Student Trip To Ghana - 2014
|Ayensudu Zion message to Goffs School|
Memories from Ghana
I can honestly say that visiting Ghana has been the best experience of my entire life and one that I will never forget. The things that I learnt and the people I met have changed the way I think in my day to day life. There are so many memories some which are impossible to describe. On our first morning we were greeted at our guest house gate by an entire village that wanted to know your name. They danced and sang as they escorted us to the chief’s house and then to the school were a welcoming ceremony had been prepared for us. This particular memory was so immense that none of us will ever forget it. Spending time with my buddy Rebecca was for me the most amazing part of the trip. Her family were such wonderful people and her mum made me a traditional Ghanaian dress. Her dad said to me as we were leaving “promise me you will never forget us, and don’t forget my daughter”. This is a promise I know that I will always be able to keep.
Our entire trip was filled with so many funny memories that it is impossible to relate them all but some of my favourite include late night lizard capturing where we all crawled around searching for a rouge lizard that had taken abode in Miss Legg and Miss Holland’s room. Another would be the Lorry/bus journeys which made the trips very bumpy!
The canopy walk was the most scenic and beautiful experience as the dense greenery that surrounded you seemed completely surreal especially quite so high up (although these heights did not agree with everyone).
When visiting the beach and “paddling” we had fun chasing waves and body surfing back to shore on them. Unfortunately it rained on this day but we were determined that as British citizens the rain would not and could not deter us.
One morning Abi, Miss Legg and I walked down to the school to watch our partner schools morning assembly. Unfortunately when we arrived a dark cloud appeared and the entire school ran for shelter as monsoon rains pelted down. Once inside we found that in these situations it is impossible for the teachers to teach due to the noise so students will bang drums, dance and sing over the sound of the rain. This unrehearsed music was incredible and I joined in with their rain dancing whilst trying to comprehend what was actually happening.
In the evenings when the buddies visited us at the guest house we attempted as a group to teach them to play card games and one particular game called ‘Cheat’ in which they had to lie. It turns out Ghanaians cannot lie very convincingly (a very positive character trait) which was very entertaining for the rest of us.
One evening I decided to teach them some English dancing so attempted to explain the Macarena, the moves to the cha cha slide and the disco special Saturday Night. They loved the Macarena so we agreed that if they learnt it we could perform it together at the closing ceremony. They spent the entire evening rehearsing the Macarena and when it came to the closing ceremony they enthusiastically jumped up and danced it in front of their village. The rest of the students joined in as well as our Goffs students and it turned into a huge Macarena.
Visiting the crocodile and animal sanctuaries was also a once in a life time experience. The crocodiles were feet away from you as Ghana’s answer to Bear Grills (a lady with flip-flops, an apron and a stick) bribed them out of the water with chicken. The lady at the monkey sanctuary was very quirky and as we finished our tour exclaimed “the birds they get on my nerves, they are so loud” she then proceeded to clap. This silenced the birds as well as anyone doubting her abilities as the next ‘Mrs’ Dolittle.
The games the younger children at Ayendsudu taught me that we can often take simple pleasures for granted here in England. For example I was astonished to see the joy and excitement the children found in playing a game similar to pick up jacks. It was amazing to watch them and I realised that sometimes we do not always take notice of the little things in the way we should.
Meeting the kindergarten children was a lovely way to spend some of our time. We donated money to this kindergarten and it showed how the schools and nurseries that receive any support put it to extremely good use. The children here were receiving a great education in a safe weather proof building with toys, posters and teaching equipment. To us these things seem standards expectations in a school but over in Ghana we realised that unfortunately they are seen as luxuries which not all students get to receive. It shows that the support people give to organisations that help in these communities has a massive impact and needs to be continued.
The cultural experiences that Ghana offered have helped me to expand my knowledge and understanding about the way others might their lives. The food for me personally was another excellent experience as it taught me about different cooking styles, ingredients and diets. A standard meal in Ghana might include large quantities of rice, palm oil, fufu, yam and chicken as well as plenty of watermelon and the occasional mango. Family and community are also the most important things to them and everyone in the village knew everybody. This to me is what we sometimes lack in our own communities and in my opinion makes them hundreds of times richer.
Of course spontaneous dancing and singing whether it is in the rain, sheltering from the rain or just for fun is a frequent part of their day to day lives. Also visiting the slave fort I Elmina with our buddies was a great historical experience as it gave them a chance to share some of their history with us.
Finally, one last wonderful and fulfilling experience was our group project. We completed painting and decorating the school. Painting the British flag next to the Ghanaian flag as part of the mural was a very proud moment. It symbolised the coming together of two communities and marked the final moments of our time in Ayensudu. The difference to the school was astounding as I felt extremely privileged to have been a part of making the day to day lives of Ayensudu Zion students that little bit better.