Tuesday July 13th

Two things: Happy Birthday to my big sister, Gwen 😀  AND, thanks readers – I’m two away from 500 hits!  Granted, about 20 of them are me (I like to go to my blog and see it as you would see it sometimes 😀 )  It’s not Julie and Julia popular, but it’s enough popular for me 🙂

Today was a profoundly insightful and hilarious day.  First, I’ve been pondering over the past week about the educational system here in Ghana.  Is it the system? The teachers? What is the problem!?!?  I was speaking with Flores today – when she was pregnant with her second born, she fell and he was delivered prematurely.  He has some motor and cognitive problems.  At the young age of 19, he goes to a special school in Takoradi.  He’s not terribly coordinated and she’s tried to teach him how to use a handkerchief as opposed to making him wear a bib as an adult.  You can sense the anguish that she feels as a mother who has limited or no support.  I had to fight back the tears – I wasn’t gonna cry 2 days in a row!  Her son is why she wanted to become an educator for the deaf.  Her son is not verbal so she tried to bring him to the school she works at (where I am) but they said his functioning was too low, that’s why he is where he is.

How could I have ever judged her?  How could I have ever felt, even the small ounce of me that felt it, that she – the teachers – where the demise of Ghanaian education!?  I’m not saying they’re not partly involved – but when you don’t have the resources, the know how – how can you be expected to advocate and improve what you have.  I guess it’s like that example of – some sort of animal – when put in a cage, they’ll fight until they have no more fight.  We need to rejuvenate the fight in the people here in Ghana through education – they need to know how many resources are out there to help them with their youth, as an adult – as a parent.

This being said, I’ve introduced GNDCS to Friends of Cape Deaf – they have similar visions, and I hope the two organizations will be able to function as one and improve the standards, improve the lives of the people who have disabilities here in Ghana so that they can live fulfilling lives!

Moving forward – with all the research I did, I had no idea that Ghanaians don’t tend to play cards because of the association with gambling.  Fortunately for me, my host family is very open to everything!  The other thing I didn’t know was that Ghana doesn’t have dental floss like we do.  Dora had suggested, for the science lessons, that I focus on bodily functions – hygiene, reproduction, etc.  I’m not so sure about the reproduction part – but as I flipped through Nana’s science book, I came across a lesson on teeth.  Awesome, I thought!

It was suggested I bring dental floss because it can come in handy, so I had about 5 things of it.  Well, I’m teaching about teeth, and I bust out the floss.  Oh my goodness, innocently HILARIOUS!  The kids thought I was absolutely nuts – they’d never seen dental floss before.  I showed them how to use it – I drew a mouth on the board and showed them where food gets stuck.  Most of them followed my lead as I showed them how to use the floss, but I’m pretty sure they all think I’m crazy for putting the string in my mouth.

One young man collected a few of them – he wants to use them.  Who knows if he will end up using it to engineer something, or if he will use it for his teeth – but he was fascinated by the floss.  One of the kids was asking if the string would cut him – that got me on a roll about bacteria and germs – all of my dentists should be proud!  If you’re a dentist and want to do some global good – here’s your chance. Team up with Crest, Colgate, or Aquafresh and deliver oral hygiene products to countries where they may not be using them – where they may not know of them.  Let’s improve world dental health 😀  Make sure to take pictures, I didn’t want to embarrass the students so I left my camera in my bag – but, man – I should have – it was great!

Later, I was recounting the lesson to Dora – she said there’s a local bush/twig thing that is used-  did notice a significant usage of toothpicks – so in the list we made of “How to care for out teeth” I made sure to put “floss/use a toothpick.”  Who’d a thunk it, I certainly didn’t!

Aspirations

She started traveling in her 70s.  She managed to make it to most places on this earth. She kissed the Blarney Stone, visited the wailing wall in Jerusalem, rode many exotic animals such as a camel, (maybe) elephant, donkey – and of course, a horse.  She was “under fire” but was so curious she went to the door to watch. She taught me to embroider.  She loves fried green tomato sandwiches, sauerkraut, and popcorn.  She’s a fighter. She’s independent. She’s who I aspire to become, even one one-hundreth of.  She’s my great-grandmother. 

She’ll be 101 – yes, one-hundred-one years old in August.  I’m not necessarily going to Africa for her, but in her spirit.  Grandma Great fell yesterday and bumped her little noggin’ – gave me a reality check about how long I’ve been able to have her in my life here on this planet…and how numbered our days are.  She has moments of recognition and still gets excited about popcorn.  I LOVE popcorn too – she passed that on to my mom who passed it on to me.  I love my Grandma Great and worry that she’ll get promoted while I’m away.  She wouldn’t want me to stay behind, she would want me to go and have fun – but be careful, of course.  I think I’m packing more than she ever would – but it’s ok 🙂  If, in the event, she does get called to heaven while I’m away – I’m sure she’ll stop by on her way up and give me a kiss as she whispers in my ear “Remember, you’ve always been my girl – I’ll see you later. I love you!” 

Me and Grandma Great - 2004

Mc D-O-N-A-L-D-S

I was chatting with my sister last night and asked her “If you were from Ghana, what would you want to see a picture of?”  Without missing a beat, “McDonalds!” I thought – oh, well – they are international.  This could be a topic of relate-ability.  Don’t know if there are any McDonalds..s…in Ghana, but sure, why not!?

So, I’m taking my photo…this car with 2 guys pulls around after making their order…they were very polite, noticing I was taking a photo, they pulled their car forward to allow me a clear shot.  I figured I owed them an explanation – sometimes I get to a-wondering what people are doing and never get my ponderings answered.  I pulled up beside them, “Hi – I’m going to Ghana on Monday…(the rest of the story.)”  The driver exclaimed “You’re going to GHANA!?”  Here, I thought he was going to make a remark about the World Cup, his response “I work with a ton of people from Ghana.” Me “Are they nice?” Him “They’re the nicest people there, aside from me!”

I’m tellin’ ya, every day I get more convinced, Ghana will be taking over the world.  And, this isn’t too shabby of a thing – they are “the nicest people in Africa” so, who wouldn’t want the nicest people from a whole continent running the world!?

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

6-8 months ago, a student from Wright State University helped out and taught at the deaf school in Accra, the capital of Ghana.  She relayed her experiences through a presentation at Ohio School for the Deaf (OSD). The students and faculty were so moved, they decided to hold a school supply drive.  I believe, for ONE basketball game, people were urged to bring school supplies.  The attached photos are some of the collection.
 
Through my contacts, I was put in touch with one of the teachers at OSD.  I will be delivering these supplies in the upcoming weeks.
 
Have you ever been told you can’t do something? Have you ever doubted teamwork? Have you ever pushed aside the notion that we are all in it together? Have you ever felt like you, as the power of ONE can’t make a difference?
 
Please, let this testify – ONE is all it takes.  One can be the loneliest number, but when there is ONE who is willing, many WILL follow – TOGETHER WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
 
Do it – make that small donation.  Say “Hi” to that unsuspecting person.  Carry that person’s groceries to the car. Pay it forward.  The trickle effect – look what it can do. ONE student impacting the WORLD as we unite as a TEAM! cliché, yes. It became a cliché for a reason. 
 
YOU ARE THE DIFFERENCE!

3 in 1

I know! I’m crazy – three posts in one day! It’s just been that eventful!  I think I have everything purchased now – I’ve done everything but print out the photos for the photo album.  My lovely husband went to Dicks Sporting Goods and purchased my mosquito net for me, and to Costco to buy me some batteries – sweet boy!  I went to Meijers on a prompting (if I didn’t find what I needed, I’d head across the street to Walmart) HOWEVER, I found a lovely wheeled duffel bag for – you can’t even guess – $7.49! My husband asked “You had to get the ugliest one!?” My response “It’s other, more blah looking friends were $39.99.” Go me! So, everything’s purchased – YAY 😀

I think, to pack – I’m gonna sort everything – school supplies, clothing, toiletries, etc…and then spread out what I can evenly.  You know I’ll keep you posted 🙂

Maybe I’ll dedicate next week to taking photos of everything I can, then if I send them to be printed Friday – put it together over the weekend…I’ll have Monday to fester over what I forgot until I leave! 😉

Cheers!

Packing List

Suggested Packing List for Ghana Travel 

Toiletries:

  • Bug Spray – Repel 50% Deet EPA approved
  • Sun Screen
  • Band-Aids
  • Ace Bandage
  • Antibacterial Ointment
  • After-Bite/Benadryl Cream/2% hydrocortisone (BIG tube)
  • Chapstick
  • Shampoo
  • Body Wash (no added moisturizer)
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Baby Wipes
  • Tampons
  • Mini Toilet Paper Roll
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tissues/Hankey
  • Powder
  • Lotion
  • Q-Tips

Medications: 

  • Sinus Meds
  • Anti-Malarial Meds
  • Pain Reliever/ 12 Aspirins
  • Anti-Diarrhea Pills
  • Allergy Pills/ Benadryl
  • Tums or Other Antacid
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Water Pills or Iodine Drop
  • Water Bottle Holder
  • Noxema

Miscellaneous:

  • Towel
  • 1 sheet
  • Travel pillow
  • Flashlight
  • Sock
  • Brush
  • Hair Ties
  • Mosquito Net
  • Binoculars?

Documents:

  • Passport
  • Airline Tickets
  • Itinerary
  • Copies of Passport/Tickets/Credit Cards
  • Customer Service Numbers for Credit Cards
  • Credit Card

Clothing:

  • Roos 7
  • Socks 7
  • Bra 2
  • Long Sleeved Shirt 2
  • Long (or Convertible) Pants 1
  • Capris 4
  • 8 light colored shirts
  • Rain Jacket/poncho
  • Bandanna
  • Sneakers
  • Skirt 1
  • Top 1
  • Flip Flops for Bathing/ Water shoes
  • PJ’S!

Other:

  • Journal
  • Books for Reading
  • Camera
  • Memory Card
  • Recording Device/Mic
  • Blank Discs/Tapes
  • Batteries
  • Gifts for Hosts/New Friends
    • Stickers
    • Hard Candies
  • Photo Album
  • US Map
  • Tweezers
  • Safety Pins
  • Ziplocks

Important Notes on Currency:

  • ONLY VISA is accepted in most places in Ghana.  Do not bring a Mastercard!
  • Traveler’s Cheques may only be cashed in big cities.
  • You will get a better exchange rate for big bills ($20, $50, or $100).
  • Visa ATMs can be found in larger cities (Accra, Ho, Cape Coast).
  • Traveler’s Cheques can be cashed upon arrival in Accra and a Visa debit/credit card to be used in the cities (in stores or at ATMs).

Husband

So…a common question is: What does your husband think about you going to Africa?

Well, my dear, sweet Boo is a man of few words.  Sometimes I need to collect a thought in my mind that could be swimming around in his mind and ask him..”So, (thought)___________” and he’ll agree, look at me like I’m crazy or…a plethora of outcomes could happen!  I did this one day a little while ago – I already asked him if I could go to Africa back in April – “yeah, sure, whatever.” Then, I asked him again – TWICE – before I bought my ticket – “Now, you’re SURE you’re ok with this.” His reply “YES, I already said yes. GO!”  So…I was formulating one day..”Did you say yes to me going to Africa because you didn’t really think I would do it?”  Well, I even surprised myself, so it’s no wonder he didn’t think this trip would happen.

Poor boy, he stopped asking me questions after I kept saying “I don’t know” to everything he’d ask:

  • Where will you stay?
  • What will you be doing?
  • What will you eat?
  • Who will pick you up?
  • How much will this cost?

Well…in the beginning, I didn’t have those answers.  I’ve since inquired of him why he hadn’t asked me anything further – we’ve started talking a bit more about it. He’s a doll for agreeing to ship his wife off to a far away land – though, he’s rather excited about having a month to himself – I’m sure, after those 6 long weeks, I’ll have missed him more than I can fathom at this particular moment.

The nerves are starting to set in a little bit – after all, in 2 weeks I should have

  • this
  • this
  • this
  • and this completed!

Figuring out what all of those are…well 😉 I know one is schedule a meeting with the bishop to get a current temple recommend – why I put this off so long, I haven’t a clue – I hope the Stake President has a day coming up! The second is, get another copy of that darned yellow card!

Other than that – a few items from the store, pack..and I’m gone.

You nervous with me, dear reader?

20 Days

Whoop whoop! Just kidding – that’s not truly my style!  I went to the doc today – Dr. Ann Patel with Worthing Family Physicians. She seems pretty nice – no worries, I’m fine – BP was a little high though, went down in the visit – WELL, anyway – the point was to get malaria pills.

I took the prescription to Target – curious if they’d have it.  After some dialogue with the pharmacist, Sally – way nice, she said..M…Malaron?..is pretty common.  The gal next to me while i was at the counter is going to Israel!  So, the malaria med that Dr. Patel and I settled on was because: one gives crazy dreams and one or two of the three make you more susceptible to the sun…me and my inherited pink toned self appreciate the caution with that 🙂 So, we settled on the once a day version – I start it June..June 26th I think and take it for 40 days which should put my last day on August 4th.

Target surprised me and had it – however, Dr. Patel wrote out the prescription beautifully but forgot the dosage.  Damage could be $283 if you were uninsured, I’ll let you know.  If you’re keeping a running tally, the trip is…if you were to plan one in the future, you’d be looking at about $2850 – I made sure to add in the amount I saved with the voucher – that number is airfare, correspondence, immunizations, etc.

So, in the middle of calculating – I stepped away for about 30 mins and in that 30 mins I would have lost my head if it weren’t attached – I lost the receipt to the toner cartridge I just purchased – key word being cartridge. I tried to put it in..well, guess what!?!? You need to detach the butt before you turn it in – here I was thinking I was being so efficient for turning in the old cartridge – like you’re supposed to! And I need the butt. SO, if you have a Brother HL-2140 and you run out of toner (you will know this because the printer becomes stubborn and refuses to print thus forcing you to purchase a new toner – about $47 at Office Max when you use the “20% off anything you can fit in this bag” option…anyway – REMEMBER THE BUTT! They’re holding my butt for me until I can get it tomorrow.

ANYWAY – in the middle of all that, I straightened up my Ghana binder..and …it must have been one of those days. I admit – I can be a ditz sometimes…today, whoa. I thought I was a GENIOUS because I took my yellow card to work to make a copy of it..I had it after I made the copies..I had it while I ate lunch..I even think I had it when I went outside to hang out with my friend/colleague as she was doing playground duty…however…did I stick it in my lunch box? Did I leave it on the copier? Did it fall out waking up the stairs to the classroom? I SURELY hope I find it..that, combined with my passport – is the single most important piece of paper I need to get into Ghana..I have the COPIES of it, zeesh. Fingers crossed it gets found.

Time for bed. You should get some sleep too so you don’t lose your head! Gotta go, mine’s rolling away! 😀

SUCCESS!

So…I was talking to my friend Laura last night…and was worried about not being able to track down my visa application…I was on my way home, talking to my husband who asks “are you expecting something through Fed Ex from Washington DC?” YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!  So, I mailed it May 25th it arrived June 7th. Awesome! 13 days of wondering. It’s nice and pretty – I won’t put a pic of it up because of privacy reasons, but trust me, it’s nice 🙂

Now to the logistics of packing and what to pack 🙂

Slight Panic

So…..I had the paper with all of the shipping information on it – including the tracking number of the package that is going to be returned to me…for my Visa I had to mail it then include a self addressed prepaid overnight trackable package – preferrably Fed Ex – so I went the FedEx way…well, the past few days I’d been calling Fed Ex to track it – you don’t get a phone call when your visa’s processed, so I figured – if it was in the FedEx tracking system, I was processed…

Well, yesterday, I called..and haven’t been able to find the paper since – AHHHHH….AND, so much for the “no less than 2 days and no more than 5 days” to process your application for a Ghanaian visa…a small amount of stress because I lost the packaging slip with the tracking number and because I don’t know what’s going on..so, tomorrow’s fast Sunday – how to formulate that into a prayer…everything’s worked out thus far – about 20 days..it will work out, right dear reader!? 😉