Thursday, August 30, 2012

Team iam1ru Ghana - some "memory points" from our trip

Our 10 days in Ghana FLEW by...and yet each day was packed full of unique experiences that have created memories for us to look back on and stories to tell.

This is a summary of our trip (and several of our "inside jokes/memory points") to help us remember...
 Inside jokes and things to remember:
  • "Fried onion" pronounced own-yee-own
  • Unique business names - "God & Sons Enterprises", "Sweet Jesus Enterprises", "God First Cosmetics", "Ok Fast Food with God", "Burger in Christ", and one of our favourites...."Dream Big Casket Company"
  • Gen's first attempt at using a toilet trough - "That was the scariest thing I've ever done" 
  • 4 girls from our team in ONE double bed...because other room had a cockroach on the ceiling
  • "pee break" - watching about 40 kids jump off the bus and just pee at the side of the road..boys and girls!
  • Learning the Azonto dance
  • Pastor Dick's commentary on the "WalMart" on the side of the road
  • Gen and her pet giraffe
  • Nicole's birthday (2 days of celebrating) 
  • Chicken and rice, chicken and rice, chicken and rice....
  • Milo (a new favourite)
  • Nicole's hyper reaction to Ghanian chocolate - giddy, giddy, giddy
  • Amber sleeping EVERY time the van moved
  • Here's one I had forgotten...but was recently reminded requires a bit of a story: while at a restaurant, the waiter (after taking our orders) comes out of the kitchen and whispers to Mike, "brother, I don't know what's happening but when I went to the chef with your orders, he's acting kinda funny.  Please, can you take your people somewhere else?" LOL!!! The restaurant kicked us out because the chef was acting funny!!!Apparently they had a big group coming in and they were stressed.

Some random pics...

A different way of living - we have much to be thankful for!

Showing the Ghanian volunteers the shirts we have to the kids to wear at market

the toilet trough - Gen's first victory!

Rebecca with kids at the leprosarium - wearing their new clothes

As you can see from the following pics, we tried to catch up on sleep whenever we could lol 
Amber...whenever the van moved lol

Dakota catching some zzzzz's too!

Rebecca enjoyed some "down time" while traveling

Gen grabbing some shut eye
Sifting cornmeal - part of the festival preparations
Gen with her "baby" (treating her giraffe like a Ghanian baby)

One of the funny signs on a storefront "God first cosmetics"
Amber and grandpa enjoying the beach
Dakota, Amber and Rebecca
Gen...with Nii?
Nicole's birthday celebration - at the Chinese restaurant
Saying goodbyes at the Accra airport
We ran into some "tv stars" at the Accra airport - the cast of Degrassi

At the Amsterdam airport during our layover - we are exhausted!

Thank you Sherry and Mike (our extraordinary hosts), Frank & Fred (our body guards, tour guides, fashion designers and much more), Frances (our driver) and the Ghanian volunteer team - Richard, Aaron, Rita, Florence, Jessica, Bernard, Joseph, Anita, Andy, Stanley, Jijom, Delali!

Trip Summary...

Thursday, August 16 - Travel
  • Met at Pearson Int'l airport at 7:45 am (first time for many team members to meet!)
  • Flew to Boston then to NYC 
  • Boarded the 11 hour flight to Accra after a slight delay

Friday, August 17 - more travel
  • Arrived in Accra - exhausted, excited and with swollen ankles (many of us) : ) 
  • Went right to our Guest house (Rye Manor) to unload
  • Enjoyed our first meal of chicken and rice (little did we know, we'd be sick of chicken and rice by approx day 3)
  • Met our Ghanian volunteer team (that would help with some of our projects)
  • Climbed into the van for a 4 hour drive to Ho 
  • Arrived in Ho after dark and ate toast before bed
  • Got to bed after midnight...and set our alarms for 3:00 am (yikes!!) 

Saturday, August 18 - Market and lunch with kids from the leprosarium
  • Breakfast (fried eggs and toast, instant coffee and Milo) at 3:30 am
  • Left at 4:00 to pick up a bus (to transport our team and 66 children back to Accra to go to the market)
  • Greeted at the leprosarium - loaded the bus 
  • Began 4 hour bus ride that ended up involving 2 spontaneous "pee breaks" at the side of the road, a few motion sick kids puking on the bus, an unplanned breakfast stop at the side of the road (none of the children had eaten yet) 
  • Picked up our Ghanian volunteers and arrived at the BUSY market
  • Managed to shop with 66 children and get EACH of them 2 outfits, shoes, and underclothing!! 
  • Next stop - Eddy's, wings and pop for 95 people (due to delays, our "lunch" ended up being at about 5 pm??)
  • Boarded the bus to head back to Ho - another 4 hour drive to bring the kids home - exhausted but happy

Sunday, August 19 - Tour of leprosarium, donation and visit
  • Visited the leprosarium
  • We were greeted by excited children sporting their new clothes!!
  • Toured the village and visited the shut ins
  • Prepared a brief presentation to give donations of food and some first aid supplies
  • Our teens and young adults sang and played games with the children (it was amazing!)
  • Climbed back into our van for the trip back to Accra (again)
  • Went to the Osu area and met with a seamstress to have our measurements taken )for our custom made dresses and tunics) 
  • Went to bed...exhausted! 

Monday, August 20 - Painting at Assurance of Hope children's home

  • Met the children and workers at AOH (greeted immediately with hugs and hand holding) 
  • Enjoyed some songs and poems the children had prepared for us
  • Taught them a couple songs
  • Scraped and painted the outside of the home, the wall/fence, window frames and gate
  • Identified some needs for future dreams on website
  • Dinner at our Guest house
  • In the evening, went downtown for smoothies 

Tuesday, August 21 - Cultural Experiences  
  • Met the chief of Osu
  • Toured the area as people prepared for the Homowo festival 
  • Got to try our hand at pounding and sifting cornmeal (for a traditional dish)
  • Watched a bit of the festival ceremonies
  • Visited and shopped at an Artisan market
  • Some preparations for tomorrow's street party 

Wednesday, August 22 -  Street Party!!
  • Early breakfast at guest house
  • Arrived in Osu about 7:30 am to set up for street party
  • Put up tents, rolled out carpet, packaged food to hand out etc
  • Clowns, face painting and temporary tattoos...before the official start of the party
  • Games (Pass the parcel, Azonto dance contest, Hokey pokey_
  • Devotional
  • Food and prizes for 300 children (CHAOS!!!!!)
  • Clean up and head to Maranatha 
  • Arrived in Maranatha at dusk and took a boat to our "huts" 
  • Enjoyed supper outside and a well deserved rest : ) 

Thursday, August 23 - 1/2 day rest at beach and back to Accra

  • Breakfast on the beach
  • Enjoyed the BIG waves and collecting shells 
  • After lunch, traveled back to Accra
  • What did we do in the evening??? 
Friday, August 24 - Market and lunch with kids from AOH children's home 

  • Another early morning 
  • Picked up AOH kids in 3 vans and headed to market
  • 2 "pukers" on this trip and 1 peeing in pants : )
  • Managed to shop with/for 41kids - and buy outfits, shoes and underclothing
  • Eddy's pizza for lunch again (had to wait about 1 hour and 45 mins for food!)
  • Brought children back to home late afternoon
  • Visited Osu for final clothes fitting
 Saturday, August 25 - Kakum National Park & Cape Coast Castle
  • 3 hour ride to Kakum...a BIG national park that is a Rainforest
  • Walked 7 rope bridges HIGH in the tree canopy
  • Lunch at a cool restaurant with crocodiles in their pond
  • Visited Cape Coast Castle and had a tour - there are 3 castles in Ghana that were used in the slave trade. This tour was emotional...hearing about the treatment of the slaves and seeing how they lived.
Sunday, August 26 - Visited a church in Osu then Volunteer Appreciation dinner
  • A unique experience! Loud upbeat songs and clapping
  • Pastor Dick from our team spoke about the Prodigal Son story
  • After service - meat pies and pop
  • Shopped for dinner supplies
  • Prepared spaghetti, garlic bread and rice (yep, the Ghanians eat rice with everything) for the volunteer team
  • Welcomed the volunteers at 7:00 and served them dinner
  • Surprised Nicole with a birthday cake!

Monday, August 27 - Artisan market and packing - Happy birthday Nicole!
  • Slept in!!! So happy!!
  • Went back to Artisan market (Nicole had missed the first time - upset stomach)
  • Enjoyed shopping for souvenirs before our trip home
  • Lunch at a chinese restaurant - soooo good!
  • Waiters sang and brought dessert for Nicole!
  • Some of the team got hair braiding done
  • Packing and good byes
  • Headed to airport to begin LONG journey home
    10:10 pm - boarded plane

Tuesday, August 28 - Travel- 25 hours from take off to final landing
  • First layover - Amsterdam 7:00 am.  Tried to catch some sleep on benches
  • Second layover - Boston
  • Final stop Toronto 7:15 pm
  • Greeted by family and friends.  Happy to be home...sad to say goodbye

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