All students are on their way home after an amazing program!
Thursday was our last full day in Ghana. We started off the morning with breakfast and then moved onto the opening ceremonies of our sexy toilets. The first ceremony took place at Ashley’s service site. Tigo gave the families who would be using these sexy toilets a speech about proper usage and how to maintain them, and then Boots would translate what was just said into Ewe for the people. Around 40 locals showed up to each ceremony and it really showed how much our time and hard work would be appreciated.
After the opening ceremonies we came back to the lodge and headed off on a visit to a local clinic to speak to a midwife who both works and lives at the site. After we got back and had lunch we went on a boat trip down the Volta River with our group in the front and the same group of cultural singers and drummers sat in the back and performed the whole time. We stopped on a beach between the river and the Atlantic to hang out, swim, and play catch for a while and then headed back to the lodge. After supper we went into the summer house and were handed some very crafty and creative “Golden Toilet Roll” awards by the staff who had obviously put a lot of effort into them. To end the day we had a bonfire on the beach. There was some dancing, singing, games, and a lot of talking involved. Although the air was getting cold, the fire kept us warm until we adjourned back to the summer house to spend one last night with each other.
Finally, we get to start working on the toilets! Charlotte and I woke everyone up for a hearty breakfast to get the group ready for service. We lead some morning stretches and did a pump-up cheer, then headed off to work. My group is building an eco compost toilet for a clump of family compounds sandwiched between the main road and the ocean. The traditional housing, palm trees, fishermen, and beach provide an amazing backdrop as we work. We built up the 2 poo chambers and called it a day, heading home for a dip in the lagoon before lunch.
After a bit of a siesta we delve right into learning the culture with an Ewe language lesion and a herbal medicine walk with the local traditional medicine man. Around 80% of Ghanaians rely exclusively on herbal medicine, and it’s fascinating to hear how all these plants are used. For our Leader of the Day presentations, Charlotte and I expanded on the importance of traditional medicine and some specific plants we were knowledgeable about, such as Moringa and Neem. We also did a teambuilding activity by building a balloon couch, which was quite amusing to watch.
We started off the trip strong with a morning of rules and regulations. First up, a game of pole, tandem, princess to get
everyone one moving around and up close and personal, my personal favorite icebreaker game. Next up, a round of the alliteration name game so that no one will ever forget anyone’s name again- seriously, best name game ever! Then down to business, GLA history, home base standards, code of conduct, etc., with a few games to break up the monotony. Maybe it’s because this was our third and last time doing orientation, but it seemed to fly by and not be as boring as usual.
Rita and our lovely kitchen staff prepared a lovely lunch for us, and then Dougal explained Dream Big Ghana, the NGO we are working with, and their vision a bit more before taking the group on a tour of one of the local communities we will be working in. Sanitation is such a huge issue worldwide, with 4,000 children dying everyday from diarrhea and 1 in 3 women worldwide being harassed, bullied, or raped because they don’t have a safe place to go to the bathroom, that we should be very proud to be building toilets to make this community a safer, healthier place.
After a brief discussion about what we had seen in the village and a bit of free time, we ate another lovely meal on the decking of the Meet Me There lodge, a truly beautiful setting. Another great icebreaker to get people giggling and feeling less squeamish about feeling ill, and my favorite to deliver, a presentation on the causes, prevention, and treatment of diarrhea followed dinner. By this time, everyone was a bit tired, so we finished off the day with reflection circles in our mentor groups. Quite a full day, but a great start to the trip!
We had a wonderful time at the original cocoa farm with trees 136 yrs old. We ate fresh fruit from the farm. We also went to the Boti Falls where we had 3 attractions in one. Waking to a beautiful mild weather. We have had great weather throughout and hoping to finish well. We have not been active online , our internet is a bit slow. . . . No news is good news and get ready for a picture and video blast soon!
All students have arrived safely in country and are ready for an amazing program! Stay tuned for blog updates and photos!