Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Here's an update of what I've been doing over here in Africa....
School has reopened for the year, so the students are entering a new grade. This means, new supplies, text books, school fees, and uniforms.
Mercy Foundation has been helping out as many needy children as we can, by helping to supply them with the things their parents and caretakers can't afford to buy for them. Mostly this means notebooks, textbooks, uniforms, pens, pencils, art supplies, and school fees.
We have 86 former street children that we are supporting, and this year we have taken on several other very needy children. Some of these kids are orphans, and have no one to help them with their schooling. Others are just really, really, poor. Life's hard over here, but we believe the only answer to poverty is education, so we are doing all we can to help sustain these kid's in their education. If not for us, then most of them would have dropped out of school, to work in the streets instead to find some way of making money.
Other than working with the street children, I have resumed teaching my ICT lessons. I currently have two very loyal and smart JHS students who come to my class three days a week. Some days I don't feel like taking the two taxis to get there in the afternoons, but then I remember that these kids are WALKING those 4 miles, after a day of school. I'm teaching them the basics, including typing, hardware, software, word processing, and recently, the internet. I showed them email, and they created email accounts. They LOVED it! Tomorrow we're opening facebook accounts, and they are soo excited. They've heard about facebook but haven't seen it yet. It should be fun!
I have been utilizing my Accounting degree and have been keeping Mercy Foundation's financial records. (For the first time in their history!) We know have monthly reports, bank recs, purchase reqs, petty cash, and... RECEIPTS! Receipts are hard to come by over here, and its soo tedious, but I make them do it. I've also created a database of every one of our beneficiaries with all their information.We've hired a new employee, and we are operating out of an office. We even have a signboard!
I also found out today that I have received the money from my PEPFAR proposal for the Know Your Status Beach Bash Concert. Now that I have the money I can FINALLY really start planning it. I am going to have it the weekend after Thanksgiving, because of World Aids Day on December 1st. I met with my Ghanaian counterparts today and they are so excited and ready to hit the ground running. After so much talking about it, and writing the grant, and waiting, it's finally time for some action!
I will be heading up to the Northern Regions of Ghana in a couple weeks for a National Counsel on HIV/AIDS Relief (NCHAR) meeting. I am the co-chair for this group, so I'm helping to plan the meeting. After we have the meeting, I'll be doing a little sightseeing (for once!) and going to Mole National Park, the biggest, nicest wildlife reserve in Ghana. They have elephants so hopefully I'll get to see some! From there I'll go to a Monkey Sancuary, a monastery, a Hippo Sanctuary, and a Crocodile Pond. (All in the Northern area) All this before finally heading to Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region for a big Peace Corps Halloween/ my 25th Birthday party!!!!
Then it's back to the beach to plan my concert. Life's hard... :)
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Sorry its been such a long time, i dont know why but writing a post has become a most daunting task. Maybe it's because i've now, since June 4th, been in Ghana a whole YEAR and nothing feels that new to me anymore... YAHOOO!!!! Actually, it sounds insane to me, time really flies here for whatever reason.
Yep, a year. Let's have a brief review:
- left home june 2nd. staged in philly. met all the volunteers, thought to myself, am i really doing this?
- arrived in ghana june 4th, felt the heat, and thought to myself, am i really doing this?
- a few months of training, living with a family, learning a new language, seeing obama, daily diarrhea, and finally...
- aug 13th, swore in as an OFFICIAL peace corps volunteer, adopted Nala, and moved to my own city by the sea, Takoradi
- the next few months involved very intense personal issues- adjusting to loneliness, the culture shock, adjusting to a city, finding my 'job', making friends, figuring out what foods to eat, facing the daily onslaught of attention for the mere reason being that i'm white
- overall, a feeling of complete confusion EVERYDAY, along with sickness
- then, the climax of the drama- a trip back home and a return to a new job in ghana
- now it's sunshine and butterflies-- no just kidding, but seriously it's better.
- let's review my 'exotic' sicknesses-
- there was, and still is, daily diarrhea. but it can come in a vicious form accompanied with vomiting. that happened alot.
- the staph infection on my leg which became quite serious, to the point that i could barely walk. now i have a nice scar next to my tattoo
- tumbu fly- i had a sore with a maggot inside, which i had to pop out. i had 2- one on my hip and one on my back
- random unknown unidentifiable allergy which results in facial deformation from the massive swelling. but ONLY on the right side of my face...
- severely swollen lymph node on my neck... that one's gettin looked at right now.
- i'm sure there's been more but i can't remember right now.
- but on a more serious note, i've managed in a year, to make takoradi, ghana my home.
through relationships, hard work, and blatant stubbornness i'm still here, and i'm looking forward to my next year.love you all and miss you.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Worms: Nala perpetually has worms, no matter how many times I have her de-wormed. They are not fun.
Maggots: Nala had a maggot crawl out of her leg. Before you go and vomit, I'd like to assure you that she is a very healthy, beautiful, and clean dog. It looked like a bump on her leg and one day I looked at it and something was moving inside. It was a maggot. I called the vet to have him come take a look at it, and by the time he got over to my house, it had already crawled itself out, and Nala was left with a hole in her leg. None of this was painful to her though. The vet gave her some sort of shot and of course, de-wormed her.
Cockroaches: The cockroaches here are just too big. Every night I have at least 3 scurry across my floor, and I go through about a half a can of raid just to STUN the little suckers. I went to the bathroom one night and discovered their favorite place- the trash in my bathroom with used T-roll. I was doin my business when I looked down and saw two little antennae peeking out over the top. Nothing like that to calm you down before bed.
Mosquitoes: Because of the hot weather in Ghana here, you often feel things on your skin. But it's a 50/50 chance that it's either sweat or a mosquitoe. So after slapping myself silly when I thought it was a bug but turned out to be sweat, I've come up with a new detection system: sweat usually drips very slowly, and if you wait long enough, you'll feel it moving. But a mosquitoe, if you're sensitive enough to feel them, lands, pricks, and leaves. So, unless I feel the prick, I don't slap. It's proving to be very effective. I'm no longer slapping myself all night.
That's the latest in news, I'm staying very busy with my new job, I'll have updates from that soon. Otherwise, I'm happy, healthy, and lovin' life!
Friday, March 5, 2010
So, I've been going out everyday with the founder of Mercy Foundation International. We have been visiting the various schools where the street children are now attending. Let me give you some background though so you know exactly what i mean by that. Mercy Foundation was founded in 1996, as a Ghanaian owned NGO with the aim of rescuing street children, providing them with counselling, and a year of 'pre' school, before enrolling and supporting them in public schools. This pre school was to help the children in transitioning from street life to school life. Many of these children were working, living, and roaming the streets. Some of these children have been orphaned or abandoned, while others come from large families who lack the resources to care for and educate them. Some of these families are headed by young, single mothers who are unemployed or sex workers.The children ranged in ages, from 6-18, and the older ones were given vocational skills and set up with an apprenticeship. Then some few years back, the government made all schools up to a certain level 'free', so the need for the transition school was lost. However, Mercy Foundation has been involved in these kid's lives, by supporting them to ensure they continue their education and stay off the streets. There was also some counselling and education offered to the guardians of the children. So, I've met some of the children and parents, and conducted business and entrepreneurship trainings for some of the parents. Mercy Foundation also offers free computer trainings to 10 needy but brilliant JHS level students every 4 months, which I will soon be teaching. We also run a shelter for victims of human trafficking and abused women and children. The Dept. of Social Welfare and DOVVSU sends cases through the local police station. There they are given a place to stay, food to eat, and protection from their abusers and capturers. Lastly, I've been going out to JHS and SHS schools in the region with the NGO to show a movie to students. This movie hits a lot of points that the students are going through, but mainly, it is a movie to encourage them to follow the Lord and stay focused in their studies. It contrasts two different characters, one who got pulled onto a wrong path by peer pressure and bad decisions, and the other who resisted and graduated school at the top of his class. The kids love it, and it is worthwhile.
Now that you know some of what I am doing, I would hope you see the benefit in giving to support an NGO who is actually helping to improve people's lives. There are a lot of relief organizations out there claiming to 'support the children', and adopt the children, but too often most of what you donate doesn't get used directly for the children. I can guarantee, (since I am a co-signer on the account) that any money you give will be used for the direct support of the children and implementation of our programs. That said, I am going to be writing a grant through the Peace Corps which you can donate through, and I'll provide the link to that later once its done. I am currently working on updating the website. If you can't wait, then there is information on the website under "support". I'll paste the link below. Please share this with anyone, I know it's hard times, but if you want to donate to something and don't want to worry about what your money is actually used for, then choose me!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
On to my job- I'm now working for another Ghanaian NGO, there's a link to the left with it's website(although I am planning to update it next week.) I have been shadowing the owner, observing what they do, and figuring out what I can do. Tomorrow I have my first entrepreneurship training class for the parents of some of the street children, and I'm hoping they get something out of it. I have an employee, really he's my translator. But he's great and helps me out a lot. We have also been going to local schools to show a film about staying focused and not getting distracted from their studies, and after it's over I stand up and give a motivational speech. Hehe, it's funny. I could talk about watermelons and they'd listen, 'cuz I'm white.
So that's all for now, I just got over a really bad stomach thing, I think it was dysentary. Vomiting, diarrhea, fever, that's enough details. But it got rid of those extra pounds I gained at home! There's always a bright side.
Hope all is well at home, lots of love.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
On that note, I've had a great time in Jersey. My two weeks at home was a unique experience; I noticed that not too much has changed in the last seven months, but that I have changed alot. It's a hard thing to put into words, but I guess it is, in essence, an appreciation for life that I didn't have before, and a different view of the world . I am so grateful that I was able to be with my family when we said our final goodbyes to my PopPop. He was a great man, and it was obvious that he lived his life in a way that endeared him to people. I got to meet my newest nephew, spend time with my other two nephews, hang out with my sisters, spend time with my parents, and meet and visit with other family. I also got to see almost all of my amazing friends, and reconnect with some that I haven't heard from in a while.
I'm flying back to Africa today, and will find out my fate, so to speak. But whatever, it's all good. Gotta believe it.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I arrived in Philly in the afternoon, and smiled as I handed my passport to the customs officer. Nothin like Philly hospitality,
Officer: "What was yous doin in Ghana fur 6 months?"
Me: "I'm in the Peace Corps."
Officer: "Yea, doin what?"
Me: "I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer, doing Business Development."
Officer: "Yea, 6 months thats a long time"
Oh, philly. :)
So, I got to eat mac n' cheese, take a hot shower, drink Dr. Pepper, drive, go to Wawa, drink coffee and not sweat, wear a jacket, drink milk, eat a cookie, watch a Christmas movie, have internet that's fast, see my family, say goodbye to my pop-pop, and soon I get to see my friends and eat a cheesesteak. But, the reason for this post, I was FINALLY able to post ALL my pictures online. Check them out: http://www1.snapfish.com/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=1179332012/a=83695609_83695609/otsc=SHR/otsi=SALBlink/COBRAND_NAME=snapfish/
I'm home for another week and then it's back to Ghana. Can't wait!