Ghana Day Four: Touch a Life, Tutoring, and an Orphanage
Are you shocked to see an actual photo? You just get one though, since it took 10 minutes to upload. I’ll start earlier tomorrow night. I just typed the title for this post and thought, “We’ve only been here four days?” So, time is supposed to fly by when you’re having fun, but I think we are cramming so much into each day that at the end of it we feel like we’ve experienced multiple days. Today was like that.
We woke up early to be ready for Garret and Kelly Nichols, who are the in-country directors here for Touch a Life Foundation. They picked us up in their Land Rover, which was wonderful because for the first time since we’ve been here my butt wasn’t scraping the ground in a low-riding Kia. I’m not complaining about our dependable Kia, but I believe four-wheel drive vehicles should be mandatory here. They should not even import cars because the roads are terrible far beyond what you can imagine. Okay, that’s my tiny bit of road rage for the day.
Touch a Life in Ghana helps to rescue and rehabilitate child slaves off Lake Volta. It’s an amazing organization and you should read the book, Jantsen’s Gift, but I think I’ve already gone on and on about that in another post. TAL is building a state-of-the-art facility outside of Kumasi that will include separate houses for boys and girls and an art center where the children will also eat their meals. The design team from Extreme Home Makeover did all the plans for the art center and when it’s finished, it will look like a giant Lego. I’m planning on following this construction project and writing about the progress on my blog. I can’t wait to post pictures of a giant Lego art facility filled with beautiful rescued children in Ghana, Africa. That is definitely one good story!
Garret and Kelly dropped us back off at the hotel and we drove back out to Ankaase village to tutor the children. Erin worked with the girls, Beatrice and Sarah, and I worked with Samuel and Osei, an 18-year old boy who is starting school after years of working on his family’s farm. He is in grade level Three, but he doesn’t care that he sits in a classroom of children ten years younger and at least two feet shorter. He wants to learn. He reads on the level of an early kindergartner, so he is really struggling. When we walked into the classroom, Samuel was sitting at a table helping him read. It was an amazing sight. I took word tiles, dumped them across the table, and we spent the next hour and 15 minutes making crazy sentences with them. Guess what? Samuel can smile. And he can laugh. He did both and the three of us had a great time. We enjoyed jolly ranchers throughout the tutoring session and finished it off with bubblegum. Samuel was dressed better today (shirt wasn’t inside out and backwards), but his socks were filthy and I’m sure he had been wearing them for days. This kid is on his own way too much, which is how it works in Ghana. Very young children walk distances without adults anywhere nearby, and in the villages they play in groups by the side of the road, in ditches, near piles of trash. Adults seem to trust that children will be fine without an adult hovering nearby. I just want someone to wash Samuel’s socks before Monday morning.
After we finished tutoring, we bought some bottles of water for the children at a stand down the hill from the school and sent them on their way home. It was the end of a long day for them. We, however were nowhere near finished. We visited a friend of Peter’s in the village who has epilepsy and lost one arm when she fell into a fire during a seizure. When we walked up to her house she was swinging a hatchet with her remaining arm trying to kill snakes in the woods nearby. Now, the last two sentences sound unbelievable, but after only a few days in Africa they roll off my tongue because life here is just like that. I really am making another commitment to shut up with the whining about anything in my life.
So our last stop was at an orphanage in the village and it was a nice way to end the day. There are 17 children living there and they are the happiest kids I’ve ever seen. That’s not an exaggeration. Pure joy. That’s the photo above, and I’m sorry there is only one. I feel like my ability to paint you an amazing picture of this beautiful country with only my words is so inadequate. Thanks for bearing with me. I wish you could see what I’ve seen, accompanied by the sounds, smells, and yes, even the feel of the hot, humid air and the blazing African sun. I thought I had suffered through the very worst summer weather last year in China. Not so. But I’m not complaining. Promise.
So until tomorrow, goodnight from Kumasi, Ghana.