ErinCraig's Travel Journals

ErinCraig

  • 32 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.

The almost Titanic story :)

Ghana Cape Coast, Ghana  |  Sep 13, 2012
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Today was probably one of the best days I've had since I arrived in Ghana. I'm feeling pretty great right now :)I didn't get a chance to blog last night because I was at ProWorld with the other volunteers. Geoff and Kieran made dinner and it was delicious. It almost felt like we were back at home having Olive Garden, yummy :) I definitely miss certain foods!After dinner I met up with some friends because it was Steph's last night in town before returning to Germany. It was pretty sad saying goodbye to her! I have a feeling that it won't be the last time that I see her. I would love to return to Ghana with her again. She's one incredible person and I'm so thankful I was able to learn so much from her. This morning started out great. I was finally feeling better after having a migraine for 2 days. Nana picked me up from the house and we walked to the Market so I could catch my car to school. We had another awesome talk about the differences between America and Ghana. He told me about a bad motorcycle that he was in last year. He told me that he needed to be transported to the hospital by ambulance. If you require an ambulance or medical attention in Ghana, you must pay for it before you receive it. I guess it makes sense because they do not have credit here. I started to tell him about how it works in America. You need an ambulance, it comes, they bill you, if you don't pay your bill it affects your credit which in turn makes it difficult for you to get loans to buy things like houses and cars. We had a long chat about credit, how important it is and why so many American's are in debt. I shared the same talk with Geoff tonight. He reminded me that Canada (where he is from) has free healthcare. I can't even imagine!We also talked about the "people who have gone mad" in Ghana. In America we would refer to them as individuals with mental health concerns. We passed a man on the street that is "mad". Nana explained that he met him at his job and no one would talk to him. Nana befriended him and they have been friends since. Nana explained that the man had once been a successful business man. He told me that many people in Ghana believe that when people become jealous of people who have a lot, they can put a curse on them and it makes them "mad". This does not happen if you believe in Jesus. Nana explained that another way that people go "mad" is from abusing drugs. It was so crazy having that conversation with him. Again, it is something that is so different, yet so interesting to learn about. Today at Sankofa the parents came for a Parent Teacher meeting. It was fun to see all of the parents. We all had to introduce ourselves, when I got up to say "My name is Erin and I'm from America", the entire room started laughing. The rest of the girls introduced themselves and no one laughed at all. I was so confused. It happened again when I introduced myself while I was telling them about a program that I am preparing to offer to them. I asked someone after why they were all laughing at me and they said that "Erin" is a very uncommon name and most people have never heard of it. So basically they were laughing because they could not understand or pronounce it. I didn't realize my name was so difficult. :) The meeting lasted FOREVER and I couldn't understand any of it. Basically they went over the school uniforms, PTA and school fees for extra classes. Sankofa just became a recognized school in Ghana. Pretty awesome!!!!! After the meeting we had a quick lunch and then hung out with the children. I had a pretty cool thing happen today. I have really connected with a certain student. His name is Ishmael and I think he is probably around 6 or 7. The children went on break to get their snacks and when Ishmael returned, he had bought me a packet of crackers. He brought them up to me and told them that he got them for me. I almost started crying. The majority of the students are always asking for things, and I have yet to experience a student wanting to give me something. The children have next to no money and he spent his money on something for me. Writing about it doesnt even do it justice, it was just a very moving moment for me :)So, the program that I am preparing to do for the parents has changed a few different times. I wanted to incorporate some Darkness to Light from home but many of the concepts are not relevant in Ghana. I wanted to do something for the parents that would help reduce the physical punishment. I have a few ideas that I'm hoping to explore more. I was thinking about doing some general safety concerns that might help with the children like looking both ways before crossing the street, drinking clean water, etc. I also want to do something more along the lines of behavior modification. Something with positive reinforcement and rewards and consequences. Anything that might reduce the caning. I respect that it is their culture but it is now against the law in Ghana. Unfortunately, there is no one to monitor if school cane their students . It's just very hard to see it happening, especially since my job and passion are to protect children. It makes me feel extremely helpless. After work I headed into Elmina with the 3 other volunteers from Sankofa. We met Alex and Geoff and then the guys from Elmina to go out on a fishing boat. We got on the boat around 4:30 and returned home after 7. It was a very long journey. We went from the Elmina Castle to the Cape Coast Castle. The boat we were riding in was wooden. They brought a motor on the boat. Every time we started to speed up, the boat would tip almost completely over. I definitely thought we were going to tip many many times. It was pretty funny. We sang silly songs to help ease the nervousness. It was pretty amazing to see the sunset while being out in the middle of the ocean. I took some absolutely amazing pictures. Can't wait to put them up. It was such a great experience but I'm not sure I would do it again :) You only live once, right?!We headed back into town after the boat adventure. The girls headed back to Sankofa and Alex, Geoff and I sat at a "spot" next to my house and had a snack and a really great chat. I absolutely adore them. Its crazy to think that its been less than 2 weeks since we started this journey together. I feel like I have known them forever. It's pretty cool that I have someone to share the struggles with and to have an absolute blast with. We have already gotten so close, I can't even imagine how it will be in another month and a half. I couldn't have imagined better friends to share this journey with :)It's 10PM and I'm absolutely exhausted. It's crazy how early I go to bed here. There is REALLY loud music playing outside so hopefully I can just pass out. SUCH a great day today and SO much to be thankful for!!Love and miss you all!! XOXO

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