My name is Sarah and I am a Social Work student from Halifax, Nova Scotia. I will be using this blog as a way to document the ever-unfolding events here at The Sankofa Centre in Ghana, as well as to provide future volunteers or interns with a glimpse into my experience here.
My first week went by so quickly! I got to shadow Kayla, an intern in her final week. It was helpful to be able to attend school and village outreach with her to see what my role was going to be.
When we arrive at schools and villages for outreach we unload the van and set up all the equipment. When everything is set, the drummers begin to drum for about 10 minutes before we start our dances, dance-drama, and education session. The traditional drumming styles excite the folks at the schools and communities so much that they gather around in glee for what is going to happen. Being able to drum, use shakers, and dance has proven to be an incredible tool for eliminating any communication barriers that exist.
Drives to outreach are filled with laughter, drumming, and singing. Being around all the folks who are working as a part of The Sankofa Centre feels like I am part of one huge family.
Below is Aaron and I playing scrabble during some down time on a rainy evening.
On our way back from village outreach one Thursday it started to rain – hard. It was also thundering and lightening. The roads off of the main roads tend to be in a very bumpy state to begin with, but when it rains they can become unique experiences.
While driving through a very steep bump, we began to sink into the mud. Reving the motor only caused more sinking. We were completely stuck. All 12 of us got out of the vehicle and started pushing, covered in mud and standing deep in the mucky water.
Many cars were arriving to pass through this very spot that we were stuck in. It was great to see how so many people got out of their cars to help out. In the end, it took and hour and about 30 people pushing to free us from the mud. There was cheering and smiling all around.
On the Weekends we have time off to go travel and explore. Traveling is fairly easy to get the hang of, especially because anytime you ask someone for directions, they will take you to exactly where you need to be.
I spent a weekend in Ada Foah with two friends who are from my home town. They are both living in Ada Foah doing research on farming and climate change, as well as working with the Ada Radio Station. It was cool to learn about the radio station, the current issues the station is covering, and see what they do there. We also got to spend a nice day at the beach.
Tro Tros are the local form of public transportation. They are similar to massive vans and can fit about 15-25 people in them.
There is never a dull moment in a Tro Tro. It is not uncommon for all the passengers to start singing songs about Jesus that are playing on the radio, or for someone to start praying aloud.
Tro Tros are generally reliable, however they can be prone to over-heating or the door perpetually falling off. In either case, the Mate fixes it quite quickly.
School outreaches are full of excitement, laughter, and educational learning. Although there is some talk in schools about HIV/AIDS, a lot of it revolves around abstinence. Many of the youths, both in the schools as well as at the villages, get very giggly when we are talking about sex, as it is not a conversation that is prevalent given the social and cultural norms.
I was fortunate to get to travel to Agomanya during the Saturday Bead Market. This is the largest bead market in West Africa. There were thousands of beads and it was so much fun to wander around and browse the beautiful beads, some of which were “old beads” which were found in mines.
Speaking at the schools is challenging, exciting, and inspiring. There are usually about 100-200 kids present. Although it can be a challenge to keep everybody focused, The Sankofa Center program involves interaction between us and the kids. This makes the learning component so much fun for the kids and thus, much more likely to retain the information they are receiving.
I was fortunate to travel to Cape Coast for a weekend. About 30 Kilometres north of Cape Coast is Kakum National Park. It is a beautiful rainforest and home to the infamous Canopy Tour. The canopies are 50 meters from the ground of the forest and offer beautiful views and a fun, low-impact way to tour the rainforest.