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Published: November 19th 2007
Holy HOT! I'm writing my first blog from Ghana and while I sit here sweat is gushing from my body...yea, pretty gross I know! But besides the fact that I'm back to dripping once again life is fabulous! I've only been here for 6 days now but I already love this place. My flight from Kenya was easy enough and was brought right to camp. There are currenly 8 of us volunteering here- Cameron 28 Canada, Nikol 22 Canada, Jimmy 23 England, Takako 28 Japan, Jennifer 23 Texas, and Erin (Ohio) and Martina (Slovakia) are a couple from the States. They're all fantastic. I have a room with a mattress on the floor and one little table with a big blue mosquito net covering the mattress. No fans, no running water, electricity is scarce, bucket showers - what more could a girl ask for!?
Life here starts early, like 5 am early! So I'm usually up between 6 and 7 - first off its too hot to sleep much later than that but also when life has already started (with babies crying, kids screaming and playing outside your window, women washing the clothes, and of course don't forget the ROOSTERS - damn them!). Breakfast consists of tea/coffee and toast and we get lunch of camp (for around 50 cents or a dollar!) and then we get dinner back at house - really good food - rice, veggies, etc. and always fabulous pineapple for dessert! Bed is usually between 9 and 10 - early but after getting up so early, the heat and the busyness of camp life im exhausted long before then!
Life on camp is difficult for the Liberians - its difficult for them to get jobs off of camp (Ghanaians are always appreciative that they're here) and with 40,000+ of them its hard to survive. At meetings one of the main topics is always people worrying that people are literally starving here on camp, especially children. There is no running water or electricity on camp. People are super nice here but I've been asked a couple of times what am I doing here to help the people. The following are the two programs that I'm involved with here:
Community Peace Cells: Help train community peace cell leaders to facilitate, monitor, and guide community peace discussions.
Tribal Leaders: Help to facilitate reconciliation workshops for tribal leaders and compile the action plan for reconciliation in Liberia.
The camp is dirty as santitation is a HUGE problem on camp but the people are just doing what they can to get by. But the life on camp is amazing - always something to do. Last night I experienced what the volunteers call "sketchy Sunday" - Sunday nihgts are like Friday nights at home. Literally all the 40,000+ refugees are out in the main square drinking and dancing - add in 20-40 white people and see why it might be a lil sketchy for the females. The Liberians all really want to go back to Liberia or of course to the States or Europe but they dont have the funds and back in Liberia they dont have anything to go back to - no home, no job, family scattered all over the globe or dead. There are refugees here on camp that were child soldiers - everyone has a story and they're difficult to hear. There are about 16 tribes in Liberia and they were all fighting against each other so here we're trying to help them settle their differences so that if and when they do go back to Liberia they can go back as one entity instead of going back still separated and facing the same problems.
In about a week or 2 I'm going to help out for an hour or two right after lunch to teach women at the women's center (where they are taught to sew) how to read and write - they're all beginners so its all about just starting with the ABCs
This past weekend we went to Kokobite (Rasta pot smokin beach town about 20 mins from here). There is a beach right down the road from us though I have yet to go but Kokobite has restaurants, bars, dancing. It was fabulous. We climbed some cliffs to watch the sunset, swam in the water, ate good food and drank beer! Beer here costs a dollar and its the size of 2 beers so thats good. They also sell shots of strawberry gin which is really good - though I wouldn't recommend mixing the two. The other crazy ass thing they sell here is ROCKSTAR - oh yes, be ready for this - lil plastic packets, yep thats right, of caramel flavored whisky - the other volunteers introduced me to this on the first night - good with coke but on its own its pretty rough. But we spent Saturday night dancing to reggae til the wee hours of the morning.
SOO go out and buy your phone cards and CALL ME! As much as Im already loving it here the holidays are definitely going to be a bit tough! 011-233-209450008. Im 4 hours ahead of east coast time but you can call me pretty much whenever! I can also send and receive texts to/from people!
Okay I'm off to a soccer game (between 2 of the primary schools - HUGE event here on camp) and then off to a Peace Cell meeting. We're hoping to go to Accra (the capital - about 30 mins away) on Wednesday to see Ghana vs. Benin in a soccer game!
Love to all,
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