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.

Sustainable Development

Ghana Cape Coast, Ghana  |  Sep 25, 2012
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Holy rain storm!! I'm absolutely drenched. I've been sitting outside for the past hour, watching the children dance and play soccer in the rain. It was pretty fun to watch. They played as if they had no cares in the world. A little inspiring actually :) I kind of like that care free attitude and could definitely use a few more moments like that in my every day life. I can't believe it's been almost a week since I last wrote. I have been staying busy and haven't had a lot of down time to blog. My mom told me that I better write an update soon because people are wondering what's going on with me :) I will try to recap the past week without making it extremely painfully long. Last weekend we decided to stick around Elmina. We all felt the need for a relaxed weekend. Friday night we went to Oasis with a few of Alex's friends from her orphanage. It was really fun to meet some new friends. Saturday was a fairy low key day. I slept in extremely late and then went and met up with Alex and Adrianne at Stumble Inn. We enjoyed the sun and the gorgeous beach. I'm definitely enjoying the beach and my body is hating me for the horrible sunburns I've been getting. I am using sunscreen, I promise!! We decided to head into Elmina to have dinner because there wasn't a huge menu for dinner at Stumble Inn. My friend Takyi (his english name is Patrick) came and met up with us for dinner and then joined us at Stumble Inn. We all decided to stay the night so we could get up and spend Sunday relaxing on the beach. We got a "dormatory" room which had 3 sets of bunk beds. We each paid 10 cedis (5 dollars) for our beds. It's so gorgeous, so laid back and such a fun place and SO cheap :) can't beat it. Sunday we had a delicious breakfast and relaxed on the beach. We decided to walk down to another resort for lunch. It was a really really nice resort....and the prices matched. So expensive. We left Stumble Inn around 5 and headed back to Cape Coast so I could Skype with my family. I took Patrick with me and it was fun to introduce him to my mom and my aunt Kay. This week has been pretty busy. I've had school every day and plans every night after school. Monday night the other volunteers from school joined me in Cape Coast. We had to run a few errands and then we went to eat and have a beverage at the Cape Coast Castle restaurant. We watched Patrick's group rehearse. After we went out with them and showed the volunteers around Cape Coast. Tuesday after school I met up with Patrick and we went and picked his daughter up from school. It was really fun to meet her. We went over to his family's home and hung out for a bit. His family is so sweet and they were so welcoming. Tuesday was Pro World night. I love Tuesdays :) We had a meeting and then we went out for PIZZA :) It was so delicious...it wasn't Flatbread or Maxies but it definitely did the trick :)The topic for our ProWorld meeting was "sustainable development". Basically we talked about how our project money/programs could/would/should continue after we leave. It was really interesting to hear what other people were doing in their projects. I kind of wish we would have had that talk earlier because I thought of a lot of things I maybe could have tried at the school. I started feeling a little bad that I did not do more. My project money has yet to be spent which has been extremely frustrating. I will talk about that in a bit. One of the ideas I had for sustainable development was to have the students open a school store. I could purchase the school supplies in bulk, the students could sell the items and use the money to restock the store when the supplies were out. I remember having a school store that the 6th graders ran at my elementary school. It was an exciting job and everyone loved tp work at the store. I wish I would have thought about that idea earlier. I told a few of the other volunteers what I was thinking so maybe they will follow through with the idea :)So, back to my project money. Originally my program director wanted my money to go towards the new school. I decided that I did not want the money to be spent on that because I would not be able to directly see where my project money went. So, we talked about some other things that the school could use. I made a list and went and got prices for the items. After I shared my ideas with the director, he shot them down and said that the students did not need the supplies and that they would just get trashed or stolen. So, then we talked about getting the children textbooks, but again we ran into some issues. Yesterday he mentioned that we could build a cabinet for books and other things that he was afraid would get stolen. I thought maybe my money could go towards that but again, it didn't go that way. So, at this point, I think my project money is going towards some books for the students and teachers. I know that is definitely a need so I hope that's what he gets with the money. The thing I think I might be the most frustrated about is the fact that they DO have supplies for the children, but they are not providing them to the students. We were shown an office that is stacked half way up the wall with books, school supplies, clothing and a ton of other stuff. All of it has been donated for the children but it is not being used. It needs to be organized and then given to the children. That is one reason I decided not to buy any more supplies. I just hope the things they already have, are given to the students at some point. Its really hard to believe that tomorrow is my last day at the school. It is most definitely bittersweet. I am really bonding with some of the children and its really sad to think that I might not see these children again. I'm hoping I will at least see them a few more times while I'm still in Ghana. On the other hand, I am a bit tired of the program itself. I felt like the majority (if not all) of my ideas were shot down. I felt like a lot of things were said/promised that never happened. I have learned that organization does not exist, not only in my school but in most programs in Ghana. I am trying very hard not to think of the negatives. I am trying not to beat myself up for not doing as much as I feel like I could've done. The parent project that I wanted to do, never happened. I think it would've been great. I finally got the volunteers to agree to donate money to have Patrick's group come perform for the children on our last day. I got a text late last night, saying the director "wasn't a fan" and did not want them coming to perform. Apparently he had his own group that he wanted to use and said that they would do a performance. Today we found out that it's actually the children's group. Oh well, I tried. I'm going to hold onto the smiles, the hugs and the sweet little laughs. Those children touched my heart deeper than I think I will ever be able to realize. I may not have been the best teacher, but I tried to do things with them that they've probably never done, or don't get to do often. Yesterday we played with play-doh. I had the children make small balls to use as counters for math. For example, I would have them make 4 green balls and 2 yellow balls and then they would count them to find the answer to the math problem. I'm pretty sure they had never seen play-doh before. They were smelling it and trying to eat it. I had to tell them to get it out of their mouths multiple times :) Today we put together some small puzzles, barbie and spiderman. Again, I don't think they've ever done them before. They struggled a bit but we got them put together and they were so excited. I did a lot of coloring with them. I would show them a color, identify it, spell it on their paper and then I would mark the color next to their word. After we did that, I gave them "color by number" sheets. So, they had to follow the directions and only color certain things, certain colors. It was a lot of fun to see them so excited and it held their attention :)Today after school, I started cleaning up my room and packing up my things for my move on Sunday. I'm really going to miss my host family. I'm going to get some pictures of us developed tomorrow so I can frame them and give it to them when I leave. I was also able to give out some of the dresses that I brought from America. It was definitely what I needed after a frustrating day at school. I told Mamma Teko and the neighbor lady that I had some dresses that I would like to give to the girls. About 20 minutes late, 4 girls came up to my room. I had all the dresses laid out by sizes. The girls completely ripped through them. It was cool to see them so excited. I told each of them that they could have 3 dresses. They tried on just about every dress. I can't wait to post pictures. They all said thank you and went on their way. A few very short minutes later, I had a few more girls come up to my room and grab some dresses, and then a few more, and a few more :) I finally had to tell my sister that I needed to save some of the dresses for the students. I sat outside for a while after and it was crazy how different the girls were acting. They were dancing around while doing their chores. I took some pictures and videos of them. I'm so happy that I was able to put some smiles on their faces for a bit :) :) :) (THANK YOU FOR THE DONATIONS SHANNON) I tried to keep this short but I definitely failed. I'm actually surprised I'm still awake. It's after 10! I have been sick the past few days. I knew it was bound to happen. Its nothing serious. I've been having heart burn almost daily. My stomach has been pretty upset. I haven't been taking my maleria medicine like I should be because it makes my heartburn worse. I might have to get it switched. The maleria medicine is also used to treat acne which has been great....since I stopped taking it daily, I have broken out like crazy. I look like a 13 year old girl with all the acne on my face. The joys of humidity and greasy skin alllll the time. Good thing nobody cares about zits in Ghana :) Make up free and covered in zits :)On that note, I'm going to head to bed. Need to be rested for my last day at the school with my sweet babies :) Love and miss you all :) XOXO

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