The ruminations of an artist on art & quilts, beading, knitting, drawing, painting, printmaking, bookmaking are all my passions, I love to explore creating....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Kumasi Orphanage visit

On our last day in Ghana we visited the US Embassy in Accra and met the US Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, who spent quite a bit of time talking with the kids. One of the questions he asked the kids was: what impressed you most about Ghana? Three of the kids said in response, "I am impressed by how hard everyone here works to feed, cloth and take care of themselves."

I pondered this question for awhile --- what has impressed me most? and eventually my answer came to me : watching these 10 young people --ages 9-14--take in all the sights, sounds, smells and impressions of a new country and seeing this experience transform them and expand their worldview was what impressed me most on this trip.
the students from the Anchorage Home Based After School Program on the beach in Ghana

The first service learning project we did on our trip was to visit an orphanage in Kumasi. After a tour of the facility, I wanted to go back to the bus and cry. Why? I guess my American sensibility was in a bit of a culture shock because the even though the facility was adequate---the simple rather bare bones quarters for the children made me very sad. I went with the girls to the girl children's unit--so sorry I do not have any photos of the boys interacting with the children.

The Homebase girls, however, immediatley wanted to hold the babies we saw layng in cribs, and so asked permission to pick them up. The "Auntie" in charge nodded ok--and soon each girl was holding an infant!

One of the infants was so tiny and thin--I asked why ? and the answer was--she was a preemie. When it was time to feed the babies and toddlers--Shirley Mae gently fed this tiny baby girl with a cup--there were no bottles.
We also held and played with the toddlers and older children for several hours---we had brought some health and other practical supplies for the orphanage, but one of the girls had also brought some shiny metal bracelets and a whole lot of valentine stickers to give to the children. We passed these out, and once the older children saw that the sheets of images were stickers--they excitedly peeled them off and happily stuck them all over themselves!

The young woman in the photo with me is a volunteer from the Netherlands---there were several young woman volunteering at the orphanage--from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

This toddler was a real sweetheart....

The "Homebase kids" returned to the orphanage on another day and visited the orphanage day school (a preschool) and read to the children or colored with them--- we had also brought some coloring books and colored pencils and books for the orphanage---I wasn't along with the kids that day--but several of them told me they had a "really fun time" with the children at the Kumasi Orphanage that day. I refrained from telling them that when you give freely from your heart (as they so clearly did) you generally were rewarded by a "good time."

1 comment:

Mary Timme said...

What a trip! Africa is so very poor and so many orphans! It would be a shock I'm sure! I'm always shocked when I see photos from Africa. So beautiful and yet . . .