Friday, September 12, 2008

Update from Ghana

By Sarah Mihalov

I am writing to you from the internet café in the Accra Airport. It is actually quite nice, very simple, and all the people are very friendly. I left Ho this morning via tro-tro (after waiting for 2 hours), which was definitely bittersweet. I cannot wait for the comforts of home and senior year, but it was difficult to leave all of the wonderful people that I got to know and the awesome things that I got to do.

This last week was focused on running the Nutrition Program. Starting Monday, mothers who I had interviewed, came to the center in the morning to receive a demonstration. Margaret, the head nurse, talked them through preparing a meal called weanimix, which is nutritious porridge that is made from local foods: maize (corn) and groundnut (peanut). Many of the mothers do not save the groundnuts because they sell for a lot in the market. Thus, because children do not get this critical protein, many are malnourished. So we are trying to encourage them to save some during the harvest seasons.

Mothers then stayed at the center until lunchtime when their children would receive another nutritious meal (usually rice and beans with a little tomato stew with fish powder). While waiting, we put on these crazy Nigerian movies. The acting is awful and the plot is always something ridiculous, usually involving something to do with a love triangle, witchery, and getting stuck by lightening. So crazy. They love the HOPE center because they rarely get to watch TV and they get to lay on the carpeted floors. We even have trouble getting them to leave!!!

This process continued for most of the week with some new and some returning mothers. The mothers were so interesting to talk to about their lifestyle and how it compares to running a home and taking care of children back in the States. Also, its amazing that many of them are basically my age and already have one if not more children.

I spent a lot of my time the last couple days revisiting old spots, people that I got to know, and just taking in as much of the city as I could. By the end, I realized I felt so much more comfortable in my surroundings, although no matter how long I stayed I would always have children yelling "yavoo" at me on the streets (basically "white person"). Went for one last RedRed, which was delicious. Said by to the boys at the internet café. They were amazing, so nice, so helpful, and never sketchy. Wisdom, the nicest one, has already written me to say Safe Journey! Amazing. The last day I said goodbye to everyone at the center and they all have many hopes of our return next year. We shall see. Saying bye to Margaret was the hardest one. She was basically my mom here, taking care of me during the malaria thing, cooking our lunches with her in the new kitchen, and just telling us all about Ghana and its culture. She was wonderful and I will miss her terribly.

Okay, my time is about up at the airport. Off to see if I can find any cake to celebrate my big 22! J Hope all is well for you back in the States. I will finally be back home Monday evening after a brief weekend in Amsterdam with my parents… a much different sort of vacation. Can't wait to catch up with all of you soon!

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