Have you had your hot shower and freshly brewed coffee this morning?
Are you enjoying Duxburyâ€™s summer breeze? Do you have plans to go to
Captainâ€™s Flat this weekend, the beach, or will you just lie around the
pool? Even in the most mundane parts of your daily routine, please know
I am jealous, for I am in Africa and far away from the luxury of
running water, cable TV, and fresh salty air.
Whereas your showers are in the privacy of
your tub, mine are a cold bucket of water retrieved from the local pipe
down the dirt road of Klefe village, a small town outside of Ho City in
the Volta region of Ghana. I bathe in a concrete cubicle outdoors that
reaches to my neck. This is to let people know not to walk in on me.
However, I often find myself conversing in broken English with my
Ghanaian family while naked behind concrete, my head bobbing in
But wait: why should I be jealous of your 20 minute hot shower on a
chilly summer evening? You should be jealous of me: I am in Africa! And
you are in that same chair youâ€™ve sat in every morning for ten years!
The travel bug seems to hit most â€œkidsâ€ my age, a mere 23 years, for
we are at the beginning stages of adulthood: recently graduated from
college and trying to figure ourselves out. We are just starting to
feel the reality of age and it seems, to me anyway, that we have so
little left of our youth. We look for meaningful careers, a good
income, a home, a significant other: a niche. Others, like me, feel the
need to experience the world and take risks. Why I am risking my health
with fried slugs on a stick, a delicacy here in Ghana, I do not know.
I suppose my risk-taking has come from having such a privileged and
stable childhood. With the realization of my lucky lifestyle, I have
since wanted to use my privilege to make a difference. Little did I
know how challenging making a difference is. I have decided to spend
every penny and move to this rural village of Klefe. Here, with
the Global Volunteer Network, I am a volunteer working with a Community
Based Organization (CBO) named Klefe Youth Development Committee, a
group of natives whose goal is to eradicate poverty by providing
opportunity for the village youth. They have been in existence for two
years and have, surprisingly, a lot to show for it.
Through local fundraising, they succeeded in starting construction
of three primary school classrooms and acquiring two computers for the
school. Unfortunately, construction on the classrooms stopped over a
year ago due to lack of funds and there is no electricity in the
schools for the computers, which remain in the headmasterâ€™s office,
waiting. The committee has many projects in mind but no financial
ability to implement them. My job is to help organize and
fundraise for the committee.
Imagine that Duxbury schools donâ€™t have enough classrooms and
children are forced to learn outside, weather permitting. Imagine not
having any light in your classrooms except that which comes through the
windows. Imagine leaky roofs, no cafeteria, and the constant
distraction of goats bleating and chickens clucking through the
classroom during an exam.
To help the children of Klefe, the committee has a brilliant idea:
to start and run a pig farm, pork being a valuable and marketable meat
in the area, which will generate income and allow the committee to
begin saving for youth development projects. This is a wonderful and
feasible venture that only costs a smidge over $2,000.
I could sit here smoldering in African heat and humidity and humbly
ask you to donate $10 for the committeeâ€™s pig farm. I would plead you
to put your coffee down, head over to the computer and type in the
address below to give your donation. Maybe I find something romantic in
the fact that my villages, American and Ghanaian, can help each other.
If every Duxbury household gave $10, the Committee can start their pig
farm to save money for Klefe children to have a place to learn when
itâ€™s raining and light in the classrooms. But I feel uncomfortable
asking that from you. I felt uncomfortable even asking my family to
help out my small little cause for the world.
Instead of asking for things, I want to give you something. I want
to tell you the story of how great a time I am having, how I am
challenged in myriad ways, and how I am so proud to have made these two
lucky months happen.
Before my departure for and arrival in Ghana I was told that I would
become frustrated with Ghanaian dependence on volunteers from the West
and warned I would be shocked at the poverty. While it is true that
Ghanaians in general depend greatly on the good hearts of Americans and
that there is great poverty, I have to put this idea that Africa is a
dangerous and destitute wasteland to rest.
There is more to Klefe than poverty. I have never felt as welcome
anywhere as I do here. I see benevolence every day. It is amazing to
realize that, beyond this poverty and â€œnothingnessâ€ lies everything.
Beyond the paucity of material things lies richness to life that I
never knew. Ghanaians seem to see their lives so fully, and the
importance of life is not what you have, but who. Family is the central
force that drives Ghanaian life. Family makes you rich.
Americans harbor a stereotype about Africa: dangerous, scary, and
lost. No one is lost here â€“ and when I walk around town with my host
mom, Bertha, she weaves through crowds with ease and greets everyone,
even strangers, who greet her back. Berthaâ€™s whole life is here in this
village: family, work, belongings. She has established a strong and
successful place in her world. Bertha and my entire Ghanaian family (it
is large) are teaching me a very important lesson: success is what you
I hope these two months will not be in vain. I know what I have to
accomplish for the committee and I suppose that is the reason for this
article. I keep a blog to let my family and friends at home in on a
little secret: Africa is amazing. So if you feel like a little armchair
travel will do you good, please follow this link: