Things that Grow on Trees 

A lot can happen in two weeks, and it’s amazing how Ghana can feel both so normal and so new to me all at the same time. 
We have spent copious amounts of time in doctor’s appointments and physical therapy assessments, for starters. We have been able to see the progress of many of our children by visiting them in physical therapy at the regional hospital, and we have been astounded by the positive steps they’re taking–literally! Some of them have gone from not even being able to sit up on their own to taking steps with assistance. For example, Nina, who last year at this time could not even sit up, was crawling through our card game and trying to eat our cards as a group of us waited to be seen by the traveling doctors from Nsawam. That day, sixteen of our children were able to get assessed, and several now have dates for surgery consultations. It was an exhausting day, especially with the head cold I got from Baby Mercy, but it was worth it to talk to the parents, some of whom had gotten there at five am, and engage with some of the new children I had not yet met. 

Since Parker, our wonderful photographer and my lovely companion, left a week ago, I have gotten much administrative work done, which has included many hours photo copying receipts and doing all sorts of filing. Granted, this is not as exciting as hanging out with the children, but it feels great to get so much work done. Lucky for me, I have made a new friend who also has a passion for working with people with disabilities. She is from Australia and her name is Kristie and she has been a wonderful source of assistance and endless ideas and enthusiasm. 

Ghana is also a beautiful place just to wander, and Kristie and I have gotten to do a fair bit of exploring. We have made friends with some local cooks and visit their stands regularly, and we have also befriended a vegan, Rastafarian couple who has invited us back to their house to hike and help them tag the trees in their reforestation project. We have been learning so much from so many Ghanaians about how to be resourceful and far less wasteful, and we are constantly amazed at little things that seem normal to Ghanaians, like cracking open a coconut and eating it with a spoon, or extracting oil from a palm nut and subsequently using every other part of the nut for something innovative. Our wonderful colleagues have taught us to make fufu, which involves an incredibly arduous process of pounding cassava and plantain, and we have been too stubborn to shy away from the local spices, which often literally bring tears to our eyes. We adventured to another waterfall and had a few too-close-for-comfort interactions with some monkeys. And best of all, we have had many a dance party with the members of the advocacy group that meets at the office and have had countless beautiful interactions with many of the families involved in The Patience Project, many of whom we often literally run into in the craziness of the market. 

I’ve been greatly enjoying learning to cook like a local and taking the time to enjoy the everyday aspects of Ghanaian life, the ones you can’t read about in a guide book. We are also in the process of officially adding another twenty children to our list, which will bring the number of children with whom we work up to forty. It’s sort of surreal to be so busy in a place where time seems to move so slowly. In a way, time sort of feels irrelevant, and that’s an unusually satisfying feeling that I sincerely hope everyone can experience at some point. 

All the best to everyone back home. And maybe, take a minute out of the craziness of everyday American life to enjoy the day slowly. I think it’s a lesson we can all learn from our Ghanaian friends. 

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