January 28, 2009

School Visit

Tuesday the group from Light for Children did a visit to the Yaa Acchia Girl School in Kumasi to give a talk about malaria.

The students performed skits that they had rehearsed for a long time, and the group gave some malaria information. At the end, with the speakers pumping out music, the students had us join in on dancing.

Wednesday will be another visit to a school to deliver the "Journey of Hope" educational message about HIV/AIDS, then back to the school to finish up yesterday's work, to the market to gather food for a cook-out, hopefully home-visits with the children, then a cook-out before leaving tomorrow for the North to visit a bunch of NGOs.

January 26, 2009

So it begins

Finally in Africa.

It was a long trip, but not a bad one. I don't think I've ever had to show my passport so many times in a 24-hour period. The plane took me from Washington D.C. to Frankfurt in 7 hours, then about an hour and a half through customs in Germany, and on another plane to Lagos, Nigeria as a quick stop before heading on to Accra, Ghana.

I am currently in Ghana volunteering as a photojournalist for Light for Children and hopefully gathering some stories for other organizations. I picked up extra work here and there to fund the trip, and am doing it because it can help in a different way, but also because I really believe in service, and lately have a need to feel like I am doing something for a reason bigger than myself.

Once arriving in Accra, Light for Children was kind enough to have someone pick me up and Poppo definitely made life easier! He was there to greet me with a big bottle of water, got me to the guest house where I stayed for the night, introduced me to the group of volunteers he works with, and gave me an introduction to Ghana dos and don't over dinner by the Gulf of Guinnea. (Don't use your left hand in relation to others, whether eating or waving, Obroni means White Person or Foreigner but is not an insult, etc.)

The next day we went to the airport to pick up another volunteer and together hopped on the bus to head to Kumasi. There were some interesting movies played on the bus, and as I was asked when I got into Kumasi, "Did they involve a story line of someone cheating on someone else? They usually do." And they did.

Last night I got settled in with my host family, who are incredibly hospitable, then talked with Sebastian about the upcoming three weeks, what the group has been up to, and what we hope to accomplish. We both agreed have a general plan and play it by ear. This morning I met with Yaw and learned the history of Light for Children.

Haven't taken any photos or interviews yet, but am learning and reading a lot quickly. Today the volunteers return from the North, then tomorrow go to a school to give a presentation. I'll be heading along for that, and on Tuesday we all go back North to observe and work with a few other NGOs there. We came up with some ideas to propose, and we'll see what I can get done. We go about a day and a half with each one, so it will be quick work.

Upon returning to Kumasi, I will really dig into the work with Light for Children... going on educational events with the volunteer group, spending time with children and their families, and following those who run the organization.

For now, I'll keep planning and getting prepared and educated on the missions of the groups, and hopefully get my cell to work today!

January 21, 2009