This post is a group blog and will include submissions from the University of Alabama students who participated in Amizade’s Summer Program in Ghana. The first submission is written by Tomisha Hicks, a senior student of Public Health, and presents impressions of her first five days in Jukwa. Thanks, Tomisha!
Keep checking back to hear more stories from the group as they experience Ghana, serve with the community, and reflect on their experiences!
Once we landed in Accra we were meet with the African heat that initially took us aback and let us know we finally made it. We experienced the famous Ghanaian Jollof as our first meal; it let our tongues know be prepared for the spicy food! That morning we had an orientation with Pastor Chris. There, he discussed our community partners, culture differences, and what to expect on our experience here in Ghana. After, we packed our bags and loaded the bus for a road trip to a museum and later to Cape Coast and Jukwa. We made several stops along the way to shops on the side of the road, where we purchased fresh watermelon and pineapples! We had lunch at a restaurant where we enjoyed our choice of chicken or fish and chips. We tried what we understood to be a ketchup-like sauce and voted on which one we thought was best. Once we arrived in Jukwa, we visited our “host-family” and were warmly welcomed. We ended our night at our lodging, where we shared a meal that was prepared by our host-family.
Our second full day in Jukwa we got to learn more about their education system as well as their health care system. We started the day off visiting Jukwa High School, where we were given a tour around the facilities. We noted some huge differences in their education from ours, in that they learn business and technical skills at an earlier age. This allows them to be more prepared after high school to be apart of the working class world. We were able to work in the kitchen with cooks, and see just how strong the women really were who manned the pots. We had the honor of sitting and conversing with the headmistress about the school and the new and upcoming things she had in store! We noted during the conversations that the developing plans she had for the school were not unlike the developing plans our administration and staff complete for our university as well. Next, we were off to the local clinic where we were able to be exposed to the healthcare system. There they had a maternity unit, recovery unit, emergency unit, vaccination unit, and family planning unit. Their health care system may not be elaborate, but this community had learned how to pull their resources to effectively serve their community.
After we visited the library where they had five rooms sectioned off between children books, adult books, and a computer lab. They had a wide variety of books some that were familiar to us and some that were from their community. After the library, we visited Cape Coast where we were able to buy fabrics and coconuts and dive into the Ghanaian market culture. We enjoyed a sweet and spicy lunch that consisted of plantains and spicy tomato sauce prepared by our host family.
We started work at the primary school painting the outside of the library. We were able to paint three full sides of the library before we ran out of supplies. While painting, we were accompanied by the children who ended up helping us paint the library intended for them. They kept us laughing, taught us some Twi, and some new dancing.
The next half of the day we visited the Kakum National Park where we were able to experience the astounding canopy walk. The initial hike to the canopy was tiresome but it eventually evened out and we were able to catch our breath. Our last stop of the day was visiting the chief of the village. Initially it was very intimidating being in the presence. We asked him about all that has changed in his village while he was chief the last 45 years, and he told us that he has brought more schools to the area, and brought electricity and Internet. We gave him a gift of whiskey and he accepted us into his community.
Saturday came with many sweet surprises for the group. We got to visit a cocoa farm and a palm oil farm; the guide even let us try some natural cocoa after he opened it straight from the tree. We all were expecting the typical brown cocoa seed you see on TV, but what we got was something completely different; it was sweet, white, and gooey. Cooking lessons were really world wind experience for us. Last time I booked water on a regular stove I almost burned down the house. Being taught how to cook by Mrs. Harriet and seeing all that goes into the process of cooking made us really appreciate all the meals we have gotten. We prepared fish, yams, and noodles. Her daughter, Hilda, read Peter Rabbit for us while we prepared the meal.
Our Sunday in Ghana was completely life changing. We started the day by visiting the local church, St. Edward’s, to experience the local worship culture. The gorgeous church had windows filled with beautiful stained glass windows that were left open to allow the. breeze to come in. The service was full of life, vigor, and music. Everyone present was fully immersed in the rhythm and joyous life of the mass. The priest gave a moving sermon about the importance of mothers, and adoration all women deserve. After lunch at our guide’s family home in Jukwa, we journeyed to Cape Coast. There we took a historical tour of the Cape Coast Castle, one of about 60 castles lining the African coast used in the slave trade. The tour begins in the museum outlining the Triangle Trade Route, European & American influences, and basics of Ghanaian culture. Next our group was paired with a guide to learn about the intricacies of the boarding process that took place here. Words cannot describe the horrendous conditions forced upon millions of people during this time of history. Walking through the castle was overwhelming and heartbreaking. To end the tour our guide relayed this quote from the outside plaque,
A moving reminder that we are tasked every day to LOVE and RESPECT. We ended our day on a lighter note with a trip to the beach. The view was breathtaking, the breeze salty, and the waves powerful. Many pictures commemorate the relaxing end to our day, and even a few bruises to go along with those pictures. We may all have to shower a few extra times to lose all the sand, but cannot wait for the upcoming week of our trip.