Time Capsule Letter
My GLA Ghana was…
Gbo na (beautiful)
Two weeks of sweating in the sun, lifting bricks, and trying your hand at mastering plastering…what a great way to start the summer.
Your enthusiasm and hard work helped build three sexy toilets for the residents of Dtiza. 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 Bernard, Jasper, and Balo at 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!
-Abby and Suzannah
Saturday June 22, 2019
On this first day of arrivals, we welcomed two lovely ladies to Ghana!
They are both happy to be here and will have a chance to settle in tonight before meeting the rest of the group members who are unfortunately delayed.
We are looking forward to having full group soon and then the fun and hard work can fully start!
Stay tuned for more updates!
-Suzannah Crandall – International Director
Sunday June 23, 2019
What a day! Our 13 students who were delayed in New York finally arrived and were total and complete troopers as we got things rolling. After a few hours in the morning to catch our breath, and a wonderful lunch of traditional Ghanaian food, we were off and running. Students and local staff got to know each other and shared cultural norms. These are important things to remember, like never wave or greet someone with your left hand and never smell food that is given to you, as we’re developing the service projects and interacting with our community. We also got to know our host foundation, Meet Me There and Dream Big Ghana, better and why our service project is part of such an important initiative.
Local staff led us on a tour of the town, through the cassava (yucca), okra, and tomato fields, the school that serves 600 students, and finally to a house compound with a finished compost toilet, the exact same as we will be building. We finished to tour with a round the lagoon/beach tour. It was great to get to know all the participants of our Building Healthy Village program and start building a solid team. Now, finally, it’s time to catch up on some sleep!
Monday June 24, 2019
Today was our first real day immersing ourselves into the culture of Ghana. After well needed sleep, we started building the EcoSan toilets. Over the next two weeks, three groups will fully complete three toilets. We attempted to carry water buckets on our head, placed a few layers of bricks, and cement plastered the walls. The weather was hot but we’re off to a great start.
Later in the day, the chief of a village just down the road came to speak with us. He explained what life is like here and answered all of our questions for a few hours. After giving us all his knowledge and some life advice, we were off to a volleyball game with local kids. There were no rules, but there was lots of laughter. This was the perfect day to start off, and we’re so excited to see what the next two weeks bring.
By Annika Throne and Laurel Whidden
Tuesday June 25, 2019
Today was the third full day of the trip. In the morning one of the groups shadowed a local health nurse while the other two groups continued their work on the compost toilets. The group went to the health center with the nurse where they learned about various diseases in more detail such as the true interactions of malaria, the transmission of typhoid, and local planned parenthood.
The other two groups filled the base of the toilets with a mix of sand, concrete, water, gravel, and dirt, requiring strong teamwork and perseverance and determination. After lunch, the head nurse visited home base and held a discussion about local and public health, sharing experiences, goals, an comparisons in global health. After a group reflection, the students bonded during a long free time before eating another delicious meal and a travel discussion. The rain cooled off the; heat but did not stop us from having another amazing day.
By Jihun Han and Sophia Christoff
Wednesday June 26, 2019
Hello! Kicking off our day with building compost toilets we came back to the homebase filthy, sweaty and tired. However, despite our want to just jump in the shower, we did not have before our Ghanian lunch (rice and red red). After eating, we all cleaned up and readied ourselves for our afternoon adventure.
The afternoon was spent exploring the local weekly market and were challenged to buy items like brooms, tomatoes, and ginger. Following this, we visited the fabric booths and purchased various unique patterns and designs. After an eventful day, we hung out and ate dinner.
-by Elliot Lee and Kennedy Allen
Thursday June 27, 2019
Today all the groups except for group 1 went to work on the compost toilets. Group 1 went to the Anyanui health center to learn how they work. The group members tried different things, such as checking the pregnant ladies’ baby’s heartbeat and registering the medication given to the patients. The groups that were building the compost toilets were able to build the base of the stairs and complete the walls.
During the afternoon, we did a beach clean up. Each person had a 4Ocean bag to collect plastic and we had a mini competition amongst each other to see who could collect more trash. Everyone was able to collect at least half a bag of trash, although Loic collected a full bag and won a prize.
After a sweating afternoon, all of the girls and Kyle went to the lagoon to relax. The lagoon water was warm and so we swam and took a lot of pictures.
-by Francisca Nabais and Kieran Johnson
Friday June 28, 2019
Today marks a week since, our GLA family headed to the airport, met each other for the first time, and shared a memory filled, 2 day adventure in the New York Airport. However it feels so much longer! We all feel as though we have known each other for weeks!
All of us finished another successful day of building the composting toilets. I think by now, all three groups have the foundation of the toilet. However, there is sooo much more to do. After meeting back at Meet Me There lodge for lunch, we all hopped in the van for an hour to the Keta Slave Fort. We toured there for about 30 minutes, and then hopped in the van and drove to the Lighthouse! After a steep climb to the top of the lighthouse, we headed over to a local bead shop and bought Ghanaian bracelets and necklaces. There were so many options and so little time!
But we all left satisfied. After a calm night drive filled with the amazing smells of the locals cooking, we arrived back at the lodge and ate dinner. As usual, we laughed and shared our stories. The excitement continued with a cultural dance that was the cherry on top of the sundae. I feel as though we all bonded with the staff and locals more than we have the whole trip. So amazing.
Overall, we had another great day. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
By Kyle Christoff
Saturday June 29, 2019
This morning we went to our work sites like usual. Most groups continued to plaster the outside walls and lay the steps down for the bathroom. It was our hottest day in Ghana so far, and we were all craving some ice cream. After, we had lunch then rested after the hard morning of work. Everyone then headed to the recreational field.
Upon arrival, we noticed that this field was unlike any other field we’ve seen. It was a barren plot of land with a few soccer nets, basketball hoops, and a volleyball net. First, the GLA girls played against the local girls team. Unfortunately, they lost 0-1 but didn’t humiliate themselves too much. The boys then played against the GLA staff and community boys’ team.
They got absolutely demolished with a score of 0-3. We all moved on to play a tiring game of volleyball where we lost the first two but won the last. Our fun and busy day of activities ended with a beautiful sunset walk back to our transportation. We ended our night with a healthy dinner then some free-time games before bed. In all, today was a fun and adventurous day that brought us all even closer together.
– by Rohan and Marley
Sunday June 30, 2019
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Today was an absolute scorcher and a day full of a variety of activities. Usually after breakfast split up into three groups and all go to our separate sites. Today, however Ms. Suzannah (our program leader) told us that we would be collaborating and working on the Sahara site. The morning consisted of shoveling and carrying pans of clay while playing fun games with the local children of Dzita.
Later in the afternoon, we went to a Batik workshop. Batik is a form of fabric making where you use hot wax to make patterns. We had loads of fun (played a few rounds of Heads Up) and made some really cool patterns and pieces of art.
In the evening, we watched and analyzed a TED talk given by the most amazing Nigerian author Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie called Danger of a Single Story. Today was a very fulfilling day and the hard work at the Sahara payed off by the relaxing and fun Batik workshop and it was all capped off by the amazing TED talk.
Til next time,
Loic Plunier and Inadum Monale Sira-Wiwa
Monday July 1, 2019
We woke up this morning fairly exhausted from our intense work day yesterday but we powered up on pancakes and went to work on our compost toilets. At the sites, we built the stairs, the roof, and finished the floor of our toilets. When we returned from the sites to the lodge, we got to relax and swim in the lagoon.
After enjoying a relaxing afternoon, we went to the local school to check out the compost toilet systems there. They were a great example for us and motivated us to work harder on our toilets. We then went to the soccer fields to play a couple of games of soccer and volleyball and interacted with the children. We made lots of friendships and bonds with the locals.
We had an amazing day and we’re sad our trip is coming to an end.
-by Eduardo Herrera and Sophia Shahin
Tuesday July 2, 2019
Today was a fun and relaxing day. After another great breakfast, we headed to work where we sanded and painted the walls of our toilets. The light work gave us time to bond with each other and the locals as we put finishing touches on the toilets. We are often joined by local kids at the worksites who want to join us and share hugs and high fives. After lunch, Days For Girls a non-profit organization focused on public health and female hygiene, came to educate us on the work that they do in partnership with Meet Me There.
We then enjoyed the rest of afternoon free time taking some alone time, sleeping by the lagoon, and playing ping-pong with the staff. The lagoon was very peaceful and calm while the ping-pong matches were intense.
Later in mentor groups, we reflected on our experience thus far, personal growth, and goals for the last few days. Many of the goals were centered around the group because of how close we have become in our short time in Ghana.
After a relaxing day we look forward to our last few days here making more memories and sharing more amazing experiences.
-by Laurel Whidden and Sophie Christoff
Wednesday July 3, 2019
Today was our last official work day. We all went to our work sites and wrote our names on the wall of our compost toilets. It was very satisfying to see our final product.
Most of the groups used extra work time on the site to rehearse for our talent show tomorrow. After lunch, we all went to the seamstress to check out the clothes we ordered and try them on. Everyone was very happy with what they received. In the afternoon we also had music and dance lessons taught by some of the members of the local band, including Ballo (one of our masons) and our lifeguard. We learned how to play the drums and sing a popular local song. We also learned how to dance.
After dinner, we had a bonfire on the beach, a nice and cozy way to enjoy one of our last nights here at Meet Me There Lodge. Everyone came down to the beach, including the staff and we all shared stories and just relaxed.
We are all very sad to leave this beautiful country and are going to miss each other and the staff very much.
-by Francisca Nabais and Kennedy Allen
Today was a good last full day in Dzita. We started this day the usual way and then went to the Kalala Latrine to celebrate the opening of our freshly built compost latrines. At the ceremony we met many of the people that will be using the latrine. The toilets turned out wonderfully. That was followed by a boat trip and a fun lunch with some activities at Pap’s restaurant. We finished the fun day out by playing some jeopardy and modified Pictionary to help reflect some on our experiences in Ghana.
The past two weeks have been an awesome experience for all of us. We are so happy with how the latrines turned out and all the new things we’ve learned: ewe language, public health, life of a chief and many more. We have really bonded as a team and we are sad to leave. Today was a day where we closed off this program and enjoyed everyone’s company. We said our initial goodbyes and ended the trip with everyone together.
Good night Ghana!
By: Inadum Monale Sira-Wiwa
Friday July 5, 2019
Two weeks, three compost toilets built, and countless smiles and hugs from the kids…
To our whole group, thank you for your incredible contribution to the Dream Big Ghana sanitation project. We truly appreciate your enthusiasm and hard work the past two weeks.
From all of us here on the ground, have a great rest of your summer and remember to keep dreaming big.