All students have checked through security and are ready to depart home!
A Perfect Ending
The Atmosphere is bittersweet at the lodge this morning. Yesterday was our last full day in Ghana. We started our day with breakfast as usual and then headed out to our last ride to the service sight for the opening ceremony. There was a big turnout with about 50 people. It was amazing to see how many people were affected by these two toilets. The ceremony was full of thanks and Hunter and Amar spoke on behalf of GLA. The event really closed the trip well. Once we got back to the lodge, we learned more about Dream Big Ghana. Then we learned about future projects and ways we can help once home. Nomonde and I both shared ways that we felt we could help Dream Big Ghana to build the learning center. Thanks to this program I believe we have the knowledge and skills to effectively carry out our plans once we get home. Then we went on a boat ride down the Volta River in very stylish life jackets. We road along to the sound of drums and singing and danced all the way back to land. After a final game of volley ball we put on traditional Ghanaian attire for dinner where the main course was Richard the goat. Then we gathered with staff and danced before we went to the beach for the bonfire. The bonfire was lovely, it was our final night and our last star gaze. Then we just chilled and listened to music for hours. A perfect ending.
The atmosphere is bittersweet at Meet Me There this morning. Yesterday was our last full day in Ghana. We started our day with breakfast as usual and then headed out for our last ride to the site for the opening ceremony. There was a big turnout with about 50 plus people if you include us. It was amazing to see how many people who will be effected by these two toilets. After a speech Dugal took people to the toilet five at a time to teach them the proper way to use the toilet so the it can be effective. The ceremony was full of thanks coming from both ends, and Hunter and Amar stood up and spook on the behalf of GLA. The families seemed so thankful, I remember Joseph(a new toilet owner) said he was honored to have a toilet. The even really closed out the trip well.
Once we got back to the lodge we all gathered into the summer house where Dugal gave us a very informative talk about Dream Big Ghana. We learned about future projects and ways we can help once we get home. I’m happy we can stay in touch with the program because after living here for two weeks you grow a union with the area and the program that makes you want to stay involved. Nomande and I both shared ways that we felt we could help Dream Big Ghana with building the soon to come learning center, and thanks to this program I believe we have the knowledge and skills to affectively carry out our plans once we get home.
Our lunch was in honor of Oliver because he was leaving that day. We all said nice things about him and he responded with a very touching speech. Then we went on a boat ride down the Volta River in very stylist lifevests. We rode along to the sound of drums and singing. It was about a hour ride and then we stopped at an island for a bit and drunk sodas given to us a s a gift from the families of the toilet owners. We headed back on the boat and danced back to land.
After a final game of volleyball we put on our traditional Ghanian attire for dinner where the main course was Richard the goat. Then we gathered with the staff by the bar and danced before we went to the beach for the bonfire. The bonfire was lovely. It was our final night and our last star gaze. We just chilled and listen to music around the fire for hours, a perfect ending.
Enjoying Our Last Nights In Ghana
We began the day fired up ready for our big football tournament. After a game of hydration pong with Oral Rehydration Sachets (yuk!), we headed over to the local pitch in Dzita. It was sweltering, but everyone made a massive effort and it was a pretty even game until Charlotte’s service team took the lead. After a couple more matches, we headed back to the lodge, ready for our Batik workshop. We learnt how to make tie dye, marbled and batik fabric, which is huge in Ghana. Everyone’s pieces came out amazingly, especially Fiona and Ethan’s! Post Batik, we all collected out fabric pieces which we’d had made into dresses, trousers or shirts (ready for our last night), and then had pizza (there have been a number of fierce ping pong games to secure pizza for one more night for the group!). We finished off the evening with a GLA workshop on Action at Home and a late-night “slumber” session in the Summer House with our group leaders, playing games and enjoying one of our last nights in Ghana.
A Filled Day!
Today, the group finally completed their compost toilets! Despite what looked like rain, we were able to head over to our work sites and finish off final touches, including painting the exterior and cleaning out the inside. Friday was also our lights out day – this meant we had to embrace no electricity or running water for a whole day. To really take advantage of the experience, we also learnt how to farm and cook local cusine, such as Banku and Fufu. Later that day, after some volleyballing during free time, we gathered for a GLA workshop on leadership, before enjoying the stars.
The Slave Fort
We were onto our usual schedule of waking up, having breakfast, and going off to the work site. It was raining a little bit at the work site but we were able to complete the task of painting the door and plastering the stairs for the day. After the work site we had a little bit of free time and then we were off to the tro tro to visit the slave fort. We had Uncle Ralph to tell us some information on one of the structures of slavery before we got to the slave fort. We then had the tour of the slave fort and at the end we were able to write reflections in our journals.
To start off the day we had breakfast at the home base, then moved on to our service site. After four productive hours at the site we came back to the home base for lunch. In between the four hours of working at the site we had a thirty minute break to prepare our presentation for the school we were going to later that day. It was the boys teaching the boys at the school and the girls teaching the girls about sexual education and hygiene. After the lesson we were able to take pictures with the students. We then made our way back to the home base and had dinner of yam balls and egg sauce.
-Ashrine and Nomonde
From Service to the Clear Night Sky
Yesterday, Melody and I shared responsibility as leaders of the day. We had quite a long day as we started off the morning by helping the local fishermen pull in their nets. We met them at 7 after they had already cast out their nets, and gave them some extra muscle power to pull the last 300 meters. We hauled in a decent catch and were nicely rewarded with a pitcher of shrimp. We then returned to the lodge for breakfast before heading to the work sites. At our site we spent most of the day working to plaster the walls. We also set the concrete foundations for the steps that lead up to the eco-compost toilet.
We returned from the work site to a nice lunch before getting to enjoy some ever-valued free time. Some of us got to return to the seamstress to get last minute orders in, while others used their time to have a long swim in the lagoon. We then met just before dinner to plan a presentation for the school children, who we were going to visit the next day. We were heading to a private school in the nearby village to have a discussion with the kids there on a topic of our choice. We brainstormed many topics, from malaria to sanitation to the importance of education, before deciding on sexual education. We agreed to split the guys and the girls and talk about sexual education, as teenage pregnancy has become a very large issue lately. We planned out our presentations until our special dinner was ready. We had pizza and were all very happy to have some more familiar food after days of culinary exploration.
Then came the big event of the night. The Dzita/Agbledomi cultural troop performed for us at the lodge. The troop practices traditional drumming, singing, and dancing. They performed dances with very religious meanings for them. It was impressive to see the passion they had in their performances and the preservation of their culture. We were invited to join them in dancing at the end of the performance, which was a very special experience. We ended the night laying on the beach, watching the stars. Since there are fewer lights at night here, the stars are extremely vibrant. We were able to see part of the Milky Way and many shooting stars, a great end to a great day.
– Ben Millar
Lessons on Village Life
On Sunday, Youssef and I led the group. We woke everyone up and ate breakfast. After, we gathered our WITS (water, insect repellent, toilet paper, sunscreen) and met up in the Summer House. The quote we presented to the group was, “A team is only as strong as it’s weakest player.” This suited the group well, because we always work as a team and we recognize that each person has different skills to contribute. We played some games to get everyone warmed up and then headed off to work. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling well and had to leave early. However, the group got a lot done, adding the last few layers of bricks to the compost toilet structure.
We ate lunch and prepared for a meeting/Q&A with one of the five Dzita village chiefs, Hatchu. He was accompanied by his wife and another chief of the village. Hatchu explained his role as chief, and spoke about his involvement in the government. We got to ask questions about his personal life, learning that he loves to watch football and be with family. After the meeting, our Mentor Ashley did a presentation for us about Malaria. I learned that Malaria is the number one killer in all of Africa, and that it is important to continue taking medicine after the trip because the parasite can stay in the body for weeks at a time.
Later, we headed to the volleyball court to practice our skills. Some of us sat and watched while others played. We gathered for dinner as Youssef and I prepared for our presentation on malnutrition. We spoke about the causes, like lack of access to proteins and overcooking foods (causing them to lose nutrients), and some of the symptoms. A child with a bloated belly but small arms and legs likely has a protein deficiency. Also, sagging skin and hair loss can be signs of malnutrition. Some treatment options are protein enriched porridge, or eating complete proteins, like a combination of rice and beans. To lighten the mood after a tough presentation, we played a big card game with everyone in the group. As teenagers tend to be easily distracted, the game didn’t last for too long, but we still had fun. Ashley’s group went to the barn to play with the puppies for reflections. Puppy therapy is best way to end a long day.
Being the leader of the day can be a tough job. However, working together with your team mate makes everything easier and more productive. I’m glad I got this experience as the leader, and the most important thing I learned was that being patient is one of the best ways to lead a group.
– Fiona Kavanagh
World Cup Wonders
When I got to be Leader of the Day, it was a great experience. We had a productive day on-site as we began to build the walls. After so much building over the past days we were running out of bricks, so to replenish the stock we got to mold bricks. The process involves using a wooden mold with stick pegs to compact a mixture of sand, cement, and water into bricks. We then leave the molds out to dry. While working, the following question was posed, “What happens if it rains?” and it was answered with “Then that’s bad news.”
A slip in the weather could ruin an entire days work in Ghana because of their tools and processes, but Ghanaians appreciate hard work as I have noticed. As they pass us working we will often hear “Iyiku” to which we respond (when we remember what it means) “I-A”. Ghanaians enjoy fun as much as we do, and more specifically football.
Last night was the Ghana vs Germany game so everyone at Meet Me There, especially the staff, was very excited. Thanks to Tigo, we all had Ghana shirts, and Charlotte made sure we all had face paint of red, gold, and green flags and black stars. The BEST face paint design was worn by Frank and designed by Nomande and me. Our decked-out spirit wear was accompanied by horns, whistles, and cheers as the game began. We did the wave and shouted “Hose Ghana” as we all packed in close with the staff and a few of the other guest at Meet Me There. When Ghana scored everyone went crazy, especially the staff. They were running all around, picking each other up, someone threw a soccer ball, and horns were blowing for at least 3 minutes. It was a moment of pure happiness that I was happy to observe.
The fun didn’t end there. At halftime both Mentor groups performed a dance with the moves we learned earlier that day from an Alzonto lesson directed by Ballatelli, Mama Rita, and Abby. The lesson was really fun and it was very cool to learn modern Ghanaian dance styles from the staff, who are all really good dancers. They helped fuel our halftime show and lead my team to victory! I just wish Ghana could have done the same in the football game, but at least they tied.
Two Reflections on Building Healthy VillagesA Learning Experience Parallel to None
The day started out with tons of anticipation to start our service project, but first we had to learn a bit about what we were doing. We started with a little background information provided by Dougal about Dream Big Ghana, the NGO we were working with, followed by a tour of a completed eco-compost toilet and how it works. Then the group took our Ghana fabrics to Auntie and her sewing school and were fitted for our various African clothes. Then, after lunch the real work started.
Here is what our Leader of the Day, Hunter, had to say about it:
“The heat, mosquitoes, and intense labor were evident from just the beginning of the day, yet it was not merely enough to ruin the untamed beauty that is Ghana. Luckily, I had the opportunity to lead our group through the challenges that were presented to us, such as constructing the base of the eco-compost toilet. Although it was a daunting task, we had the support of our directors (Ashley, Barnaby, Charlotte, and Dougal) to guide us through the day. In addition to our directors, we had the amazing help our Balotelli and Jasper, which without them, the task would be impossible. In its totality the day was a learning experience parallel to none other.”
Leading the Day
It was a joyous experience being leader of the day.
Today started with a nice breakfast, followed by an efficient day at the work site. During our service we got to have fresh delicious coconut water and coconut to hydrate and fuel ourselves for more work. After work, we ate lunch and then played a staff vs student volleyball game, which was the perfect combination of competition, cultural exchange, and fun. After that we all jumped in the lagoon to cool off. Once clean and dry, we took a walk to see all the Ghanaian herbal medicine and had an Ewe language lesson. It was great. Then we ate dinner with our hands and got to play some Ping-Pong.
T’was a day well done.
‘Sleeping in Late’ is all Relative
Thankfully our directors took pity on us and we got a bit of a lay in this morning. We had breakfast at 8 am and started sessions at 8:45. First things first, the icebreaker game “pole, tandem, Princess;” nothing like jumping into each others arms and throwing each other down on the ground to break down the awkward boundaries. Next we played the alliteration name game to master each other’s names. The rest of the morning mainly consisted of the boring orientation stuff- code of conduct, house rules, community standards- intermixed with some fun games and pick-me-ups. One all star student, our GLA alum Hunter, even lead us in a team-building exercise game he had up his sleeve, which provided lots of laughs.
After a taste of a typical local lunch by our excellent cooking staff we headed to a local market. What an experience! There were so many new things around, and to introduce the students to some of the highlights we sent them on a scavenger hunt. Many items on the list they had never heard of before and they had to figure it out with the aid of our local staff. After finding local brooms and snacks, all the students went searching for traditional fabrics. Tomorrow we will go to Auntie, a seamstress, and get clothes made. Once returning to the home lodge, we had a bit of time before dinner, so we stuck up a volleyball game with some of the local staff. It was a blast, a high of the day for many of the students! We were so sweaty after the game we all jumped into the lagoon with all our clothes on to rinse off before dressing for dinner. The lagoon is amazing!
Following dinner, we created our group flag edition of a full value contract. Our international director, Charlotte, led us in identifying the fruits and roots of our community, what we want our community to become and what we all must bring to the table to achieve those goals, and we all signed it. Then we split into our mentor groups to debrief the day and reflect in our journals. Finally we ended the day by getting caught in a downpour on the beach. Great start to an amazing trip!
Hurray! We’ve all arrived! After a very long travel day, and a 12-hour difference in arrival time, we are ready to hit the road running. The local and international directors met most of the students at the airport, starting at 5 am. We were lucky enough to mingle a bit with the other GLA Ghana group a bit and grab a bite to eat before the next round of pick-ups from the airport. A pit stop at the Accra mall to exchange money and pick up snacks, and around 4 pm we hit the road for the 3-hour drive to the home base. Students were given a bit of time to settle into their rooms before dinner and after dinner, and it was generally a quite evening of jet-leg and getting-to-know-yous. The last student arrival was picked up around 6 pm and after a little bit of a misadventure involving a delayed flight and a dead car battery, we finally met up with the group at the home base around 2 am; the rest of the group were sleeping soundly. With the group all together, the real fun starts tomorrow!
– Ashley Randall, GLA Program Mentor