Dance, Cape Coast Slave Castles, “Some Things, Only in Ghana”

I)     Boogie Boogie – Rhythm, Dance, Reggae Night, Salsa!

Most aspects of Ghanaian life are accompanied with dance, song, and music.  I really love this aspect of the culture, and it is clear that people share joy and a strong human bond through music.  I have the best dance class EVER! There are easily over 100 people in the class, and my dance instructor’s energy level gets everyone to boogie and unleash their wildest feelings through dance.  The teacher is an older gentleman who has decades of experience teaching dance in Ghana as well as in California.  He carries a cane when he walks, but as soon as he begins to dance, he drops the cane and boogies like no other!  He also teaches us the meanings behind the dances and he encourages us to mix and mingle and unify as one group (the class is very diverse, with a significant number of foreign students as well as Ghanaian guys and ladies).  He also teaches us the words to the songs (in Twi) that we sing to accompany our dances.  We dance in several concentric circles, both on the floor and on the stage.  Our teacher explains, “These circles represent family. Live, die, live, die, live. [It also includes] the extended family.  In Ghana, we say if you have not danced then you have not lived… Dancing is not just boogie-ing, it is about reaching your humanity”.  Every ceremony has some kind of dancing involved, including church ceremonies and funerals.  Dancing brings the community together.

Now on to my favorite dances! I love this one part of our first dance, where you pair off and stand in front of a guy.  You chest-pop 3 times (sorry, I do not no any other way to describe the movement lol) and you look over your shoulder while sitting on his lap.  The key is that when you turn around to look at him, you have to give him the biggest smile EVER, and he smiles back! I think it is hilarious and fun!  Then you skip joyfully over to the next guy and you do the same thing, sit on his lap and smile too! The dance is so much fun and the rhythm of the drums is so deep.  When you dance you can’t help but feel the blood pulsing through your veins, as you feel the sense of unity shared among people who would otherwise never meet in this lifetime.

I also have a big drumming class of mostly foreign students. We all meet outside on a concrete platform, carrying drums and drumsticks with us.  I came to the class late so I still have a lot of catching up to do.  We borrow the drums from the music department, but I think I am planning on buying my own Congo drum before I leave 😀 Ghana is filled with so many different rhythms! I am so happy I decided to take drumming and dance classes because when else am I going to get this incredible opportunity?

LOL so of course I couldn’t discuss drumming, dancing and rhythms without discussing the wild Ghanaian parties!  I was told that University of Ghana was a party campus (well I was also told that Cornell was a party school).  To be honest, I haven’t been going out to party much, if at all (I’ve been a sweet homebody lately).  But, I can tell you about Wednesday nights, Reggae Night at Labadi Beach! I went there last time I came to Ghana as well.  There are a bunch of Rastas chilling on the beach, doing what Rasta’s do. There is a live band playing old school reggae music, and there is always a large crowd of Ghanaians and foreigners dancing.  There is a bar on the beach and also some people selling crafts (all Rasta/Jamaican themed).  It was very funny, I was already “in the zone” when I was going to Reggae night, and I told all of my friends at ISH that I was “going home to Jamaica for the night!” Good times, great times! I took a lot of adorable pictures on the beach that night and I posted them on my Facebook page.  I LOVE GHANA!

Another fun dance experience was Friday Night Salsa at the Aviation Recreation Center!  I went with my roommate and a bunch of her friends and I literally had one of the best times of my life! It was amazing to see all of these gorgeous Ghanaian men and women work their hips to salsa music! It makes sense that a culture of people who embraced music and dance so much, would be naturals at picking up other dance forms.  The class was so energized, and the instructors were so helpful! I brushed up on my basic salsa moves, and for the second half of the class I danced with some experienced salsa instructors and students to improve my moves! I will always remember that night! The best part was when they took a break from salsa and put on the Ghanaian line dance music, like the song Wengeze by Eazy (my absolute favorite song)! Now picture a dance that is a billion times better and more sensual then the Electric Slide and Cha-cha Slide, and add in a bunch of Ghanaians who are all really good dancers, who keep a perfectly synchronized formation! It was amazing, too great for words! Let me just say I had one of the best nights of my life and I would like to plan a Girl’s Night Out again soon so I can go back with my friends!

I have one more story to add about dancing!  Last night I went to my first Room Party on campus (they are also called “Drink Ups” LOL).  They are the essentially the same as Cornell’s parties (similar to “Sweat Box” in Ujaama).  The biggest difference is that the ratio of guys to girls is 5:1 and the guys don’t mind dancing with the lights on! One of the non-traditional words I learned from my friends in Twi is “ntwia”, which means to dance close (grinding), which was all they did at the party.  It was really a fun time though. The birthday girl was very sweet.  She introduced herself to us and made sure we had everything we needed.  It was funny! I think we only stayed for about 20 or 30 minutes (which is the shortest time I have ever spent in a good party), but we had just enough of the experience so we could say we went! Good times, great times at University of Ghana!

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II)     Cape Coast, Slave Castles, and Coconut Grove Hotel/Resort on the Oceanside

Cape Coast is a gorgeous place stamped by an ugly history.  I went to Elmina Slave Castle (the first and biggest one) last time I came to Ghana, so I decided to take a tour of Cape Coast Castle this time.  A lot of the sights and stories are similar, but I think Elmina had a deeper presence and longer lasting effect on visitors.  I am not sure why, but if you have to choose, I suggest you go to Elmina.  I will not go into details about the stories of the Slave Castles here on this blog, but as you can imagine, there was a lot of abuse, sickness, rape, dehumanization, death, and separation of loved ones.  If you want to experience the history of the Slave Castles, you should come here for yourself and see them.  The history is heavy, but these facts and emotions CANNOT be ignored.  Not only should African Americans come here, Africans, Europeans, and people from all over the globe need to understand the severity of the slave trade and the horrible conditions people were forced to endure. I hope history does not repeat itself. However, there are still incidences of people capturing and enslaving each other, and these atrocities are occurring all around the world right now.  How long will it take for the world to become a place of peace, diversity, and acceptance?  Who knows.  All I can hope for is that every person will take out the time to educate themselves on the injustices around us.  We should all do our part to make this world a better place.

Now Cape Coast the place… WOW.  All I can say is wow, wow, wow! What a gorgeous place! It reminds me of Cancun, Bahamas, and other amazing vacation spots near the U.S. The beach is beautiful, the sand is clean, and the ocean is clear! There are palm trees everywhere and the ocean breeze whisks me back to Cancun (memories of chilling in the hammocks with my family and friends on the beach).  We stayed at Coconut Grove Hotel and it is definitely a 6++ star resort! I told my girl friend that this spot should be our future honeymoon location! The pictures cannot do the place justice.  You truly have to be here in order to smell the sweetness of the flowers and to experience the fresh ocean breeze.  I apologize if I am making you jealous right now, but I hope if you are a student considering studying abroad, you realize that CIEE’s program at the University of Ghana is the best study abroad program EVER!  We lived in mini houses/bungalows that were ascetically decorated and furnished.  The bathroom was made up of three rooms (the shower wasn’t a stall, it was its own room). And yes, HOT WATER! Not to mention, the food was all catered, buffet style and was quite delicious!  We spent countless hours on the beach playing beach volleyball, swimming in the ocean, going on walks, and burying each other in the sand. We only spent one night at Coconut Grove Hotel in Elmina, but  that day and night were so memorable! I am sure I will be going back again in the future  🙂

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III)     Some Things You Can Only See In Ghana

I can’t help but laugh or shake my head when I see and experience certain things that only happen here in Ghana.  Some things are funny, some are upsetting, some are amusing, and some are very different.  I will continue to add to this list every so often.  I already listed over 30 different things in my notebook, but I will include 20 here right now:

1)     When you vote in National Elections, you dip your finger in ink so that they know you have already voted. The ink doesn’t come off for a week!

2)     Learn how to make a low-cost water filter using rocks and sand

3)     The random things you see people selling right before you get to the location called 37 ( I will make a separate list for this one in the next blog entry)

4)     Some things are better said in Twi then in English. Some people can express more of their feelings and ideas in Twi (hence the reason why becoming fluent in Twi is so important to me)

5)     Showering with wall geckos (they always have a way of surprising me!)

6)     Shoving people out of the way and running down the street to catch a trotro; Having to wait over 30 minutes to get a trotro that is going to your destination

7)     I saw a big lady running towards a trotro, so I ran passed her and got in before her (there ended up being enough space for her too); Moral of the story is: Get in the trotro as quickly as possible, and ask questions later!

8)     Big orange and black lizards doing “push ups and head-bobs” to scare off smaller lizards

9)     A mommy chicken with 9 different colored baby chickens, walking dangerously close to the busy street

10)A heard of giant bull cattle with huge horns running along the sidewalk

11) People urinating everywhere, including in the open gutters and in the grass along busy intersections; You even find messages written on buildings that say “No Pissing Here”

12) People running up to your vehicle /trotro when you are at a red light to sell you various things

13) When you walk on campus at night, you heard giant toads croaking, but you NEVER see them in the night or day

14) Tiny black tadpoles in the open gutters, swimming in murky water and trash (who knows what else is in those open gutters! I wouldn’t want to fall in, but I know some friends who have fallen in) 😛

15) Pay 1.20 for a big 1.5L plastic bottle of water or pay 1.30 for literally 10x that amount of water, but it comes in individually sealed mini plastic bags. You end up throwing out the little bags shortly after purchasing them, since you only used them to refill your big plastic bottles

16)Everything comes in a plastic bag in Ghana

17) FanYogo is the BEST EVER! Frozen strawberry yogurt yumm, I bet it has no equivalent in the U.S. that tastes as good 😉 It is so awesome, I have no idea why!

18) If you want to get to work by 9am, don’t plan on making it there on time (even if it is less then 20 min away) unless you leave at 7am… the traffic is that horrible

19) Pineapples are white and oranges are green, but they are probably the sweetest you have ever tasted in THE WORLD!

20) Trotros range from a van (“bang bus”) size to minibus (“hood-bus”). Either way, you are going to be squeezed in and the trotro will not leave the bus stop until it is filled beyond capacity.


Kumasi, Sacrificing Chickens, Wrap the Baby, Mystery Bathrooms, and More!

Wrapped Fresh Boy in KumasiGood Day!

My fun adventures in Ghana continue! Here are some entries for this week:

1)     Welcome Home to Kumasi

2)     Wrapping Fresh Boy

3)     The Curse of the Antoa River

4)     The Mystery of Ghanaian Bathrooms

5)     The Golden Stool- Kings, Museum, Culture Center, Sword in Ground

Feel free to leave comments and email my blog site to your friends. You can sign up to automatically receive emails whenever I post a new blog entry (see option on the right side of the screen). Also, I will begin fundraising for the West Africa Aids Foundation Ambulance Fund starting early next week. Email me if you are interested in getting involved or giving donations.

Enjoy!

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1)     Welcome Home to Kumasi

Well, getting to Kumasi was quite the adventure as well! Let me start off by saying that Ghana has a lot of imported things, and all of their vehicles are imported. I felt like I was riding in luxury in the big coach bus. The seats were twice as big as normal seats and even reclined and had a footrest. However, we did wait about 3 hours before even getting on the bus.  Arriving in Kumasi feels like returning home (homeland, home, that is).  I am staying with K and his family. His parents are so sweet! Also, a family friend, cousin, and his nephew also live there. Part of what makes a home in Ghana feel so warm and inviting is the strong family dynamic. There are more people to love in an extended family and each person of course brings their own dynamic outlook on things.

His Dad asked me how did I see Kumasi compared to Accra. Accra is a big city, bustling with activity and Kumasi is the homeland. Also, everything in Kumasi costs fractions of the amount you would pay in Accra. Transportation is a lot cheaper and trotros are a billion times easier to catch in Kumasi. I always feel so much warmth, laughter, love and support when I am with a Ghanaian family and so I always connect Kumasi with these happy feelings. And it’s true, if you are a guest in a Ghanaian family’s home they will certainly overfeed you and make sure you have the best, freshest, tastiest food ever! Everyone in the neighborhood knows everyone. The community is very close-knit.

I certainly felt like a Queen, laying on my bed under the round-shaped mosquito net. Everything in the room was pure white, and there was a dreamy feeling that came over me. Life is so good here, it feels too good to be true! It feels like the sweetest dream has actually become reality.

All of the food was amazing but I must say that the chilled pineapple for dessert was THE BEST PINEAPPLE I HAVE EVER TASTED IN MY LIFE! Wow. Over the weekend, I also had pasta with tomato stew and steamed fish; peanut soup with fufu, beef, fish, and mushrooms; pasta with apples; eggs, buttered bread, tea with cream, and salad with fish for breakfast; yams with my favorite vegetable stew for dinner; the list goes on. I learned that there is a particular way that Asantes eat fufu. First off, you have to eat with only your right hand in the bowl (no utensils are used when you eat fufu). Apparently I was eating it the wrong way because you are supposed to swallow fufu, not chew it. Also, you are not supposed to chew fufu and meat at the same time (I love to mix my food so I was not very enthusiastic about this rule). You have to “cut” the fufu in the blow, meaning you break a small piece with your fingers under the soup before you lift it to your mouth. My friend stood over me and watched me eat, which I did not enjoy. However, now I can say now I know the right way to eat fufu!

I know this is pretty random, but I must say, the roosters are so confused here! They start cock-a-doodle-doo-ing as early as 4am and they continue to make noise throughout the afternoon.  They are very strange. I also woke up a lot to the sound of loudspeakers around 4am because the Muslims get up very early to pray.

Something else unique about Kumasi is the way people bargain.  I was looking for kente cloth, which is usually around 100 Cedi for 3 pieces (long enough to make over 3 dresses). When I was in the store, my friend told me not to say that I would look elsewhere to find a better priced product. He was talking to the store owner, saying that he used to live near him and that they might be neighbors or family friends. People in Kumasi will give discounts if they think of you as family friends or close neighbors. There is so much to learn about culture in Kumasi!

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2)     Wrapping Fresh Boy

I am so fond of Fresh Boy, I had to give him his own chapter! He is 8 years old and is in second grade in a private school (if you know my cousin Stephon, he certainly reminds me of him). He never fails to impress me with his fluency in both English and Twi. We were watching a Ghanaian movie together in English, and he would describe the scenes in Twi, until he eventually asked if I could speak Twi. I told him I was taking a class to learn it but I certainly couldn’t understand that much yet. I love how I was being tutored by an 8-year-old!

Fresh Boy loves to dance.  K told me a funny story about Fresh Boy’s antics. On his first day of class at his new school, Fresh Boy lined up with his grade after an assembly.  As usual, the teacher played a drumbeat and all of the students began to march in line back to their classrooms. However, when Fresh Boy heard the beat, he jumped out of line and started to dance and boogie! Haha Fresh Boy is just like his uncle—fearless, outspoken, never shy, and loves to dance!

Fresh Boy is also very sweet. I thought it was absolutely adorable when I told him I was going to brush my teeth, and he came into the bathroom with me to brush his teeth at the same time! Aww! I wish I could do that everyday. I love how close-knit the family is.

One night I got a dose of the ultimate Ghanaian experience—lights out, no water, and pouring down rain. However, it really didn’t matter what the conditions were around us because we had such a blast! I was sitting with Fresh Boy and the rest of the family in the living room and we were all crowded around one lantern. Fresh Boy and I started playing the “Shadow Game” and I was making huge monsters with my hands.  I would make my shadows eat him and he would start giggling and rolling all over the place! He would then make shadows back at mine, and his shadows would eat my shadows. We even added in a storyline, dialogue and sound effects! I think we must have played that game for hours. I didn’t even realize I was sweating from moving around so much. We had so much fun! I will never forget that night in the dark.

Wrap the Baby! Now that was certainly a Kumasi highlight.  For a while now, I always wondered how Ghanaian women managed to wrap their babies on their backs so well. The babies are always so well supported and the women have their hands free to carry tons of things. I was really lucky that K’s cousin showed me how it is done! As you can imagine, Fresh Boy is pretty big but he was the closest person we had to a baby’s size. I managed to wrap him on my back, but he was so big! He actually just held onto my waist with his legs so he wouldn’t fall backwards when I stood straight up. The pictures are hilarious! I am going to post them on Facebook and I might put some on the blog too (if my internet ever decides to work). Good times, great times with Fresh Boy!

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3)     The Curse of the Antoa River

** This description may be considered graphic, viewer discretion is advised**

The Antoa River is very powerful. The belief goes that if people are cursed by the river, they will begin to develop a large belly and swollen limbs.  They will die if they do not perform the necessary sacrifices.  Many local people are afraid to even visit the river and have no interest in going near it because they are afraid of its powers. We had a guide show us everything and explain the process.  We walked along the dirt road for over 25 minutes before we got to the river.  Along the way, I saw people walking with pans on their heads and the pans each contained a live chicken.  When we finally got to the river, everyone removed their shoes behind a wall, then walked up to the ceremony.  There was a line of about 15 men and women holding chickens by their legs or wings.  There was a chief in charge of the river and he was directing the sacrificial process.  Another man stood by the river’s edge and he held sharp knives.  The smell of fresh meat and blood was overwhelming. The smell reminded me of a dissection lab in biology or in animal science classes (eww).  The procedure started with the cursed person washing his/herself in the river with their clothes on.  Next, the man by the river’s edge took the chicken and sliced its neck with the blade and let the blood drip onto a rock.  Then, he tossed the dying chicken into the river and it flapped around for a while.  After a while, it began to slow down and it stopped flapping entirely.  He picked it up and cut the limbs and head off and tossed the pieces into a pile.  He also poured Schnapps (libation) onto that same rock he dripped the chicken blood on. The people all said a chant in unison, and then the sacrifice was complete.  The next person online proceeded with the same ceremony.

I was surprised to see that people brought their young children with them.  The children stood in line next to their relatives.  I was also surprised to hear that some people had to pay up to 100 Ghana Cedi as a sacrifice for the river.  However, I was happy to find out that the chief would use the money to pay for the school fees for children in high school and for young men and women from the village who wanted to attend a university.  I also found out that people overseas could also be cursed by the Antoa River.  For example, if a person curses you and you are in the United States, you can send a close relative of yours who is in Ghana to break the curse for you.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the chief and other important people eat the chickens that were used in the sacrifice, so they did not go to waste.  As a former president of the Animal Rights Club in my high school, I certainly did not approve of the way they killed the chickens.  They could have killed them in a different way so that they did not have to suffer and flop around with blood dripping out of them.  But anyway, it is what it is. Different cultures have different practices and I am glad I got a chance to take a glimpse into the belief system of some Ghanaians.

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4)     The Mystery of Ghanaian Bathrooms

One time I was instructed to take my shower, but I wasn’t sure quite how. I entered and saw the buckets placed in the corner, as expected. However, I was confused when I did not see an actual shower. Under closer inspection, I noticed there was a drain and a showerhead in the far right corner, but no shower stall or shower curtains. The toilet was in the left rear corner. I closed the toilet lid and took a warm bucket shower. I think I probably splashed water all over the entire bathroom, since I am so used to having a shower stall. Either way, I am very grateful for the hot bucket showers I took in Kumasi. It felt so amazing and relaxing. I can’t believe I haven’t taken a warm shower since the first day at the hotel.

Another example of bathroom confusion occurred when I was on a trip with my study abroad CIEE program. We went to a small rural town to buy carvings. I asked to use the restroom and I was led to a small restaurant. They led me to an interestingly shaped cement wall. The wall only came up to my waste, and it shaped like a maze. When I walked inside of the maze, I noticed three holes the size of a ping-pong ball. Ladies and gentlemen, that is your “toilet”!

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5)     The Golden Stool- Kings, Museum, Culture Center, Sword in Ground

I learned a whole lot today! First, we went to the Palace Museum and I learned all about the Golden Stool and the belief that falls onto the lap of the next Asante King.  I found an Asante symbol I really like called Funtumfunafu and it is a picture of two crocodiles heads that share the same stomach, yet still fight over food.  It is a really cool symbol and I am looking for fabrics and jewelry that have this symbol on it. If I ever decide to get a tattoo one day, I might want to use this symbol because I like its meaning and design. It represents unity and diversity.

Next, we went to the Cultural Center and I got a few small gifts for my family. Then, we walked through the hospital to get to the famous site of the sword in the ground. It is believed that the person who can remove the sword will be a very important person in Kumasi (I forgot the exact description but I will get back to you on this). Muhammad Ali and other famous people tried to remove the sword in the past to no avail. Now, people are no longer allowed to try and pull the sword out of the ground. Supposedly, there was a curse that was causing the people who tried to pull the sword out to die.  Very interesting. After that, we went to a traditional Asante funeral. It was incredible to see men and women adorned in layers of traditional funeral cloth.  The close friends and family to the deceased wore red cloth.  The people who went to the same church as the deceased wore white, and all the other guests wore dark brown and black.  Even the chief from that village attended the funeral and performed a ceremonial dance and greeting.

There is so much to learn in Ghana and in Kumasi and the best way to experience life here is with a close friend and their family.  I am very grateful that I met K and that he has welcomed me into his family.  He has shown and taught me so much in the past month.  All of the fun, laughter, and experiences have been priceless 🙂


The Truth is Blunt- Poverty & Inequality

First off, I would like to acknowledge that I got a lot of feedback concerning my last blog entry. I am glad that my last blog caused some controversy and I got an array of productive feedback, comments, emails, and opinions. Some people may have felt my last blog post was offensive, critical or felt as if it was designed to target particular people. I will always be direct and blunt on this blog because I am here to expose the TRUTH. There are many ways people can get involved in making a difference in the world around them. You don’t have to volunteer or chose a service-oriented career to make a difference in the lives of others. You can ALWAYS give monetary and supplies donations. No matter your interests, profession, career, or social status, it is UNACCEPTABLE for any person (especially Americans and people who can afford to have their own laptops) to not do their part in making this world a better place. If you are following my blog, you will get pure, unadulterated truth. Here is a sad example from the International Health Care Clinic:

A young HIV- positive mother brought in her young daughter, Deborah. She was already in the later stages of AIDs and little could be done to help her as the disease took over her immune system and her small, young body began to deteriorate. One wonderful family from the UK decided to sponsor this brilliant young lady so she could attend school and receive the anti-retroviral drugs she needs each day. However, Deborah was still very sick. One day she began vomiting and was straining when she tried to use the bathroom. Deborah passed out when she was in the bathroom and did not wake back up. Her mom begged her neighbors until she raised enough money to pay for a cab to take Deborah to the clinic. By the time her mom collected 3 Cedi (less than $2.50) from her neighbors, 3 hours had already passed since the time her daughter passed out in the bathroom.  When they finally arrived at the clinic, it was already too late. Dr. Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye pronounced Deborah dead.

Now I can tell you exactly why I may sound frustrated or bitter in my blogs when I write about injustice and inequality, or when I discuss Americans’ selfishness and failure to take action. Can you imagine a mother having to carry her dead daughter’s body on her lap in a taxicab? Dr. Vanderpuye and a volunteer from the clinic accompanied Deborah’s mom, as her daughter’s body was shuffled from place to place in a taxi and in a friend’s truck. They had to obtain a death certificate, autopsy, and burial permit. It is unbelievable to me that they had to take Deborah’s body in a taxi with them to obtain all of these permits because the clinic cannot afford to purchase an ambulance or used truck to transport patients. This inequality is tragic and unacceptable.

My goal is to raise 12,000- 15,000 (Cedi or Dollars) before January 1st 2011 and donate this money to the West African AIDS Foundation so that the International Health Care Clinic can purchase a used truck. After speaking to Dr. Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye and her Mother (who helps her run the clinic), it is clear that they would be very grateful and appreciative if our goal becomes a reality.  I know I will personally be donating a portion of my earning to this greater cause. I know everyone who is reading this blog has 20 or 100 dollars/Cedi (or more) that they can donate. I know fundraising can bring in even more donations.

There is a saying that “Ignorance is Bliss”. That’s fine for some people. But again I will emphasize that my blog will always tell you the truth the way it is. Yes, I will discuss topics like religion, music, dance and other interesting and fun topics. However, I will also elaborate on the inequalities I encounter. Rather than take offense to my messages, think of my passionate criticism as a CALL TO ACTION. Ask yourself the question, “How can I make a difference this week?” You can give money, vitamins, Band-Aids, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, clothes, shoes, etc. Virtually anything that is good quality can be donated. The clinic has 500 patients and Dr. Vanderpuye is the only full-time doctor at the clinic. She has four young children and lives a busy life. She is a fantastic woman and I would love for you to read more about her so that these images and stories become more vivid for you.

Please copy and paste the following description into an email and send it around to your friends. Our goal is to raise 12,000- 15,000 by January 2011. I need your help and the help of your friends and family to make this goal a reality. I will look into setting up a PayPal link for the organization. Tell me in an email how much you would like to donate (whether it is in the form of money or supplies) and I will further coordinate with you via email to determine how we will collect your gift.  My email address is KML65@cornell.edu

If you would like to read more Dr. Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye, I will include part of her story at the end of the blog entry. If you would rather read her complete introduction, please go to her personal site at http://www.aandachtvooraids.nl/ihcc.html ).

Here is the website for the West African AIDS Foundation and for the International Health Care Clinic: http://www.waafweb.org/ .

Also, if you would like to read the complete, vivid description of Deborah’s story, visit this page written by a study abroad student volunteer from last semester. Scroll down to where it says “In Memory of Deborah Sarchie” and click where it says “Read Deborah’s Story” http://www.waafweb.org/news.html

Before you fall asleep tonight, take 5 minutes to reflect on what you can do to make a difference. Reflect on what the words “Peace, love, and justice FOR ALL” really mean to you. Peace and Love <3

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Here is the beginning and select parts from Dr. Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye’s story:

“About the International Health Care Center (IHCC), a community clinic
at Roman Ridge, Accra Ghana.

Since April 2003, I have been working as a full time doctor at IHCC in Accra. My name is Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye. I am 34 years of age. I was born in the Volta region of Ghana. My father was a Ghanaian and my mother a Dutch. We had a wonderful simple life in Ghana untill my father suddenly died of perforated appendicitis. My mother, left alone with 4 daughters and not working at the time, decided to move back to Holland. All four children accompanied her.

Leaving Ghana so suddenly, at the age of 14 and under those circumstances was not easy. I had therefore promised myself that I
would oneday return to my motherland. The circumstances under which my father died also motivated me. He, after being diagnosed had to be operated upon immediately, but there wasn’t a surgeon around so he would have to wait for the next day and that was just too long. He died in the early hours of that morning.

My goal was to come back to my country and help as much as I could.” …. (to read her complete story, please click here http://www.aandachtvooraids.nl/ihcc.html ) … “IHCC is now treating over 500 HIV/AIDS patients. These people are from the lowest social ladder in our society and have very little or no access to any kind of health care. Even transportation fee is a
problem. Many times, patients actually ask us for some little money for them to be able to pay their transportation back home. Food is also a serious problem, financial constraints again being the main reason. Most people cannot buy common fruits and a high protein diet, what they do need is not part of their diets. At our clinic we offer the in-patients free meals.

Occasionally it does happen that we do not have certain medications and have to prescribe these for the patients so they can buy it themselves from the pharmacies in town. They mostly end up either not buying these at all or buying just a few, at least what the money they have can buy. This does not enhance treatment and rather worsens it since in such cases resistance easily builds up. Sometimes they show me prescriptions they have been carrying for months, medications that were prescribed by other doctors and what they could not buy. People walk around with the same medical problems for a long time because of
this, only ending up getting worse and even in certain cases dying.

At IHCC, most of our services are free. Since we started our clinic, we have received only one big funding solely for the treatment and care of HIV/AIDS patients. This came from Barclays Bank Ghana. In the proposal we estimated to treat about 200 people with the disease with the money given, which was twenty two thousand pounds but we ended up
treating well over 400. With the funding, we are able to purchase medications generally and frequently used in the treatment and care of opportunistic infections, food supplements, which is very essential, since most of the patients are malnourished and cannot afford to buy the right food. We also use part of the money in paying the staff and in buying disposable items. We frequently have to squeeze here and there but we manage to survive and carry on… In some cases when the patients get better and have to be discharged they do not want to go. Reasons being that at the clinic, they have people to talk to, they feel comfortable and at home they are going to end up thinking too much and be shunned by the family… We are very much in need of an ambulance and another extra transport. The ambulance will enable us do our Home based care programs, meaning visiting the people at home. We are trying to encourage this as a means of getting communities involved in the care of their loved ones. It will also be used to transport patients from the house to the clinic if necessary and from the clinic to other hospitals for, for example, diagnostics and also if we loose a patient to enable us send the body to the mortuary. Currently, when we loose a patient, we have to charter a taxi, which most of the times is a burden. The taxi drivers charge a lot for this, if they do agree to take the corpse and also getting some of the bodies into a taxi is not an easy task and also not a nice sight. The other transport will be used to do our rounds. At the moment we have to rely on only one car that is mostly used for the NGO and charting cars every day is not cost effective…”(Due to space, I did not include her whole introduction here and I left out some paragraphs but please read the rest of her story on her site http://www.aandachtvooraids.nl/ihcc.html )