Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Moving slower than a sick turtle...

First, let me start with a very big YIPPEE for the news of Obama's nomination. One of the volunteers received a text message with the news this morning, and every single person in the house has been celebrating (even the ones from the South!) Tonight, we will party at Boondocks with many of the locals who are also excited that Obama is one step closer to being our president!

On a very different note, yesterday was a very frustrating, unhappy day for me. I finally had a chance to use one of the school's computers to begin typing my grants (so far I've handwritten the 30 or so pages) and I was so motivated that any disturbance was simply irritating. And disturbances were aplenty yesterday. Several locals came by to visit me and I had to turn them away because I was working; a concept I'm beginning to think they don't fully grasp. I tried to explain to several of the teachers what exactly it is that I am doing here, and their response is always "is okay, is okay", and they smile at me like they wish I would just stop to chat with them. I even yelled (politely) at Fred, the Batik teacher, "Don't you care?? Don't you want more money?" He just smiled. That was the first time I've wanted to smack a Ghanaian.

I am worried. I am worried that I won't be able to do anything for this school because I can't rely on anyone here to follow through when I leave. I am worried the Director is never going to give me his budgets, or actually believe that I really can secure funding for him. I am worried that the teachers here are not invested in the Institute. And to feel helpless like this, in a country that needs help in development like I need a boob reduction, is unbearable. I read that Ghana's government expects the country to be a first-world country by 2020. I know that to be absolutely impossible.

Later in the morning yesterday, I noticed Level sitting under an umbrella painting the pictures of the school for me. I asked him how much he wanted for the paintings and he said that all he wanted was my friendship. Level is a very kind, handsome, nicely dressed and well spoken 23 year old and yet, I am saddened every time we speak. He mentions coming to the States often because he knows he would learn so much more there, but we both know he never will. I told him that when I get home I will send him more paintbrushes (he only has one) and better paints, and books on art. The thought, however, that this is all I can do for him is overwhelmingly sad. He came to visit me at the house in the afternoon without notice and I told Vida, one of our housekeepers, to tell him I was sleeping because I knew speaking with him would make me feel worse. And I feel horrible. I am working so hard to secure funding for the Institute but all these people seem to want from me is my address and a promise that they can come visit me when they "get to America". Accepting the status quo and dreaming of an escape to the US seems to get them through the day. I want to grab them by the shoulders and tell them that they must save themselves from the conditions they are in.

I spoke with Lori (who is quickly becoming a close friend) and told her of my concerns; she said it must be hard because my initial impression was that they are all so happy, and reminded me that we can only do so much and that we have to believe that any step we make here, no matter how small, will make some kind of impact. She taught me how to meditate, and she is also bringing me along to a dance celebration at her school (School for the Mentally Challenged) tomorrow to lift my spirits. I think it's only natural that I feel this way. I have been told many times that I would feel overwhelmed by all the things I would not be able to accomplish here.

I have called a meeting for next Monday with a select group of staff members who I have elected to be the Project Evaluation and Monitoring team. I also plan to share the proposals with all of them, and toteach them a few things about grants. I half expect that none of them will show up at the meeting. I also have an appointment with the local District Assembly to access their records and to discuss the feasibility and logistics of acquiring money for the school. Things are chugging along...and of course, I will feel better after dancing tomorrow. I promise the next blog will be more entertaining and inspirational!

1 comment:

  1. Screw entertainment and inspiration. I'd much rather hear about reality... though I'm sorry because it must be so frustrating and sad sometimes being close to people in such circumstances. It's not even in the same ballpark, but trying to help rehabilitate even one friend of mine has proved to be a source of constant frustration. All you can do is go for small wins that help ease suffering in a meaningful way in your lifetime - this is the path to happiness for yourself and for those around you.

    Enjoy dancing! :-)