Wednesday June 26, 2019
Here is our first group photo from arrival day here in Ghana! Eight students, Abigail, Anjali, Brittany, Carsen, Hailey, Isabella, Lydia, and Olivia, are not pictured as they are arriving in the next 24 hours, but we’re so excited for them to join the group! We look forward to sharing updates about our service work, cultural experiences, excursions, and leadership learning moments! Check back soon for more updates!
Author: Hannah Block (mentor)
Update: Brittany, Carsen, and Abigail have arrived safely, making our family of leaders closer to being full! We can’t wait to see you, Olivia, Lydia, Anjali, Hailey, and Isabella!
Friday June 28, 2019
Hi Parents!! Sorry we couldn’t get the text through via email – hopefully you all can read this update below! 🙂
Wednesday July 3, 2019
Woezo from Halley, or Akusika!
This morning, July 3, we started our one week anniversary off with some stretches and brickmaking. One group made three bags of cement;the stretching paid off! While one group stayed and taught their classes, the other two went to their school’s music festival. We watched our students perform drum solos, poetry, and choir songs while getting a glimpse into Ghanaian musical culture and what all our students have been working towards. After lunch, we visited the Keta Slave Fort, where we stood in the rooms where the slaves were kept and tortured, and held several moments of silence and group discussions to honor those who had passed through the fort.
To lighten the mood, we headed to a gorgeous beach where we tried some Ghanaian sodas, relaxed in the sand, and danced with playful kids. After coming back to home base and eating a delicious dinner, we spent some time planning tomorrow’s lessons, and discussed our plans for this weekend’s excursion. Today was hot, but we had such a fun and insightful time observing the cultures of the kids we work with, the history of Ghana’s slave trade, and the beautiful landscape of the beaches.
-Written by Halley, Bella, and Gayathri
Thursday July 4, 2019
Happy 4th of July! Today, we started off as usual with brickmaking and teaching at our respective schools. Everyone had lots of fun and now everyone seems to be getting in the flow of teaching. One group even made bricks out of 3 bags of cement! After we ate lunch, we all went to the Home Base of the Building Healthy Villages GLA program to relax, have some sodas (and hibiscus tea) and swim in the “lagoon” they had right outside. We had lots of fun, although one group of kids sunk a canoe in the water. Later that evening after dinner, we all met in our mentor groups to debrief our Keta excursion from the day before. Before heading off to sleep for the night, everyone finished packing for our travel day tomorrow to Ho!
-Lucy, Payton, and Nick
Friday July 5, 2019
Agoo ! The day of July 5, 2019 began with a morning of travel to Ho, Ghana! Upon our 3 hour journey to Ho, we were allowed to get a glimpse into the surrounding cultures beyond the Volta region. We stopped at the Kekeli Foundation where we learned about the struggles Ghanaian families have to uphold when their kids are born with intellectual development disabilities. We also got to meet a few parents and their children which was an eye-opening experience. After stopping at a local grocery store for some snacks, we went to a village exchange where we got to create our own batik using hot wax and dye.
Also at the village exchange, we were able to be educated about the lack of sexual education in the Ghanian school system and how they have created electrical and solar classes that helps empower women to defy the patriarchal culture. We finally arrived at our destination, the SkyPlus Hotel in Ho where we ended our day with free time, a delicious dinner, and a group activity addressing equality vs equity. Overall, the day was informative and exciting as we were able to emerge ourselves in a new environment and plunge deeper into Ghanian culture.
– Keyanah, Ally, and Justine
Sunday July 7, 2019
In the morning before heading back to homebase, we had the opportunity to learn about Kente weaving. Kente means open-close and perfectly describes the process that the weavers use to make the multi-colored, pattern fabrics. We each had a chance to try our hands at the weaving, with support from incredibly impressive men and women.
After a long, three hour drive on bumpy roads from Ho village back to Anloga, we saw an oasis of vibrant fabrics with all different types of unique patterns back at our home base- Pin Drop Hotel. Seamstresses were ready for us after spending a week sewing backpacks, shorts, and countless headbands off of our requests. The tables overflowed with articles of clothing. It was now time to shop. When shopping comes to mind we picture shopping carts, fluorescent lights, cashiers, and set prices but this was nothing like that.
For some this process was simple- we merely had to try on the clothes and say if we needed alterations or if we no longer wanted something. However, prices were suddenly blurred and our tempers slowly simmered. Both sides got a little defensive- the customer didn’t want to be ripped off and neither did the seamstresses. Ultimately our mentors and local staff interjected to clear up the misunderstandings. Defenses slowly lowered and agreements were made. We walked aways with newly found bartering skills and a little piece of Ghanaian culture to take home.
Leaders: Nicole, Sofia, and Gabby
Monday July 8, 2019
Rambunctious would be the first word to come to mind when we all think of monkeys. At first, the monkeys kept to themselves when we arrived. While they kept their distance, we took great pictures. Our tour guide at the sanctuary explained the origins of the Mona monkeys. Later on, Steven, one of our local staff, handed us bananas. The monkeys instantly launched themselves into our arms in order to snatch the bananas. Once they were all eaten we followed another tour guide onto a trail through the woods. We saw more monkeys in natural habitat. It was a long drive from the monkey santurary to the hike leading to the waterfall.
The hike was scenic so the 45 minutes flew by. We finally crossed over a cute Little Rock path to be faced with this gorgeous waterfall. A sight that people couldn’t turn their heads away from. Even though we were told in the morning that we could risk our lives going into the water, that didn’t stop us. We shopped at the small craft market at the bottom of the mountain. The resort was celebrating its 10th anniversary of being open. We could hear the music blasting through windows while we ate dinner. We made our way down to the pool lit up by colorful strobe lights. We danced to the music that the DJ plugged in to the speakers.
Surprisingly, some of us plunged into the pool with our clothes still on. Then it started pouring rain, which didn’t stop us. Everyone danced in the rain for what seemed like hours. Especially when the electricity kept turning off. After playing with Mona monkeys, swimming in a waterfall, and dancing in the rain, we were fine.
-Katie, Sam and Bri
Tuesday July 9, 2019
Thursday July 11, 2019
Hi! It’s Olivia, Sydney, and Payton here! Today we started our day off with another great day of service including brick making and teaching. We love the kids so much and we continue to build stronger bonds with them as each of the days pass. The amount of love and affection they give us as we come to school to the time we board the vans and leave we have kids trying to run and give us one last hug or high five.
After lunch, we had some time to relax before we went on a river excursion to a beautiful beach. We sat in the boat as a group and watched as small islands passed us and saw the crossover between the river and ocean. At the beach, we were able to get snacks and relax and enjoy the scenery. The sand was so soft and the views were beautiful. We watched the sun set behind us as we rode the boat back, seeing the sky change into pinkish hues that gave the perfect end to our night.
Feeling extra grateful to be here with these people watching the sun set in Ghana truly making me feel like the luckiest girl. When we got home, we were greeted warmly by the local teenagers and got to talk to each other for a little before it was bedtime to get ready for another great day. We love Ghana so much and are so sad as we see our time slowly closing in.
See you soon!