I apologize for the delay in updating my blog. So much has happened since my last post, including the rest of the Off The Map program that I last wrote about, but I don’t have time to post images describing everything and now I have moved on to another program, in the Volta region of Ghana.
I had only very slow and sporadic internet signal in the Volta region, which is where I have spent the last week. I am currently leading some great students on a program called “Volta Village Life and Service.” It is different from the “Off The Map” programs I led previously because we spend several days in a village staying with families, working with them, and generally seeing how they live. There was a lot of playing with children and pickup soccer matches that took place as well. It has been a very eye-opening experience for us all.
We worked to build an eco-lodge guesthouse that will allow visitors to the village to have comfortable lodging and will also serve to bring in some revenue to support the local schools. We mixed sand and concrete to make mortar and laid cement bricks to form the walls, stopping every so often to use a bubble level to ensure the walls were straight. The construction methods were very basic but accurate.
We hiked the highest waterfalls in W. Africa, which turned out to be quite an adventure. We didn’t realize just how demanding the hike was, and we were not warned that the path had been wiped out in some places. My students were adequately prepared for the journey but we did encounter one person at the top who was not and as a result had suffered a harsh fall a few feet onto some rocks. I was able to use my Wilderness First Responder training to help her but it was a tough evacuation process down the mountain and when we finally reached the bottom it began to rain heavily. The woman is doing ok as of the last time I checked in with her. It was a huge relief and confidence booster to have even the limited medical training that I have.
The next day we toured a protected forest, where we fed bananas to monkeys right out of our hands.
Tuesday we received word that the president of Ghana had died from unexpected complications due to throat cancer. It is interesting to be here in the midst of these happenings. The flags in the village were flying at half-staff, and I was able to make a picture of some students with the flags during a ceremony to commemorate the opening of a new pre-school building. Rustic Pathways has donated the funds and manpower to run electricity to the school so we were the first people to get to turn on the lights in the building.
Later that night, some of the girls made a mud pit and slid around in it.
This is the condensed version of what all I have been up to since my last post, I will try to not let as much time go by before updating again.