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Published: March 27th 2015
I hope all of you have enjoyed my dad as a guest blogger. It’s been amazing to see my parents again. I have been having a lot of fun showing them Ghana and having them meet the children who I’ve been working with. I could tell that both my parents and the children enjoyed spending time at the beach. It’s also the first time I’ve seen them in a grandparent mode.
Anyways, we have been having fun traveling together. I went back to Cape Coast, where my dad loved the beach. It was overwhelming shopping for fabric in the Kejetia Market (the largest open air market in Western Africa) with my mom. We found some beautiful prints. We spent a night in the Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary, where we saw some incredible butterflies and really cool trees with huge roots. We toured the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi which is where they have an interesting museum on the Asante kingdom. We got demonstrations of adinkra and kente cloth making, and even got to dress up in kente cloth. A long bus ride from Kumasi to Tamale and then a couple hours in a trotro took us up to Larabanga. Back up north
and just in time for my birthday which is tomorrow. I won’t tell you how old I’ll be, but for those who know when I was born you’ll know.
It’s so good to see my friends up here again. Hussein and his family, which includes the baby I just missed by one week. All of the kids remembered me, which made me so happy. Baillahu came back from town with baby on back and a gourd on her head and after giving me a hug both were still in exactly the same place. She immediately put baby Samsudeen in my arms. He’s so cute and very good-tempered. We’re here for 5 nights, so it will be a nice visit. On Monday I’m going to teach my class while my parents go into Mole National Park for a walking safari.
Savannah Lodge (by guest blogger, Kit Rawson)
On the morning of 21 March we fund our way to the trotros headed west from Tamale for Domango and then on to the Salia Brothers Savannah Lodge and Center for Bambenninye Development Services, which is just past the small town of Larabanga on the road to Mole National
Park. We were are the northern extent of our journey.
As soon as the taxi entered the yard in the hot afternoon, kids of all ages realized that Laurel was back to visit, and ran up to give her hugs before she could fully even get out of the car. Hussein and Baillahu's large family includes their own biological children, nieces and nephews, and adopted children.
Our home for the next five days was one of the huts inside the family compound that comprises the Savannah Lodge. Here's where the volunteers stay when they come up to teach at the Salia brothers' school, located right next door. Laurel occupied the same hut she lived in during October, and Kathy and I had another one next door.
The weather is hot here, but drier than in the Accra region. Nights actually cool off a bit, and the huts are supplied with electric fans. Fortunately, the power is on most of the time here, unlike in the more populated south.
The family compound is filled with the shouts of active, and hard-working, children, along with the admonishments of loving parents. This is a Muslim area, so we often
hear calls to prayer and the sounds of scared singing coming from the mosques in the nearby town. Every day at sunset family members pray facing Mecca, northeast from here, in the area set aside for that purpose, just on the other side of the wall of one of the Savannah Lodge huts.
Our meals are served by the older kids at a rickety outdoor table. Dinner is usually a mass of soft doughy stuff (e.g. fufu, which is mashed yams, or TZ, pronounced "tee zed", which is a mixture of grains and cassava) in a soup, such a palm nut soup or a stew such as okro (i.e. okra) stew. These dishes are meant to be eaten with the right hand, but I did that in Accra and chose to use the spoon offered to me here.
The kids work with their mother preparing food. The do laundry by hand, gather firewood, carry water (on their heads) to fill our barrels for toilet flushing and for our bucket showers (and presumably for the same purposes for the family). Water is collected in big tanks formt he roof when it rains, and we were told there's also a
spring used in the dry season. The kids also go to school, next door to primary school and about 4 km up the road towards the Mole national Park for middle/secondary school.
Life is hard at Savannah Lodge, for sure, and I was impressed that Laurel spent the whole month of October here. However, after five days spent with this loving family in this beautiful place, I understood why this was where she wanted to be with us for her birthday.
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