My experience in Ghana...
As most of you already know we are back home and if you didn't know well, Hello again!
It's been a week since we arrived and looking back at these past four months makes it seem a bit surreal. I've always wanted to participate in an overseas humanitarian build and being able to lead one was a check off my bucket list. Not only was it four months of our lives in Ghana, but we spent nearly a year and a half prior to that preparing, recruiting and fundraising in order to make this happen. Now that it's finished it's bittersweet; but I honestly wouldn't change it for the world.
When we first arrived in the village I remember how chaotic it felt meeting so many people, both volunteers (at the most we were about 60 people) and the locals and getting adjusted to the place and the routine. But by the time we left, although we still would hear obroni, obroni, hi, hi, hi and people who I never even met calling my name; the place felt like home. We watched as some of the little kids had growth spurts and learned to walk. We celebrated birthdays, weddings and a new baby. We shared drinks, laughs and stories and made memories to last a lifetime.
It was easy getting to know the other volunteers, we were all there for the same purpose and since there wasn't too much to do in the village when we weren't working; a lot of our time was spent playing games, sitting around bonfires and talking. It's funny to think about how different we each are but how we became a little Ghanaian family. Fanny and her love of fabrics and peanut brittle, how Damien managed to make a pun out of everything, Maria the seasoned vet of Abetenim who we all went to for advice, Cayetana and her wild spirit and love for the children, Maude and her strict bedtime of 8pm and Izzy's spontaneous dancing and for being my travel buddy. Just to name a few. It became harder and harder to say goodbye to everyone and I hope to see you all again (five year reunion)!!
Out of everything we experienced, certain things stick out the most in my mind. For instance, and as cheesy as it sounds, one night as we were sitting around talking, I looked up into the night sky and out of no where saw a shooting star. It was my first shooting star and I remember at that moment feeling how special it all was.
The time Dave, Fanny and I went to watch a soccer match between Abetenim and a rival village. The game ended in a tie, but the way the guys celebrated you would've thought they won the championship. The ride back was filled with cheering, chanting and lots of excitement. It was so much fun to be a part of. After that it became part of my weekend routine to go and watch the guys play whether it was a game or just practice.
The little kid, Kwasi, who I first met when he fell asleep on my lap during one of the soccer games and quickly became my favorite kid in the village. I'm pretty sure he knew he was loved because every time I'd see him he would run up and get my attention so I knew he was around and then proceed to hold my hand as if he was telling all the other kids "this obroni is mine".
There are so many other memories I can talk about, but you'd probably get tired of reading :D.
During construction, my motto quickly became "it is what it is". There were times we ran into obstacles and the small details didn't always come out correctly, who needs perfectly straight walls anyway. But if it wasn't a make it or break it situation, I'd usually say "it is what it is" and try to fix it and continue. We managed to make it all work and even with the setbacks, the anger and sadness in the final week; in the end I am very proud of all we accomplished.
I learned a lot during the trip as well. I learned more about construction and structure, I very slowly began to learn another language (me da ase Abu for the lessons), and I learned more about myself. I found true happiness comes from the tiniest, most simple things, children are the most curious creatures on this planet, and how lucky and thankful I am for all the opportunities this life has given me. Plus, most importantly I learned I could spend nearly every waking moment for an entire month with Steve and not want to kill him. So yay for that!
Despite the trip being longer than originally intended, towards the end the time seemed to fly by. I'll admit it was a struggle leaving; as we were running around Sunday morning doing last minute things I contemplated staying in the village longer, and thought the same thing on the plane. But we will be back one day.
I find the truest measure of traveling is the impact it makes on your life. The places, the people and the experiences that change you for the better. I forever left a part of myself and my heart in Abetenim.
So now, I don't know exactly what is in store for me next, but I'm excited for the unknown and am looking forward to the next adventure...
(I go and return)