It is hard to believe that two weeks ago, I was stepping onto Ghana soil for the first time! As I have settled into a routine volunteering and exploring the city, it seems like I have been here awhile. And then, there are moments, when a herd of goats crosses the road or I have to ask someone to repeat themselves for the 15th time, that I feel like I just stepped off the plane.
One thing this trip has made me much more aware of is celebrating little victories. At home, I make a to do list and then work to get through it. Sure, there is a certain satisfaction in checking off the next item, but not much time is spent recognizing the work that’s been done. Here, I’m much more aware of when I successfully do something new!
For example, to get to the Department of Social Welfare each morning, I have to take a taxi. While most of the taxi drivers speak English, it is helpful to tell them where you’d like to go in Fante. Then, there’s the fun of digging out 80 peshwas (roughly the equivalent of 40 cents) from your bag and keeping an eye out for where you’d like to stop. Since taxis are used by lots of people to get to school and work in the mornings, the taxis are almost always full. Personal space isn’t really a thing here, so the taxi rides in the morning often find me sitting very close to the person next to me. Also, since I’m typically the only obroni in the car, lots of people like to chat about where I’m from and what I’m doing in Ghana. All of this to say, when I take a taxi to work, get out at the right spot and give the driver the correct fare, I feel pretty awesome!
Another small victory from this week came with an unusual task assigned by the DSW. Since the streets here aren’t marked, sending mail can be rather tricky. So, if the DSW has a letter for someone, they call to let that person know to come by and pick it up. Lexie (the other Proworld volunteer) and I were asked to call a list of daycare center owners to ask them to come pick up their letters. The DSW oversees the daycares here in Cape Coast. While they call it daycare here, I think preschool would be the more accurate American equivalent, since these centers are tasked with getting the kids ready for primary school. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about our ability to communicate over the phone with the owners. Nevertheless, we bravely started calling. And while there were definitely some comical moments, one woman couldn’t hear me, so I was literally shouting into the phone, “THIS IS KATE FROM THE DSW! PLEASE COME GET YOUR LETTER!”, we were able to call the majority of the centers. And, guess what? They were able to understand us! Today has seen a steady stream of people coming to pick up their letters. Every letter I’ve handed out has been a small victory! From a selfish perspective, it’s also helped me see that what I did actually helped.
This attitude of celebrating small victories is helpful when it comes to the work I see being done in Ghana. I was lucky enough to visit with three great NGOs this week. All of them are working to make the local communities here better. I especially enjoyed chatting with a group that has designed a new kind of stove for women to use. This stove reduces the women’s exposure to smoke while they are cooking. It can be fueled by things like corn husks and sawdust, which are easily found. The ash left from the fire can be used as fertilizer. These stoves are produced out of a local college, putting Ghanaians to work. It’s amazing stuff. But, to get to the point where this group was able to distribute these stoves, they’ve had to take a lot of little steps. And, all of these little steps represent small victories along the way.
I’m excited to be heading to Kumasi for the weekend with some fellow Proworld volunteers. It should be a fun trip! To add to the excitement, Regina Fuller, former Presidential Scholar, will be there as well! We are planning to meet up for dinner to catch up. It will be great!
I’m sorry I haven’t been able to put up any pictures, but I will try to do so soon. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!