It was back to the farm this morning! The only person who came with me today was Anna, and I give her credit for sticking with it. She was rewarded with a fun morning of… hoeing! My old friend, how I’ve missed you. We hoed around some eggplants, and at one point she said, “I wish we were planting corn.” Ha! She now understands my opinion about the four days of sowing last week. It wasn’t actually that horrible because there weren’t too many weeds to cut through, and the field we were working on was small enough to finish in one day.

This is the school at the Pink program orphanage.

We had a fun day ahead after breakfast! Yesterday, some of the other volunteers went to the farm and picked eggplants from the field we planted corn over to be taken to one of the other orphanages supported by our organization (the Pink program). We had a whole crew with us for this trip – Anna, Yara, Clarina, Evans, Joe, Jamie, and me. We took a tro to the town where the orphanage is, Dodowa, and from there, everyone except for Evans and me packed into a taxi with the food for the last part of the trip. He and I walked about 20-25 minutes to get there, which wasn’t too bad except that it was really hot, the sun was out, and there was NO shade.

Front row – Jamie, Clarina, Anna Back row – Yara, me, and the second-in-command at the orphanage

After making the donation, we ate lunch with the two Pink volunteers before heading back to Frankadua. Evans went back to Accra, Joe had already left, and Jamie was transferring to Pink, so our group was down to Anna, Yara, Clarina, and me. We took a tro to Kpong and then had to switch to another one for the rest of the trip. The second tro sat in the station for probably 45 minutes until it filled up, which once upon a time might have bothered me, but now I’m the queen of patience. It didn’t hurt that a bofrot lady AND a fan ice guy came by around the same time, so I double fisted a donut and some ice cream and was perfectly content to wait.

After we got back, we all practiced carrying things on our head! I’m determined to figure it out.

When we finally got back, James said that he went to the clinic again, and he does have malaria. It’s a mild case – they rank it out of 4 pluses with 4 being the worst, and he only had 1 plus. Still though, it’s miserable. He’s taking the anti-malaria meds that you’re supposed to take, but they don’t actually guarantee that you won’t get malaria. If you get it, it’s just usually a milder case than it could have been. Some people don’t take them because they “don’t really work”, but my opinion is that it’s not worth taking the chance, and anything is better than nothing. Hopefully he starts getting better soon because it’s definitely not fun.


Amber shucking corn for the last time 🙁

We had a really cool day!! Amber, Nico, and I took a food donation to the orphanage, and it was awesome to get to see the payoff from our work.

Our trip to the farm this morning was bittersweet because it was Amber’s last day, but we were getting the food together for the donation. We spent part of the time shucking more corn and the other part picking some eggplants. After everything was assembled, we had to take it out to the street which is easier said than done when you’re coming from a farm that’s probably a 25 minute walk from the street.

Me and Amber with Joe (the photographer clearly struggled with the frame a little)

Nico took one sack of corn in the wheelbarrow, John carried the sack of eggplants on his head, Anthony (another one of the local farmers that works with us) carried another sack of corn on his head, and they made a mini sack of corn for me. Amber offered moral support and carried the eggplant bag for part of the walk. I was carrying my sack in my arms until Anthony shook his head and told me to put it on my head. Learning how to carry things on my head is on my to do list, so I felt like I had to try. I think I did okay! It was a little uncomfortable because corn cobs were digging into my skull, but that’s just because I didn’t have anything to use as a cushion. People usually coil up towels or other fabric pieces and put them between their heads and whatever they’re carrying. By the end, I could even walk a little distance without using my hands. Woo! I’m not going to be carrying water on my head anytime soon, but it’s a start! (I was feeling inspired and actually tried carrying some water with no hands this afternoon… It did not go well.)

We left the sacks by the side of the road for a couple hours while we ate breakfast and got ready to go to the orphanage and just trusted that no one would touch them. Apparently, having someone steal your food from the side of the busiest road in the village is not something you need to worry about. Sure enough, we caught a tro by our house, and when we drove down the street to where we left the stuff, it was all still there.

The tro dropped us off in Asikuma, the town where the orphanage is, and we still had probably a 15 minute walk to get there. Joe called one of the guys who works there, he came on his motorcycle and rounded up three other guys with motorcycles, and they all took one bag of food in front of them and one of us behind. My first motorcycle ride! Let’s just pretend that we all had helmets on.

School with no walls = cool until there’s rain or wind or you’re trying to get a bunch of kids to focus. Great for air circulation though!
One of the classrooms. They have whiteboards!!

We thought it was funny that it seemed like as the kids got older, they had less and less walls. This is the oldest class… So no walls.
You can see the very beginnings of the new school in the grass on the left side of the picture. They were just starting when we were there, so mostly they had people making the blocks that they’re going to use to build the walls.

After handing over the food, we checked out the primary school that’s right next door. It’s really cool! The school just started this year, so they’re using a temporary structure while the permanent one is under construction. They said that as long as they have a steady stream of funding, the project will take two years total. This is the only school in the area, so all the kids who go there now either didn’t go to school before or had to travel to the next town to get there (probably getting there by walking, and the towns aren’t that close together). It was fun to see another school, and it felt like there was such a good energy there. Obviously we were only there for a few minutes, but the teachers seemed passionate and the kids were engaged. Whoa.

We worked on the hole (to store the pig poop and convert it into fertilizer for the farm) a little more in the afternoon, and Isabel came along again to help. It’s so nice to have extra hands!! Oh yeah, as you can see, Isabel didn’t leave today. Apparently now she’s going on Monday. At least we can put off another goodbye for a few more days! We didn’t make as much progress on the hole as we had hoped, but isn’t that what always happens? We should have known.

This is Amber’s last night, so we’re having a bonfire (of course) to celebrate. How did 6 weeks go by so quickly?? Ah! That reminds me! Originally, I was planning on doing agriculture for 6 weeks and construction for 6 weeks during my time here, but I’ve changed my mind. I would have to switch to Gold to do construction, and as you know, they have a lot of lizards and snakes there. But actually, I’ve decided to stay here because I really like the village, and I love being able to work on the farm and teach and help out with whatever projects the other volunteers have going on. I feel like I have some momentum here, and it seems stupid to interrupt that and move just because of a decision I made before I really understood what I was getting myself into. So yeah… In conclusion, I’m not moving, and time to get ready for Amber’s bonfire party!

I’m finally starting to feel like I hit my groove at the farm, and that’s usually when things start going wrong. As soon as you’re feeling too confident, something happens to put you back in your place. We sowed another corn field this morning, and I was actually managing to move at an acceptable pace! I think I have the technique figured out. Things were going great! Anddd then I was an idiot and started being overconfident and managed to cut my pinky finger with my machete. 

Amber’s masterpiece

I was so embarrassed and we only had about 15 minutes left and I didn’t want the guys to know what had happened, so I was planning on just pretending nothing was wrong and finishing the work. Great plan except that apparently fingertip cuts bleed excessively. After about 1 minute of trying to keep going, I had to stop and signal to Amber to come help me. We didn’t have a band aid and didn’t want to ask, so she took the random objects (some string and a water bag) I had in my bag and pulled something together. Once we got back to the house, she cleaned it out and put an actual band aid on. It’s really not that bad (so Mom, stop freaking out).
After breakfast, we went around to the three schools we’re working with. We’ve spent a lot of time at EP, but I hadn’t been to Baptist or the junior high yet. We met the headmasters of both schools and talked a bit about what we can do to help out. Baptist still doesn’t have a teacher for P3, so that’s good…

Group machete time

Anyway, today was still a cleaning day so the kids were outside, chopping down some of the tall grass around the school with machetes. I’m glad that a bunch of 10 year olds can handle their machetes better than I can. It was a good morning for my ego.

The view from the orphanage

In the afternoon, James had plans to go to the orphanage to train their soccer team, and we all decided to go with him. I haven’t been yet, and I was interested to see it. That’s where the food from the farm goes. It’s about a 20 minute tro ride and a 15 minute walk from our house. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the situation there. They have about 35 kids, and they all have their own beds and there are flush toilets and running water. They definitely aren’t living in luxury or anything, but it’s actually probably a step up from our house. The floors are even tiled!

The girls’ bedroom

WAIT. There’s more. They have a washing machine. Yes, an actual clothes washing machine. And it works! I almost lost my mind. I actually had a dream last week where we got a new house with a washing machine and I almost cried I was so happy. It’s funny the things you end up missing… I don’t think I would have put that on my list ahead of time. I probably would have mentioned running water, but I’m actually doing just fine without that. Anyway, they also have an oven and a microwave and a couch. Mmm I also miss my couch. It’s okay though. We’ll have a beautiful reunion in November.

Looking out from the orphanage porch
A couple of the kids insisted on borrowing Amber’s and my sunglasses and then begged me to take a picture

Okay sorry, I got distracted. Like I was saying, it was nice to see what we’re working for at the farm every day. We got home just before dinner and then spent the night assembling school supply bundles for the kids at EP and Baptist. Avy raised money before she came to be used wherever she saw a need, and after seeing how many kids don’t have what they need to be successful at school, she started looking into getting some supplies for everyone. Each kid is going to get a notebook and a pencil case with a pencil, pen, eraser, sharpener, and ruler. They’ll still need more notebooks and the pencils won’t last all year, but it’s a start! It’s also good motivation for the kids because who doesn’t love new school supplies? We all helped put the pencil cases together, and they’ll be distributed to all of the kids later this week.