Ghana Journals

At Home in Ghana

A May 2004 trip to Ghana by goggles421

Quote: This journal was written while participating in a service-learning course called Amizade, which is run through the University of Pittsburgh. The three weeks I was there were spent learning about the Ghanaian culture and living and volunteering in a village.

Part 1

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At Home in Ghana And this is what the traveler discovers: In this great and endlessly fascinating world of ours, everywhere can be home. ~Meredith Moraine We arrived in the city of Accra late in the evening. I stepped off the plane and immediately felt a gust of hot air blow through the flat plain on which the airport was situated. It warmed my skin that had been chilled by the air-conditioned airplane. The thick atmosphere hung over our heads like a blanket of velvet, completely black, without a trace of smog. Within seconds, everyone broke into a sweat and 13 faces glowed under the moonlight. I gazed up at the unfamiliar sky. The stars seemed to have rearranged themselves, and th...Read More

Part 2

Best Of IgoUgo

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The shower was broken at the VOLU center (the organization we volunteered through) the night we happened to be there, and there was a problem with the plumbing for the first day and a half we were in Jukwa. No running water obviously meant no bathing. After a few days of hot sun, bug spray, sunscreen, and clay-like dirt from the work site, words can not express the excitement I felt on my first trip to the shower. The shower itself was like all of the other rooms where we were staying - no door led from one room to another, there was simply an exit to the outside. In this case, the lone door opened right into the main eating area and only real table, so it was not much different than if you were to...Read More

Part 3

Best Of IgoUgo

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I learned this custom one of the first days in Jukwa, when the children gathered around while I was taking a shower. Just as I finished and shut off the water for the last time, I heard the distinct sound of giggling right outside the door. Urgent whispers in Twi floated through the crack between the wall and the door, punctuated by an exclamation in thickly accented English of, "There’s a bruni in the shower!" I dried off and dressed while the whispers continued, then opened the door to find six pairs of wide eyes staring at me. It occurred to me that these children had probably never seen a bruni (colloquial word for "white, foreign woman") before. They continued to stare as I emerged, drip...Read More

Part 4

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Cyprus Every aspect of our time in Ghana was spent with Cyprus. He arranged all of the events we participated in and sightseeing we did, in addition to volunteering with us at the work site. Cyprus was in the middle of acquiring his official tour-guide license during our time with him. His knowledge of his country seemed to be endless as he filled our minds and our notebooks with information, partially through stories and lectures, but mostly by example. On our way to Kumasi, we stopped at one point for a bathroom break. While a few of us waited by the side of the road, Cyprus motioned to me to come over by him. I walked over, and he pointed to a plant growing at his feet. It almos...Read More

Part 5

Best Of IgoUgo

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Despite the success of obtaining a fair price at the cultural village, this experience of bargaining was not quite as common in the market in Accra. The crowds, hustle, and fast pace did not allow for such a long period of negotiation. Unlike the cultural village which sold mostly art and artifacts, markets sold limited amounts of such items in addition to everything else imaginable. A large market is the Wal-Mart of Ghana. Many stands sold jewelry, different types of necklaces and bracelets and even rings, some handmade in Ghana, some cheap imports from Taiwan or the United States. Used clothing stands sold secondhand articles rejected from Goodwill in the U.S. There were also seamstresses and ...Read More

Part 6

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One day, Cyprus asked me if I had heard about the cabdriver who had "Matthew 7:7" on the back of his taxi. I said no. "Well, you see," he began with a smile, "the reason this driver put it on his cab was because of a woman he gave a ride to. Now, the driver, he was not acting like a gentleman, he kept trying to touch the woman inappropriately. But the woman, she just kept repeating, ‘Matthew 7:7, Matthew 7:7.’" "Well, what is Matthew 7:7?" I asked. Cyprus smiled. "The driver wanted to know, too, so he went to a shop that sold bibles and looked it up, and do you know what it said?" I shook my head. "Matthew 7:7 reads, ‘Ask, and it shall be given to you,’" Cyprus ...Read More

Part 7

Best Of IgoUgo

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From there, we all squeezed into a much smaller cell, just barely large enough to hold all of us, which Cyprus said was for condemned slaves. Before anyone had a chance to really wonder about what exactly it meant to be a condemned slave, a heavy door slammed shut behind us, killing any small trace of light that had shone in through the doorway. "Condemned slaves were those sentenced to death," Cyprus told us. "Ten were brought in here at a time. They were left here in cramped, complete darkness with nothing, until every single one of them died." His words were followed by a stunned silence, broken only by the sound of a single sob that shot out from a student hidden in the darkness. ...Read More