Tuesday July 10, 2018
We have finally arrived in Ghana and have all made it safely to homebase. It was a long road but in our first day we got to swim in the lagoon, watch fish jump out of nets and were able to fit all 6 of us in the canoe! We are getting ready for bed after a delicious meal and can’t wait to begin tomorrow.
Wednesday July 11, 2018
It is Day 2 here in Dzita! We all were up bright and early (for me at least) at 7 am. Gathered for breakfast with beautiful views of the lagoon, we enjoyed yummy nutella crepes with fruit salad. After, we had an introduction to the staff and orientation. We met such wonderful people, and got introduced to more of their culture. We learned that when you greet someone, you woud shake their hands followed by a snap sound that uses eachothers fingers.
When I walk around the home base, I feel at home. Everyone is so supportive and we feel like a family. After relaxing a bit, we grabbed our day packs and started the tour of the local community. Walking through farmer’s fields, we learned about peoples lifestyle and the crops most commonly grown. Waving to all the little kids running by, we visited the builiding site of the compost toilets that we will be constructing for the next two weeks.
Learning about sanitation was extremey informing, and interesting. Coming to an end on our tour, we took a walk on the beach with views and sounds of huge waves crashing. Cannoeing over the lagoon was an awesome calming experience. We all jumped into the lagooon for a quick swim before dinner. Enjoying pizza and salad for dinner, we were all pretty exhausted and ready to take on day 3 in this magical, life-changing community.
Thursday July 12, 2018
Our day started off early when the otherwise serene morning was briefly interrupted by a chorus of particularly vocal roosters. Their dulcet tones carried us through to our breakfast of sausage and plantain fritattas, fresh fruit, toast, and baked beans. Fueled up and ready to go, we met with our community’s nurse and followed her through the maze of houses, asking everyone to visit us so we could weigh their babies.
We found ourselves in a constant state of joy as kids waved at us, shouting “yevu!” (white person). As people arrived at the outdoor clinic, we recorded the babies’ data in several large books. The babies were weighed on a hanging scale, and anytime there was a pause in mother and baby arrivals, we were free to play and dance with some of the older kids.
After lunch, we met with the Chief of Dzita. He described the history of Ghana and gave thorough answers to all of our questions before asking us some of his own. He was beautifully wise and wonderfully kind.
We had a lovely time lounging with our pineapple-mint-lime smoothies and dinner, and then headed to the summer hut for an Ewe lesson from Tigo and Elvis. Equipped with our new knowledge, we feel ready to take on our first official day of service in the morning.
Mi ima va (see you tomorrow),
Friday July 13, 2018
So today is Day 4! We started the day with a breakfast that comprised of french toast, sausage, baked beans, and a variety of local fresh fruits, which thankfully provided us with enough energy for the first day of service. Then we left to our work sites.
The service coordinators(masons from Meet Me There) had already made the bricks so that they could dry and set the first layer to get a start to the project. We spent our time at the site today carrrying the bricks over, mixing the mortar, and then adding a layer of bricks filled in with mortar. Then we plastered the inside wall with the mortar until it was smooth. By the time we finished service my work clothes were completely covered in sand and mortar.
We then returned to Meet Me There and had amazing smoothies before swimming in the lagoon to cool off. After lunch we went to the local clinic and saw the different rooms and how it operated. We then met with Nurse Rose to discuss what she does. On a monthly basis she does home visits, school visits, discussing family planning with women, setting up a place to weigh and vaccinate babies in the community, and working in the clinic.
We then swam again before a dinner of yam balls(unusual name, but super delicious spherical cakes) with a vegetable sauce and salad with lentils and goat cheese.
I think the jet lag has finally worn off and we’ve settled in to the Ghananian way of life, so I’m looking forward to the next ten days here.
Saturday July 14, 2018
Today in Ghana we had a delicious breakfast of muesli and yogurt, as well as some mixed fruits. Following breakfast the six of us split up into our two service groups and went to work on our composting toilets. Both groups were able to complete the concrete floor to our toilets. Following the morning service, we returned to home base and went for a swim in the lagoon. We ate a lunch consisting of a local Ghanain food known as “Red Red” which is a sorts of rice and beans, with a spicy red sauce, accompanied by sweet plantains.
Upon the completion of our midday meal, we embarked on the short journey to the vocational college, about 10 minutes away. Once we arrived, we unloaded the truck and walked inside, in order to engage in a local tradition called “Batik” which is the dying of cloth with dyes, using wax to create designs on the cloths.
We returned to the home base once again following the afternoon activity in order to shower and relax a bit before dinner. Our dinner consisted of avocado wraps with a side of chips and a small salad.
After consuming our dinner to the content of our now-full bellies, we proceeded to the evening activity. We played a game called “Sheep and Shephards” in which we worked in pairs, with one partner blindfolded and the other guiding them through a maze. The only catch was the use of sounds and animal noises in place of directions such as “Left, Right, Down… etc.” After this we watched a short TED Talk and spoke about the subject of leadership.
Things here in Ghana are going great. The fifth day was yet another day full of fun, work, and friendshps.
Sunday July 15, 2018
Today was a very special day here in Dzita! All day long we celebrated the 17th birthday of Sofia!! We first started off the day by waking up for breakfast at 7am, which consisted of omletes and fresh fruit. After breakfast we packed our bags and hit the road for another day at service.
The service sites saw great progess today with the completion of five layers of bricks which began to form the walls of the toilet. This process started by mixing the cement, carrying endless bricks and chopping the bricks down the right length. We then used these tools to build up the walls with the help of Ballo and Jasper, our local service coordinators.
After service, we spent time hanging with the staff sipping on our fresh smoothies, then the next thing we know Papa and Tigo are pouring water all over Sofia! This is Ghanian tradition of pouring water on the birthday girl represents the “second baptism.” Now soaking wet, we headed to have another delicious lunch.
Later now, we headed to the Community Learning Center and learned about Public Health and applied what we learned to the local community of Ghana. As the day came to a close we had dinner and started doing some dancing on the deck over our lagoon. Catching us off gaurd, the local staff came out and surprised Sofia with a delicious birthday cake! Today was a great day of service, learning about Public Health, and celebrating Sofia!!
Etsor mia dogo (see you tomorrow),
Monday July 16, 2018
Hello everyone back home,
We had the busiest day so far on this trip. We began the day by going out into the community for a Health Outreach after an amazing breakfast. Since this was our second time doing the Community Outreach we got the job done very fast and efficiently. In total we weighed, documented, and gave immunizations to 87 babies!!! After finishing lunch we left right away again to continue our adventures. We received a very eye opening tour at an old slave fort. We learned a lot more about the slave trade and took more time after to reflect on everything we saw there. On our way to a light house we stopped at a beautiful resort on a lagoon for some local drinks. Once at the light house we took some funny photos and climbed our way to the top on the steep steps. Our day didn’t end there though. After getting back we received a local performance of singing, drums, and dancing where we all got to jump in and learn some wicked dance moves. After dancing today we will be bringing back our newly learned skills to American dance parties. We of course ended the day with an amazing dinner of vegetables, rice, and fish. We are officially half way through a trip!
See you all soon!
Tuesday July 17, 2018
We are all thriving for our 8th day here in Dzita! We enjoyed a yummy breakfast that consisted of scrambled eggs, toast, avocado and fruit salad while overlooking the beautfiul calm lagoon. As we all grabbed our bellongings including the most important things; bugspray so we don’t have to constantly itch our bites, sunscreen so we don’t burn and look like tomatoes and water to hydrate!
The two groups parted their separate ways to continue working on the compost toilets. We all finished building and plastering the 8 layers of the toilet. Lots of hard work today but everyone stayed energized and never gave up!
After working hard, we all deserved a refreshing swim in the salty water lagoon. Floating and laughing, the lunch bell soon rang. We gathered around the table, like a family, and enjoyed our meal of jollof rice, egg sauce and salad. Hoped in the truck, we continued our journey to a local school. We got to see the separated communal toilets that Dream Big Ghana built for the school. After, we looked in the classrooms and interacted with some of the students in games. As we all ran around and dripped sweat in our friendly competition of soccer, we shared lots of laughs. Also, some of us enjoyed singing and dancing for the students consisting of old pop songs.
As we all arrived back at Home Base, we headed with our baskets to the beach for Sofia’s project of the day. We did a beach clean up competition to pick up the most trash in 15 minutes. The winner received a prize, which was a fresh smoothie! While playing intense card games in the summer hut, the bell rang for dinner. A classic American dish of pizza was a hit and lets say, we all went back for seconds, thirds and fourths…..
We were all wiped from the day but were ready and excited to continue our journey in Ghana!
Wednesday July 18, 2018
As you may have read, our days have been busy and exhausting, but highly fulfilling–today was no different. We started the day off with a breakfast of muesli and fruit before heading off to our service sites. Both groups have now finished layering the walls of their toilets with bricks, so today we mainly focused on plastering the outer walls with cement and building stairs up to the toilets’ doors.
We had some time to relax before our lunch of rice balls and groundnut soup, and then we prepared to visit the market. Each of us was paired with another student for a scavenger hunt that required us to buy specific items and bargain (in Ewe) for lower prices. The market was a managerie of sounds, colors, and smells, and though there was a lot going on we all had a wonderful time roaming around and shopping for fun fabrics. An hour later and with our wallets significantly lighter, was taxied to a local tailor that took our measurements in order to turn our fabric into clothing.
We walked back to the lodge as the sun was starting to set, and soon sat down to eat our spaghetti under the stars. Later, we headed to the Summer Hut for Charlotte’s project (a fun game that requires a good memory and extreme concentration) and a lesson on goal-setting. We can’t wait to see what we will achieve tomorrow.
Thursday July 19, 2018
We started off the day with a full English breakfast of omelettes, toast, sausage, and baked beans; before splitting into our two groups and heading off for our work sites. We worked on plastering the outside walls of the toilet and finishing the stairs. With only two days left of service, the whole structure is really starting to come together. The woman who lives where my group is building the toilet, Mercy, brought us fresh coconuts to drink out of. They were so refreshing, and the perfect treat to enjoy after a long day of service.
When we got back to Meet Me There, we all jumped into the lagoon for a quick swim before lunch. Our midday meal was brown rice with palava sauce and salad. After lunch, we got a lesson in traditional drumming, dancing, and singing from Ballo. It was really interesting to learn how to do some of the things that we observed the other night at the cultural performance. Some kids from the community center also joined in and giggled at our first attempts of dancing. For dinner, we had the Ghanian version of fish and chips, which was catfish or snapper fish and cassava chips, along with salad. It was absolutely delicious!
Then we watched a documentary called Girls Rising for our night activity, which showed different stories of girls around the world that didn’t have access to education. One girl in Nepal wasn’t able to go to school or live with her family because her parents gave her to a master as a bonded worker, starting at age six, while her brother got to go to school. There was some statistics in the video that were really shocking, like girls as young as seven years old have been married, and fifty percent of sexual assaults in the world happen to girls under fifteen years old. The video was really eye opening to how fortunate we are to have so many opportunities for our education, and how we often take that for granted.
On a lighter note, during the video Justine brought us warm brownies, reminding us of how grateful we are to have her amazing meals everty day!
Looking forward to tomorrow, another day of learning and service awaits!
Friday July 20, 2018
Today from Dzita: Your children awoke to the sound of the breakfast bell ringing at around 7:00 in the morning today. After stumbling out from beneath their mosquito nets, all the way to the door, they managed to make it to breakfast. Messy haired, but with bright smiles on their faces. After breakfast we played card games in the summer hut while awaiting our guest speakers. Around 9:45 AM two women from the “Days for Girls” Enterprise came to talk to us about female hygeine and and their mission to educate and empower girls and women as to their menstrual cycles. Their mission is to solve the problem of girls missing days of school due to them menstruating. After talking with the women from Days for Girls we had our lunch before heading off to site for the day.
Today at site we sanded our doors, cast the slabs to close the compost chambers at the back of our toilets, and plastered the stairs and interior floor. Tomorrow is our last day working on the toilets before the opening. We plan to put on our doors, finish the tiling on the inside, and paint our new toilet a bright color. Everyone here is excited and overwhelmingly happy to have been a part of this amazing project.
After our work at the site we went back to the local tailor to pick up the items we dropped off on Wednesday. All of the clothes came back perfect, and everyone is beyond thrilled with their new clothes. Dinner was a favorite dish, “Red Red”, for the second time this trip.
More from Dzita tomorrow!
Saturday July 21, 2018
Today was Day 12 and our last day of service! After another delicious breakfast we packed our bags and headed towards our service sites. Today we worked on painting the outside of the toilet and adding some finishing touches. Sofia and Fran both painted everyones names onto the toilet to show our hard work.
After a long day of service we got back to homebase and enjoyed yam balls and veggie sauce for lunch. Once we were refueled we hopped in the truck and started on our way to a local football game. As we walked through the community we seemed to pick up kids along the way. By the time we finally made it to the field we were walking with a whole pack of local kids as they continued to jump on us. We then warmed up and started to play some football matches with the locals. It is fair to say that they are certainly way better than us. When the games finished we had to peel the kids off of us as we headed back to homebase.
Once we got back to homebase we had a delicious dinner with all of the local staff and headed to a bonfire on the beach. After a long night of dancing and singing with the locals we canoed back to homebase and called it a night. Another successful day of learning about the local culture in the books.
Sunday July 22, 2018
Hello Ladies and Gents,
Today was our last day in Ghana. We began the day with our favorite breakfast, chocolate pancakes and fruit. Then we went to the opening ceremony for the toilets. There we explained how to use them and both Sofia and Charlotte gave a hand washing demonstration. After we went back to home base to prepare for our river tour. For the river tour all of the staff from Meet Me There Lodge came with us, which included everything to make lunch. We went to see where the Volta River met the Ocean and soon after went to a beautiful beach. On the beach we played volleyball together as we waited for the Staff to cook lunch. We had rice, salad, and chicken for lunch.
After lunch GLA played the Staff in a match of Volleyball, which we lost, but we still think we are winners at heart haha. After the game we had an appreciation circle with the staff, which was very heartwarming and made us realise our impact on the group. The girls continued by playing local games with the cooking staff which were a ton of fun, while the guys played another round of volleyball. After we traveled back to Home Base to pack and prepare for the talent show.
We will be up for an early start and sad it’s coming to an end.
We started our morning early to head to Accra. After saying our last goodbyes everyone headed into security ready to head back home. Such an impact was made in the town of Dzita, and will always be in our hearts!
Ghana, oh na na na
Half of my heart is in Ghana
Oh na na!