Organization: The Sky is My Limit
The minute exams were over, 18 enthusiastic ASB members headed to Ghana where Joan, director of a brand new organization, Sky is My Limit, was awaiting her first set of volunteers. After spending the night in Accra, barely enough time to acclimatize, we set off on our 5-hour tro tro journey to Kledjo, a small community of 400 people, where we would be living for the next month.
The second we got off our tro, the team was welcomed by the children of the community, who insisted on carrying our backpacks to our rooms! To our surprise, they were able to hold each one better than we ever could! We were then welcomed and introduced to the community by the Chief Elders, who announced us as Kledjo-ians! The youth played Borborbor drums while some danced and invited us to participate as well under the beautiful West African sun. The welcoming ceremony was touching and made everyone feel apart of the community, only a few days of us being there too.
We stayed at CK’s compound, a local from Kledjo, where the 11 girls gracefully accepted the challenge of sharing one room for the entire month, while the boys shared 2 smaller rooms. Aside from the bugs, lizards, and having 1 toilet for 18 people, the team adapted so well into our new living arrangements. Students took on responsibilities such as cooking breakfast, while others cleaned. To keep cool in the 40°C heat, the team spent afternoons under the mango tree eating green oranges and playing with the children. We also took time to wander around the village, where locals would greet us in Ewe, and would get a laugh at our broken-Ewe responses. But we quickly learned, when in doubt say, “yooo!”
During our first week of work, the team was given a tour of each site. The main purpose of us going to Ghana was to assist with the construction of a group home for young adults with special needs. We had our work cut out for us since the land was only leveled, but trenches needed to be dug, bricks needed to be stacked, water to be fetched and most importantly, friendships to be formed with the workers (all of which were successful!). Across the road was a lush path that took us into the plot of land that needed to be hoed and tossed into proper farming land. This farm will be used by the residents at the group home who will plant, harvest and sell the cassava and plantain to gain income in order to be self sufficient. Further up the long winding red dirt road, was the Gbi Special School. Over the course of our stay, the team met more than 100 students who live and go to school there. The project was designed for our members to help the housemothers with the washing, dressing and preparation of the students before they start school…at 5am. We may have helped a little, but we learned so much more. The students taught us songs, showed us kente weaving, and most importantly, how to take care of others, like a family. The team was amazed by the ability of the children, who may not be socially unaccepted in Ghana because of their special needs, but yet, they are so capable of taking care of themselves, and their peers. The last project was painting the interior and exterior of a primary school. Emanuel, or Chief Painter as we called him, taught us about diluting the paint with water or turpentine so it can be used for more area. In between painting, the members were also able to spend time with the kids during their break and gain insight of the Ghanaian educational system.
After work, the team would meet for lunch and dinner at Afegame Guest House, where Sister Joice would cook us amazing meals. She would treat us to Ghanaian specialties like Red Red, Banku or Fufu with Groundnut soup, boiled cassava, and the infamous “red sauce” that went with every meal. We would drink Pure Water, which is a plastic bag of water, or a pear flavoured Alvaro, a malt-based juice that was refreshing after a hot day at work. Afternoons were spent by going into town for some shopping, such as buying yards of fabric that our seamstress would fashion into beautiful dress, scarves and bags. We would walk with the kids to the local rivers, or go fetch water at the well so we can have a nice refreshing bucket shower!
The team found an interest in spending time with the locals and children on our time off. We took advantage of being so submerged in their world, that we wanted to be apart of it. In our first weekend we were invited to a funeral. We learned that birthdays are not vastly celebrated, but a funeral is when the party happens. Ghanaians celebrate the death of their loved one and cherish the life he/she lived. The ceremony was beautiful and very different to what any of us have ever seen. Some members were invited to help the farmer build a mud hut for him at his house, or simply sit with CK, and discuss Ghanaian life, history and culture.
Outside of working, ASB members went to explore a monkey sanctuary, swim under one of the highest waterfalls in West Africa and climb a mountain. We also spent a weekend in Cape Coast, where we visited two slave castles from the colonial times, walked across seven canopy bridges on top of the tropical rainforest at Kakum National Park. Although these were very adventurous excursions, the most challenging one was the Team Canada vs. Team Ghana “football” match! We did not do well as we hoped, so some locals switched to our team and tied the game 6-6! It’s really about having fun after all…
On the day of our closing ceremony, the ASB team played the Amazing Race: Kledjo! We recruited the local youth and paired them our members into teams of 4. Together they had to visit stations and complete the tasks, such as carrying a bucket of water on their head, learn a phrase in Ewe and learn how to play a beat on the borborbor drum! After the youth sang, danced and drummed for us during the closing ceremony, we decided to give them a piece of Canadian culture, by singing the classic “This Land is My Land” song! Together we sang, danced and celebrated with the community until sundown.
The ASB team went on a mission to help build a group home and assist the village where needed. Our projects were successfully completed, but in addition the team built strong relations with the locals, and each other. They learned the importance of community, and how to work together. We lived, learned and grew together, shaping an experience that we will never forget.