July 18, 2010

Africa, Day One

Since I was unable to blog during the trip I wrote down some thoughts and blogs.  I'll post them here chronologically so you can follow me on my journey to Ghana.

Ghana, June 9, 2010                                Day 1, part 1

Hot.  Humid.  Beautiful.  Dusty.  Green.  Vacant.  Hope.  Happiness.  Music.  Smiles.

My first day in Africa - these are only a few of the words that come to mind.

As we took the 3 hour drive from Accra (pronounced uh-KRAH) to Keta (keh-TAH) I found myself silently taking everything in.  Lots of green, grassy fields and trees.

But when you come to a village/city the landscape turns brown, red and yellow.  Brown from the dirt paths used as road & sidewalk.  Brown hand-made bricks that create homes.  Yellow painted wooden stands and sheds used to sell goods.  Red ones too.  People everywhere walking, riding, sitting, selling.  People looking at us.  A stark but welcomed contrast to their world.

Women walk with large bowls full of things to sell or things already purchased, balanced precariously on their heads.  The same women walk with grace, with confidence, with a baby slung on their backs.

Children run & dart about, quick on their feet.  Quick to stop and look at us, waiting for a friendly smile or wave.
As we turn onto the school/church property that will be our home for the next two weeks, little feet scamper and curious eyes peek around corners, trying not to be caught off task by a teacher.

Everyone here welcomes us - the Banini family and those that just stop by to say hello.  "You are welcome," they say, meaning, "You are welcome here," to which our response is, "Yo, akpe", (okay, thank you).  It's hard to tell who is part of the family and who is not.  Everyone just comes in and out of the house casually - as if it's their own - and they're treated like family.

About the house: The Banini home is situated on the 2nd floor of the Global Evangelical Church that Jeremiah's dad is a pastor at.  The church is located in the middle of the compound where the Keta Elementary school is.  So the buildings surrounding the compound and inside of it are all used for school, minus the sanctuary building you see right above.  Half of the 2nd floor has been renovated into a place for teams like us to stay.  The other half is where the Banini family lives.  Here's a tour of our portion of the house:
My room:
The views from my room:
Our common room:
Our hallway, bathroom & shower:
Here's a tour of the Banini's living spaces:
This hallway separates the two parts of the house, the team's section is behind the wall on the right, the Banini's stay on the left side - this is also the hallway where their bathrooms and showers are located. The second picture shows the hallway that leads to the Banini's bedrooms, living room, dining room and kitchen.  You can also see the door open that leads outside.

We met Vinnie & Roger today.
 (They are two of four children whom the Banini family supports through feeding them lunch and giving them money for a snack at school each day.  The four children: Roger, Vinnioloa, Agnes and Harrison, live with their mother but she can't afford to support them.)  They are unbelievably sweet kids.  Shy at first, but warming up after they saw themselves on my camera.  As I was flipping through the images for Vinnie to see, she saw one of Oliver & Cricket (our kitties) and smiled real big and said, "cat."  It was very cute, and pretty awesome considering they don't speak much English yet.

Matt just loved watching them open the gifts that Sarah, Andrew and Tammy sent over for them.

As I sit in our common room writing, I hear the church choir practicing downstairs.  Energetic clapping and  a perfect harmony of so many voices.  I can't understand the words but I know they're singing praises to our God.  They sing with such rhythm, grace, energy heart and soul.  I've never heard anything quite like it.  And I absolutely love it.