Monday, July 19, 2010

Another day almost over :(

I dont have much to report on so ill just ramble on a bit! The weekend was good, didn't do much that I can remember. The days all seem to go together over here, half the time I dont even know what day of the week it is but I knew it was the weekend because the kids weren't in school and therefor were running around crazy. Maren and I have been battling some sort of ailment although its affecting her much more than me. Shes German and is also a nurse but doesn't like taking medication. I'm all for that except when it involves me being in a third world country and having stomach cramps. No way Jose. Bring on the antibiotics! She has never once in her life taken anything for pain. No Advil, no Tylenol, no nothing. I think that's great but I would have jumped off a cliff a long time ago. I also know with the body I have a get the weirdest infections and sicknesses that I just shouldn't take my chances. So today I feel great while she is just starting to get better. I love medicine.

I got bored today after getting the kids off to school so I went to clean up my room and fell asleep. I took the most blissful nap I have had in a long time. You know, the one where you wake up and you think maybe its the middle of the night but its light out still and you have a few moments of confusion. This whole time I have been ultra tired during the days because I have had kids and babies sleeping in my room every night. I wake up a trillion times during the night to check on them and make sure they're still breathing and they're not cold. I'm honestly up about every 45 minutes checking on them. Obsessed, I know. At least I learned that when I become a mother I cant have my kids sleep in the same room as me or I would never sleep. Anyway I decided to walk to town to check the post office and to get something to eat because lunch today was fried plantains and beans, which makes me gag at just the scent. I was followed into town by about 8 school girls. So annoying. I hate being such a spectacle. Walking down the street people yell and hiss. Yes they actually hiss at me. They do it to each other too but I just have a hard time responding to someone hissing at me! I only wanted to walk to town, not get everyone all in a fuss because my skin is white. So I got to the Internet and the lights were off. I waited. And waited. And waited. I decided to head down to the post office because I still need to send mt postcards and Kim's boyfriend sent a package that hasn't arrived yet so I wanted to check that too. Of course the postmaster wont know if anything came until tomorrow. Why tomorrow? I will never know. What time tomorrow? Funny you should ask, I asked the same thing. The answer: before they close. Oh whats that? When do they close tomorrow? Whenever he is done checking the packages, of course! Oh Lord. So anyway I came back to the cafe to sit and wait for the lights to come on because I really don't have much to do today, I started to fall asleep when I heard a familiar voice says "Who is that I am seeing?" it was a teacher that we became friends with last time we were here but he has since left the orphanage! Dennis kept me company and now the lights are on and all is well again. Except I'm hungry, but that's nothing new. I want a burger! haha

I went to my first Ghanaian funeral this weekend. It was for the sister of the old driver of the orphanage. Follow that?! I was actually really dissapointed because funerals here are always such wild parties that last for days and days. Come to find out this lady was Muslim, and quite frankly her funeral was so uneventful, it hurt. I know thats terrible to say but I was really excited to get to experience something culturally different. I guess it was kinda interesting. The normal funerals here take place at least a week or two after the person dies because there is so much planning to do. This one took place two days after and they held the body at the house and her friends and daughter helped prepare her for burial. Her brother and the other men were the ones that had to dig the hole at the cemetery but I somehow think its not really sad for them, its more of just the way it is. Anyway we all sat around and waited and waited and waited until some men came and put her in a casket and took her away. The women aren't allowed to be a part of the funeral at all. Dumb. We were then invited to the mosque that they were praying for her at. I knew it was a Muslim funeral so I choose a long black dress that is strapless but I brought along one of my Ghanaian clothes to wrap around my shoulders which I was so thankful for because I then wrapped it around my head so none of my hair was showing and they really appreciated that. The men went inside to pray and the women sat outside. We could see in through the windows but women must not be allowed inside. The men were being fed traditional food and candy while we sat and watched them eat. I was SO hungry! I just thought that was sooo awful that the women just sit and watch and cant take part in anything. I was so hungry I actually had to get up and leave! So that was fun I guess. It was really sad because the daughter of the lady who died is Christian so they wouldn't even let her see her mother in the coffin or know where she is buried. She had a hard time understanding and it was hard to watch her heartbreak in front of my eyes.

The other American left yesterday so its just Maren and I and then she will be the lone obruni come Thursday. I cant believe I have to leave here. I am just soaking it all up while I can. My flight leaves the airport here at 940 am Thursday so I will have to leave the orphanage around 430 am! It will still be dark but I have been assured by many people that it is safe. I have no worries. Well thats all for now folks! Have a great day back home!

Friday, July 16, 2010

And then there was one Obruni....

Hello from Lucky Luciano and myself! We ventured to the top of town today to take the other American to the market for her first time. Tuesday and Friday every week they have market here. I had lucky tied on my back and everybody thought that was the craziest thing in the world. They just couldn't believe I knew how to do that. Lucky did great despite the downpour that started right as we left for market. Since Melissa and Kim left he has been my right hand man. He does everything with me. It was very hard to see Mel and Kim go. I had a slight panic attack but everything is back to wonderful again. Its actually been really good for me to know that I can do things on my own. I have been a little hesitant to go anywhere or to travel on my own but it has been good thus far. When Melissa and Kim left Kwame and Morris (the boys we are sending to boarding school) came in the room and rearranged it just the way they like it and have been sleeping in there ever since. Its nice to have them there at night with Lucky and I. I think they really enjoy having a bed to sleep on of their own and they help a ton with Lucky Lu.

I went to Swedru to check out the school that we want to send the boys to. I was warned that they would tell me some crazy price because I am an obruni and sure enough they told me it would be 350 cedi a term!! That's something around 290 US dollars every three months. No way. They usually charge about 150 cedi a term. Emmanuel will go back today and see what the real price is for a black person inquiring. I am really excited about their schooling. I'm so happy that we have the power to guarantee these boys have a good life. Its the least we could do. One piece of news is that 6 of our kids came back with positive Hepatitis B test results. One of them is our Morris. He has probably had it since birth and therefore it is now chronic. We are trying to figure out what to do. The only treatment offered here is 90 cedi a month and you have to do it a minimum of 6 months. Maren (the German volunteer) is dating one of the boys who came back positive so she has started him on the treatment and we will see how it goes but there is no way we can pay to treat all 6. Up a creek without a paddle. Its a terrible feeling when there is treatment available but you cant pay for it. I hate money. On the prevention hand, there is a vaccine available here but it is 20 cedi per injection and it is a three injection series. There is no way we can pay to get them all vaccinated either and its really a terrible thing because it is so highly contagious. Its so frustrating because we surely can manage to vaccinate a few but how do you pick and choose who will essentially live a healthier life and who will die. I think I will take Lucky and Kwame to get their first shots next week. Kwame is so close with Morris that he is bound to get Hep B at some point and if we are paying for school I want him as healthy as possible. We want to vaccinate Lucky as a gift to his life. He has changed us in ways that he will never know or understand. Its so terrible to choose favorites for vaccinations but there really is no other option. Hopefully someone else will step up and do a child or two and together we may be able to get to them all. Its highly unlikely but one can wish, right?

I have postcards that have been ready to send for some time now but every time I go to the post office, its closed. Hours of operation are unheard of around here so its impossible to know when they will be open. I asked a man sitting out front of it the other day when the postmaster would be back and he said maybe 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 or 4:00. It was 10am when I asked. There is no way I was going to come back every hour and with my luck he would never even show. So postcards will be on their way soon (I hope) and will certainly arrive after I return home but such is life here in Ghana I guess.

Theres not much else that is new here. I hope the sun comes out this weekend but it is the rainy season so I wont hold my breath. I'm not looking forward to going home at all. I have so many things hanging over my head I just don't want to deal with. The time I have been alone here has proved to be such a wonderful time to do some soul searching and boy have I needed that. I still don't want to deal with certain issues and things in Oregon. Its like none of that matters here and its so easy to brush it to the side but I know I cant do that forever. hmmm well the rain has cleared for the moment so I must start walking back before it starts again and I have to catch a tro tro. Ill be back soon!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Only one week left?!?!?

Hello! Gosh blogging has not been as possible as I was hoping. Its not that I dont have time, its that the internet never works! Ive been here for about 45 minutes and i am just not able to log on. This is my third time starting this post but the first two times the power went out mid post. Oh lordy, this is Africa. I cant remember what I last wrote about and heaven forbid I pull it up to see, I may very well be here until night fall and I have babies waiting for me. So forgive me if I write about things twice.

Perpetua is home! She came back home on Saturday afternoon and is doing great. I must say I am a little concerned with the way she is acting and im hoping it is just out of confusion from the whirlwind of the last two weeks for her and not brain damage. She slept with us last night and would go from a dead sleep to sitting straight up in bed repeating the same thing over and over and laughing and laughing and in a split second she would look at me with a blank stare. Like lights are on and nobody is home. Its very concerning and quite creepy! She goes back for a check up tomorrow. We are just glad to have her back.

Melissa and Kim leave tomorrow. Really? The time has gone by way too fast and Melissa and I are not ready in the slightest to go home. Kim has had her fun and is ready to get back but I could stay for years. Im glad I will be here for a week longer because we have a few loose ends we need to tie up and we just didnt have the time with Perpetua being sick.

The orphanage is a disaster. Absolute disaster. Im working on a post explaining everything but its so hard to put into words what is going on if you have not seen it with your own eyes. The things that happen here are unimaginable for most of you. In short, Melissa and I are working on getting at least two boys out of here and into a boarding school. We have decided to partner with Ghana Kids, which is an NGO out of Germany that our dear friend Lisa started years ago. It used to support the orphanage but things are so bad there that she pulled out of the home and now works directly with Africa kids which is the other side to Ghana kids here in Ghana. I will also elaborate on that later. Anyway we cant send them all but we took on two boys that are from the same village and have been together since they were infants and are now attached at the hip to send to school. We cant help them all but little by little we can do big things.

In other news, we have really bonded with the older boys this trip. Of course we have our babies but we really look forward to the time at night when the babies are sleeping and we can spend time with the boys. They are so funny. A few nights ago a boy named Junior (who just so happens to be Mommy's grandson but we surprisingly LOVE him!) out of the blue he asked us if white ladies poop on a toliet. We all just started laughing and said yes but we were interested in where he thought we went to the bathroom. We asked him and he said he thought we brought a machiene to go to the bathroom in! I have NO idea where he got that but we still laugh about the look on his face when we told him we use the bathroom just like him. Complete shock. Oh boy they just keep me going.

Yesterday we wanted to go get some pictures of the farm which is not too far from the home so off we went with the boys. All was well until they said they wanted to take us to the water which was supposed to be really close. We ended up walking through brush that was taller than us to get there and left me with cuts up and down my arms. I was certain a cobra was going to attack my ankles at any second, thankfully we got there sans any snake bites. On the way back the boys took us to a hut that some men were in who were making palm wine. Palm wine is supposedly the alcohol you get out of fallen palm trees. Weird I know but they have gas cans under all the fallen palm trees to collect it and then they do something with it to make it an alcohol. Anyway being the wine lover that I am, I wanted to try it. Kim also wanted to try so these men went off to fetch some for us. He came back with a dirty bucket full of cloudy white warm liquid with a whole bunch of bugs floating in it. It honestly looked the the water in my bucket after I finish handwashing my clothes. Against our better judgement we tried it and it was actually good! I would definitely like to try some that has been strained so I wasnt eating so many bugs. I just couldnt get past that and it ended at just a taste. The boys on the other hand finished off the bucket and it was completely normal for the men to have these boys not much older than 11 or 12 drinking a bucket full of wine.

We went to the art market yesterday in Accra which was fun but oh so overwhelming. You must go there with a ton of patience. At once there are 10 grown men and women pulling you in every direction trying to get you into their shop and they all sell basically the same thing. We were able to leave with some great stuff. The funny thing that is different this trip from last time is everybody thinks you have a cell phone and wants your number. We have even collected the policemens numbers from Bawjiase this time. I think we are at somewhere near 20 phone numbers and 4 marriage proposals!

I cant think of much else at the moment. Were taking tons of pictures and having a ball. The sun is hot and the humidity is unbelievable. I have gotten more mosquito bites this time than I have in my life and Malaria is rampant here right now because it is the rainy season. Keep your fingers crossed that I dont get it. If I do I hope it can wait until im home, not that ive seen the hospitals I refuse to be in one here.

Im sad for Melissa and Kim to leave. I know Melissa is ahaving a hard time leaving and saying goodbye again and the worst part is we think the orphanage will crumble soon and it might not be possible to come back and stay there or know where any of the kids are. I was a little worried about being in Ghana alone but I think it will be okay. There are two other volunteers that are here but its a little weird when I take a step back and realize how far away I really will be from anyone I know. A whole freaking different continent away and not only a different continent but Africa at that! Im just thankful I have a week left to soak it all in. My heart already aches and breaks to leave.

Ill write again soonish I hope! I hope all is well back on the mainland!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Under African Skies

am sorry my posts are not coming very often but you can imagine how hard it is to find a functioning internet cafe in Ghana. I write again today from Bawjiase which is wonderful. Where to even start?

Perpetua. She was doing so good on Friday and Maren the other volunteer went to see her. She was going to be discharged and right as they were packing up she started to convulse out of nowhere. She quickly went unconscious and continued seizing and foaming at the mouth. Maren went to the hospital about an hour away to see if they had any blood because she absolutlely needed at this point. I cant believe the doctor was going to discharge her. The doctor is a joke. An idiot actually. Anyway Maren found the last bag of b- blood in the town and Pepper finally started her transfusion at midnight. We went back early Saturday and things were much much worse. Nobody cared. It was time to get her out of there and to a different hospital but we didnt know how we would do that. She was having such bad attacks that we didnt know if she would survive the 2 and a half hour drive to Accra. Someone said something about there being an ambulance in the next town that we could use. Turns out that ambulances are only used to transport dead bodies and not dying babies. There are no words. So the four of us had to make a choice. Do we keep here in Swedru where the doctor doesnt know anything and she asks everyday what is wrong with her. You tell me youre the freaking doctor! Or we could try to make the bumpy windy long journey to Korle Bu which is the biggest hospital in ghana and is also a teaching hospital. We decided that if we kept her there she would die over night. Maren has just finished her nurses training in Germany and so we had her to help if we could make the transport ourselves. We were all scared to death that she would die on the way to Accra but we knew it was the only option at this point. The drive was long and Pep had many attacks but we finally made it with her alive. Within 1 minute they took her weight and temperature! Can you believe it! Someone cares!!! We have done lab after lab and test after test and it turns out the Malaria has gone to her brain. She has cerebral malaria and we are not sure yet if it will have lasting effects on her brain. It is all very possible but at the moment she is doing well and being taken care of so much better than the nasty first hospital. She is not out of the woods yet but we are keeping our fingers crossed.

Many of the children are sick right now. I dont know if its because its the rainy season or what but everyday it seems we have someone new with heavy lungs and snotty faces and fevers. Lucky has Malaria today. I found him laying on the front steps this morning and i knew right away something was wrong, that boy never sits still. His temp was 101.6 it slowed him down for about 3 seconds and now he is off being a pill again. Poor guy.

The baby we named Ruby turns out shes not an orphan at all. Her mother tried to abandon her shortly after birth but got caught so now she works at the orphanage with Ruby but everyone thinks shes an orphan. We seem to have her most everyday. Shes very sweet but us obrunis never get any time away from kids. We live eat sleep kids. Literally. I think we will go get a fresh cold (maybe cold) Star Beer tonight.

Melissa and I have been fairing well health wise. Melissa is currently sick with a cold but thats no surprise. All the kids are sick. That reminds me, Maren told us that we will be really lucky to leave here without getting some sort of bacterial infection or viral infection. We all have been all over hospitals here which are not clean at all. The kids share a bed at the hospital either 2 or 3 to a bed regardless of what they are sick with. Nasty. I know that Typhus, Hep B, TB, and Malaria are running rampant here right now so only time will tell. At least im vaccinated for Hep b and typhoid fever.

Its hot here. Really muggy. I have gotten heat rash all my life and I was expecting it sometime soon because I got it last time too. Its usually on my stomach and back but this time it decided to surprise me by showing up on my BUTT! Yes folks I have heat rash on my butt and its bad! It makes me laugh though because ive been putting diaper rash cream on it and I now have a new found appreciation for the product! hahah oh well im sure it will pass soon enough.

I have a list back in our room of things to blog about but I forgot it today. Ill write again soon!

Love to all from Ghana!