Future of Africa Updates

1

Day 9: An able and capable community

As we continue to settle into Lolito, one fact we are constantly reminded of is the deep, if often untapped, potential possessed by this area and its people.

Physically, Lolito is currently unexceptional, but that is slowly changing. We started off our day with more work on the toilets for Smile Child Academy. While the individual tasks were tiring and dirty, it was rewarding to see the structure rise out of what had previously been an empty section of land. By noon, the walls had reached their final height, and we could stand back and view this little piece of the school that we (with plenty of help) had put together. We also had a chance to see the other side of the same process when we went to visit the site that will one day become a new and expanded location for Smile Child Academy. The plot of land was impressive both in the scale of its potential to serve the children of the surrounding villages and in the scale of the work that will need to be done for it to reach that potential. For the moment, it was no more than scrubland, but when TK described Future of Africa’s plans for it, each of us could see the school-to-be, capable of providing a thousand students with a quality education. The transformation of Lolito has been and will continue to be incremental, but over time it is becoming something wholly new.

Throughout the day, we also had several opportunities to interact with the young people in and around Lolito. As with each previous day, our presence at the school drew a small crowd of kids eager to play with the newcomers to town. When asked, the kids came back with dreams that would not be unusual to hear in Canada; doctor, lawyer, and soldier were all mentioned. Later in the evening, Christian, one of the local teenagers, visited us to get a lesson with the computer software we brought with us for the school. Though his computer literacy was low, when we asked what he wanted to learn about, he immediately asked to see the article on computer software. That day currently seems far away, he one day hopes to join the IT field in his own right. This, in the end, is the dream of Future of Africa: that each of these kids, despite the circumstances that they were born into, might be able to realize dreams they share with children all around world.

We recognized the parallels between the potential of the school’s growth and the potential of the children and ended the night.

1

Day 8: Mortar, mortar, fast, fast!

More dirt, more sweat, more giggles and “More mortar!” Mortar is a mixture of sand, cement and water – one of the key materials used when building with blocks. Creating the perfect viscosity is important, and so is ensuring an abundance of mortar is always available to our head mason. “Fast, fast!” he often cried out. With the urinal almost complete, today we started work on constructing the toilets, which we made significant progress on. We salute the children and youth of Smile Child Foundation (SCF). They recognize this structure being built as their own and are eager to aid in its completion even if it involves fighting us for the wheelbarrow and shovels. Gently, of course.

We recognized more traits of hard work in a young lady named Ruth. At the welcome ceremony (see yesterday’s blog), she had led a large group of pupils from SCF in a vigorous ten-minute dance routine. The dancers listened for her voice, introducing a new shoulder thrust into the routine at every “aaaah.” At fifteen, Ruth is not only responsible for her dance troupe but does her best to support her family as the oldest female. She begins her day by weaving mats, a trade she does wholeheartedly and is also a source of income for her family of nine. After school, Ruth works on even more mats. Her eyes beamed with pride as she informed us that on the next market day, she and her mother would be taking over twenty-five mats to the market! In what is a rare happening, we see her smile.

It is an honor to be able to be involved in the life stories of people like Ruth – whose lives scream beauty and immense potential.

2

Day 7: Sweaty, Dirty

Our second day in Lolito was full of all kinds of dirt, sweat and giggles. Today we started building the urinals, a challenge for the entire team because of the intense heat and heavy lifting. Despite the physical strain, our day was far from unrewarding. As we worked, the children played around us, quick to smile when we caught their eye and eager to help shovel sand or carry bricks.

After some construction, we ran activities for the children. It was fun to bring out the parachute, as they have never seen one before, and everyone loved watching the kids play with it. We also had time to meet more children from the community and have conversations with them. Our day has left all of us exhausted but in high spirits. No amount of dirt or sweat can bring us down when we have so many smiles surrounding us.

1

Day 6: YO – OH

Today we travel to the village of Lolito at last. After baited breath we arrive to a welcoming choir rejoicing in our arrival. To most of us, it is a scene completely novel and sets us back on our heels. Our tiring travels of the morning are forgotten instantly when we hear the loud drums being played by students of Smile Child Academy. The master of ceremony, a French teacher at the school, introduces the students and teachers to us, the visitors from Canada. One of the elders in the village who sat as the chair of the school remembered his time with Canadian travellers from long ago and sang a few lines of the Canadian national anthem to welcome us. As each teacher gives a quick introduction and the students sing songs, Jeremy is also asked to speak to the audience. With that, students come dressed in cultural attire and perform an amazing dance for us. The smiles and joy on their faces is difficult to describe in words.

While we unpack the van, children from the neighbourhood are very quick to assist. With that, we waste no time playing a game of frisbee and touring the school with them. We are relieved to see that although there is a language barrier that we are able to interact and engage with them. We have been dreaming about the interactions we would be having with these children and now finally getting here at the village, we are ready to eat, sing, and dance with the children!

1

Day 5: Ubuntu, I am because we are

William Blake wrote: “we are put on earth for a little space that we might learn to bear the beams of love.”

Africans say “Ubuntu – a person becomes a person through other people.”

Tk says: “all human lives are equal in value and have immense potential.”

As we travel long hours on buses, visit slave castles and interact with child hawkers on a beach a thought occurs to us: people – loving people – caring for people – valuing people is very important. We step in a new context and step in to the lives of people with unique life experiences. We walk in footprints made in the sand by Isaac, a loyal plantain chips hawker on the shores of Cape Coast. After our football game last night we are close acquaintances. He shares with us his dreams to be a doctor; in his own way he has recognized his gift and ability for the sciences and works hard to fulfill these. No online career quiz required! We ponder, how may we bear the beams of love with the Isaacs of our world who are people just like us? He asks us for money to buy a soccer ball, but is that the best way to support his potential? We don’t have an immediate answer, but we do buy a load of plantain chips from Isaac to do what we can to help him in the moment.

 The team:

After we leave Cape Coast, we take the opportunity to visit the nearby Kakum National Park and its walkways among the trees, from which we can look down on the Ghanaian rainforest. As we take in the undisturbed beauty of the countryside, we also grow closer as a team. We bond over our varied reactions to the experience, from awe at the view to fear at the height of the walkways. When we finally return to Accra after several hours sweltering in traffic, the power is out, but that doesn’t stop us from cooling off. As a storm sweeps over the city, we go outside and play in the rain. This is the first time we have been cold in Ghana! Afterwards, when we gather as a team to discuss the day, we all agree that we had a great time getting to know each other better, despite the amount of time spent in transit. Tomorrow we leave for Lolito, and the chance to get involved in a village beyond the sight and mind of many in Ghana, despite its very real needs. Because we won’t have internet access there, this will be the last of our posts for a while, but we will still write out our daily thoughts, to be posted when we get back to Accra next Tuesday.

1

Day 4: A walk through history

This morning after breakfast, we left for Cape Coast. After a two and half hour journey through Central Region, we arrived at our beautiful destination by the ocean. Even though the scenery was striking, our afternoon assumed a much more serious tone.

We went on a tour through the Cape Coast Castle, a historic structure that was the heart of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Over a period of 300 years, 60 million slaves were shipped from Africa to other parts of the world. As we saw the chambers, graves, torture cells, and Door of No Return, the team was able to see the realities that we only learned about in school. Many of us left having a lot to think about and process.

After dinner, we started a football game on the beach with some of the local children. We noticed how easy it was to connect with them and we loved laughing and talking with them. This makes us optimistic about our trip to Lolito in a few days. The experience promises to be a truly enlightening one.

We spent the rest of our evening reflecting as a group on our thoughts from the afternoon. Many of us had questions about what our role is in fighting injustices and how our values transfer over into action. We’ve decided as a group, that the first thing we must do is gain more clarity on who we are, something we will continue to think about for the rest of the trip.

1

Day 3: Passion for Compassion

On our third day, we woke up to a lovely breakfast; we got ready and were taken to “Action Chapel”. There, we were exposed to the religious avenue of the country and engaged as the congregation sang praises and listened while the pastor preached. This was a different type of church than most of us have ever been exposed to. The passion radiated from the entire congregation, while the focus was very much on the prosperity gospel.

Later on in the afternoon, TK’s Aunt Nunya, met with us to discuss the ‘Smile Child Foundation’. As the founder of this school, she shared her passion with us and filled the gaps that we were missing. Her eyes glittered in promise as she spoke about her plans and endless possibilities the school could offer. She really values the quality of education that is received by the students and hopes to open up this opportunity to a thousand students from the Lolito village and beyond. This will be done by expanding the school, providing on campus accommodations and summer camps for the kids and youth. We look forward to finally interact with the students and see the school.

Lastly, Priscilla’s family invited us over for a wonderful dinner. They welcomed us with open arms and made us feel like family. After a couple hours of laughter and games, we went back to TK’s house. To wrap the night up, we meet us a group to debrief and talk about our day and experiences.

1

Day 2: We are one people

It is a cool morning and by now we know better to wear short sleeve t-shirts! Somehow we assume if we absorb enough cool now, it will sustain us under the hot afternoon sun later in the day. It doesn’t.

Grandpa Mawuli sits with us. His welcome to us is a song in one of many Ghanaian languages, Ewe [pronounced ‘eh – weh’]. We are treated with much honor and respect as we each share our reasons for coming to Ghana and soon Lolito. Indeed, “we are one people” each armed with a passion to change the world around us.

The afternoon was spent on the busy streets of Osu, hassling for soccer balls and out of the grasp of eager merchants. At the end of the day tired, sweaty and with our bellies full, we learn another lesson: lack of electricity and occasional mosquitoes make for great conversation and bonding under candlelight.

An adventure does await and we are expectant!

1

Day 1: Miawezor!

We arrived in Ghana around 8:30pm at the airport. Despite some comedic “porter haggling”, we were able to get to TK’s residence by 10pm. The famous plantain chips staple snack in Ghanaian culture was indulged as we all shared our travel experiences around the beautiful living room table. TK provided us with a summary of what to expect in the coming days and had a detailed scheduled of the next day on the board. We were each assigned rooms and it was lights out by midnight.

 

1

Yenk⊃ Ghana!

Hidden along the Atlantic Coast of Africa is the republic of Ghana; pregnant with mineral wealth, infectious hospitality and a vision for change! It is within this hope-laden land that we find our next adventure!

Life Change Adventures, along with Future of Africa joins and supports the Smile Child Foundation (a school founded by the local people of Lolito, Ghana) on a journey to build up their community through the education of their children. This year, myself along with a team of six others will be heading to Ghana as a part of The Mission Immersion Project. Over the next couple of days we hope to bring you some insight into what each participant is excited about as we prepare to leave. Here is my bit: we’re going to my home country!

Nante yie,

Scilla.

Any contribution is greatly appreciated and can be made through the donate tab on this site.