Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Ghana Trip - 8 - 21st January 2009.

Hello everyone, thanks for the comments.
Yes, I am alive and well.
Yeah margaret, the health care system in Ghana is not too bad, but nothing compared to what we got back home. Ghana is a great example of African nations moving forward. Ghana is more developed than most other African countries, but still long way to go...
Father Moses, he's a strange man.... But I've learned to get used to him.
He's probably never heard of The Corporal Punishment! But he's not too bad at end of the day.

Hey Luke, I'm glad you got back safely man.
People in my group is asking for you. Advice & stories you've given us on the 1st week have helped us massively, so thanks!
Mike is not leaving after all, I'll talk about it in this blog.
I think I'll miss Ghana as well, I've started to love it more and more...
Yes, Yes, Yes... Don't rub it in now!!! I know how terrible Queens are doing! LOL.
Hopefully they won't get religated... Celtic beat Rangers 1-0 before the new year which I was delighted. But they got beat by Aberdeen last week, and Rangers are only 2 points behind... Oops...

DAVID!!! It is so nice tae hear from you! Thank you for the comment.
I'm glad you got my post card from Blackpool... (Cough!), I meant Ghana!
Yeah, I'll record my new songs as soon as I get back home. Clare seems to be doing well. She's playing a gig on the night I'm coming back so I'll see her then. I'm staying in London overnight before I get a train home via New Castle, my newly discovered route!
Anyway, hope to hear from you soon. Regards to Nagako, the twins and the family.

Last week, I wasn't sure about this school. But over the weekend, I started to connect with the students more. The girls here are sooooo funny. We have a laugh all the time. They call me "The Virgin Mary"! (Because I have a long hair. Another boy in my group from Glasgow, Chris, he's got a long hair and a beard, so his name is "Jesus"). I started to talk to the boys more. Everynight, they invite me back to their accomodation for some "Gari". (Gari is like a wheat, with sugar, milo chocolate powder, milk powder & water, the best night snack we could ask for!)
I wasn't sure about what to teach, but me and my superviser agreed that only things I could do is Class Room assistance & help with homeworks at night. Also to teach guitar to some students after school. So they organized a little concert for me with about 20 students. I played 4 songs including "Umbrella" by Rihanna, requested by the students! (They love hip hop and R& B music!). I felt so overwelmed by the students. I finally felt I belonged there.
After that, about 10 students signed up for some lessons, which I've organized.
Everymorning, I've been going to mass at 7.30am, just to perticipate. (It's a big deal here, if I don't attend they'd ask me why.) Yesterday morning after mass, Sister Cicillia (Head teacher) asked me how my guitar lessons were, in front of the students. I told her I have 10 students, then she said "Is that it?". She expected me to teach the whole school! Then she told everyone to come and see me after dinner for some "Hyms" and songs to sing along to. She is very pushy and making things complicated! She shouldn't have said anything! I've already organized everything and she's over complicating things! And I don't really know if she wants me to teach them guitar or songs!?!?!?!?!?!
My superviser just told me to do what I want to do, and not to listen to her.
So last night I had 2 lessons with 2 boys, Sam & Emmanuel. They both learnt 4 chords in about an hour! They were slow to start off with, because they never touched a guitar in their lives!
I was overwelmed by their enthusiasm to learn, pretty special...
After that, I sung about 10 songs to them. Then about 5 kids from the next village came and watched. So became like a little concert. They loved it. I felt amazing...

Last week, Amanda from Platform2 came to check on us. (She's from London, but she was already in Ghana with another group). She interviewed all of us regarding the work, the place and our group dynamics. So she asked me many questions about Michael. I told her everything.
Amanda sorted out all the work back in the village, so we have more things to do for the rest of our time here. The reason we didn't do very much last month was because the previous groups done more than there was to do, and our Project Manager (who owns the land) was in process of organizing work.
Michael and sara, they are both staying now. They couldn't affored the flights home. And Platform2 had not enough evidences to chuck them out. But they still do nothing, just lie on their beds, watching movies on their laptop. We didn't come all the way to Ghana to watch DVDs... Last week, me and michael had a little scuffle. We had a little argument and he grabbed me & pushed me. Totally out of order. I was going to report him but the group sat both of us down and negotiated over. (Which I really appreciate them for doing that).
We argued over an extention cable (in which I paid for). He was so childish. I couldn't be bothered with this kind of nonsense.
There are few other people in the group affected by Michael. 1 of the boys even thought about punching him. I've learnt to look over him. I just don't talk to him much. I don't input any energy in him. I'm focused in this school and the people. It's quite ironic that michael have taught me to be more mature & become a bigger person. There are obsticles in life in which you always find a way out, or even way forward. Interesting.....
He's from foster care, so I can see where he's coming from. He must've had a terrible childhood, so maybe thats why he's acting like this.
(David, you must know what I'm talking about......)

Yesterday morning after breakfast, My superviser Ebenezer (Ghanaian) and the physics teacher Fosta (also Ghanaian) were both asking me about Religion. Asking me why I'm not a christian.
Without offending them (they are both great guys), I explained that because I have 2 Religious backgrounds (catholism & Buddism), I didn't want to choose before I explore the world & experience different cultures & religions. I also told them that I'm only 22 & I have enough time to choose 1 Religion. (I'm never choosing one, but I said that to keep them happy) But Eben said that Confused minds will go to Hell & only the people who follow Jesus Christ will go to heaven. He also said that I could die today, so I must choose. They also asked me if I believe in Heaven & Hell. I told them that I believe that Heaven & Hell is a feeling, not a place, which they shook their heads.
I find all this stuff weird... People are very religious here. They say that the west have forgotten Christianity and Africa have taken over, they will go to Heaven before us.
They are trying to convert us into Christians. Surely we all have freedoms to choose our morals & beliefs?

I have realized that I only have 4 weekends left and next weekend, we are going to Cape Coast, so I'm going to Kumasi this friday night on a night bus with Jo, a girl from London whos in my group. Kumasi, Ashanti Region, has been described as the most beautiful part of Ghana & more cultural. It is the 2nd biggest city in Ghana with the biggest market in the country. 10,000 traders in 1 market! I just want to explore the country more and be more independent from the group.

Anyway, I better go. Adios.
jamie x

Friday, 16 January 2009

I was rushed to the hospital... (Ghana Trip - 7 - 16th January 2009)

Last Sunday, just after 1pm, I started feeling ill.
I threw up & I had stomach pains.
I stayed in bed all day, even skipped dinner.
I had to stay in bed during the group meeting. Afterwards, I went to the bathroom one last time before I collapsed. By this time, I was feeling violently ill and I had to be rushed to the local hospital. When I got there, I was told I may have malaria so I had to get 2 injections & various medications. I had to ask if I could lie down because I couldn't bear sitting down. I was lying on the bed feeling worst I have ever felt. I knew I wasn't going to die, but it felt like it.
My life flashed by me & I was seriously freaking out.....

I got 2 injections, which was actually painful. Suddenly I started crying & couldn't stop. I don't know if it was the medication or my emotions. There was a boy beside me who was involved in a serious bicycle accident & a little baby at the opposite end of the room. There were both crying their hearts out in pain. They made me cry even more...
Luckily I didn't have to stay there so we got back in the car, heading back to the village. I had to lie down on back seats, looking at the full moon up side down through the window while the car was moving.
I was still feeling terrible and my mind was blank white. Then I started thinking about my family, my friends, Scotland & Japan, thinking I'm on the other side of the world nearly wiped off this life.
Then "Have you forgotten?" by the Red House Painters came on my ipod and I felt so happy that I was alive. I think it's officially my favorite song of all time now (because of this occasion).
(Afterwards, I had to listen to some BIFFY CLYRO, to remind of back home, lol).

No matter how careful you are, no matter how you never forget to take anit-maleria pills, no matter how you always wash your hands, you could still get ill.
I drink water sensibly from a bag as well. (We are only supposed to drink from water bags)

I was totally down for the following 2 days. I threw up my breakfast the next day and didn't eat anything for 2 days. The medication was making me feel loopy and tired.

I think this was THE WORST experience of my entire life. I never felt so bad.
But at the same time, I thought about the Health Care system in Ghana and realized most people wouldn't be able to afford it. So I felt lucky...

On Wednesday, we arrived in Catholic School, near Kpando, Volta Region.
There are only about 65 students, boys & girls around 15 to 18. (Sorry the information on the last blog was incorrect). I don't really agree with Christianity, or any other Religious Institutions, but the kids here are well disciplined, well mannered & well behaved. I was very impressed.
We never lock our bedroom doors here because we know that NO BODY well ever steals in this place. Amazing...
But Father Moses, man who runs the place AND teach 3 subjects, he's a nice guy but extremely strict. He gets angry at students for not giving correct answers during classes, pinches them hard and tells them to run around the building twice as a punishment. Isn't that harsh?
Also, the Sociology class is a little outdated. Homosexuality is still within the "Abuse" section of the text books, and other bizarre stuff. Also, I don't understand the Religious & Moral Education class. Morals are all about Jesus this and Jesus that. Isn't life more than Jesus? (I forgot to mention, everywhere I go, there is Jesus signs everywhere).
We have to attend Mass every morning, 7.30am. It's boring, but we have to be there.
But the stay here has been great. Today (Friday), I'm finished with the medication so I'm not loopy anymore! I was told that I had Food Poisoning. But that’s the early signs of Malaria, so I was very lucky.

Frankie, skiing in Italy sounds fantastic. Just to remind you, drinking and skiing is completely different thing, if you have forgotten. HAHAHAHAHA. We don't get Tennents here, but luckily we have Guinness. Foreign Guinness! (7%).
I can't explain what Fufu is. It's like a soup with big white dough in it, with some meat. You eat it with your right hand.

Do you guys know what "You've been Rick Rolled!" means?
Well, I think this is going to be the new version, enjoy. Haha.

Yes, I am still alive.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Ghana Trip - 6 - 10th January 2009.

Hello everyone. Thanks for the comments.
Luke, how you doing man? Did you get back tae Jersey safely?

We are not doing much these days. So Platform 2 (Christian Aid) is investigating our group, yes we are in trouble. Or at least the Project Manager is. Amanda (English Woman who is already in Ghana with another group) is coming up here next week to check on us, I hope it all works out.
Also, 2 people in my group has decided to leave Ghana, describing our village as "Shit-hole" and telling our superviser to "F^^k off". One of them, Michael, 18 year-old from England (luke, you must remember him?), I have fallen out with. I don't like him at all. He is very dis-respectable to me, he keeps picking on me, and he doesn't realize that I'm older than him. I just can't stand him. Thankfully, he's leaving soon so I don't have to deal with him. But Amanda is going to talk to me about us 2, which I'd rather not. Oh well, there are people you just don't get on with, I guess it's human nature... All the jokes are about making fun of people, which is pathetic. Some of the boys in my group (inc. Michael) need tae grow up.

Next wednesday, we are going to a local college (for 11 to 20 year olds) and staying there for 3 weeks. Hopefully I can teach some classes...

Also, I have finally recieved a marriage proposal!!! Everyone else in the group has recieved many and I was worried I wouldn't, but I got 1 last week. Unfortunately, I turned her down (for an obvious reasons, 1, i'm no interested).

People here are interesting. I saw this 1 woman, dressed in traditional Ghanainan dress, carrying her baby, selling stuff at the market. But she was busy texting someone on her mobile phone (brand new), which I thought it was funny. My village is very traditional and many people wear traditional clothes. But young guys all got fancy clothes, Vans Trainers and phones listening to 50 Cent really loud! Absolutely Halarious....

Yes, I had another Fufu last night. A Grass Cutter (Rat, yes, a rat...). It was actually quite nice!
Yesterday, we climbed a different mountain. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get up this really steep hill. Once we got up there, there were villages!!! How people live there, I have nae idea.
But alot of people spoke French because it was only 10 minute walk from the Togo border. I'm going to try and get up there again next monday to go to Togo, just for a laugh. (No passport required, as long as theres no police there).

jamie x

Friday, 2 January 2009

Ghana Trip - 5 - 2nd January 2009.

Hello everyone!
Hope you all had a great xmas and new year.

I've just read my previous blogs and I noticed many spelling mistakes.
I'm writing this new blog on a Norwegian keyboard so it's not helping is it! LOL.

thanks for all the comments. I appreciate it.
Yeah margaret, theres many things that needs to be changed here. I'll talk about the Presidential Election later on in this blog. Frankie, we ended up missing the old firm! Because they changed the time from 3pm to 12pm! I managed to watch the goal and interviews. The boy in my group is a hardcore Rangers fan so that was really funny. But since both teams are out of Europe now, it's going to get more competitive! I was surprised Celtic won as they've been playing terrible in the past few games. AND it was at Ibrox!!! Also, somebody told me my man MIZUNO scored few weeks ago!?!?! Also, hows the good old Queen of The South FC doing?

Tori, Tori, Tori, Tori. It's so nice to hear from you! Sorry I haven't been in touch as It's hard to access facebook here... The connections are slow. Theres actually more than 1 episodes I can't reveal here! LOL! It's all personnal and it's all on my diary. Like self discovery or life changing experiences.... I'll tell you everything when I get back.

Anyway, theres actually 1 story i can happily reveal here, which well finish the Accra Episode nicely.
So, this story involves drinks, drugs and a prostitute! (Don't worry people! just read on...)

So, we went out. There was still a lot of things I wasn't happy about, like the differences between the rich and the poor, etc. Anyway, we were at this bar drinking beer when this Crack-head approached us. Apparaently he's from a rich family who was disowned by his family for dropping out of University and getting into Crack Cocain. He was obviously not right in the head. He started hassling us but we managed to sort him out. I can't believe someone would waste such opportunity since a lot of Ghanaians can't affored to go to University.
After that, there was a lot of people selling us all kinds of drugs. Since I knew the law (10 years in jail for even a spec of weed) and the health risk (not all drugs are reliable), I steered away from those people. When we were walking to the next bar, this girl came and said hello. Her name was Mable, pretty Ghanaian girl in a sexy top, started chatting to us. Since she was quite sound, few of the boys invited her to join us for few drinks. She came along, holding my hand! At this point, I knew what was going on. But I couldn't think of a way to escape from this setuation. Somebody said it's 15 cidies for 1 night (10 pounds) and i thought "For God's sake....". I would never pay for such services, or even spend a night with someone I don't love. I don't want to talk about this, but I could't be more honest. Anyway, we got to the next bar. The she didn't want to sit with us. She wanted to sit with me. So I bought her a drink and sat with her. I was thinking about the best way to get rid of her, in the most politest way, as you should never offend a prostitute!!!
So, I thought about what to say to her when she started to talk about herself.
She said she owns a shop selling clothes, bags, shoes etc. She's obviously interested in fashion as she had this expensive looking jewery. I wonder how she paid for it...
She then revealed that her dream is to go to New York. She was obviously intelligent as she can speak 3 languages and she went to school. Then she started to talk about Love. She said her boyfriend lives in Germany who wants to come over and see her, but wasn't sure if that was a good idea... She said she believes in love, but hates men telling her they love her (for obvious reasons, she must be sick of it). Then I told her that my favourite quote of all time is:
"The joy in life is not in hearing the words 'I Love You', but being lucky enough to say it".
Then her face lit up with smile, as if she realized something. I adviced her to go with her heart, only do what she believes in. And I also mentioned that New York will come alive if she believes in it. Then she gave me a big hug saying we are friends forever. I don't know why, but I thought that was sweet.

So... that was one of the most bizarre experience in my life, talking to a prostitue...
But I found the conversation beaitiful and inspiring. I felt she had a good heart and maybe I inpired her to do something good in her life.....

After that we went to the most posh night club in Accra. I didn't perticularly want to go, but I went anyway. Inside the club, I felt like I was in UK as everyone dressed like us back home, all the boys looked like Kanye West! They played the same Hip Hop and R & B tunes.... It's funny most of the young people around the world is the same.
There was this 1 guy who was determind to set me up with girls. I just felt out of place and thought "what I'm i doing in Ghana!?" Then I started thinking about why people go out drinking.

To ease our sexual frustrations?
To forget the day jobs and life in general?
Or simply to be noticed or to be found as if you live inside a dark box where nobody can see you?

Whatever the reason, I felt that we are all human beings after all and all the same anywhere around the world. But I didn't want to be the same as them.
I'm here in Ghana to become a bigger person and to do something posotive in my life. Not to get caught up in that culture...

Anyway, sorry the blogs getting a little dark, so I'll finish talking about Accra.

Theres a big Presidential Election happening in Ghana. I support the NDC as they seem to be the best. But theres been a lot of violence and delays... We're supposed to hear the results tonight. Theres going to be a big change in Ghana next year. Hoping that it's going to be good.

So we spent out for the new year in our village. It's getting hot here, it's about 30 degrees everyday. The weather is weird. Sometimes theres no clouds whatsoever.
New years eve was mental. Many kids going bonkers, throwing fireworks at each other, while the adults went to church. In typical Ghanaian fashion, the DJ guy (yes, a DJ in this teenie weenie village, playing from his PC), forgot the countdown, which no body was bothered about. So 11 of us done a count down 3 minutes after the bells... it was funny so it didn't matter.

So......... 42 days to go. The days here is slow, but rewarding.
I love the local kids. They all remember our names, and they look out for us. Some of them are cheeky asking us for money, or even demanding for money!!! But they are all great. I seem to get on with the locals as I started to memorize the local language, Ewe. Johanas, who lives on the edge of the village fed me some FUFU yesterday. That was tasty!
Sometimes, theres moments I can't stand the people in my group (except Hannah, from Lancashire, whos sitting beside me at the internet cafe in Hohoe, she's great!). I realized that we are all completely diffrent people with diffrent ideas and principles. When I get pissed off, I grab my guitar and head off to the woods. I've written few songs & composed many song ideas.
Also, my iPod keeps me going. Last night, I fell asleep to Joni Mitchell...
It's funny how normal everyday things back home becomes more special/useful here.

Anyway, I better go. It's getting dark now. My superviser will tell me off for being late...
(it's takes an hour on Tro Tro bus through rough roads. it's only 20 miles away...)

jamie x