Dear Anloga Session 2,
It’s hard to believe that the months have passed by so quickly. We trust you are all settled into your home lives and are in your groove.
The home base got so quiet without you. Remember sharing good talks and laughter around the family table? Hearing the all-day rooster and the constant sounds in the street? The walks to Avete, figuring out your lessons and teaching your first class? “Killing the roaches” and making sexy bricks? What do you think Eric from Avete and Justice from Anseco are doing today? The classroom are still filled with your smiles and we can still hear your students shouting C-O-C-O-N-U-T!
Have you told people about the new foods you tried? Fan Ice, boiled yam, really fresh mango, cassava fries, palava sauce and Top Choco? Oh and let’s not forget about Mr. T, Perks & vanilla wafers in the red and yellow packaging! Have you tried making egg stew again?
So many moments! Remember the late night convos with your roomate, early morning meditations and blindfolded beach walk? What about the monkeys and the pool party in Ho? Feeling the spray of the Wli falls? And what about our very own cheerleader squad? Remember volleyball at Maranatha beach and seeing where the Volta river meets the ocean?
Then there was meeting Jeremiah and connecting with the boys at Father’s House? Going through Keta Fort and being silent in dungeons? Hearing about Mother’s Heritage work with girls, and seeing the gods in the shrine? Do you remember watching the storm move in across the mountains in Ho then the double rainbow?
Then there was the many guitar sing-alongs in the common room. Warm and fuzzies, laundry parties and walks to the store for ice cold Fanta. All the times we were in circle for something. What about the designing your beautiful outfits and batiks, decorating the white board and chanting to Dancing Queens as you shook off the day at the DPs! And what in the world are Larry and Linda up to these days?
Thank you for all these memories and more! Thank you for sharing your stories with us and opening up the harder places. We hope your efforts towards your personal and group OMGs have been fruitful. May you continue to let go of the things that no longer serve you and welcome in the things that bring you happiness.
Sending you each a big warm woooosh from our heart to yours!
Debra, Lisamarie & Hannah
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Saturday July 20, 2019
Miawoezo! Our first group of students have arrived safely! After a quick stop to exchange money to GHC (Ghana cedis) our group began the 2.5-3 hour drive to our new home in Anloga for the next 21 days! Amidst sharing favorite foods and hometowns, students discussed what connected them and also what made them unique. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Akshay and Jasleen to complete our family! Our adventure begins now!
Sunday July 21, 2019
Welcome to the GLA Blog for the Children of Africa flagship program in Ghana, the dates for this program is July 20 – August 9. Today was the first full day that we, the students, spent immersing ourselves in Ghanaian culture and food. The food here at the home base is absolute perfection. We all had our full orientation of the GLA code of conduct and the proper customs the locals have, for example that we should wave with our right hand rather than our left.
The staff is amazing; they make this experience so comfortable. They make all the students feel safe and secure at a new home away from home by using creative methods to teach us the rules and checking up on students individually to make sure that we are doing well both physically and mentally.
Today at lunch we had met people from the community like teachers in the local schools. In groups of three, we ate with our host families in order to appreciate the differences between their lifestyle and our own. The students then went to the sandlot to play ultimate Frisbee. Kids of all ages from the community joined in and really made the game complete. We got to meet children like Fred, Godwin, Salem, and many more.
The students split back into their respective groups and went off to visit their host family’s home, which was the overall favorite part of the day. We learned the months in Ghana through a song, and that there are 13 months in Ghana with the same amount of days in a year. We then went to the Market, since today happens to be market day. We were able to see all the different products sold and the differences between Ghanaians and Americans. We then went back to our host family’s home and played soccer with the adorable children that were there.
Back at home base we relaxed with each other and shared our own experiences, while the two mentors checked on each of us individually to ensure that we were emotionally and physically healthy. We then started getting ready for dinner by gathering in a circle and giving shout outs to other students. We also have our first two leaders of the day for Monday. After we have conversed while eating the amazing food in the dining hall, we received our Ewe names which are given based off the day one was born as well as memorable events that might have occurred on that day as well, such as an eclipse.
When the ceremony ended we went into the supply room to create our own “warm and fuzzy cards” where people write notes that make someone feel good and slip it into the card. Then off to bed we went, showering and changing in our rooms. Today was an amazing day to start off the program!
Monday July 22, 2019
Dear friends and family,
Today was packed with adventure and learning. We got up at 7:00 for breakfast and headed to our work sites at 8:00. Once we got there we learned how to make bricks the schools will use for new classrooms. We then had some free time to play with the kids before we went into our classrooms. Many of us were able to learn some new Ghanaian games from the children! At noon we headed back to home base to have a yummy lunch of macaroni and chicken as well as pineapple, we even got to try two traditional dishes.
After lunch we were split into two group. Our group had Wi-Fi time so we were able to talk to our families while the other group headed to an island tour. After our Wi-Fi time was over we went to “Fathers House” a local foster home for children of child slavery. It was very fun and interesting to learn about their experiences while also playing on the beach with the kids!
For dinner we had couscous and watermelon and sat with our teaching partners to debrief about our first day experience of teaching. After dinner we had an evening discussion about education in Ghana and got tips on how to teach in the classroom. Then it was off to bed to rejuvenate for tomorrow!
Love and miss you all,
Celia and Grace
Thursday July 25, 2019
Hi friends and family! We had a super busy day today! When we woke up we ate eggs, oatmeal, and mangos. Then we went to school, it was the kids last day which was super fun because we got to play games and sing songs all morning. After lunch we went to a traditional Anloga market. We bought fabrics and other souvenirs. Later that day, we all went to the seamstress and got fitted for our personalized clothing. Then we returned home. After dinner, Jeremiah, a founder of Father’s House, led a group discussion. He told us how Father’s House was founded and shared a few morning meditations. This led a follow up talk about what we can do in our community to make an impact. Today was a great day and we are all doing splendid!
Lot of life,
Emma + Leah
Sunday July 28, 2019
This weekend we visited Ho, which is 2.5 hours from homebase in Anloga. When we got to Ho we went to the Kekeli foundation which advocates for children with disabilities. They work to get them into public schools and normalize disabilities. It was very inspiring to see a group of people working to help others.
Next, we went to the Lady Volta Green Energy School where we learned about batik cloth, a way of dyig cloth using wax. Money raised from selling the batik goes to the school which trains women in electric work as a form of employment.
On Saturday we went bananas for monkeys! At the monkey sanctuary, the monkeys would sit on our shoulders to eat bananas out of our hands. We then went straight to Wli waterfall. On the hike to the waterfall we saw coffee, cocoa and mango plants. The waterfall was very beautiful. Even those who didn’t go in got soaking wet from the mist off the waterfall. When we got back to the hotel, we had fun at the pool!
On Sunday before our journey home we learned about Kente weaving and got to try it ourselves! When we arrived back at homebase in the afternoon, we were greeted by laughing children eager to play. What a great weekend of adventure and seeing new parts of Ghana. We can’t wait for more experienced!
-by River and Thalia
Tuesday July 30, 2019
Hey family and friends! Greetings from Ghana! Today marks day 11, which is the halfway point of our program. We have loved every moment, and have had lots of fun in these past two days.
We started off Monday (July 29) with a wonderful day of service where we built bricks and taught our classes. After service we came back to home base and enjoyed a delicious meal. Shortly after, everyone spilt into two groups where one group would do a Leardship activity and the other would do a cooking lesson with Chef Freeheart. In the Leadership activity we talked about benefits and setbacks of community service. We also discussed why we chose this particular program and found the deeper meaning of “the why”.
In the cooking lesson with Chef Freeheart we learned how to make Egg Stew and learned how to cook yams. During the lesson we were able to cut, peel, and cook all the ingredients that were needed. The cooking lesson was absolutely amazing and we can’t wait to do more! After that we had free time and later had dinner. After dinner we watch a documentary regrading salve trade and and what slavery was like in America. The documentary prepared us for our visit to the Fort Prinzenstein.
The following day (Tuesday July 30) started with lots of energy after a great nights sleep and waking up at 9am! We left homebase at 10 o’clock to head off to a wonderful day of teaching (no brick making today)! Coming back from teaching we enjoyed some fresh made local food, including acheke which is similar to couscous, and the free time that followed.
Then we all went on a field trip to the Keta Slave Fort, called Fort Prinzenstein. At Fort Prinzenstein we learned about the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the history of the enslaved, how they were treated, and the process of their transportation to different countries. We were even able to see the cells where the women and men were tortured and held captive. This was a special opportunity, as the rising sea levels have already eroded most of the slave fort, putting the last standing part at risk in the coming years.
We listened to our tour guide sing songs of freedom, still sung today. We stood in silence after entering the dungeon where men would sacrifice their lives for their families, tribes, and villages. After the insightful tour, we took a short car ride to the neighboring beach called Emancipation beach were we relaxed and reflected! We played soccer, had good conversations, and overall enjoyed each other’s company. After our amazing time at the beach we came back to home base and had dinner.
Shortly after dinner we had a reflection about what we saw and heard at the Fort Prinzenstein. In the discussion we talked about how we all were affected by the stories and the continued impact of slavery today. The majority of the group was shocked and got chills from the intensity of the experience. Towards the end of the discussion, mentors passed around a peice of paper where we wrote how we would take action in the area of racism and slavery. With a lot to think about we headed off to bed to get ready for the next day!!
Hede nyuie (Goodbye in Ewe),
Jasleen Kalra and Bali Lavine
P.S. Shoutout to our parents: We miss you and love you so much!!
Thursday August 1, 2019
Happy 1st of August blog! Only 8 days left on the trip not including today (August 1st), but we could stay here forever! We have been learning a lot about the local culture this entire trip, and these past couple of days we have immersed ourselves more then ever.
We visited “Meet Me There” yesterday, a lodge that donates all profits to their NGO called Dream Big Ghana which organizes soccer programs for the community, brings in speakers for the players, and builds compost toilets. We saw the compost toilets that they install in the community and saw the IT classes they run as well. We swam in a saltwater lagoon and relaxed at the resort for the rest of the day. Then, after dinner, a local business man, radio presenter and community leader named Silas led a discussion about local Ghanian issues as well as global ones that affect Ghana and our own communities.
On our first day in August, we returned to the schools to make more bricks and teach, and I think we are all finding our groove within the schools. Our leadership activity today was a simulation where we split into small groups, representing the various stakeholders, to discuss the drilling of oil found in this region of Ghana. It was great to see each and every person participate in the discussion.
Finally, the nighttime event was movie night. We watched Girl Rising, a movie about empowering girls and how education has an impact on the world. It really helped solidify how teaching and learning about education issues help not only the students educational lives but their safety, health, and home lives as well. In less developed nations such as Ghana, and especially in poorer regions, schooling is the key to a lifetime of success and economic growth, and it has been an honor and a privilege to be learning while participating in the schools in Anloga.
-by Akshay and Matan
Saturday August 3, 2019
Dear friends and family,
We can NOT believe it’s already our third and final week. Time really does fly when you’re having fun! Yesterday we started our day as normal; breakfast and then service. After lunch we had a bit of free time and then got the run down on our activities for the afternoon. Our first cultural activity was a scavenger hunt…through the market, with a list in Ewe! In order to decipher the list we had to ask the local sellers for help, many of them would even leave their shops to lead us. The competition was super fun and got extra competitive when we passed members of the teams against us. In the end we all ended up winning and got chocolate bars:) After that we got to visit a local high school and talk with students.
It was amazing to compare our lifestyles and get to know each other, everyone was so kind. Finally it was dinner time, yum! To end the day we got into our mentor groups and had the most amazing conversations. Everyone shared about their lives and what has shaped them into the person they are today. Some of us got very emotional and I know we all bonded a ton. After a full day we headed to bed, it was wonderful to fall asleep knowing we had a late wake up today!
Today we had service an hour late since we didn’t need to teach. We finished making bricks and headed to home base for lunch. Later on we made our way down the Volta lake on a 40 minute boat ride, headed to the beach. We relaxed and played volleyball and soccer with the locals. It was so much fun! On our way back home we watched the beautiful sun set glisten on the water. We had dinner at home base and then settled in for movie night. We watched the movie Slumdog Millionaire, it was great.
We can’t wait to see you all but also never want to leave. Ghana has been the best experience ever!
Grace and Malck
Monday August 5, 2019
Yesterday we started our day with a late breakfast and then had the choice of going to church. For those of us who went it was like nothing we had ever experienced before, there was a ton of music and dancing! At the service we were blessed and welcomed by all.
After it was over we headed back to home base in time for lunch. Lunch was so yummy and after we ate we had some free time to just chill and hang out. The afternoon activity was a leadership exercise called O.M.G (one meaningful goal).
We all looked back on our experience so far and set a goal for ourselves to complete at a specific date, for some the goal was small and for others it was a big dream they wished to accomplish. With a few hours until dinner we headed to the nearby high school for a GLA versus community youth soccer match. For those who don’t love soccer, we cheered on the sidelines.
When the game was over, which we won, we got to see our high school student partners for a few minutes. That evening we ate dinner and then heard Dodzi’s, the Local Director, story. It was so cool to hear about where he came from.
Today we woke up, ate breakfast, and headed to service (as per usual). No one can believe we are already into our last few days of service. We will miss all of our students tremendously! When we arrived back at home base we were greeted by the seamsdresses with our altered clothes.
After lunch we had some WiFi time and got our hair braided by a local hairdresser! In the late afternoon we got to travel to see the chief, a retired high school headmaster and author. It was an incredible experience! We got to learn all about his role in the community and hear his take on the government.
After dinner we had our cultural activity called “The River of Dreams”. We all created our own version of a river with crayons and markers to represent our experience on the trip thus far. There were definitely some tears when we realized just how close to the end we are. When the activity was over we still had an hour until bed so we all hung out before heading to our rooms for lights out.
Hope all is well back home
-Leah and Grace
Wednesday August 8, 2019
We can’t believe that our final few days are here. Yesterday we got up, ate breakfast, and headed to our last day of service. Everyone got to sign a brick they made and both mentor groups made a team brick. When we got back to base we had lunch and then got to listen to our mentors (Hannah and Lisamarie) talk about their experiences with the Peace Corps and a gap year. It definitely inspired a lot of us! After their talks we had a bit of free time to hang out and sing, a shared love among us all.
Before dinner we created a group OMG (one meaningful goal). We decided to commit to raising $300 a piece to continue construction of kindergarten classrooms at one of the local schools. Between now and the new year we will all be fundraising! We then had dinner and were told to get a piece of fabric for a “Top Secret” activity later. After we ate we were all BLINDFOLDED and held hands as the mentors and leaders led us out of home base to what ended up being the beach. On the beach we had a huge bonfire and got to watch the stars while listening to the waves. It was awesome!
Today we had a late wake up because we didn’t need to make bricks. We went to school to hang out with our students and say our goodbyes. Soccer, duck-duck-goose, and dance parties happened all around. It was definitely a tearful goodbye for most, no one wants to leave these incredible kiddos. After lunch we had a ton of time designated to packing up our rooms.
We then got to experience a cultural drumming and dancing performance before our final banquet. We were surprised with tons of food, balloons, and large table with candles! We had a delicious dinner and then were presented scarfs with our names and GLA written on them, now we will always have a piece of Ghana with us. After dinner we had an appreciation circle and watched a slideshow of the last three weeks. We had our final DP (dance party) and then hung out in the common area. No one wants tomorrow to come.
Much love to all!
See you so soon,
Callie and Hanna
COA session 2 2019 has officially come to a close! After a wonderful banquet full of sharing memories, laughs and endless hugs, students went to sleep in their beds for a final time. Upon wake up, last moments were spent with the group in a circle singing songs accompanied by various students playing a guitar lent to us by a teacher at Avete, one of the two schools we worked with this summer. In between smiles were many tears.
Hanging on a pole in the common space was a Gratitude Board that over the 21 days became full of heartfelt sentiments including “I’m grateful for the children in the community”, “I’m grateful for making new friends”, “I’m grateful for dance parties, meditation, and morning work outs”, and “I’m grateful for the community we’ve built”. In the final moments, students were gathered around the board sharing their gratitude in a meaningful and personal way.
In our last circle, a time where we came together each night to share announcements, shout outs and an Ewe word of the day, the group participated in an appreciation activity. This activity allowed students to anonymously tap other students who made them laugh, inspired them, were hardworking and who they can’t wait to see again.
After the third, fourth and fifth hugs were given in the airport, staff watched the students through security as they headed home. We, the staff, are eternally grateful for your commitment to all aspects of the the program, dedication to your service work each day, and intentional effort to build the community you did. For the last 21 days, Pin Drop was filled with love, empathy, and incredible positivity. All 16 of you are on your way to seeing and being the change.