This is our final Peace Corps post because Chris and I found out some big news in July.. We are pregnant! Ahh! Since Ghana is a high malarial region and has little medical support in the rural areas where volunteers are placed, pregnant volunteers and their partners are sent to America for the prenatal care and birth. So here we are:)
It was a bit sad and sudden to say goodbye to our community, but not without its Ghana moments. We had dinner with the elders to break our news. We reminded them that during our naming ceremony the previous year they had prayed over us that we would get pregnant and give birth in Manyoro (while we adamantly shook our heads “noooo”). The elder woman who had spoken this over us confirmed with the others, as they all started to remember that day. At that point everyone started to laugh and the elders then decided to take full responsibility for our situation:p They said we had been sitting under a certain baobab tree that also happens to be an oracle, so whatever is said there comes to pass (this would have been nice to know for planning purposes). They gave us their blessing and asked that we bring the child to the village so he/she could learn their roots. We said we could sure try our best.
So this is the end of our Peace Corps journey. We can whole-heartily say it was a wild, unexpected ride from beginning to end. Ir’s something that will impact us forever. We hope that we were able to make a difference, even though we believe we are all making a difference one way or another no matter where we are or what we are doing in the world. So maybe a better way to say it is that we hope we left our community with more ideas, inspiration, friendships, and skills than when we first arrived. We are thankful for it all, mostly for the relationships.
This baby thing was at the end of our five year plan, but it seems life is full of surprises! Despite our initial shock, we are totally thrilled about getting to be parents. We can’t wait to nurture and love this little life that we have been entrusted with.
Here are some pics from when the fam came to visit us in July! I think the highlight was the welcoming ceremony our village put on for them. It was sooo sweet! Tons of drumming/dancing, speeches, and my dad cracking up the whole place with his white man dance moves. We also got to hike the tallest waterfall in West Africa, sat in a bus station for 8 hours for a bus that was “coming” but never came, checked out lots of local crafts, road around the whole country on the worst roads, ate local food (and subsequently all got sick together), and got to meet the whole village crew. Although I don’t think they would consider visiting Ghana a “vacation,” I think overall everyone had a pretty swell time. It meant a lot to us that they trekked all the way out to West Africa to see us and our stomping grounds for the past 18 months.
The world is terrorized by terrorism. I know this because it consumes a large part of conversations, the news, and my facebook feed. We got to witness it in a Western country first-hand on our recent trip to London where we and our bags got strip-searched no less than four times one way. There’s an air of frantic clampdown in the international airways and world at-large, and understandably so.
The hard times can really shock us awake. I know Ghana has shocked the pants off Chris and I. Spending a week in London was more evidence of that. Without even thinking we paused, and deeply exhaled “ahh, this is wonderful” in that hot shower. Our faces lit up when we saw a bathroom with a toilet. We just wished we could stop time with our family. These are gifts from things we have seen, done, and been through the past 17 months. We wouldn’t have necessarily chosen them all, but they happened. Through the tears, failures, and let-downs priceless perspectives emerged.
I hope this deep sense of wonder over the little (and big) things lasts for us forever. In a similar way, I hope everyone can experience this as well. When you go through hard times or experience loss, you never look at life the same. Maybe instead of letting the terrorists force us to live in fear, we will instead and in-spite of them, choose to live in the daily wonder that life is. We will offer up a silent “thank you” every time the whole family is safe and together, when stomachs are satisfied with delicious food, or when we get move about in a such a beautiful, free nation. xo
And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you.
because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places
those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
Chris and I go through food spells where we eat a tonnn of one thing for awhile. This jollof rice recipe has been it for us lately. Although we haven’t tried it with anything, besides the local fish or plain vegetables, we hear it can be quite tasty when meat is added. We often add Moringa powder to increase the nutritional content, but you all have access to lots more veggies and protein over there so I’m not too worried about ya:) You can always increase the veggies in the recipe, which I also do. This recipe is simple because it’s done in one pot (my favorite type of cooking!). It’s spicy and filling. You will find a variation of this recipe all over West Africa.
1 lb. of meat finely chopped (optional)
4 onions diced
4 cloves of garlic diced
1/2 tsp. of ginger grated
4 medium tomatoes diced
4 tbsp. of tomato paste
1/2 hot pepper or pepe powder to taste
1/4 tsp. of curry powder
Salt (to taste)
In a heavy pot heat the coconut oil then sauté your meat. When it’s almost finished add your onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook them together until you smell the garlic. From there add tomatoes and hot pepper then cook lightly. After that, add tomato paste, salt, spices, and a bit of water and stir. Finally add 5 cups of water, 4 cups of rice and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Stir often to keep the bottom from burning. Once the rice is cooked serve hot and think of us and all of the West Africans over here probably enjoying the same meal:)
May is flying by which means we have officially survived our last full dry season (with minimal heat rash and utis might I add). The rains have begun earlier this year and we couldn’t be happier. Bye-bye to days of scorching 110’s. We spent several hours this week revamping our garden to make it “climate smart.” We had 24 hours of permaculture training a few weeks ago, so we are fired up about it! The week-long ag training was focused on bee-keeping, rabbit rearing, and a permagardening. It was by far our favorite training in Peace Corps.
Now that we are back in the village we have been working on implementing what we learned. We took two counterparts from our community to the training with us. It worked out because one really wants to lead the beekeeping project and the other wants to do the rabbits. Chris and I are most passionate about the gardening. We created a demonstration garden in our courtyard (as I mentioned above). It’s already gotten quite a bit of attention -as does everything we do here which is either irritating or slightly flattering depending on the day. It looks quite different than the typical row and shallow till gardens here, but it is oh so much more efficient. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but you need to know that we only have to water it twice a week, it will yield significantly more produce in a smaller space, no fertilizer will be needed, and pests won’t be a big problem. It’s basically magic, I know.
We continue to try our hand at small homesteading projects. Currently we have mushrooms growing under our table (that’s not strange is it? Sometimes I can’t tell anymore). A few have popped up and we are hoping more will come soon. We have a friend who works for the Canadian Hunger Project. We have been so impressed by that NGO. They do sheep rearing, village savings groups, and soap making in our community. The other day our friend came to visit and she brought us two chickens! She’s knows the plight we have had with the things so she included two weeks of medication with directions and one month of complete feed. The feed she brought is much more wholesome than what the locals use. We are finally feeling like this chicken rearing thing is starting to make some sense. We will see though. Felicia continues to think she is a puppy and is our furry Ghana love. People say she is pregnant again, but it could very well be she’s just fed a wee bit much.
Besides working on our small agricultural projects Chris has been tutoring and I have been in the clinic. The clinic is quite slow these days because it’s not malaria season. We hardly have any cases. Once the rain really gets going though the malaria will too. We had 34 cases in one day last year. Eeek.
I think that’s about it from our end. We love and miss you all! Happy spring and almost summer!!!
We are back in the village and all is well! It feels good to be back with friends and familiar faces. It’s hot season now which means midday everyone is under trees or fans trying to move as little as possible. It also means Chris is sleeping with ice packs and I’m pouring water on myself all night. It’s also mango season (happy dance!!), this somewhat makes up for the heat suffering-o. We snapped a photo of the new school/library . It opens next term, mid-may. We also have 40 more toilets in the community now (woot woot)! Felicia is good. We missed that sassy goat. We were sad to find the baby didn’t make it:( We are giving her extra treats and love. The neighbors offered to let us milk their goats till Felcia is ready again. Turns out that takes a village… Below are some photos of it all.
We wanted to post a little update since it has been a while. We left site a few weeks ago after a busy new year beginning. The latrines were all going up, the school was almost completed, the goat was pregnant, the dry season garden growing, the chickens were still not laying eggs and the Days for Girls workshop was checked off the list. This was our first time leaving Ghana in over a year. We got to spend two magical weeks in Spain with our moms and a few friends where we drank $1 bottles of wine, soaked up the beautiful architecture, ate our weight in cheese, caught up on our hug quota, and got to be part of our dear friends Dawn and Harley’s engagement. It was truly was one of the most special two weeks.
We are back in the capital of Ghana where we just completed our mid-service medical evaluations which consisted of a teeth cleaning, a physical, and some stool samples. Everything looks good so far, minus a little heat rash and some ongoing ear issues (I think The Borrowers moved into my ears when we moved to Ghana). Still, not much to phone home about. We just think about where we were last year at this time, which was most likely with our faces in a bucket somewhere. Those first few months were rough. We got a little anxious there for awhile thinking that if this is how it’s going to be then we don’t know if we can handle it for 27 months. -Apparently it takes up to 6 months for your body to adjust to the ecoli here FYI. A little tidbit of info we wish we had in the beginning. Nevertheless our bodies are pretty adjusted now, neither of us have had a fever within the last nine months and our intestines are happier these days. Yayyyyy
We will be in the capital until we have our annual all volunteer conference in a couple of days. We actually have some stuff going on at our site right now which is compromising our security:/ We have had a couple of meetings with staff, and it looks like we will have to be moved. We were very bummed when we first learned about this, as we have worked really hard to integrate and invest into our community. We love it and have said over and over that we don’t think there’s a better fitting community for us in all of Ghana. There are also a few relationships there that have really kept us going in the hard times. However, in light of all of the terrorist attacks and our current global situation, we feel pretty zen about the whole thing. We got a whole year with our community and feel grateful for it all. We just really hope we can bring Felicia and our children (I’m not saying I would be a kidnapper but…)
So we aren’t too sure what the future holds. It looks like we will get a whole new experience living somewhere in the southern region of Ghana which looks/feels like a whole different country. It’s a lush rain forest with loads of cocoa farms, plantain trees, and coconuts groves. It’s so humid ahhh but doesn’t hit the intense 105-120 temps the upper east hits so it’s a trade off. We are just taking this (somehow) Ghana style and rolling with it. We will keep you all posted.