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Saying Goodbye (Fri., 7/10)

Our final day in Ghana ended perfectly, I think, and the events of today provided a perfect bookend to our trip. After our final Lagoon Lodge breakfast, we bid our second goodbye (they had already left and returned-to our chagrin) to the group that Kaitlyn deemed Eurotrip (a group of high schoolers from the United Kingdom who came to visit and deliver toys to orphanages). They came for a noble purpose; however they often kept us up until all hours of the night and were very loud (their last night they were up until 2 am). Even the staff breathed a sigh of relief as their bus pulled away. Amidst our cheers and claps I knew it would be a great day.

We were only able to visit one school today because the rain had washed away the roads to the other two schools we had originally planned to see. But we were treated to a pleasant surprise when Gilbert and Rebecca, two teachers from the workshops, stopped by to pick up the suitcases filled with supplies that were destined for their respective schools. Gilbert is from Ateitu, a rural village school. We really wanted to visit it but there was no way to get there. Drs. Houff and Wright visited it when they were here last and said that English is difficult for the students because it is so rural and there is no library. They also said that children bring buckets of rocks to school to help with any repairs or construction. Rebecca works at University Practice South Campus, the school that some of us were originally supposed to work at. Unfortunately the rain made the dirt road impassable so she came to get the school’s supplies. The school is cement, similar to Methodist with boards over the windows and like Methodist, there is no bathroom, just the yard.

We were able to visit University Practice North Campus and it was a treat to see the teacher’s reactions to the supplies we brought. They made us take pictures and tour some of their classrooms. Their student/ teacher ratio is about 75 to 1 and they were quite busy studying when we interrupted. One classroom was studying Citizenship Education and the independence from British rule, while the other class was studying creative arts and properties of colors. The campus was a bit dreary just like all of the other schools we have seen, yet the students were eagerly learning.

During lunch today, we were able to thank the hotel staff for their welcoming service with small gifts and tips. It was a treat to watch Dr. Houff call each one over by name and hand them their gift- the looks and thankfulness on their face were indescribable. I will truly miss them all and if I am lucky enough to step one foot anywhere on the continent of Africa again, I will make it my duty to come back to say hi to these friends we have made. I think they will miss us too, Eben (who we have all been calling Evan this whole time and he never told us any different) said we were tops of all the guests who have stayed at Lagoon Lodge! We also got a treat courtesy of Drs. Houff and Wright and Buzz- shirts with the University of Education Winneba logo on them, as well as a copy of a Ghanaian play. We were very excited to have something from the university to bring home.

We took a last walk through town today as well, and to our surprise stumbled upon Fedilia, another teacher from the workshops (it was like someone was trying to remind us what our original purpose was and what had occurred the week before- it seems so far away). She was excited to see us and wanted to help us in our search for a few more gifts to bring home, so she led us through the back alleys and backyards of Winneba toward a hidden gem of a market that we would never have found on our own. It was filled with all types of goods, from clothes, to fabric, to household necessities, to groceries and fresh produce, meat, and fish. It also seemed as if the town had caught onto the spreading Obama fever- we heard a tribute song to him on the radio as well as a radio newscaster who was very excited that Ghana was in America’s news (The New York Times had his visit on the front page). After some shopping we were forced to say goodbye to her and head back—it was a long walk(at least a couple of miles) and we were tired, but we had to get back for our date with “the dancers.”

Isaac, the hotel manager, arranged for an African dance troupe to perform for us today and it was an amazing performance. The four members danced outside to the beat of many drummers while families and children trickled onto the lodge grounds to watch with us. They performed all types of traditional dances from Zimbabwe, Greater Accra (Ghana), Togo, and Guinea. One of the dancers was deaf, yet you could not tell at all- just goes to show you can do anything if you set your mind to it. At the end of the performance they had everyone stand up and try the dances out. Dr. Houff even had the children prancing around like a train. It was fun to watch. I was busy holding Eban’s 10 month old daughter, Erika—and I am proud to say I was the first white person to do so (we have definitely made children cry and dogs growl because of the color of our skin). Josephine, Eban’s wife said they will call me when she speaks her first words.

Our farewell dinner was touching and it was sad to have to say goodbye to the people who have treated us like family since our arrival. Professor Joppa and Colllins (not sure his title), Comfort and her sons, Ben and Raymond, all joined us to share thoughts, memories, and conversation. I must say that we were all looking quite nice in our new dresses that the dressmaker, Georgina, had made. Many pictures were taken and emails exchanged and I truly do hope that I am able to return someday to see everyone again. Professor Joppa gave each of us portfolios emblazoned with the UEW name and Drs. Wright and Houff and Buzz all received honorary UEW scarves. We in turn gave Professor Joppa a bottle of whiskey, which he seemed very pleased to receive.

Though it was a melancholy day filled with many hugs and good wishes, it was a fitting end to our time here. Over the past few days I have felt a bit lost because we had finished working with the schools and it seemed like our purpose was over. However after a few unplanned encounters with the teachers from our workshops (including an encounter with Agnes and her driver- other than being a fabulous teacher, she is also the vice-chancellor’s wife) as well as Ivy, a student from the workshops we ran into on the street, I was reminded of our original purpose here. I am sad to leave but happy to get home and see all of those I love. I will always remember the people here, though, and I hope that I have left a little part of me here with them that will make their lives easier and futures brighter.

Abigail, Eba, Me, and Prince (all made us feel at home at the Lagoon Lodge)

Abigail, Eban (better known as Evan), Me, and Prince (all made us feel at home at the Lagoon Lodge)

~ by cferber on .


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