Africa, Travel Stories

Ghana, at last

Tomorrow I will have been in Ghana for a week. I’m staying in a small village close to Accra called Teiman where I’m teaching English and computer classes at the local school. Soon, I will write about why I am here and how it is a sort of miracle that I’ve finally arrived. I’ll write more about my journey and all of the details that brought me here. For now, I’ll just tell you about my day.

Today was a tough day. Today I allowed myself to see past the smiling faces of my students to notice the barren ground they must pass through on their way to school.
TheBarefootBeatThis is the kids’ schoolyard

I allowed myself to absorb the smell of the smoke burning piles of trash; I looked closely at the red earth I’m enamored with to see the pieces of broken glass and remnants of plastic strewn in my path. 

I held a boy named Kwaku in my arms and worried at his unusually listless body. I felt his forehead and noticed the beads of sweat pouring down his face and pooling on my arm. TheBarefootBeatSelfies with cute African kids are totally allowed, right?
This one has stolen my heart.

I noticed the raindrops drip, dripping through the sheet metal roof in my classroom and watched as kids stuffed plastic bags into the holes.

One of the classrooms at Wisdom Academy

Today as the rain fell harder, I watched the village’s bumpy dirt roads turn to slick clay and envisioned a community garden in the barren plot next to the school, full of wide green leaves and food for the kids to eat. I dreamt of a place where the kids could cultivate the rich soil and learn about nutrition, not from a textbook but by touching, and feeling, and tasting. I wished for electricity and a simple bathroom with a toilet and running water where they could wash their hands before sharing a bowl of rice and chicken.
TheBarefootBeatThe school isn’t yet complete and lacks an office and a bathroom, among other needs.

Today was a tough day. Today I was faced with my own inadequacy as I tried to hold the attention of a group of students eager to learn but lacking in so many things. I thought of the impossibility of teaching indirect object pronouns and prepositions to such a diverse and active class, watching helplessly as the kids in the front row tried to contain their excitement for knowledge while the kids in the back row hit each other and dropped the f-bomb.
One of my classes, posing for a photo to send to an American class as pen pals.

Today I saw past the village houses and laundry hanging on the line. I looked past the raw landscape of the mountainside devastated by modern development.
A view of the village below and the destruction going on above it.

I saw beyond the ladies selling fried yams next to the bus stop; I saw past the incomplete school building with its leaky roof and broken desks. 

Today I saw students I barely knew but already cared about. I saw a young boy whose tired body had collapsed in my arms, trusting that I would take care of him. I saw the overwhelming needs this community faces and realized that I care.
I care for kids whose names I can’t pronounce. I care with my whole heart for a place I’d never heard of five days ago. Today I realized, “Here I am, where I am supposed to be.” (Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa)

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  • Reply Sarah Somewhere November 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Absolutely beautiful. I love the raw honesty of your writing, you have a gift. Keep going.

    • Reply Mariah November 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Sarah! They mean more than you know 🙂

  • Reply Colleen Brynn October 20, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Just so so wonderful. You are doing great things! x
    Colleen Brynn recently posted…Swallowed UpMy Profile

    • Reply Mariah October 21, 2013 at 4:17 am

      Thank you so much Colleen! Hope all is going well for you in your corner of the world 🙂

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