Monday, June 28, 2010

June 29th: hello from Ghana

Hello everyone,

The last few days have brought many experiences. The city of Accra is very, very busy and noisy. Very hectic. I will be glad to be in Damongo and Winneba. Our flight to Damongo leaves at 6:00am on Wednesday morning - we will probably travel most of the day to get there.

During our first day at Avienda Hotel (the first hotel in Accra) I met a man who was a refugee in Germany for 12 years. He escaped during the time that the government was in turmoil. He was a minister in the parliament at the time and began to speak out against the government. I am hoping to meet him again and hear his story about how he escaped. He now speaks at different churches and local organizations to encourage people to become involved and learn about the government's decisions so that they understand how these decisions affect them. He shared that people wait for the government to improve their lives. He encourages them to do things for themselves and take responsibility for changing their own lives. I will see if we can meet him again when Leena and Beth are with us. They arrive tonight at about 10:30pm.

We went to Winneba on Saturday to see Annie and Uma. We stayed with Fred Dadzie's family (Fred worked with Challenging Heights last year). I helped Isaak cook rice for Red Red. He makes the most delicious Red Red. We are going to see if we can find the red oil that they use for cooking it. Isaak is Fred's brother. His wife died a year ago and now he is struggling to be healthy. He has asked for our prayers to help him feel better. He is very thin.

Ross met us in Winneba - it is good to spend time with him and hear his stories about working with Dr. Sam. I am excited about meeting him.

We meet Mrs. Aworti, the Director for Science Education, this afternoon at 2:00. I will share Annie and Uma's clean water initiative with her. Maybe she can provide some kind of help for us???

The meeting at the University of Ghana in Accra was an awesome meeting. We met with Prof. Justice who teaches a course on Ghanaian history, culture, and NGO's. He spent about 2-3 hours talking with us about the options in teaching this course and connecting it with service learning. They already have a similar program with Challenging Heights. They also know James Annan with the Free the Slaves Organization. They have students who take a course and then go work with Challenging Heights for about 6 weeks. It is a perfect fit!

We also met with the Director of International Education and the Assistant Registrar for the logistics of making such a course work for us. Dr. J - I will be calling you after the 4th of July to ask you a few questions so that they can begin the approval process so that such a course will be ready for summer 2011.

Everyone at the university were so incredibly accommodating and friendly. When Prof. Justice was showing us the campus, a previous student from Canada was running. We stopped to chat with her because she developed an NGO from Prof. Justice's class and it has been in place for 3 years now. We have her contact information so that we can stay in touch with her.

For our group, we are learning about each other and how to communicate with each other. We have had our misunderstandings and are beginning to learn how to support each other.

Jason and Ben - I miss you guys!

To all my family back in Iowa - I am doing well.

Tammy - Thank you SO much for putting together our site! You are a computer whiz!

For everyone at GVSU who has given us support in this endeavor - thank you!

I will write in Damongo - hopefully!

Love to everyone! Janaan

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