Sunday, February 22, 2009

Project HOPE Volunteers Arrive in Ghana

After much waiting and excitement the day the Project HOPE volunteers would be arriving finally came. Although Ruth and I had been accomplishing a lot while in Ghana, including a meeting with USAID to hear more about their maternal and child health programs in the country, I knew as soon as the volunteers showed up it would be all go and no stop. 11 of the volunteers would be arriving on the 6:35 pm flight and one had already arrived in Ghana, having explored other areas of the region ahead of this time with HOPE. Because the volunteers were arriving in the evening it was decided that we should not travel 4 hours up to Sekondi-Takoradi (twin cities in Ghana) where we would board the Nashville and also work in two local hospitals and a midwifery school.

After switching hotels so that the entire HOPE team could board in the same location, we headed off to the USAID meeting and then stopped at a market on our way back to the hotel to meet the rest of the folks heading to the airport. The market was big and filled with color outfits, crafts and fabrics. We didn't want to spend too much time there because we had to pick the volunteers up. I wanted a nice outfit from Ghana but as soon as I got in there I was looking through fabrics. I was then surrounded by lots of Ghanaians selling fabric. I waited until Ruth was done buying something, because I am not a good bargainer, and then moved on to the stand of the niece of the lady who sold something to Ruth. The niece showed me all sorts of beautiful, bright two piece outfits while her brother, Doug, tried to bargain with me. He was a hard bargain but the funniest point came when he was trying to still sell me some fabric and when I told him I didn't have anymore money he tried to barter with me. He said he wanted my blackberry. I told Ruth, whom I had been consulting in Spanish this whole time, and she told him I would get fired if I gave him blackberry. He felt bad and stopped pushing to make the sale. The Aunt also said she would make FuFu for Ruth, a traditional Ghanaian dish.

We made it to the airport on time to pick up the volunteers, us in one car, a truck for luggage and two vans for the volunteers. And then we waited, and waited some more. Their flight was late too but not as late as ours. When we finally heard the loud speaker call their flight we stood there with our Project HOPE shirts on waiting for them. One by one they emerged. Some of them already knew us and were easy to spot others looked a little bewildered at the amount of people waiting at the airport. Michael, a seasoned volunteer, again brought suitcases, 4 total, of medicines to use where he will be working and luckly he got through customs smoothly.

After a long day we finally got them to the hotel, which by the way was not a new building but a new hotel. It had been a known to be a brothel previously. Some of volunteers went straight to bed others went out to dinner. There was a restaurant near our hotel named Captin Hook's. It looked nice and well lit so we went.

Like the previous restaurant we went to the night before this one was also slow in serving the food. It seems everything is so fresh, an delicious, that it takes a while to cook. Captin Hook's, however, didn't take 2.5 hours for the food to arrive as did our meal the night before. We still had a great time getting to know each other and telling stories while we waited.

Soon after we got to the restaurant a gentleman from the embassy who had been helping us with logistics showed up. He has traveled and volunteered extensible through Africa. We wanted to hear some stories so he told us a few. The one that really stuck out and kind of grossed some of us out was the one about his encounter/hosting of a Putzi fly. At some point in his stay in Africa he went hiking. He got hot, and not thinking, threw his t-shirt in a pool of water. He then put the t-shirt back on. Not too long after he grew a bump on his back that he assumed was a bug bite, but it would sometimes be hard to the touch and sometimes soft. Soon he picked at it and out came our friend the Putzi fly as a larve. I have to admit it grossed me out a little but it is not the worst thing could happen and everyone who heard that story that night learned you should never put on any wet clothes that have been hanging outside or in a pool because you might end up hosting a Putzi.

With that story we all headed back to the hotel for a goodnights rest since we would be heading out early to Sekondi-Takoradi.


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