Monday, March 26, 2012

From Ghana with love...

I rolled into Humjibre one golden evening, drooping from the heat and trailed by an impressive dust cloud, disturbed by our taxi driver’s superbly honed pothole avoidance skills (or lack there of). A group of smiling children came to greet us and like any dutiful welcoming party, they demanded to help carry my assortment of dusty, mismatched luggage…on their heads!
“Akwaaba to Humjibre!”

In just 5 minutes of arriving in the village I will call home for the next year, I've already met a handful of adorable children and discovered a new skill set that just begs for countless hours of practicing! (I’ve already envisioned myself strolling through the airport, coffee in one hand, sweet pastry in another with my carry-on luggage exquisitely balanced on top of my noggin!).

My first week was one of orienting myself to a new community and learning the names and roles of each of our in-country staff. I was welcomed to the GHEI family with drinks at a local watering hole and had the chance to taste my first ‘tot” of the local ginger brew, Burukatu (Warning, the stomach calming medicinal values of the ginger root does NOT transfer over to the alcoholic uses of this plant). 
Our ECL (Early Childhood Literacy) graduation took place this past week and I had the fantastic opportunity to witness it first hand. Our ECL class is one of the newer additions to the GHEI Education Program and offers supplemental classes to primary school students who are falling behind in school.

Photos by Mandolyn
This group of rambunctious munchkins received congratulatory storybooks for excellent attendance and recognition for their hard work. The event concluded with some of the children’s favorite games: Dancing Chairs, the Ghanaian version of Musical Chairs where the children dance instead of run, and Alphabet Floor Tag, where letters are randomly scattered across the floor and the children must run and locate the correct letter that the teacher calls out. The afternoon sunlight streaming through the Community Center windows, illuminated the running feet and smiling faces of our lovely students. 

All in all, my first few weeks in Ghana have been…hot! But also stunning, thanks to my new GHEI family!

Stay tuned for more lively stories, photos and GHEI updates!

Share |

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This dynamic duo, who single-handedly change the world through books, blogs and beards, just celebrated their big THREE-OH! Chad (raised in Chad coincidentally), is our almost former Communications Director (almost gone but never forgotten!) and Lawrence (who just welcomed a new baby girl to the family!) acts as our fantastic librarian. These are some of our stunning in-country staff here at GHEI!

Share |

Friday, March 9, 2012

Progress and Patriotism in Humjibre

Pictures by Mandolyn McConaha

On Tuesday, March 6, Ghana celebrated 55 years of independence.  Everyone had the day off except all students in Humjibre, who gathered in their cleanest school uniform (and nicest shoes) at the top of the hill.  Martial drumbeats were heard since early morning and by time Jen and Mandolyn and I made it to the street to watch the parades, students were assembled in rigid lines and were beginning their marching.  Even the very youngest ones, in their purple preschool uniforms, attempted a lock step march, but their big eyes mostly wandered to the raucous crowds lining the street. Teachers rushed alongside, scooting the straying ones back in line.

We followed alongside as the various schools began their marches through town to the football field.  The early morning clouds had lifted, and everyone was in a fantastic mood.  I kept running into people I’d met months back, now back from school or from working in the city and home to celebrate.  I kept getting further behind the festivities, and it began to sink that I am leaving this great place really soon and I have not taken any pictures of these kids! How am I supposed to blog about this?

Fortunately, Mandolyn was there.  Mandolyn McConaha is GHEI’s new communication director, replacing yours truly.  She has spent a lot of time abroad, and even worked in a communication director type role with an NGO in southeast Asia.  She also has a background in photojournalism, so her pictures were going to be way more awesome than mine that day anyways.  Remembering this, I went back to slapping hi-fives with rowdy dudes, and finding food (including someone cooking a “Flying Rat”.  Did you know that rats fly?  They do in Humjibre!)

The schools gathered on the football pitch to march once more, this time past the seated VIPs. As they passed, they delivered swift little salutes.  I asked a spectator, if he did this when he was in school. He told me, with a touch of patriotic nostalgia, that he was the lead drummer during his Junior High years.  I recognized some of the GHEI YEP students, leading their schools.  I spoke to an older gentleman who remembered Ghana’s very early years till now, “Fifty-Five years and not enough progress!”  He didn’t have much hope for seeing a drastically better Ghana, but he thought the kids marching today will. Ghana is still a young country, and people are proud of it.

by Mandolyn McConaha
As you can see if you take a look at our facebook photo album on Ghanaian Independence Day, Mandolyn got some really great shots that day.  I’m excited to see what she does with the blog, and excited for all of you to get a fresh perspective on GHEI’s work.   Even if you know GHEI’s daily grind as well as I do, and you have an idea of what life is like in a progressing Ghana, there’s always a new way of looking at it.   

Share |