I am here!!! Ghana is more wondrous and beautiful than I could have imagined. I am forcing myself to be brief because the internet here is sketchy at best, but the sights and people I have seen over the last few days could fill a novel. As I write this, I am surrounded by Hohoe teenagers who are singing along to Boyz to Men's "I'll Make Love To You".
After a few quick and easy flights, I arrived in Accra on Saturday night with two other CCS volunteers. Lufthansa lost their luggage, but mine arrived just fine! A man named Sylvester (I promptly decided to call him Rambo) drove us four hours north to the town of Hohoe. The drive was amazing; through forests and towns filled with people and little kids and taxis and the smallest goats you have ever seen. We stopped halfway at a roadside bar for a Star beer and to go to the bathroom. That was my first induction into peeing with lizards and bugs buzzing all around you. I'll skip ahead because there's just so much!
I am staying at HomeBase B, on the northern side of town, with 22 other volunteers who are mostly college students from the midwest. I have to say that the biggest culture shock has been dealing with these volunteers. There are, however, a few wonderful people who are becoming fast friends: Lori, the 28 year old dance therapist/psychologist from Los Angeles, Carrie, the 33 year old health administrator who served in Iraq for four months, Ashley, the 23 year old recent college graduate from Tennessee, and Jimmy, the surprising liberal from Alabama.
Hohoe is the capital of the Volta region in Ghana, and one of the largest towns I've seen here (apart from Accra). The town is constantly buzzing with activity - the locals spend all of their time outside. As I walk through town, most of the villagers stare at me but also yell out the greeting "Weozo" - which means "you are welcome". The response to this is "Yo", my favorite part being that you can make the Yooooooo as long as you want. The more welcome you feel, the longer the Yooooo! Every day I receive marriage proposals from complete strangers and they're so sincere it almost makes you want to say yes. The children are absolutely beautiful and so loving and happy - I can't walk down the main road without being waved at or group hugged by the kids. I have been learning Ewe, the tribal language and enjoying trying the local foods.
Today was the first day at my placement, the Women's Institute. It is a vocational school with three different programs: business, dressmaking and catering for its' 66 students. The headmaster and I talked for a good two hours today (Ghanaians like nothing more than to sit and chat for lengthy periods of time, and they are constantly late). I will be assisting with the business program, specifically the computer classes, but I have also promised the headmaster that I will write a project proposal for the school. The headmaster has tried over the last 5 years to secure any type of funding but has been disappointed every time. The main building's second floor is just concrete and moss, as the building development was to put to a halt when funds ran out. The dining hall is also just a concrete shell, and they have no library and hardly any books. Imagine learning economics with no books! I am so grateful for the opportunity to help this school, and that my non-profit background is coming in handy! In the mornings I will be teaching some business and computer classes, and in the afternoon I will meet with the girls and research and write grants to secure funding for this amazing, yet underappreciated, school. The school promises its students self-sufficiency and an escape from poverty - I hope I can help.
Tomorrow, after work, we will hike up to the Wli waterfalls. Apparently, it is the largest waterfall in West Africa, but no one can tell me exactly what the term 'largest' means. Tall? Wide? Regardless, it will be beautiful.
I will write more as I continue to get settled. There is so much more to tell and I fear I have not portrayed just how magical being here is. It is more than I could have imagined.