June 30th, 2017
I’ll start off by saying that before I came on this trip, I expected to come home with a renewed or possibly even newfound appreciation for many of the little things in life that I often take for granted on a daily basis without even realizing it. That being said, I didn’t realize the extent of how deeply this would impact me or even the range of the conveniences I have grown up believing are the norm that have ultimately become a mundane part of everyday life.
The first thing I realized that I use without even thinking about is clean tap water. From the first day that we arrived, we have been brushing our teeth with the water from our bottles that we fill with the purified drinking water that comes in little bags. After a few initial times of almost putting my toothbrush under the faucet due to routine habit, I quickly realized that having clean drinking water coming from the water pipes is a big deal. Growing up in a developed country, I often neglect to think about where my water comes from and if it is safe to drink or not. Thankfully in Ghana and many other developing countries there have been initiatives taken that help make clean drinking water easily accessible to everyone, no matter what your economic status, in order to eradicate illnesses caused by unsanitary drinking water.
While we’re on the topic of water, how many of you enjoy taking a nice warm shower when you’re trying to get cleaned up? I know I do and I’ll be the first to admit it, but I’ve learned that having a hot shower is a luxury and we are spoiled to have a showerhead and warm water in the first place. Here in Ghana, cold bucket showers are the norm. No more hanging around in the shower taking your sweet time because it’s so relaxing. You get in and get out as quickly as possible…but I tell you what, that first warm shower that I take when I get home is going to be that much sweeter because I now value this comfort that we get to enjoy so much more.
I don’t know about y’all, but doing laundry is just one of those tasks that I love doing and is even peaceful in a way. After doing my laundry the Ghanaian way for the first time this week, I have a whole new appreciation for this set of appliances better known as the washing machine and dryer. On top of that, I am even more thankful for the hands that wash our whole group’s worth of clothes every weekend – the oh so wonderful (Saint) Margaret. After spending almost an hour and a half sitting in the sun washing my clothes in a metal basin, spinning them around like a human washing machine, rinsing and wringing them out, and then hanging them to dry on the clothesline, I can only imagine how much time and hard work went into doing a dozen loads of laundry for us. Not only does she do our laundry, but she also cooks amazing meals for us and cleans up after unintentionally messy selves…she is truly the best. I can’t say enough how thankful I am for all of the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into making us feel right at home.
Last but not least, coming from a very cold-natured person who thought she would never be saying this – I have never been more appreciative for the invention of air conditioning after living in Africa. The summer here is their rainy season which means it is the “coolest” part of the year, which means the Georgia heat has nothing on the weather here. You learn to accept and become okay with the fact that you’ll always be in a constant warm and sticky state, especially during the humid rainy season of the summer.
I say all of this to try and put my realizations into words to make sense of it all, not at all to highlight the drawbacks of living in a developing country. In reality, Ghana is even more beautiful and developed than I imagined and I can honestly say that I came into this trip expecting the worse but being very pleasantly surprised. You could say that the “lightbulb moment” has definitely occurred during the two and a half weeks that I have already spent here. Many of the preconceptions that I had about Ghana and Africa in general have been debunked and a multitude of personal experiences have shaped my understanding, which have contributed to my expanding appreciation for what I have been blessed with and how incredible of an opportunity this really is. I hope that I will always be able to look back on this eye-opening experience for years and years to come, to stand as a reminder for myself to never become too comfortable so much that I fail to properly appreciate everything that I have been granted. So here’s to unfamiliar experiences that ultimately lead to lots of personal growth and revitalized awareness that make us who we are.
Overview of our 12 hour bus ride.
Ghana is a diverse land.
An overview of our morning at the busy market in Accra during our first day in Ghana!
Six students live in the guest house and must walk to the main house each morning and night.
Tour of Kasapreko Company: An Indigenous Ghanaian Beverage Bottling Company