Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Can you believe how long it’s been since we were all sitting together covered in sweat and cement dust eating a delicious lunch prepared by Mama Rita and the kitchen crew? I hope you have been having a wonderful time since I last saw you and I hope you have been sharing all the wonderful memories you made in Ghana. If you ever wonder if the you made an impression on the community here, know this: Jaspar, Papa, and Gloria often yell “Just do it” even in you ask for something mundane, like “Can I please get napkins?” The bargaining crab has made and appearance at more than one dance party since you left. And, Dora said that if we wanted to, we could start calling her Alex!!! Obviously, there is only one Alex, so the new nickname didn’t stick, but just goes to show how much love the Ghanaian staff (an all of us) have for the original, the one and only, Alex. Achoo was proud to show our second and third groups how tall his tomatoes have grown, thanks to all the watering you did. Recently some very official men stopped by and Boots informed me that they were here to learn more about the compost toilets and he was about to go show them one. “Oh,” I said, “you are going to sexy, Number 50?” Nope. They were going to sexier, Number 51! That’s right, Ballo’s toilet is on the tour route! All the hard work of that group, including “MergenChristine Cho” will now set the standard for future builds.
Want to hear some more exciting news from the gang at Meet Me There? The MMT family is about to get a little bigger. Mama Rita is pregnant! It’s true and everyone is so happy for her.
I hope you yavus are all doing well and can’t wait for our paths to cross again in the future.
Summer Blog Posts
June 28, 2016
Our students have all safely arrived in Ghana! While it was a long journey, everyone arrived happy and excited for the next two weeks ahead. We are all settling in nicely to our beautiful home here in Dzita. Our local staff have been amazing in preparing for and welcoming our students, and we are all so fortunate to be here! After some much needed rest, we toured the community and learned about the NGO we are working with, Dream Big Ghana. The students are looking forward to getting to know their new home for the next two weeks and the adventures ahead!
Enjoying our first breakfast together in Ghana!
July 1, 2016
Today was a busy, but great, day. First, like all of our mornings here, we started off with a delicious breakfast, courtesy of Mama Rita, and then headed off to a long, hot day of service. After mixing cement and cutting rebar, we were thankfully able to cool off in the lagoon. Then, after cleaning the cement and sand off ourselves, we headed to see one of Ghana’s medical clinics, Anyanyanui, and were taken aback by what we saw in comparison to what we all take for granted back home. For our next afternoon activity, we visited a local seamstress, Auntie, and picked out the designs for the clothing we are having made with Ghanaian fabric. We finally headed back to home base and enjoyed yet another delicious meal and were able to relax under the stars for the rest of the night.
– Catherine McDonnell and Bridget Bruneau
July 2, 2016
Today was a very hard working day at the sites, which consisted of constant water breaks. We stared the day off strong with French toast and fruits and were off to our work sites. For the third working day, we were determined to add four layers of bricks on top of the dried cement from yesterday. At all of the sites the community surrounding tries to communicate with us. Whether that be helping out with the heavy lifting, talking to us while we practice our Ewe, or little kids practicing their English by repeatedly saying “water”. Once we got back we were able to jump into the lagoon and cool off. Then, lunch was served, which included evivi (tasty) avocado wraps and French fries.
After lunch we went on an herbal medicine walk. We learned that many people in Ghana use these practices, because there is an unequal balance between supply and demand when it comes to hospitals and treatment. As a result, many Ghanians go to herbal specialists. Constipation, headaches, and even Malaria can be treated with certain roots and leaves indigenous to Ghana.
After dinner we watched three videos including a Ted talk called, “A Single Story” as well as two 3 minute long comedy videos. All three videos commented on the lack of accurate representation regarding Africa throughout the world. We shared comments and sparked conversation regarding race, racism, white supremacy, stereotypes, and wealth. We came to the conclusion that all over the world there are different ways of living and we can’t judge different ways of life just because they are unfamiliar to us. All in all it was another eventful day in Ghana, leaving all of us thirsty for tomorrow’s upcoming adventures.
– Maxine and Duke
July 3, 2016
Today was different compared to the normal days we have had. Instead of working on the compost toilets, we started the morning off with visiting a slave fort about an hour away from the home base. At the fort, we saw the terrible environment that housed hundreds of people on a daily basis before they we shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. It opened our eyes to a different perspective on this part of history since we are usually only familiar with where they ended up instead of where they started. I think many of us found it interesting to see this side of the story because it often isn’t heard when we live so far away from it.
After the tour around the fort, we drove back to have lunch and a little free time before heading back out again to play soccer with some of the locals. Many of us felt like we were going to do really bad but we had so much fun that many of us didn’t care if we had won or lost. When arriving, we were greeted by a bunch of children that just grabbed our hands and walked with us to the soccer matches. We were split into four teams which had a mix of locals (including staff from our home base) and students. We each played two games to decide the winner which was an exciting game that ended in penalty kicks. When we weren’t playing, we sat with the children and they taught us some of the games that they normally play. They were also interested in what items we had brought with us, especially our phones. After the match the children grabbed our hands again and walked with us back to the cars.
We ate a nice dinner and then had our evening activity. A community nurse came and talked about what she does on a regular basis and taught us what it takes to be involved in healthcare. She talked to us about what the government in Ghana supplies to families when planning/having a child. The talk ended late so we were all dead tired and headed to bed.
-Sarah and Will
July 4, 2016
Our day started with a delicious omelet and toast for breakfast. After we went out for service. After finishing 8 layers of bricks, we went back to the home base and had pasta, rice, and an exquisite Ghanaian sauce for lunch. We had free time after lunch and gathered to come up with few games that we could play with children at the school on Thursday. It was funny how we had to present our games to each other in the end. At dinner we feasted on fish, fried potatoes, and another traditional Ghanaian sauce (spicy mustard sauce). Finally, we concluded our day with a vibrant cultural performance and we were able to get up and dance.
Christine Cho and Carter Bell
July 5, 2016
Tuesday!! Awww so sad that we leave Monday!!! Good morning, it’s 7:30 AM and it’s breakfast time. We had fruit and cereal. Just a normal breakfast but tasty. After breakfast, we went to the sunroom to get all of our stuff ready for service. We were both the leaders of the day. We both made sure everybody got their rooms cleaned up and bed sheets with covers put into the laundry room and keys in the doors. Now we are loading up to go to work on our Eco compost toilets. We started working on the steps to the compost and putting plaster on the side walls. We finished everything that needs to be done for the day. Service day is over and now we are heading back to the home base. It’s lunch, we ate chicken, rice with some tomato sauce and salad. BEST RICE EVER!! After lunch we went to a workshop at a college and we made like designs on fabric to make pillows or anything you want out of the fabric. Everyone made something that is awesome and that someone else’s wants there design. We stayed there for 2 and half hours to make the designs. Everybody did something different. 3 groups did tie and dye (tie dye), they call it tie and dye. My group did designs with hot wax that is like a stamp on the white fabric. It was fun to meet new people and making something by hand and the most difficult way but it was easy and a long process. It’s totally worth it though!! All of the mentors and directors of GLA wanted pictures. They got there pictures. Dougal came and picked us up in the van and took us back to the home base. We met up in the sunroom for the leaders of the day activity. Dinner time, we ate fries, avocado wraps and salad. After dinner, we had a group activity and we played 2 games that is all about the team working together and communication skills. Appreciation time! That was great and now it’s bed time.
By: Jada & Lauryl
July 6, 2016
After working hard at service we relaxed for a little while and then went to the market. At the market we were given a list of items for our scavenger hunt to pick up stuff the lodge needed and to practice our Ewe with the merchants. When we finished the scavenger hunt we could all walk around and buy souvenirs to bring back home. Afterwards we all sat around and ate the new snacks we had just bought. Then we drove back and played a group activity and ate dinner.
Tatjana and Aliya
July 7, 2016
Today started out with two wonderful things: first, everyone seemed to be feeling healthy, and we had a full team of hungry breakfast eaters! Second, the resident cat at Meet Me There lodge had four little adorable kittens! We ate our delicious breakfast of chocolate crepes and fruit, and headed off to the work sites. At the site, most groups worked on building the stairs of their compost toilets or plastering them. We got back to home base at around 12:30, and ate yummy noodles for lunch. Right after lunch was finished, we left for the Kris Gleeson International school, where we would play our planned activities with the junior high school students. This was tons of fun, and we were all pretty tired after running around! The perfect remedy for our grogginess was a swim in the lagoon. We laughed for a while, and then got out to eat dinner. Mama Rita cooked wonderfully as always, and Papa’s pineapple daiquiris came in handy when a certain few of us tried some very spicy peppers. Then we got in our pajamas, grabbed our pillows, and got ready to watch the Lion King!! We were all SO excited. The night only got better when Tigo brought us all ice cream, and Mama Rita made popcorn!! After the movie was over, we told scary stories. It was a really great day, and we all went to bed excited for service in the morning!
Alex and Maia
July 8, 2016
Bridget and Marie reporting here.
Today was a great day. For service we worked on painting the door and mixed shells and an unnamed mix to create the back doors for the compost toilet. Our afternoon activity was farming and cooking Achoo, a boss man, showed us his giant fair. We helped him water plants (tomatoes and spring onions) an using the well was most definitely Marie’s favorite because she does not have a well at her service site. The amazing kitchen staff taught us how to make the famous red sauce that is a staple here. Besides the red sauce we learned how to make fun (a traditional Ghanaian dish). We even got to pound the cassava and planting in order to make the fun. In the evening the group planned out “thank you’s” for Tiga and many others. Some creative ideas were in the air and the group participated in writing heartfelt note to Jasper, Ballo, Bots, Tigo, Papa, Mama Rita, and the kitchen staff. It was overall a pretty great day except for the fact that the electricity went out but at this point the whole group is used to it. the trip is almost over, a fact which is a double edged sword in that many people are sad to part and the like hood of being able to se any of this people is a revelation that many people have accepted and lament over.
-Marie and Bridget
July 9, 2016
Today was a very eventful day full of painting, singing, dancing, and drumming. We started off the day an hour later, thankful for the extra sleep, and then walked to service which really made us miss our van. Once we all arrived to our work sites we began painting our compost toilets and applied all the finishing touches. After applying the final coats of paint we took in our hard work and headed back to base for lunch and then an amazing drumming and dancing lesson. The group Kilili Africa came all the way from Accra to teach us how to drum, sing, and dance. We had a station of drumming where we repeated beats from the group and sang a song about fire in harmonies. The other station was a dance lesson where we learned a specific choreography for a song called Bajo, which means “come and dance”. After a dinner break we all gathered by the stage and watched the group perform. Many people from the community gathered together to watch the men do what they do best. It was truly a magical and unforgettable performance.
Catherine and Maxine
July 10, 2016
Today we celebrated the finished toilets with an opening ceremony. We had a late breakfast because it didn’t have to start until 10. The families that will be using all three toilets were present for the event and were taught how to properly use the toilets and the benefits of having the compost. We all had some pretty cool Dream Big Ghana shirts to wear too so I think we all felt pretty cool. After the opening ceremony, we visited the other two toilets to take pictures and see our names on the side of the building. Everyone was so excited to see the finished product and truly witness how much a group of high school students can do in a couple of weeks. Apart from being excited, we were all sad to know that our time here in Ghana was almost over. I know several of us have said that we didn’t want to go home yet and the ceremony really made us realize that we only had 1 day left with our new lifelong friends.
After the ceremony, we went back to the lodge for lunch and to do our final group activity to show our appreciation for one another. Then we got ready to go on a boat ride down the Volta River. We started the voyage right down the road with a nice selection of drums and people in the back of the boat to bring music to the beautiful sights. The river was beautiful and like nothing we had seen before. After a short ride, we stopped at a beach where we took pictures and laughed so much. The 30 minutes on the beach was ended and we headed back out on the river to go home.
After getting back to the lodge, we had a special birthday to celebrate! Alex was turning 17 so what better way to celebrate then the tradition in Ghana of throwing egg, flour, and water on the lucky person. We were all excited to celebrate her birthday and I think that will be one to remember for her.
Next we changed into the African clothing that we got personally made for each of us and got ready to have our final dinner. Before eating, the group gave out gifts to the staff members to show them how much we care. Then we ate with the staff and even had a birthday cake at the end for Alex.
After dinner, we had a bonfire on the beach and enjoyed each other’s company. We sang songs and remembered the trip as a whole.
I don’t think we could have asked for a better last day or a better two weeks in general. I think we can speak for the group in saying that we will always remember this experience and each other.
-Sarah and Christine