I can’t believe that I’ve already been in this amazing place for over three weeks now! I’m amazed at how quickly time has passed by but also excited to see how much we as a group have accomplished and to see how our relationships with the other volunteers, staff and ABAN women and their children have continued to flourish.
Work on the land has steadily continued with the help of our Ghanaian heroes, also known as the master landscapers. At this point, we have filled up well over a dozen crop beds with carrots, sweet peppers, maize and lettuce. It’s crazy how excited a group of students gets when they see little green leaves spring up from crops that they planted with VERY little experience. The summer hut has also officially started construction on the land. Although we are unable to do much with the building at this point, we are very good at pretending we are building the hut and even better at taking pictures next to it. After the frame is built though, we will get to sand it and then choose what colors we want to paint it. I’m rooting for KU’s crimson and blue but since I’m the only student here not from North Carolina, my chances are looking pretty slim.
What’s a trip to Ghana though, without a little friendly competition? Recently, we engaged in a soccer game with all of the American and Ghanaian staff and the ABAN women. The end score was too close to call but since it ended up pouring/monsooning on us and we all were covered in mud, I’d say it was a successful game.
For me, I think that situations like the soccer game are my favorite experiences here. At the beginning of this trip, I came to Ghana and primarily focused on the differences in culture and spent much of the time contrasting this trip to the way my life is in America. However, it’s indescribable to be able to join together over something as simple as soccer but something that is also prominent and important in both places.
Although our cultures may be different, we as people are the same. We crave for acceptance and friendship and love and to freely desire these things, without the fear of judgment. Through the use of soccer games, projects and just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company on a daily basis, I feel like we get to know the ABAN women in their natural habitat. This allows us to build strong relationships with the girls and I honestly can’t think of anything that I enjoy more.
For the second half of my trip, I hope to keep in perspective how truly blessed I am to be on this trip and to also take advantage that I am given the opportunity for daily interaction with these remarkable women and staff. I’m excited to see how the land continues to develop as well. This is easily the most gorgeous place I have even been to and with an upcoming trip to hike one of the largest mountains in West Africa as well as a trip to a beach resort, Ghana is full of all sorts of wonderful surprises that I can’t wait to discover!
With so much love,
My name is Taylor Cady and I am a member of Nourish International from the University of Kansas. The purpose of Nourish International is to join with different organizations in countries around the world to help create and join in forwarding sustainable environments. Last year, Nourish sent five students from Kansas and New Mexico to build the ACE center at ABAN’s compound. This year, Kansas joined forces with Wake Forest University and sent three of us to return to ABAN.
Our main focus for this trip is to build a summer hut on ABAN’s newly acquired land. Last year, ABAN bought six acres in Dumpong with plans to develop the ABAN compound and eventually create a fully functioning village or sustainable community to replace the currently rented compound.
We began our work on the land shortly after arrival and have already experienced plenty of blood, sweat and tears (but mostly sweat). We started off by clearing all of the trees and shrubbery with our machetes and pick axes. We pretended to know how to do all of this until we actually caught on. Once the land was cleared we were able to make paths leading up to the placement of the summer hut. In those paths we planted grass, which we hope will actually grow and not just die. After the paths were completed, we were each given our very own bed of soil. We all planted carrots which are expected to germinate within a week. However, the best part about our newly found farming talents is that once the carrots begin to grow we can start making our own pizzas because many of the Ghanaian pizzas have carrots on them!
My favorite part of the trip though, by far, has been my interaction with the ABAN women and their children. It is so inspiring to see that many are the same age as myself, but have overcome so much but still continue to find joy and happiness and a have a spirit that cannot be diminished. My favorite part of each day is going to their compound and just talking with them in English and my very limited Twi. I adore hearing their stories and the reasons for their children’s names and anything that they are willing to share with me. It’s been great to see all the love and compassion that they have for each other and the hope that they all have for their futures. In a world full of sadness, despair and depression, it brings me so much joy to see the endurance and happiness that I find here in Aburi.
I’m so excited to see what is in store for me during the next five weeks of my time here in Ghana and cannot wait so see all that the girls can teach me.
With so much love,
I am very very excited for this project! It will be my first time going to Ghana and I am so ready for it!!! Love volunteering!!! 😀
Since our last blog post, we’ve had several adventures, and we’ve made significant progress on our project. Last weekend, we traveled to Cedi Bead Factory in Kofordua so that we could better understand the bead making process and view a center like the one we are building in action. We then traveled to Ghana’s Volta Region and had an exciting weekend.
On Saturday we had the opportunity to attend a Ghanaian wedding. It was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to experience Ghanaian culture.
We have nearly finished clearing and leveling the construction area, and the support pillars are cemented in the ground. Construction on the roof has been delayed for the last couple of days, due to several complications, but in the mean while we have been constructing the tools that are used in the bead making process. As of this morning we have constructed 8 of the necessary tools. Dan, our supervisor and host estimates that we have 8 more days of construction work
Our entire team is thoroughly enjoying themselves. Working with in ABAN in Ghana has been an amazing experience thus far, and I’m excited to see what the next few weeks hold.
Within these last few days, we’ve already seen, heard, shared, done, and experienced so much. The ABAN staff has been warm and welcoming right from the start; it feels like we’ve known them much longer than just three days. The amount of love and patience that they’ve shared already is unbelievable. And the same goes for the girls of ABAN. They already tease and laugh with us as if we’re old friends, share stories, and help to teach us the Ghanaian language Twi, which, believe me, requires a tremendous amount of patience with us.
We’re staying with Uncle Dan, who is treating us like royalty. He has gone above and beyond in making us feel welcome. Dan is a Ghanaian artisan that lives with his family about ten minutes from ABAN. He is the supervisor for the bead center we are building at ABAN, meaning that he has planned the center and is leading us in the building process. He’s been a great help to ABAN for years already and it is great to be able to join with him to create this bead center. He often sits and shares his stories with us, and there is an infinite amount of wisdom to learn from Dan.
We’ve already made great progress for the center! Today and yesterday we’ve been clearing the land to begin building. It is hard work, but with the support that the staff and the girls have already shown, it will be no problem to finish the center with time to help with other projects.
We’ve experienced the market in Medina, tro-tro rides, the mall in Accra, and we even played a football (soccer) game against the ABAN team last night. (we won! The rematch will no doubt be intense)
I fail to capture in words how loving and peaceful everything has been. Ghanaian culture in general is much more patient than the American hustle that we have become accustomed to at school. It is not that they do less – I find that they are always working, always doing something to improve the lives of those they love, but they maintain a calm and understanding nature.
The work that goes into ABAN is unreal. They are constantly learning new ways to care and provide for the girls, to ensure that they are wholesome women when they graduate. The opportunity to spend time with the staff and witness all of the work that they is an invaluable learning experience. I feel as if I’ve learned a lifetime of lessons already, and it’s only Thursday. Soon we’ll post more about what each member of the staff does, and how big of an impact they create. (There’s no way we can capture the magnitude of ABAN in words, but we’ll try.)
I hope all is well with everyone, wherever you’re reading. All is great here.
Peace and love,
Hey all! Our team is preparing for our project in Ghana that will begin on May 28th. We’ll start our travel this Saturday, and arrive in Ghana on Sunday night. This will be the official blog of the University of Kansas & University of New Mexico partnership with ABAN this summer. Follow our journey here! We’ll update atleast once a week with the progress of our project, the impact of our project in the community, and the impact of the project and the community on ourselves.
ABAN is an organization in Accra, Ghana that provides aid to street girls in Accra, as well as help to improve the environmental conditions of the city. Every day, the same streets that these girls are forced to sleep on are littered with over 40 tons of plastic waste. ABAN helps to teach these girls to recycle these waste products into materials that they can then transform into profitable items, such as bracelets, aprons, and cosmetic bags. ABAN not only teaches the girls the seamstress skills for this trade, but also provides them with shelter, an education, and a savings matching program upon the girls’ graduation. ABAN’s aim is not just to temporarily aid these girls, but to provide them with the life tools they need to end this cycle of poverty.
While we are at ABAN, we will spend our mornings building an outdoor bead center, which will hold the kiln (for the girls to fire their beads). In the afternoons, we will be working one on one with the girls, learning their stories and helping them grow. We’ll be doing a homestay with a man there named Dan, who works with ABAN, and will drive us there and back everyday.
I don’t know exactly what to expect on this trip, but I do know that I am excited beyond belief, and look forward to helping these women and this program grow, just as I am sure it will help all of us to grow.
See you soon, Ghana; I can’t wait to experience what you have in store for us!
Less than six weeks away from our trip to Ghana! With the semester winding down, the trip is going to come fast. My excitement builds more and more each day!