Final reflections...........For Nowprint story
August 13, 2012
I’m sitting on my comfortable bed in my home in San Francisco; going over the hundreds of pictures I took in Ghana, listening to hi-life Ghanaian music while trying to find the right words to express my thoughts about this trip.
I feel as if life is kicked up a few notches in Ghana. The colors are more vibrant, the music is livelier, and the human connections are felt much more deeply. There is a certain rhythm to life in Ghana that can be heard and felt everywhere. Mornings begin with the sounds of the roosters, the swish of the broom sweeping the compound and the beat of footsteps of people walking to their morning jobs. Afternoons are filled with the rhythm of the pounding of fufu, the laughter of children as they play and music fills the air whether you are in a taxi, walking home from school or on the way to church. The memories of these sounds, rhythms and connections fill my heart and soul with gratitude.
Since my main project with the students was celebrating the best part of their lives through photography and writing, I decided to share the best parts of my volunteer experience in Jukwa. These experiences were simple, yet profound for me. In Ghana, I continue to be reminded of what is really important in life- building relationships, helping others and keeping a rhythm to my life that sustains me. Now that I think of it- these are the same values that Omprakash embodies as well.
1. The children- The children in Ghana have a magnificent spirit and enthusiasm for learning which makes teaching a joy. In my classes, the students were always respectful, responsible and willing to try new things. I’m always amazed at how smart these children are and I can only imagine how far they would be able to reach in life if they are given appropriate books and materials needed for learning. These children take care of each other, and have a kind of empathy that I often miss in the States.
2. My host family- I didn’t know that I could get so close to a family that wasn’t my own. My best memories are reading with the children every evening, dancing under the moonlit sky and teaching them how to make paper chains as they shouted, “This is just like Christmas!” I grew to love fufu, bucket baths after a sweaty day of teaching and witnessing just how this family cherishes each other.
3. The community of Jukwa- Jukwa is a happy, peaceful community filled with lush trees, butterflies and so many friendly faces. Jukwa is also a community that is in great need of improving their medical clinic, schools, teacher training programs and social supports for orphans, widows and others who need a helping hand in life. I loved being in the market, and hearing, “Aunty Sue!”, only to find someone who knew my host family willing to help me out. I loved walking down the road, saying “How are you?” to every passerby and children taking my hand as I walked around throughout the day.
I am so thankful to Omprakash for giving me the opportunity to create new best parts of my life. I am also thankful to Pastor Chris and Peace Humanity International for doing so much groundwork before I even arrived to make sure that the photography classes were successful.
Mr. Seidu was the most awesome contact person in Jukwa that anyone could ask for. He was always available to me and always supportive. Henrietta, my 23 year old “niece” taught me so much about daily life in Ghana and is now a part of my life.
On my last day in Ghana, Mr. Seidu and Henrietta asked if they could join me on the 4 hour drive to the airport so they could wave goodbye to me as I got on the plane. They didn’t know where they would be sleeping that night in Accra and how they would get back to Jukwa the next day. That didn’t matter to them as much as their desire to escort me as I began my trip home with the same generosity that they showed me while I was in Jukwa. This is the best part of my volunteer experience for me. I had the opportunity to experience a deep connection with some extremely special people. As I said my goodbyes to Henrietta and Mr. Seidu, I knew in my heart that our connection is just the beginning of a new journey for them as well as for me.
I've attached some photos taken by the students. More photos will be coming soon!
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