Okay, where has the time gone? Is that really possible in Ghana? What a huge paradox with the realism of Ghana’s slow pace. We have now been in Ghana for more than six months. I have decided I am busier in Ghana than I was at home. So much for the peaceful, laid-back life that I have always yearned for! Ha!! Aside from filling my days with Amerley (Naa) and Palmer (Nii Okai), I continue to teach online courses for two different universities, which never seems to let up. In addition, I have my first two social work students coming to Ghana at the end of this month. For those of you who are unaware, before we left, I began dialoguing with a few Pacific NW Universities that offer social work about the possibility of coordinating a practicum/field placement experience in Ghana. I obtained a lot of interest and the planning and organizing began! For the two students coming, I have found two orphanages that will serve as their practicum/field placements and have secured two housing options with Ghanaian families. I will be collaborating with my old Peace Corps Supervisor, a Ghanaian who recently retired, on providing cultural and logistical training upon their arrival; 24/7 support; weekly one-on-one social work supervision and group supervision every other week that will consist of group processing, guest speakers and field trips. I am really excited to witness first-hand the insight, growth and transformation in students while living and working in Ghana! I know it will be amazing! Assuming everything goes well, there is the possibility for more students to come in June and August.
So, since we had to leave our beloved Koko behind (Oh, how we all miss him!), we had been enthusiastically planning to get a puppy. So, the day after Christmas we got to pick up Henry. We chose the name Henry, despite Ghanaians distaste for naming animals after people. Carlos’ sister has tried to convince us that Hen is a much better name! He is a South African Mastiff or Boer Bohl. He recently turned 4 months old and is growing. His paws are huge. The other day, a man stopped to comment that his paws were enormous and compared them to human feet! He is a lot of fun, but can be a bit feisty too and tiring when I am trying to keep track of him climbing into the bath tub, digging in the yard and chewing anything he can sink his teeth into including Palmer’s diaper! On the other hand, he can be a bit idle too, which I actually appreciate as far as puppies go. I think he is now potty trained. Phew! Thank goodness for tiled floors. The kids love him. Palmer and Henry have formed quite the bond. Palmer loves to lay on him, feed him, pull his ears and paws and open his eyes when he is sleeping. Henry is fairly patient and I think enjoys the pestering ‘most’ of the time! Amerley enjoys him too, but can be a bit more apprehensive when he comes too close.
Unbeknownst to me, I stumbled upon an American community out where we live. Who knew? I had resolved the fact that I was going to be somewhat of a loner and was actually at peace with it. I met another American named Beth who lives in the neighborhood adjacent to ours. Beth and her family are here from Michigan working to provide safe drinking water to Ghanaians, but will be leaving in April. She then introduced me to multiple Americans in the area. Most are here as missionaries and some are here to stay. I joined a Wednesday night Bible Study, which has been amazing!
Despite my fear and conviction that I would not drive in Ghana, I decided to just do it! Because of the planning involved for the students coming, I was left with little options, gave it a try and in hindsight I can’t believe what a big stink I made about it. Mind you, it is not at all like driving in Portland, although Ghanaians do drive on the same side of the road, but…
- Most do not obey traffic rules and at times I wonder if they even exist.
- The roads are bursting with pedestrians, food sellers, animals, bicycles, cars, taxis, tro tros (minivans that act as public transportation), buses and lorries so being hyper-vigilant is a necessity.
- Merging often involves five to ten man made lanes feeding into one.
- Drivers intimidate and tail gate.
- The police pull people over relentlessly, not for speeding, but for any reason with the hopes of collecting a bribe. I have been advised when they wave for you to pull over to wave back and keep driving!
- Lastly, what leaves me clearly dumbfounded is, despite the lack of rush in life and the reality of African time, I can’t quite figure out why everyone is in such a hurry. What gives?
We have been experiencing increasing ‘lights out’ in our neighborhood and the surrounding areas. Ghana and the electrical company have been rationing power. We do have an inverter. When the electricity is on, two large batteries are charged, which allows for the lights, fans and some of the plugs to work when the lights go out. The problem has been our stove, fridge and deep freezer. They command too much power so the inverter cannot sustain any appliance. We just bought a gas stove so at least food can be heated up when the electricity is off. Prior to this, we relied on the standard… pb & j! A few days ago, the electricity was off for more than 24 hours, which had been the largest amount of consecutive hours we have experienced without power since being in Ghana. Our food in the fridge came to room temperature, which is clearly in the mid to high 80’s and our deep freezer had thawed. Luckily, we didn’t have to toss too much! On a positive note, we are blessed with consistent water, unlike the majority of Ghanaians. We bought a Rambo 750 tank, which holds 750 gallons of water. The water in our area flows every other week. On the ‘off week’, we use our tank and on the ‘on week’, the tank fills. It is remarkable the simple things we don’t even think about that are reliable and stable in America.
Carlos continues to work at Central University full-time helping to develop their Leadership Institute. He is still serving as an adjunct for two other universities, as well as; continuing with NAPE Foundation, working to provide his own leadership courses and various other ventures! Carlos will be attending his graduation for his Doctoral Degree in Virginia Beach in early May and will be in Portland before and after the ceremony to hold NAPE Foundation’s Annual Celebration Dinner on Saturday, April 27th! Unfortunately, we won’t be joining him. Just the thought of wearing long sleeves sounds appealing!
Despite the hardships and frustrations, I am appreciative of my life in Ghana. The Ghanaian people and culture are what continue to make my stay meaningful and significant. Admiration for their way of life surely confronts discontentment and the desire for more. I relish in the conversations Amerley and I share about the comparisons and differences in our new life in Ghana and our past American life. I admire her strength and the opportunity she has to experience her other culture, Carlos’ family, a much simpler life and to witness how the majority of the world lives while sharing acceptance, love and kindness. It is a sobering experience.