Living on Ghana Time
Hello from Cape Coast, Ghana! I’m happy to say I’ve made it through my first week here, and I’m enjoying getting to know this community. The first week has been filled with new experiences. Bathing out of a bucket was certainly new, as was adjusting to the sun setting by 6:30 pm. Here, foreigners are lovingly called “Obrunis” and I’m showered with “hellos!” from the local kids everywhere I walk! I’ve learned a little Fante, which is the local language. Not being able to easily communicate has probably been the biggest adjustment. But, I appreciate the friendliness of the people and their patience when I stumble with the language.
For the next few weeks, I will be volunteering with the Department of Social Welfare, through a group called Proworld. This organization helps volunteers find opportunities to serve abroad. Working with Proworld has made coming to Ghana much easier, and it has helped me see a great model for using volunteers in the developing world. Coming through Proworld has also meant that I get to live with a host family. Auntie Alice and her eight year old son Pa Kofi have welcomed me to Ghana. Auntie Alice is very kind, and she has prepared quite the variety of Ghanaian delicacies. Pa Kofi loves my iPod, and enjoys listening to songs while he soundly beats me at Uno!
So, what am I doing with the Dept of Social Welfare? Well, it turns out here in Cape Coast, the DSW oversees NGO work in this area. By volunteering with them, I have the chance to contact NGOs as well as volunteer in an understaffed office. Auntie Felicia and Mr. Amofah run the DSW, and they are assisted by two Ghanaian interns.
Now, as you may have gathered from the title of this post, Ghana runs on its own schedule. At first, I thought that simply meant to add an hour or two to the time someone asked you to meet. What I’ve realized though, is Ghana time permeates everything about the community. People here are much more laid back than they are in the States. I expected to start at the Department of Social Welfare and instantly get to work. However, this past week has found me spending time with the two Ghanaians in the office who are finishing their year of national service. Our conversations, held at a leisurely pace, have helped me begin to understand the way things work here. I’ve realized how thankful I should be for chance to hear about Ghana from this perspective. Listening to their experiences has opened my eyes to the way things work. And, I hope that this new knowledge will allow me to better serve!
It has been a whirlwind of a first week, but I am enjoying myself! I’m sorry I don’t have photos to post today, but I will try to put some up soon. The internet here is shaky, so I will update as I can! Miss you all at home, and I’ll see you in January!