and all of my stuff into the car and off we went to Ho, which is suppose to be about 2 hours from Accra, but it ended up being more along the lines of 4 hours. The city was completely packed with a ton of people driving in all different directions, our driver was pretty aggressive and passed about every other car in front of us. We stopped twice once for the driver to eat lunch and another to get fuel. On the first stop at the food hut there were a few girls my age and one, Mariama, came over to me and started showing me around the area and talking to me about what she did everyday. She was 19 and had been out of school for 5 years. The idea of dropping out of school at 14 is such a foreign idea to us, that sometimes we forget that for most people in the developing world that is when education stops and working and/or caring for your entire family begins. Mariama gave me her phone number and made me promise to come back to her shop one more time before I left.

Finally, we arrived in Ho, which is up in the mountains. It is still quite dusty, but there are trees and it is a little bit more green than the other parts of the Volta region of Ghana. When we got to the Village Exchange compound we held a mini staff meeting with everyone that was there, just six of us, and went around giving introductions and then I was able to have a tour of the facility. The compound consists of two long structures, one that hold the office, a small sitting room, an upstairs guest room, a sewing room and a classroom for the science and technology school. The other structure holds the housing: my room, a baby’s nursery for when mothers are here working with their children, another guest room for the other volunteer, and an extra room for rural community students to stay.

 Kofi and I then went into town to get lunch and pick up a “Modem” which is a broadband internet stick that you plug into your computer. It’ll come in handy for our Skype sessions with Vermont. Kofi and I discussed our plan for the program and he explain how on Monday we would be visiting 3 of the schools we are working with to go over an introduction to the program and start organizing our material. He also told me that there would be several other schools that we would be going to just for one day programs. Whereas these three specific schools  would be the schools we taught at consistently for all 8 weeks of the program.

I forgot to mention that it is 95 degrees here, the sky is usually overcast, but it is a sticky and stifling heat. Luckily it just started raining so hopefully that will cool things off for tomorrow morning.

I am so grateful to be here and I cannot wait to see what the rest of this trip entails. 

Thanks for reading!!

Natalie