Drawing on the popular ‘3 Things’ concept, I thought I’d write my conclusion blog about Ghana by drawing on different categories of ‘3 Things’. On Friday it was a month since I returned home from Ghana, so I’ve certainly had a lot of time to reflect and reminisce on my wonderful experiences there. I’ve also included some video links to a few videos we’ve put up from our trip that always bring a smile to my face, and I hope bring one to yours as well!
3 Things that Surprised Me
- Church – Whilst I had a vague idea of what church would be like in Africa – I had completely underestimated the enthusiasm, energy and joy of Ghanaian church-goers! Church was a 3 hour workout full of songs, teaching, praying and of course DANCING. Most surprising (yet fun) was the congo line to the offering box.
- HUGE Meals – I don’t think one ever expects to go to Africa and receive bigger meals than we get at home – but this is just testimony to the generosity and hospitality of all Ghanaians. I rarely finished an entire meal, but I’m grateful for the opportunities we had to try all different (and unusual!) types of Ghanaian foods!
- Joy for School – Based on my knowledge and experience of some Australian kids’ attitudes to schools, I was sceptical at how well we’d be received at our school in Elmina. Quite the opposite to Aussie kids – Ghanaian children live for their education, and come early and leave late every day – they can’t get enough of it! It was an absolute privilege to teach kids that hang onto every word you say.
3 Things I Laughed At
- Lost in the Volta – I wasn’t laughing too hard at the time, but looking back on our interesting trip to the Volta region, I can definitely laugh as I reflect upon our hours walking in a jungle praying to see a sign of civilization! Also funny, was the fact that I had full reception on my phone in the middle of an African jungle – if only Australian reception was the same!
- ‘And A Nuda One’ – Just as we made the Ghanaians laugh when we said ‘G’Day Mate’, so too did they make me laugh as they taught us their songs and we attempted their accents. One of my favourites was a song from Sunday Schools – “Let’s clap for Jesus” “And A Nuda One” “A Nuda Beta One!” (i.e. And another one, another better one!) – this memory brings back lots of giggles!
- Copying Kids – A great way to get through any language barrier is always actions – yet I found a whole troop of action copy-cats when I visited the village for the Jesus Film screening. These kids, though barely speaking any English, laughed and laughed as they copied any action I did. This was similar for a lot of kids I met and always proved lots of amusement for not only them, but me too!
3 Things that Made Me Smile Every Day
- “Obruni, How are You?” – There’s absolutely nothing like being greeted every day by happy, cheeky Ghanaian kids! I miss hearing their little greetings every day as I walked down the street, but they’re beautiful smiling faces are always in my mind!
- Hearing ‘Waka Waka’ – without fail, I would hear the Fifa World Cup theme, ‘Waka Waka’ by Shakira every day! This song not only makes you want to dance in the street, but reminds you just how much Africa has to offer – the World Cup was truly the pride of all Africans, and I still play this song once a day to remember the wonderful people I met!
- Ghanaian Sunsets – I am a HUGE sunlover so I loved nothing more than the warm Ghanaian sun every day, as it rose early and set at night, producing beautiful colours, and clear dark blue night skies with plenty of stars!
3 Things I Learnt
- Money does NOT equal happiness – I believe it is rare to find a human happier and livelier than the joyful and energetic Ghanaians. They are full of life, enthusiasm and a love for their country and people – it is so infectious and shows that being from a developing country doesn’t limit happiness one bit!
- Africans DO want to help themselves – A lot of negative media suggests that Africans are stuck in their predicament because they don’t want to help themselves – this is far from true in my experiences. Ghanaians are the most hospitable people I’ve met, and would do anything to help their fellow brother and sisters out of poverty – we just need to make sure we’re given them the sustainable and useful resources to do so!
- Volunteer Holidays are MORE rewarding – Whilst we may not have been sipping cocktails on the beach or living it up in a 5 star hotel during our stay, I am convinced that volunteering holidays are the most rewarding trip you could ever have, and I absolutely encourage everybody to experience once. Whilst I thought I was going to Ghana to teach kids, I’ve learnt far more about myself and life from them. You really experience a country when you work with the people of a country – I’ve come home with so much more than I feel I brought to them. Ghana will always have a very special place in my heart, and I can’t wait for the day I can go back!
3 Things I’ll Do back in Australia
- Find an Aussie School to adopt Elmina School – now we’re back and getting into the swing of things in Australia, it’s difficult to forget the problems that we did see whilst over there. The school we visited has the most beautiful and keen children – yet doesn’t have enough facilities! This is one of the great injustices – children that are keen to learn, yet don’t have the resources to learn. We hope to partner an Australian school with our school in Elmina to raise funds for projects such as a new building to house more kids (as opposed to the usual 60 kids in one classroom!)
- Encourage everyone to visit Ghana – since coming home, I couldn’t recommend anything more than a trip to Ghana – the people are inspiring, the experiences are rewarding and the friendships I’ve made will hopefully last a lifetime. Once Ghana touches you, you never forget it! If you ever want tips on visiting this amazing country – please chat with me! I’d love to share my experiences with you!
- Keep up the Fight for the MDG’s – sadly I witnessed the effects of our inability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals: people are hungry, children aren’t educated, sickness plagues families and the environment suffers. This is not something we can ignore – and I feel more empowered and inspired than ever to continue this fight for achieving the MDG’s until extreme poverty has been COMPLETELY eradicated! This blog is just one action I’ve taken to continue standing up for those that don’t have a voice – visit my campaigns page for more ideas how you can be involved in this stand for justice too!
Well there are a few ‘3 Things’ that I’ve reflected on since coming home. I miss Ghana every day and I smile every time I look at pictures of the wonderful people we met. Please visit our video page to see us laughing with kids, riding on motorbikes, singing and feeding monkeys!
Ghana, you have a very special place in my heart and I can’t wait to return to your soils some day!
Obruni signing off!