Week 3 & 4: 14th July – 29th July

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Africa » Ghana » Volta » Aflao
July 31st 2012
Published: July 31st 2012
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One thing, amongst many, that I have enjoyed in Ghana is learning people’s names. I have met girls named ‘Patient’, ‘Wonder’, ‘Blessing’, ‘Comfort’ and my favourite, ‘Thank-God’. I have met boys named ‘Ebeneezer’, ‘Zerobabel’, ‘Godsway’ and my favourite, ‘Godknows’…. ‘Hi, what’s your name?’ ‘God knows’ – I just think that’s a great way to introduce yourself. Among the many people I have met, last week I met Nelson Mandela. Unfortunately, not the Nobel Prize winning granddad of the world, but a slightly overweight IT man from Aflao who came to fix the modem so I can update the blog again, yippee!

In the last few weeks there have been some surreal moments. We started with a crisis – the school exams were to start this week but our printer had broken down. Over the next few days, many men came, and many men failed, but one, Sampson, was able to find the problem – however, as soon as he started to put the machine back together again a mouse ran into it. They managed to get it out, much to its detriment, as later that night, the children told me they had cooked and eaten the mouse – apparently, it tastes like rabbit and is delicious – hmmm, yummy!

There was a ‘circle of life’ moment as at the end of week 3, the President’s office visited our region in celebration of his 68th birthday for which he was distributing ‘gifts’ to children’s homes in the region and they had chosen our school to be one of the hosts. So, on the Friday, after a long day of waiting for the officials (7 hours!), we received some money, foam mattresses, bags of rice and buckets…oh, and cake – definitely worth the 7 hour wait. Still, everyone was appreciative and the President seems to be popular, obviously important in election year. So, when just a few days later, I was sitting at a bar with David and he received a phone call informing him the President had died, there was shock and genuine sadness at the news. What direction will Ghana take now?

As well as a death, there was a birth. One of the neighbours gave birth in her home with the help of an elderly local lady on the Monday. On Friday, when I happened across her courtyard to play with her toddler, I notice her sitting in the doorway with her new born son. As well as being a beautiful sight, it was a very surprising one, as nobody actually knew she was pregnant, despite seeing her everyday! Like communities everywhere, there is gossip and secrets, and it seems this neighbour is quite often at the centre of it here so she is very secretive when she wants to be…pretty impressive with a pregnancy! Still, she let me take a photo, which is the only proof to her neighbours that there is a new addition in town.

Intermingled with births, deaths and mouse-kebabs, I have managed to do some work. We’ve developed some new easier and more informative recording procedures and started to work on a finance manual. We have moved further in setting a budget for next year and a cash-flow forecast. David has held a meeting with the children at the home so they are more aware of the financial situation and that some sacrifices will be needed. Unfortunately, one of the sacrifices will be the foam mattresses from the President which David suggests they should sell to raise some money for the summer when there is extra pressure on finances as there are no school fees to support them, but with the intention of buying new ones when there is more money again. This reminds me, a few weeks ago I was doing a letter writing exercise with two of the children, Peace and Sylva who were writing to my friend’s daughter as a penpal. I asked them to write things they liked. They told me they like foam mattresses and pillows (kids these days!). It’s a shame but at the same time this meeting is about David taking action, prioritising and making decisions which aren’t easy. As tempting as it is to offer money and offer to do fundraising back in the UK, they need a sustainable way forward. Though they will receive cash injections through donations, sometimes with restrictions, sometimes without, David’s main concern is to get the children’s home to be standing on its own feet. Though money from selling the foam mattresses may be minor and a short-term solution, and who knows, may be they will not have to sell them, but it is the gesture itself which is significant.

Week 5, my final week, beckons….


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