Adopting Ghana

Ghana: Day Three

In Journal Entries, Photography on October 20, 2009 at 2:06 am

This morning, Seth awoke first and started to sneak out of the room. When I said “good morning” to him he seemed afraid I might yell at him for something he might have done. Strange.  Later today I heard something about “beatings” for certain behaviors, like writing with a pen rather than pencil in your homework, but I cannot imagine Seth getting a beating for staying as a guest in my room.

My iPhone is out of battery and no easy way to charge it except to head over to a local café that happens to have WiFi connections and wall outlets to grid power.  Oh, and the café is called “XXX”.  It is not what it sounds like by the name.  Many businesses here have names that, in America, would be considered nonsensical, silly, or just plain obscure.  They almost all inexplicably have “International” appended to the business name as if they’re major exporters or franchisers when they are, in most cases, tiny little kiosks.  Can’t blame people for aiming high, I suppose.

I started the day going to Kingsley’s office at the other end of the compound from where I stay.  My goal was to try to get some of his time to answer questions posed to me via email from other adoptive families and to plan a photo shoot so we can build an online database of kids who are in need of scholarship money to continue studies at the school.  However, as I’m quickly beginning to understand, he was busy with other people so I only got a few of those items discussed.

I put my solar charger for my phone out on the roof of the orphanage outbuilding in the compound to see if it would hold a charge. After 8 hours of charging in the extreme equatorial and meridional sunlight of West Africa, it ended up not working as I had hoped. In fact, after connecting my iPhone to the supposedly charged battery, my iPhone actually charged the solar charger by discharging its own power into it rather than the other way around.  It’s probably poor quaily solar cells because I know the battery holds a charge when charged from an outlet.  This thing is going back to right when I get home.  As I write this, in the late evening, Kingsley has turned on the generator to provide power to the outlet and lent me a converter for my plug. I’ve got the phone charging.  I’ve also got the solar charger’s battery filling up as well. At least I can use it as a spare energy source when the generator isn’t running.

I “helped” a carpenter named Stephen with building more wooden forms for pouring concrete for the corridor roof of additional preschool classrooms being built perpendicular to the existing part of the school.  These rooms are for reducing the overcrowding in the single preschool room they have now. I didn’t know what to do as I am not skilled in this sort of building (though I had observed it in various stages between 1993 and 1995 in Guatemala). So, I became Stephen’s assistant, handing him boards and tools and holding forms next to walls so he could nail them on.  Carpentry here is more like sculpture because everything is built of concrete and cement blocks and rebar.

A carpenter and his apprentice

A carpenter and his apprentice

Seth’s foot is not getting better as I had hoped.  He keeps playing in the dirt and it finds its way under the tightly wrapped gauze. I got him some shoes (they even light up!) and am trying to get him to wear them with one of my socks to protect the wound from dust.

At noon, I was mobbed by about 50 kids during afternoon break. All of them were yelling “Obruni!” and petting my arms and hands.  They just think it’s something else to touch Obruni skin and feel the mens’ furry arms.  I guess I can’t blame them as I love the texture of the hair on their heads.  It’s a mutual admiration, I suppose.  Still, one gets a little claustrophobic with that many kids swarming around you. I tried to get them to line up in an orderly manner so I could give each of them a little bit of hand sanitizer before lunch, but I simply couldn’t get them to stay  in line.  There’s definitely an authority structure here and this Obruni is not part of it. 🙂



Seth came to me after school wanting to show me his notebook and asking for help doing his homework. I was happy that he did this because it’s another step in a positive direction toward the father/son bonding I’ve been hoping we’d establish.  They’re having 1st year kids memorize times tables, many of them not yet consistently knowing how to recognize and say two-digit numbers correctly.  He wrote them down and I helped by correcting his mistakes and trying to explain the rules of multiplication.

While Kingsley and I caught up on the to-do lists from the day, Seth went to sleep in my bed without me having to invite him to stay in my room.  He even left the flashlight on for me. Sweet kid.  I hope this means he’s trusting me even more or at least that he trusts me not to “beat” him (smack on the head with a hand or a stick, as is the customary method of discipline here).

Seth left the light on for me

Seth left the light on for me


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