ErinCraig's Travel Journals

ErinCraig

  • 33 years old
  • From Idaho, United States
  • Currently in Idaho, United States

Erin's adventures in Ghana

Many people have asked how they call follow my experience in Ghana. I'm hoping this blog will be a good way for everyone to read about my journey.

Dear malaria...we are not friends!

Ghana Cape Coast, Ghana  |  Oct 09, 2012
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Not the greatest few days I've had in Ghana but I'm alive and doing ok :) Saturday I was feeling pretty exhausted when I blogged. I slept the majority of the day. I also had a pretty bad sore throat and really bad body aches so I took some pain medication and a muscle relaxer and started feeling a little bit better. Some of the new volunteers arrived and wanted to go out so I took them to Oasis with Geoff and Kieran. It was fun getting to know them a bit. There are only two. Grace, who is here for a month and from Atlanta and Abina who lives in London but has Ghanian roots. I think it will be fun to get to know them over the next month.  I received some very sad news on Saturday afternoon. My mom sent me a text and asked me if anyone had told me that my friend, JD, was killed the night before. I instantly called her. She told me that he was stabbed the night before at a local restaurant and they had made an arrest. I was definitely in disbelief. One of my fears about being so far away from the US was having something tragic happen to one of my friends or family members. I'm so sad that it came true. I am going to miss the funeral but I will definitely be celebrating his life here in Ghana. I met him when he was still in elementary school. He was cousins with one of my best friends. He was such a little brat, always being mischiveous but he was so sweet and sincere at the same time. He was such a smart ass and could always make everyone laugh and smile. He was definitely the life of the party. He will definitely be missed by so many. Rest in Peace, my sweet friend.Sunday I woke up early. I had planned to go to church but was feeling absolutely exhausted and the body aches were still there. I decided to go to ProWorld for a bit. I ended up passing out for an hour or so. I felt really bad because I was supposed to be home with my sister to eat the FuFu that we had made. She had it waiting for me when I got home. It was definitely interesting. You eat it with your hands. I was a mess! I wish I knew the words to describe what it looks and tastes like. It's basically soup and a big blob of pounded rice. Its really sticky. You pull the pieces apart, dip it in the soup, and eat a little bit of the fish. it was very very filling but pretty tasty. It's definitely a very long process to make it. I had some friends visit me after I was done eating FuFu. Big Ben and Money Tree :) Love their names. They are friends with my sister and live just down the road. I had a long talk with Ben. Mostly about how difficult it was to take people back to America. We also talked about stereotypes of the different communities of people here in Ghana. Mostly about the Rhasta (not sure about the spelling) men. The majority of them have dreadlocks and hang out around the beach. Ben told me that everyone knows that they "smoke weed" and "put spells on people". He told me that one of the common spells is "putting spells on white women to make them fall in love with them". He told me about some other superstitions that some Ghanians have. He told me that sometimes people put spells on people when they are jealous of what they have, like money, cars and success. He told me a story about how someone in his family put a spell on him because they thought he owned a car. It is so interesting to hear the different stories. And I just want to be clear, the things he talked to me about and the things I'm writing about are not about ALL Ghanians and I'm not stereotyping. We talked about the roles of men and women, both in Ghana and in America. He told me that he believed that a man should always take care of his wife and their family. The man is supposed to work and the women raises the children, keeps the home clean and cooks. He said that some women have jobs and the money they make they can keep for themselves. The man's money pays all the bills. He also said that you are not supposed to ask how much the man makes at his job, he must make sure the bills are all paid. I told him about how in America, sometimes the dad's stay home while the mother works.  I don't think he liked that idea. I told him how hard I worked to get my Master's degree and how it was very important to me to be financially independent. I told him that I don't feel like I need a man to support me but I do expect that my future husband be able to support himself and contribute to our family. I really love living about different cultures. We also talked about how America is in debt. We talked about credit and how American's charge so many things. That definitely doesn't happen here in Ghana or at least not to the extent that it does in America. You have to pre pay your phones, your electricity and the rent on your home. He told me that most of the time when you are getting a home, you have to pay for two years in advance! That's a lot of money. After my long talk with Ben, we went and watched the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona soccer (football) game down at Money Tree's families home. He also goes by Kwame but that's such a common name that I just call him Money Tree :) Apparently if you translate his name, it means Money Tree. They told me what it was but of course I can't remember it.  My sister is very close with his family and spends a lot of time at their home. Patrick came and met me to watch the match. He definitely stood out. I don't notice it most of the time because we are around his friends but there are definitely not Rhasta (sp?) guys around where I live. I started feeling sick during the match. My body was aching so bad. I knew something wasn't right. I came home and was asleep by 8pm. I had a fever during the night and when it broke I woke up and was covered in sweat. I woke up and was feeling very weak. I called Mabel from ProWorld and she said that she wanted me to be tested for Malaria. When Steph was here, she gave me some at-home Malaria tests. I asked my sister to use the razor to poke me so we could get blood for the test. She kept saying "I can't hurt you, I won't make you bleed, I can't do it". We were both laughing. It was pouring rain and she ran outside to get her friend that was a nurse. We finally got the blood sample and then realized that we didn't have the solution to mix with my blood. Mabel decided that she wanted me to go to the clinic to be tested. I met Sarah at the clinic. The process is a lot like it is in America, you check in, they ask you general demographic questions, you go get your vitals and then wait to talk to the doctor. I told the doctor my symptoms and he looked at my throat. He determined that I had laryngitis. He also set me to the lab to be tested for malaria. As soon as I walked into the lab, I heard Brooks and Dunn's "My Maria" playing really loud. It made me laugh a little. When I got into the lab I asked the tech if he liked that kind of music. He said it was his favorite. While I was in there, I also heard Dixie Chicks, Alabama, Alan Jackson and the song "Strawberry Wine". He told me that he wanted me to bring him more country music to play. I told him that I've been to a lot of country concerts and he asked me if I was from "Tennessee or Texas". I thought that was pretty funny. After my blood work was done, I went back into talk to the doctor. He confirmed that I DID have malaria :( He wrote me out a bunch of medications and told me that I needed to rest and told me that I wouldn't be able to go back to school for 4 days. :( :( :(The doctor looked really young so I asked him how old he was. He told me he was 30. We started talking about how many years he had to go to school and all that. He asked me about my degree and we started talking about my work in America. That started another conversation about child abuse in Ghana. I asked him how often he sees it at the clinic. He said that he knows it happens a lot but it is very underreported because the families believe that they should handle it themselves and sometimes they do not believe the children. He told me that once the abuse in confirmed and the family wants to file charges, he has to write a report to give to the courts. The children do not have to be interviewed, it is solely based off of the doctor's report. I asked him about resources for children and their families. He said that at one point there was a psychologist in Cape Coast but he has moved. I couldn't believe there was only ONE for the entire area. I asked him what someone would have to do if they were interested in doing work with abused children. He said that you would have to get an office, partner with the hospital and all the doctors, and then the medical staff would refer the children and their families for resources. He said that there is a huge need for education about child abuse and reporting. It definitely got me thinking :) I think it would be a very frustrating job, but so rewarding. It might be something that I need t look into :) He gave me his number and told me that he would be happy to answer any questions that I might have. He also said that Ghana recognizes most American degrees and I would be qualified for a job like that. So, I wasn't extremely thrilled with the news that I have malaria and laryngitis but I had a really great conversation with the doctor and got to listen to some classic country music :) I went to the pharmacy and picked up my medications. I have 6 different things to take. Ick. I ended up paying 68 cedi. Pretty cheap when you compare it to what you'd be paying in America. Side note: While Sarah and I were at the clinic, I had 2 different men ask me to find them white wives (Sarah told them that I had a boyfriend :) ) Sarah and I were joking about how much money you could make if you had a matchmaking business for Ghanians. It would almost be like a male order husband. It is so crazy how many men here want white women. I'm pretty sure I have some friends back home that would absolutely love them men here :) The men are all so good-looking. It's crazy to me. The women are absolutely gorgeous too. I've been resting most of the afternoon. My sister has been so worried about me. I've had some visitors that have stopped by to check on me. I'm sure my mom would be very happy to know that I'm in such good hands here in Ghana. I had a good chat with my mom this evening. She's definitely worried about me. I don't think it helps that she googles everything. It makes her worry even more, but that's why I love her :) I can't go to school for 3 or 4 more days :( Definitely bummed but I need to rest and take care of myself. I will probably just relax at the ProWorld house tomorrow. We have a Fante lesson and then dinner at One Africa. I'm hoping the medicine starts working quickly so I can enjoy some delicious food tomorrow night. This blog is SO long. It's 8pm and I'm ready for bed. My fever has started again so I'm taking some medicine and am going to get to bed early. Love and miss you all. Less than 4 weeks until I'll be back in Idaho. Crazy!

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