After we adjourned, Meshach was adamant about me visiting the three schools in town- primary, secondary and the recently built high school. Apparently a former parliament member came from a neighboring village and so began devoting a lot of funds and energy to this region, thus the construction and funding for the high school. Unfortunately, he died suddenly and so the funding and development stopped. So although there are teachers there paid by the government, there are very limited and outdated school supplies, very few desks, no computers, etc. Most of the youths’ parents cannot afford the fees and the head master doesn’t have the heart to turn them away, so he just lets them continue for free. His passion and dedication to the school is inspiring. He takes money out of his own pocket to buy extra books for the kids who cannot afford them, asking them to repay them when they can- most of them never do. He as requested the funds necessary to provide the youth everything they need from the government. He never receives a response.
The same goes for the primary and secondary schools.
But it was enlightening and a gift to visit all the schools and see the children. It is always fun to take pictures and then show them themselves in the photo. They go crazy, laughing and screaming and begging me to take more…it just melts my heart.
We walked about a mile in the midday heat and I thought I was going to pass out. I don’t know the exact temperature, but it is scorching. By the time we got home, it was all I could do to take a shower and pass out. I woke up and I asked Meshach to go with me for a final walk along the beach. We continued to talk about the challenges and brainstorm ideas to provide the help necessary to make this work. I asked question after question and he patiently answered what he could. How do the women get any money at all if they have no income? What do the men do to earn income? Do people get enough to eat? Are the children malnourished? Where do the farmers sell their produce…on and on.
Wow, reality check. Just had to watch a young boy grab a chicken, accompanied by shrieking protests by her and her surrounding pack. The boy disappeared inside his shack…and then silence. Yes, I eat chicken, yes I know they have to be killed, but that might have just converted me back into a vegetarian.
Meshach promised me a local favorite for my final night in Ekumfi- Fufu with a type of chicken soup (which I might have forwent after that whole incident) in a spice tomato broth (holy crap, was it spicy). Fufu is made out of plantains and cassava and beaten down into a very dense paste. The broth is poured over with pieces of chicken included. They were surprised that I didn’t eat the bones of the chicken as they crunched away. We ate at the house his father owns, where his brother and he are staying, We enjoyed our meal in silence (me sweating from the heat of the dish…but when was I not sweating, really) listening to traditional Ghanaian music. After we finished, Meshach treated us all to sugarcane. We each got a stick and they chopped it up for me so I could access the juicy center. It was delicious and successfully countered the heat of the broth. As usual, I couldn’t finish mine, knowing that I could give the leftovers to someone around me that was truly hungry. This has been an issue for me throughout my stay. When I am among such extreme poverty, it is so hard for me to indulge in a full belly. I have given away most of my meals every night. (I say this not to seem pious, just to convey how difficult it is to maintain boundaries or distance yourself for the sake of self-care or preservvation in these situations).
After we finished, we all set our chairs outside to catch the breeze coming straight from the ocean. We sat there watching the villagers headed home down the main street, the ocean breeze keeping us ‘cool’ and Ghanaian music providing the perfect soundtrack as we watched the sun set over Ekumfi-Akra: the perfect ending to an unforgettable experience in this little village that has captured my heart.