Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jordan's Trip Journal: In Asikuma Part II

March 16th, 2013

Saturday night, 11:15ish. Showered before dinner – well, bucket shower. I actually don't mind those, the cold water after being in the heat all day is pretty nice. Let’s start from the beginning…

So we woke up on time today! Well kinda.. Tate and Bailey had to bang on the door, but we did wake up and were out the door with everybody else today. Breakfast was a no-flavor oatmeal with a bread ball. Not too bad actually. It's no lean pocket and apple either though. After breakfast Jake was staying with an interviewer so he sent us off to buy soccer balls and with specific family donations to be handed out. We were to head to the Godwin school and the school master would know where to take us from there. So we went to the little market, ended up with 4 or 5 soccer balls and Ramon, Iggy, the boy with the arm, and myself led the way to the Godwin school. We get there and that's when we split up. Half the group (most of the girls and then Dustin, just in case) went with Godwin to the houses of the families that the donations were for. The rest of us took the mob of kids that's always with us and headed up to the government school with the balls. Soccer balls are like Klondike bars to these kids. They would do a lot of things for one. On a shortcut through part of the village we added 15 to 20 more to our little group of followers by the time we finally get to the school.

At the school there is actually a full soccer field there with metal goalposts and everything. We just had to get the goats off the field first. Tim thinks that's a great way to keep Jack Trice looking fresh for next season.
Tim also left for the day on a motorcycle headed for the fish farm. After games of what they called "one touch" I took the ball and got them to make teams to play an actual game using the whole field. Of course I was gonna play! That's a lot, lot, lot of running. Seriously, a lot. Tim's clothes that I borrowed and am wearing now were soaked in sweat that had to be wrung out like a towel, and covered in sand and dirt (from the time I biffed it on the ball and fell straight on my butt). Yeah, that was not good. But after a solid hour of that I had to stop. I had sweated out at least twice the water I had taken in, and the water I did have was a drink for me and mouthful for all the kids that needed one after we played. I ended up over on the side and Bailey hit me up with a little thing of bubbles. These kids went crazy for bubbles. Blowing them, popping them, and just watching them. They loved it all. Such a simple thing as bubbles can give them the biggest smiles. Needless to say, bubbles were a hit.
But after that I still had 15ish kids around me and I was fresh out of bubbles.

So I kinda pull my hands up like I just don't wanna have them all hold my hands right now and they all look at me and I just take off. Full stride on this huge soccer field. I dunno where it came from but they took off right after me and were loving it.
After some useless juke moves they caught me and everybody was laughing. Me, them, and everybody watching a swarm of Ghanaian school children chase some white teenager with sunburns and a huge backpack around the field with goats that never seemed to leave. More and more kids seemed to join in every time I took off in the opposite direction, even picking up one boy on the way and hurdling another. The last time I took out my phone and took a video of them all coming after me as I backpedal toward the small goat herd. That was awesome. The kids are awesome. I've said awesome way too many times since we've been here.

After that we went back to the hotel for lunch. Before lunch I had to clean off my legs and grab some fresh drawers and a tshirt. Which was actually the undershirt of Tim's that Amber gave me, and my drawers from the first 5 days that had been airing out all night. Before lunch was ready I asked Alex for the key and passed out for a few minutes. By the time I went out all that was left was rice and the beef strip sauce. No complaints here. After that we kinda sat and talked for a little bit and then Jake sent JJ off for a nap and Leah and Dustin asked me to wake them up if we all left. Alex was in helping little Michael figure out the business side of this little basketball academy he wanted to start. Jake came back out and said the rest of us were going to see a girl that had just tested positive for an HIV test. We were going to break the news to her family so they would know the outcome of the test.

On the way, we pass a huge funeral in the village that we find out is a young mother who died giving birth. Huge celebration though. Everybody dressed up, mostly in black and red as those are the basic mourning colors. Loud music and the most people I had seen in one place all week. We finally find the family's house which is actually pretty nice compared to others. They set up chairs on the front porch so we can all talk and every family member is there. The talks start by explaining who Jake is and what he does with the help of our translator, Wisdom, and one of the family members that happened to be a teacher. The little girl that was tested, Emmefa - maybe 3 years old, walks over and right into Amber’s arms and crawls up onto her lap. Talks continue with what made us all giggle like schoolgirls when the man told us they 'marry inside', meaning that the family marries within itself. Like I'm open to a lot of things but that's straight weird. Anyways, we keep talking about Emmefa and her deaf brother, Yaw, who walks up to the meeting a solid 20 minutes in. The grandmother, who looks to be nearing the age of 80, is sitting in front of me on the other side of Wisdom with her chair up against the house in a line with the rest of the family members. She's the one that's been caring for them since both their parents died. Yaw gets into trouble because he can't do anything productive. He doesn't know how to communicate with anyone. Hard for an 80 year old woman to take care of that plus a baby girl. Talks go back to Emmefa and how she's doing. Eventually the time comes when Wisdom asks Jake if the time is right and is met with a firm yes in response. Wisdom tells the family that Emmefa has tested positive for HIV. The porch is quiet for a few seconds. I look to my right and on the other side of Bailey is this adorable little girl playing with Amber’s big earrings and livestrong bracelet on her wrist. In Ghana it is very common that when someone is found to be HIV positive to be shunned; ignored by anyone and everyone in the community, including family. This is for a 3 year old little girl that would now more than likely grow up an orphan in a place with already awful living conditions. That's awful. It really is sad to think about. The family talks among themselves in a conversation far from English while we sit and wait.

In the meantime the girls have gotten Amber’s livestrong bracelet off her wrist and it actually broke so they tie it back together, smaller, so it fits Emmefa’s little wrist. The family says something to Wisdom and he turns to us. More discussion ensues as the conversation resumes in English. Jake pledges the assistance of Kingdom Cares to cover the medical costs of Emmefa’s HIV drugs and any other treatments needed to care for her, should they accept it.

I look back to the little girl on Amber’s lap. She's sound asleep with her head up against Amber's shoulder. She has no idea that her future and well-being are hanging in the balance of these heavy, serious moments. And she has done nothing to deserve any of it.

Eventually talks of Emmefa settle. The grandmother resurfaces the subject of Yaw and says if it’s possible to send him to boarding school today that she would welcome it. Kingdom Cares will now pay for him to attend a specialized school for the deaf. Emmefa is still dozed off with her new yellow bracelet. Before we leave one of the women come and take her as we shake hands with everyone before we leave. Wow. That was intense.

On the walk back Jake starts to lighten everyone up a bit and eventually we get to our hotel. Snacks are distributed from the Van Loo room and we go out into the 'lobby' to talk more about what we just experienced. Amber explains how she felt such a connection with Emmefa when as her family discussed her future, she fell asleep in Amber’s arms. Then she gets to the bracelet. Her best friend, diagnosed with cancer, had ovaries removed and preserved so she and her husband could still have kids.  Livestrong paid for the whole thing so all their friends bought and wore the bracelets. She tells about how her friend was the one person outside of Tim that helped bring her to the faith she has. She hadn't taken it off for anything. Not weddings when the bride would ask, nothing. She'd worn that bracelet for 6 years straight. Her friend had passed away from the disease. She's choked up with her words. Bailey is on a chair in the corner crying silently. It's hard not to in a situation like that. Amber had just given something that meant the world to her to a little baby girl who’s life and future were treading in the waters of uncertainty.

We all walk back outside to the cabana and just kinda hangout for awhile. I even manage to fall asleep for a little while. Not without plenty of pictures taken, one of which is probably posted onto the wall of a Ghanaian man’s Facebook page. After this we went and watched a neighboring town vs. Asikuma soccer match where I ended up in the junior game off to the side. Playing barefoot I'm pretty sure I broke my right big toe, but I did score two goals to lead my team to a 3-1 victory. If I had cell service I'm sure Manchester United and FC Barcelona would be blowing up my phone. At least if they didn't see me step on the ball and fall on my butt and kick the ball into my own face earlier. I should probably stick with basketball. After the game we went and saw a piece of land given to Kingdom to do with it what they may. Jake talked of a children's center. Alex and I have our own business proposals. On the way back I picked up a couple handmade machetes from a guy. One for my best friend Alex and one for myself of course. Every teenage boy needs a machete. Not gonna lie, these things are tight. Useless back home, but tight none the less. From there it was back in the cabana with dinner and talks about every subject imaginable. I bribed a lady into doing some of my laundry since my bags aren't here and I'm still in Tim's clothes. I gave away my children's Bible and learned all about the fish farm business. Proved my point of seniors dating freshmen is creepy. But I guess it worked out pretty good for Tim and Amber. Long and successful. Another day in Africa. I really do need to go to bed now that it's 1:30. Miss everybody back home and hope everything is all good.


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