Saturday, June 25
We had all woken up at the Ungodly hour of seven or so, drove to the airport, said our farewells to our parents, and set out for the greatest journey of our lives. Sasha was the first one there, her bright and smiling face preparing us for the daunting task ahead. After previously measuring out our checked tubs, the horrifying realization came upon us that a few of the riskier ones had clocked in over the limit. At fifty dollars extra per overweight tub, we simply had to improvise. As we furiously redistributed the cargo, with spirits nearly on the brink of collapse, ex-matadors Jenny Lin and Hannah Collins came to the rescue. Their can-do attitude and sheer brute strength helped us push through the trying moments, with Ben Huppe occasionally assisting as well.
We passed through security without incidence, and after the (comparatively) brief flight to Washington D.C. and an hour lay-over, length of the voyage began to sink in. There was a brief confusion about the selection of in-flight movies, but the bustle of the trip quickly settled into a timeless state of sleep, Sudoku, Mathew McConaughey, and Stephen’s perpetual salad grazing.
Sunday, June 26
After fifteen hours of plane travel, two hours between airports, and seven time zones, we landed in Ghana one day and one hour after leaving Seattle.
It was immediately apparent that we were foreigners. Living in the United States, even in Seattle, we were used to a level of diversity far from Ghana. The handshakes unleashed in the airport would have put even the most accomplished Garfield socialite to shame.
Watching the billboards go by, nearly all of them in English, three products stood out the most: Education, Religion, and wireless phone cards. One attempted to advertise for a vocational school, but a misplaced vowel left the sign hampered, hoping to attract new students to its vacational institution of higher leisure. It may have been the fact that it was a Sunday, but the shop fronts we passed by seemed extremely lackadaisical, with huge groups huddled around games of checkers at gas stations.
After arriving, unpacking the tubs, and settling in, we were introduced to Faustina, the head of the household we were staying at. We also met Youngs and Sammy, who work with Kyla, a woman that helps run VillageNet, the microfinance organization of Ofankor. They were all incredibly warm and friendly. Sammy coaches a men’s soccer team, and Youngs helped all of us learn the standard Ghanian handshake, a combination of handshakes completed with a snap of the fingers. The Frisbees were a huge hit, but when the soccer ball was revealed, all bets were off. While the boys played soccer and goofed around, the girls started furious games of patty-cake and piggy-back rides.
Out in the lawn, Paul asked the kids playing outside their favorite kind of music. With a curt reply of “hip-hop,” the pop-culture trivia began. They knew Jay-Z, Eminem, and Ludacris, but mentioning Lil Wayne’s name garnered a special level of enthusiasm. And T-Pain for sure.
Unlike in Seattle, where the sun can take quite a while to set, in Ofankor, the days last almost exactly twelve hours. Even though it’s the rainy season, we haven’t seen a drop yet. Even a downpour wouldn’t phase our team in the eighty degree weather.
Tim's Two Cents
Ghana is a beautiful country. I’m shocked at how hospitable the Ghanaians are. Their sense of community and willingness to help is like nothing I’ve ever seen. I spoke with a gentleman named Sammymkmji who told me how excited he was for the work the students are doing. In the past, Sammy said, people have promised to bring computers and they never came through. As he sat in the airport waiting for our arrival he still had his doubts that we would show up. He told me when he saw us coming with the gray bins, he was very excited. Sammy said he was excited for the thousands of children that will be able to learn to use a computer and compete with other students across the globe. So far it’s been a great trip (minus the jet lag and lack of sleep AND having to watch Beastly on the flight from Seattle to D.C). Thanks for reading my two cents. I’ll write more later this week.