Time Capsule Letter
My GLA Ghana was…
Two weeks of sweating in the sun, lifting bricks, and trying your hand at mastering plastering…what a great way to spend time in Ghana.
Your enthusiasm and hard work helped build two sexy toilets for the residents of Agbledomi. The time you spent building and the efforts made connecting with the kids of the community made a huge impact.
We hope you remember Justine’s amazing food, Elvis and Leon’s attentive service, and the hours spent getting to know Jasper and Balo on the work site.
Now that life is back to normal, don’t forget to continue to reflect on the many lessons you learned on program. From eliminating single use plastics in your life to remembering to be more compassionate and willing to engage with others, keep challenging yourself to step up as the everyday leaders you are.
Thanks for an amazing two weeks in Ghana, here are some of our favorite memories!
Pancake the turtle, Spot Dog, Jenny the goat, DJ Pherry, “is my hair blond or brown?”, big splash!, Trevorrr!, Are you sure?, Sports on me…sports on 3…one, two, three..SPORTS!
Miss you all!
-Brendan and Suzannah
Saturday July 27, 2019
The whole crew is here!!! We are a full group of 9 and stoked to start our service project tomorrow.
Initial impressions of Ghana:
Saturday July 27, 2019
After a long travel day, everyone arrived at homebase yesterday tired but excited to be in Ghana!
Our day started today with watching fishing nets being pulled in and getting to know each other through games and other activities.
This afternoon we are headed out into the community to get to know the area and get our first look at the compost toilets that we will be building this session.
We are waiting one final group member to arrive and we will be a full family.
Looking forward to exploring and working together!
Sunday July 28, 2019
Hi everyone! Today was our first day of service and it was a very packed and exciting day. We started off with a Ghanaian-American breakfast of hot dogs, beans, omelettes, and fresh fruit. Then we took a trip down to the lagoon because baby turtles hatched on the shore and they had to be brought back into the ocean. We waded through the water, scooping up the turtles as we went and giving them cute names. After we released them, we broke into our service groups and rode into the community to begin building.
The work was challenging but rewarding. We mixed cement, carried cinder blocks, and plastered the walls of the chamber pot. As an afternoon activity, a local Chief came to teach us about Ghanaian customs and ask us questions. Later, we had a delicious dinner of fish, French fries, and salad. Before bed, we got a lesson on Ewe, the local dialect, which is definitely hard to get the hang of.
Etsc mie do ge (Good night) from GLA Ghana!
-by Bella Smith
Monday July 29, 2019
Today was a tiring day here in Ghana. We woke up early as the fishermen do to help pull in 1,800 feet worth of fishing net which took about 2 hours! Pulling the nets was tiring in the arms (good thing we did yoga before breakfast!) yet fulfilling to see the many fish and other sea creatures in the net.
When we came back from fishing we headed out to the sites to continue service. Today in service, we gathered water, mixed cement, and carried it to the toilet to be poured into the cement mold for the floor. We also communicated in Ewe to the kids on the site!
Upon returning to the home base we ate pasta with a spicy sauce with rice and beans and a cole slaw. After we had a community health talk with nurse Rose who taught us about Ghanaian public health.
For dinner tonight we ate yam balls with veggie stew and eggplant which was super yummy! Lastly we did a super duper epic life changing leadership activity and shared the love with each other!
The day is coming to an end and we are quite tired so we will head to bed soon. Now, a message from the kiddos to mom and dad: miss you,love you, we’re having a blast, see you in 10 days!
-by Leah Farrell
Tuesday July 30, 2019
Hey friends and family!
Today was one of my favorite days so far, but the most tiring. After breakfast, Suzannah made us follow a squat workout video (Sally up, Sally down) to warm us for service. At service, we added four to five layers of bricks onto the latrine. That meant, mixing mortar, scraping bricks, and lots of brick carrying.
After service, Justine made us a delicious Ghanaian lunch and we played card games until it was time for…. SPORTS! We played with an abundance of local children on a swing set recently constructed by Dom (the on Dream Big intern). Their favorite things to do were the swing set, monkey bars, and playing with mud. We also taught them how to do handstands, which they quickly mastered.
Next was football (soccer), and we were all impressed by the children’s skills. Even though most of us have minimal football experience, we all got involved and loved to compete in the tournament. After soccer we went back to the playground and had “stick wars” and did more gymnastics.
We are now back to home-base and ate yet another delightful meal by Justine. Even though we miss you all we are having the time of our lives!
Wednesday July 31, 2019
Today was a long workday with a great reward towards the end. We began with a waking up and having plantain omelets, fruit, and toast for breakfast. Then the long work day began, layering another four levels of bricks and even getting to the roof of the toilet. After returning back to base with some rest and lunch, we headed to the market, first helping the kitchen staff with a scavenger hunt, picking up food.
After the scavenger hunt, we went choosing fabrics and headed to the seamstress/tailor, getting either dresses, pants, or shirts made from the fabrics we chose at the market. We will see how they turned out later in the week. After an amazing pasta dinner we are headed to learn about sustainability with Dom.
We are having a great time and are starting to see the toilet come together.
– by Trevor Chun
Thursday August 1, 2019
Today was a difficult yet rewarding day in Ghana! We took a break from building our compost toilets to help construct a children’s playground in Sahara Sports Park. It was hard work creating cement for the wall of the playground! An abundance of heavy lifting and shoveling was involved, and we kept having to push the wagon through the long, hot trek to get more sand and concrete. We are very proud that our efforts are going to such a great cause! The playground will offer many environmental, economic, and social benefits to the community.
After service, we were rewarded with a spectacular meal of avocado rolls, fries, and salad. Then we helped clean up the beach and had a contest to see who could collect the most plastic! Plastic waste is a grave issue in Ghana and the world and it was eye-opening for us to see how our own plastic consumption habits are damaging the environment.
We took some free time and then we sat down to a delectable dinner of rice with spinach stew and coleslaw. We topped off our evening with a captivating cultural performance of song, drum, and dance. The dancers took our hands and swept us into the performance with them! Everyone enjoyed letting loose and having fun together.
Although we miss you, we are excited for the second half of our adventure!
-by Sonal Aggarwal
Friday August 2, 2019
Reporting from Ghana, I`m here to tell you about our exciting day in this wonderful country. We started off the day bright and early at 7:30 for breakfast. Today, we had corn flakes and granola with a side of fruit and yogurt.
After we ate, we headed down to our sites for a fun-filled morning of plastering two walls of our lovely toilets and making the stairs. As a snack, we had yummy muffins from our beloved chef, Justine. Also, our hosts gave us fresh coconuts to try and we played with the sweet children on site.
We got back covered in mortar, but didn’t mind because we were proud of our good day’s work. Soon after, we enjoyed an authentic lunch prepared for us. We had the pleasure of trying brown nut soup with rice balls and salad. Then, we ventured off to the Prizenstein slave fort in Keta.It was an emotionally intense and thought provoking experience that made us reflect on our history and how we can learn from it.
Afterwards, we visited a lighthouse that was used by slave traders and is one of seven lighthouses in Ghana. The view gave us a glimpse of Ghana and all of its beauty. On the trip back, we stopped at a bead market filled with an assortment of colorful beads.
We headed back to home base for dinner where we had fried rice, chicken, and salad with vegan substitutes of course. Currently, we are waiting to start a surprise evening activity, and the suspense is killing us. Bye everyone, we will see you soon!
Sunday August 4, 2019
It’s been a busy last couple of days. On Saturday we began by mixing mortar and plastering the walls of our voluptuous restrooms. To reward our hard and messy work we went swimming in our nature gifted lagoon; the water was cool and clean. Afterwards we rinsed off and went to “sahara” for SPORTsss! After burning calories on the soccer field we restored our energy levels with a sumptuous dinner followed by a movie!!
After such a long day of fun and hard work we all crashed for the night. The next morning we woke up refreshed and headed back to “sahara” to help finish the construction of a barrier wall at the playground project. The work was tiring but we all pushed through in order to finish.
After that tiring work we enjoyed a delicious lunch and then headed out to a Batik workshop. Batik is the art of placing wax on a piece of fabric before dyeing it in order to produce a pattern on the fabric. Once the cloth dried we drove back to home base and enjoyed some down time before dinner. We concluded the day with an engaging discussion on the ethics of social media posts of our trip. We are extremely sad that the trip has begun to come to a close but we are all excited to see all of our friends, family, and PETS again.
Monday August 5, 2019
Hello friends and family,
Today has been a very eventful day in Ghana! We started off the day with a delicious breakfast consisting of plantain omelets, toast, avocados, and mixed fruit. After that, we all went to service. While we were there, we put the finishing touches on our toilets and coated the walls with paint. After service was over, everyone came back to the lodge and ate a nutritious lunch. When everyone was finished enjoying their meal, their was a little bit of free time and decided to cool off by going for a swim in the lagoon.
A few of us even took a nice ride around the lagoon in the canoe. When we were finished, we all freshened up for our drum, song, and dance lesson. All of us learned a lengthy rhythm pattern on the drums, and even went around the circle playing our own patterns we all made up. Next, we learned the traditional dance that people do everywhere. Places like parties, funerals, and even just for fun. It took some time, but we all had fun and laughed even though we weren’t doing it right.
For the final lesson, everyone participated in learning the song in Ewe. Needless to say, it took a lot of time repeating and learning the words and tune, but once everyone got it, it was difficult to get us to stop singing. Later on, we ate a delicious dinner, and right after we enjoyed each other’s company sitting around a bonfire at the beach. The drums were brought out and everyone was singing and dancing. So, after a long eventful day, we are finally heading to our rooms to get ready for bed. We love you and miss you, and can’t wait to see you very soon.
-by Mikala Hicks
Tuesday August 6, 2019
This morning we all got to venture to the community health clinic since we finished 99% of the toilets. At the clinic, we split into groups and shadowed nurses and doctors, all with different jobs.
After lunch, we had a presentation by the NGO, Days for Girls, and we all left feeling inspired. Then we went to the seamstress to pick up our items that we ordered/designed last week. Everyone got a beautiful piece of clothing and accessories. Then we went to our service site to put the finishing touches on our latrines. When we arrived back to home base, we changed into our new clothes, and had a fashion show/dance party before dinner.
Tonight, dinner was extra special since we had a big family feast with all the staff and guests at Meet Me There. To top off the evening we watched a TED Talk on leadership, and set goals for ourselves upon our return to our homes. To close off the blog, we will share our quote of the day- “Enjoy every last minute, cause when you leave you’re GHANA miss it!”
-by Bella and Gigi
Wednesday August 7, 2019
Our last full day in Ghana was surely one to remember! After sleeping in and filling up on a yummy breakfast, we eagerly headed out to a long-awaited opening ceremony for our newly constructed toilets. The community learned how to use and care for the toilets and the importance of sanitation, hygiene, and hand washing. Saying our final goodbye to all the children was a heartbreaking moment after all the days we had spent interacting with them and appreciating their company as we worked.
Next, we embarked on a boat trip down the Volta River with all of the staff! Everyone had a great time drumming and singing along in Ewe while watching the golden sunshine sparkled like crystals on the rippling teal water. Then we savored a memorable lunch of fried rice and chicken (the fried rice was vegan…don’t worry, Mom!) We relished a relaxing afternoon playing volleyball and chilling on the beach before sailing back for some free time before dinner.
Now we are awaiting dinner and our final evening activity.
Reflecting back upon our amazing adventure, we are grateful for the memories we made, friendships we formed, and experiences we encountered. Our favorite parts were surely:
Swimming in the lagoon
Hearing children joyously chant “yevu!” (white person) when they saw us
Justine’s Jolof rice
Becoming stronger from the rewarding service work
The opening ceremony
Saving sea turtles
Having a dance party on site and eating coconuts provided by our host
The clinic experience
-by Sonal Aggarwal and Maya Khan
What an amazing two weeks!!! Super energy and enthusiasm throughout the program made for an awesome session and a great way to finish the summer.
Thank you to all the students for choosing Ghana and to all the family and friends that helped make their participation possible.
We hope everyone arrives home safely and with new perspectives of Ghana (and the world)
Brendan, Suzannah and the entire Dream Big and Meet Me There staff