Volunteer Journal -Shifra Raz, Kpando, Ghana October 22, 2009

The small pleasures of life. Benny heated some water to add to the cold water bucket. "Shower" was such a luxury today. The big rain came in the afternoon. We put large buckets under the roof, to catch the rain water. The rain is hammering loudly on the corrugated-aluminum roof. This is our second week in Kpando. We are getting used to the heat and humidity, and the town’s people are getting used to the white couple living in their midst. Mr. Forson drove us to Ho, the capital city of the Volta Region. We went to see the site of the future Airfield school. It was a roller-coaster ride, as the car swung from one side of the road to the other, trying to avoid the large pot holes. On the way, the car overheated and they all looked with awe at the white man who worked his magic on the car, taped the leaking pipe, and after 30 minutes in the scorching heat we were on our way again. We were met by the chief, the head teacher, and community people. The community is going to provide all the unskilled labor and Pagus will supply the materials and over-site. We sat at the current facility that 120 children call school: Two long sheds, made of some wooden poles and grass-roof. For almost ten years they had meetings, promises were made by the government or various organizations, but nothing happened. Pagus:Africa has been raising money for four years and has most of what will be needed to build a simple structure, and Benny will try to make it happen. I think that Benny found his calling. He is so dedicated to the project. He selected the contractor who will build the school. There were long meetings. Benny drew the plan and wrote the specs for the project. He plans to start the foundation digging November 3rd… …But this is Africa, and I suspect that there will be unknown surprises along the way. Saturday is laundry and cleaning day. The children are doing their own laundry. Later they carried buckets of water into the house barrels. On Sunday morning they all ironed their best clothes, and I joined the family in church. The wooden dividers between three classrooms were removed to create a large hall. Colorful material was covering the front wall, artificial flowers around the podium, instruments where brought in, and the service was more like a rock concert. Dancing, jumping, singing. Fortune, Bishop Forson’s son, is an excellent drummer. Forson asked me to speak to the community. He had to translate every sentence. Many of them do not understand English. They speak the local language, Ewe. I spoke about Jerusalem, Shalom and taught them the "Shema". The following day, the kids in school asked me to sing the Shema again… On the school ground, under the mango tree, near the kitchen shed, two women were making kenke: large balls of dough made of crushed dry corn, water, and salt, wrapped in corn husk and cooked over fire for about one hour. I sat next to them, wrapping the dough with the dry leaves, twisting the ends and pushing it into the dough. It was tasteless, but the trick is in the sauce. All the vegetable that I use for a fresh salad, turn into spicy stew in the Ghanaian kitchen. They grow tomatoes, but do not eat fresh tomato. “It does not taste good”. At home Joyce was making fufu, the traditional Ghanaian food. Mashed cooked cassava and plantain. Her daughters, Mabel and Albright took turns pounding the cooked cassava and plantain with long wooden pole, as Joyce was gradually adding water and turning the dough around. There was a rhythm of pounding and turning the dough. Quick movement, moving her hand out of the way when the long pole comes down. Today we visited two orphanages in the area and met the three foreign volunteers who work there. Ellen from Pennsylvania, calls often. She is passionate about the school and “her” children. “see that they are well fed”, she said, ‘No child can learn on an empty stomach”.

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