New Volunteers… Huh?

Guess what time of the month it is? New volunteer time! How weird is that? Here I am, getting ready to leave, and we have three new people who I’ll see for three days. To them, I’ll be that girl whose name they can’t remember but oh yeah, there was someone here when they arrived who didn’t stick around for long.

I took some final shots of Nico’s plants. Look at how huge the courgette is! No actual food is growing yet though 😦

Yara is having a struggle this week with waking up, so she didn’t make it to the farm again. It was just Nick, Anna, me, and a field of weeds. No no, not a fun machete field of weeds. A not fun hoe field of weeds. It’s really too bad that it wasn’t something exciting because after Yara found out what we did there, she felt like she was the smart one for not going.

I decided that it was in my best interests today to not go to school. As much as I want to pretend I’m not, I’m leaving on Sunday, and I need to start organizing my stuff and pulling myself together. I could put it off, but I know that this is one of those things that always takes longer than you think, and I don’t want to have to spend my entire last weekend packing.

Pumpkin vine! It’s huge too, but no pumpkins yet.

Sure enough, I ended up organizing things for most of the morning. I also took some time to make info sheets for the volunteer binder we’re making. Basically, there’s not much of a system for passing down information, so I’m writing down some notes about the weekend trips and how much tros, hotels, food, etc. cost, where to stay, how to get there, and so on. It seems ridiculous that people have to keep figuring everything out from scratch when there have been plenty of people before them who have done the same things.
The most exciting thing of the day was that Andy has the battery I need! He brought some of those battery powered tea lights for romantic dinners with Gaby (plus a Day of the Dead altar) and had some extra batteries, so he gave me one! I’m going to take it with me to school tomorrow and see if I can get that one computer working 100%. I didn’t know where in Ghana I’d find a 3V puck battery, but I can say that I definitely didn’t expect one of the volunteers to have one.

Andy and Gaby’s Day of the Dead altar, dedicated to Luke and James. They put it out on the porch and the kids got really freaked out by it because you don’t joke about things like spirits and curses and stuff here. I thought it was pretty funny though.

The new volunteers came at around 3PM with Evans. We have three newbies: Ricardo (US, Agriculture!, 2 weeks), Magdalena (Spain, Medical, 2 weeks), and Amy (England, Sports, 1 week). They seem cool, but I’m finding it hard to put in much of an effort considering I’m leaving so soon. Weird. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.

New Volunteers!

​I had such a productive morning! I took a little time to sleep in (ah, the luxury!) before getting up, sweeping the whole house and the porch, doing a big load of laundry, and sitting to wait for the new volunteers. Nick was sending me text updates of their location throughout the morning, and I got more and more excited with each passing minute. Okay, I’ll be honest… I was mostly excited for the oatmeal butterscotch cookies my mom baked and sent with Nick (thanks Mom!!), but I was also at least a little excited to see him.

When the tro pulled up and I saw him through the window, I realized just how much I had been looking forward to him coming. I’m enjoying meeting so many new people here, but there’s something special about sharing a new experience with an old friend. I spent the rest of the day helping the new volunteers get acclimated, catching up with Nick, and continuing to organize myself and my stuff. Oh yeah… and eating cookies. So many cookies! I think I’m going to gain back the 20 pounds I’ve lost since I got here.

The new volunteers are Nick (!!!, USA, Sports, 8 weeks), Luke (UK, Sports, 2 weeks), Gaby (Mexico, Medical, 4 weeks), Andy (UK, Medical, 4 weeks), and Lily (Australia, Teaching, 4 weeks). The house is getting filled up! We have 10 people now. I’m happy to say that since we only have 6 girls, 4 are in the other room because it’s bigger, and Avy and I still have our own room! I think this is going to be a good group.

New Volunteers!

​Avy and I decided that today we were going to do a project. We have one really horrible bookshelf that is leaning like crazy and looks like it’s on the verge of collapse, plus it could be so much more effective. Avy cleaned it off yesterday, and we wanted to reinforce the structure and add two more shelves. We asked Joe if we could have some tools to do the work, and he told us he would call the carpenter to come do it. We said, “what, do you not trust us?” The answer was a strong no.

Bookshelf “before” picture. I wish we had gotten a picture before we took all of the books off because it was leaning so much more dramatically, but you can still see that it’s totally unstable. And I don’t know who added that top “shelf”, but it’s worthless.

The carpenter came this morning, so we used his tape measure and then kind of brushed him off. We told him that we were going to try to do it ourselves, but if we found ourselves needing help, we would call him. Come on though, how hard can it be to fix a bookshelf?
We went to Juapong to get some wood and other various things we needed and then came back and got to work. The piece of wood we got is definitely not straight, and it’s super rough. We also bought some sandpaper, so we started sanding it down and measuring where we needed to cut before hitting a standstill. We don’t have a saw, and Joe’s is at the farm right now. No way was I walking there to get it! Joe said that the carpenter would let us just borrow his saw, but he came by, said he would bring it, and never came back. I mean, I don’t completely blame him because we weren’t hiring him for the job, but he should have just said no if he didn’t want to.

Our workshop and piece of wood that’s perfectly straight. We sanded it down, so at least it looks and feels a little nicer now.

So much for finishing the job before the new volunteers showed up… We had tools and sawdust strewn all over the porch when they got here. I’m sure it was a great welcome to the house! It’s fine though; we’ll hunt down a saw and finish tomorrow instead. There are six new volunteers – Sal (USA, Teaching, 1 week), Clarina (Hong Kong, Teaching, 2 weeks), Doug (USA, Teaching, 2 weeks), Jamie (USA, Medical, 4 weeks), Yara (Germany, Teaching, 12 weeks), and Anna (Germany, Teaching, 12 weeks). It’s weird that there are new people here who are going to still be here after I leave! AND it’s beyond weird that I’m more than halfway through my time here. It’s freaking me out a little.

Can you spot the chicken? Yes, it’s inside our house. Glad we’re doing a good job of keeping the doors closed…

I’m also just overwhelmed by the idea of having to get to know so many new people without having Amber and Nico here too. It’s easier when you have more people you already know. I know I’ll be fine, but having six new people at once (especially with only three old people) is a lot to process. I just need some time to get to know each of them individually… I’m sure I’ll feel better by the end of this week.
Maybe an hour after they arrived, it started pouring, and Avy and I sprinted outside to take a rain shower. The new volunteers were looking at us like we were a little insane. They’ll learn. Rain showers are seriously the best (well, second best to warm bucket showers, but those are more effort), and they’re always followed by a cup of Milo (hot chocolate) because the rain is freeeeeeezing. Yummm.

Goat, Cake, and Computers

I had a chance to redeem myself at the farm today. We had to finish sowing the rest of the field, so I promised myself that I would be more careful and went for it. Today it felt like I was born with a machete in my hand, and I made it through the morning without any major injuries.

Hole progress shot!

Nico and I stayed after again to keep working on the poop hole (a place for them to convert pig poop into fertilizer for the farm). It must seem like this is taking forever, but you have to understand our circumstances. First, the dirt is more like clay, so it’s heavier and stickier than regular dirt. Second, the tools we have aren’t exactly ideal. We consistently have two shovels. One is sharp and somewhat effective at cutting through the soil, but it has a broken handle which is only about 1’-6” long. The other is completely worthless for cutting through soil. It has to be really loose and soft in order to get anything onto the shovel. We also have a pickaxe, so usually we use that first to dig up the ground and then go through afterwards with the shovels. It’s slow work. One time, we also had an unbroken, effective shovel, but apparently someone borrowed that one and hasn’t given it back yet. I honestly think that with good shovels, we would finish this hole in half the time that it’s taken us. But alas, we don’t have good shovels, and so here we are, making progress at a slow crawl.

Once we couldn’t take any more digging, Nico and I headed back to the house, ate breakfast, and headed back out, this time to EP. During our meeting on Tuesday, the principal brought up the fact that only two of their computers (out of either 8 or 10, I’m not sure) were working by the end of the year and asked if anyone could help fix them. Nico and I volunteered even though neither of us would claim to have advanced computer fixing knowledge, but we figured that we probably know more than most people in Frankadua. Either way, it was worth seeing what we could do to help.


The lab with Nico hard at work

When we got into the “computer lab”, it was pretty clear why none of the computers were working. I don’t think that a single one of them had the computer connected to a monitor, and half of the computers and monitors weren’t plugged in. The other half were plugged into power strips that didn’t work. We managed to get three working right away, just from correcting the plug situation. We opened up another computer and basically played spot the differences with one of the computers that worked. Each time we saw something that was different, we stole a part from another computer or tweaked whatever needed tweaking until it matched. Neither of us had any clue what we were doing, but we got another computer to start working! Now we have four that turn on, and all of them have some software bugs that need to be worked out. I’m feeling pretty good about what we’ve done so far though, and I’m confident that we’re going to be able to get them running smoothly.

My new laundry setup

The entire afternoon was spent on laundry. I finally think I’ve perfected the technique. Step 1 was an overnight soak of EVERYTHING which helped with the smell issues. Then I had three buckets, one soap and two rinse, so that I can actually get the suds out of everything. Finally, I bought a laundry bar (basically a bar of soap) that smells awesome, and I scrubbed the crap out of everything with it. After I was finished, my clothes actually smelled good! Unlike last time, but we don’t talk about that anymore. I’m a hand washing laundry pro (though all of the kids still laughed at me because it took me so long).

Happy birthday Evans!

Right as I was wrapping up my laundry, the new volunteers arrived! We have two new people, Isabel (US, 10 weeks, teaching) and Tolu (Canada, 1 week, medical). I’m feeling good about them already. They kind of had to just jump right in because we were celebrating Evans’s birthday (he’s on staff with the organization). Sosane found a woman in town who could bake a cake (apparently she has a tin oven in.her house?), and she and Avy shopped for ingredients for a birthday cake for him. It looked funny, but it tasted awesome.

The cake in all of its glory

Somehow, the mini birthday party evolved into a real party because James, Nico, and Amber bought a goat and they were cooking it on the front porch. I guess everyone invited a few people because before we knew it, the entire porch was filled with people, some from the farm, some from the clinic, some just from around town. There, of course, was also a bonfire. I don’t think anyone was planning on having an actual party, but I’m glad it happened because it ended up being a lot of fun. There’s nothing like an impromptu goat party to kick off the weekend!

Mouse Funeral

​I feel about a million times better today. Somehow, after I slept for like 8 hours during the day yesterday, I still managed to sleep through the night with no trouble at all. I guess that means I really needed it and I should probably be getting to bed earlier. I’m still wearing my glasses just in case I did scratch my cornea, but my eye already feels a lot better.

Amber had a bit of a traumatic morning. We have a mouse problem in the house, so they recently set a bunch of traps, including one glue trap. I’m personally not a big fan of glue traps because it takes so long for the mouse to die, and this morning, there was one stuck in it. Amber decided that she was going to save it, so she put on gloves, pulled it off the trap, and tried to clean the glue off. That failed miserably since they use ultra-sticky glue on those things, but she did her best and then put it in a tub to bring to the farm with us. About halfway there, she checked on the mouse, and it was dead. It definitely suffocated in the tub… so it wasn’t exactly the most successful rescue, but at least she tried? When I went to dump the body in the woods, it was completely stuck to the tub. That mouse didn’t stand a chance in the wild. I would say it’s the thought that counts, but in this case, I really don’t think that applies.

Sunset pic from my run!

We hoed at the farm and had classes afterwards, but the mouse was probably the most eventful part of the day until around 3PM when new volunteers came! I was a little nervous because things have been going so well with our group for the last few weeks, but after meeting the new people, I’m feeling confident that the group dynamic is going to be totally fine. We have three new people: James (UK, 8 weeks), Sosane (UK, 3 weeks), and Isabel (Canada, 1 week). It’s kind of weird timing because we’re all leaving for the weekend tomorrow, with the newbies headed to Cape Coast and the rest of us going to Ada Foah.

Time to go pack! It should be a cool weekend.