THIS is What I Came For
I’ve been in Ghana several days now. After arriving in Accra, the rest of the volunteers began to turn up and from Accra, we all got on a charter bus for a 5 hour ride to Kumasi where I will be volunteering for the next five weeks.
Like the rest of the volunteers, I was anxious (in an excited way) to begin placement. Some of us are signed up to work in the school, some will be in a hospital, and the rest of us will be in the orphanage.
On Tuesday morning, we did orientation where our program coordinator took us to each different site and made introductions. Our first stop was the school and oh my God the energy was out of this world!! We sat and talked with the principal first before he chauffeured us into one of the classrooms. The kids were SO ecstatic to see us, you would have thought we came in and told them we were taking them right away to Disney World. No joke. They started shouting and laughing and singing for us before they just couldn’t contain their excitement any longer and they all came rushing towards the front of the classroom, bombarding us with hugs and kisses. I have never had anyone so excited to see me before. Right away, I knew I wanted to spend some time volunteering in the school in addition to the orphanage. I think what made it even more adorable was all the little kids asking “Madam, what is your name?” And then after my telling them, they’d tell it to their friends and soon, about ten different kids were shouting “Madam Vanessa! Madam Vanessa! Will you come tomorrow madam?” It was the sweetest.
The next stop was the orphanage. The energy there to be honest was a hundred times duller than the school. In fact, we didn’t even see any kids outside. The administration also, to my surprise, didn’t seem to be too thrilled to see us. We all gave each other confused and awkward glances as we sat on a small couch in her office. After exchanging (literally) only a few words with the head administrator, another, more friendly woman took over. She showed us the on site nursery school that is open to the public in addition to the children living in the orphanage. Next, she showed us what they call the Home unit where half of the boys live. This is also where disabled boys live. Finally, we went to the girl’s unit. We went straight into the nursery where the baby girls were sleeping or laying quietly playing with their feet. She explained that many of the babies had been abandoned at birth, or had parents that had gone to prison. Apparently, not all of the children are up for adoption though. If a child’s parents are still alive and just temporarily cannot afford to raise them or are incarcerated for instance, the child cannot be adopted. I think the most heartbreaking stories was the ones she mentioned about mothers giving birth in a hospital, telling the nurse she would be right back because she needed to go to the store, and then never returning. As she explained this, she reached down into the crib closest to her and picked up a beautiful baby girl and passed her to me. She told me the baby’s name is “Nkansah” and she is 6 months old. I held her in my arms and instantly loved her.
After orientation, we were divided up into the different units. I knew I wanted to spend the majority of my time with the bay girls so that’s where I spent the rest of the day. I also just wanted to hurry and get back to Nkansah. Later in the afternoon, the rest of the children that had been in school earlier came home and the place became more lively and less depressing. They were excited to see us as well. I knew I would bond with them, especially the girls that live in the same house as the nursery. When I got home that evening, all I could think about was how much I couldn’t wait to go back the next day. I am so looking forward to getting to spend the next month here.