Sunday, January 27, 2008

A New Home

What at is a home? It is where the heart is? Where you hang your hat? Where you dance around in your underpants?

As human beings we have ways to easily identify ourselves in society. Our home is one of them. For me, living overseas for several years now and shifting geographic locations, I’ve had to re-define what home means to me.

This past Sunday was the first game of the Africa Cup of Nations. The first match of the Ghana hosted tournament was Ghana versus Guinea. I crowded around one of the few TVs in my community to watch the inaugural match. During the match, I was overcome by waves of emotions (and not just due to the numerous missed shots and eventual 2 – 1 victory from Ghana’s Black Stars).

My first day in Ghana I spent the afternoon holed up in a hotel watching a football match and feeling rather sorry for my lonesome bag-less self. This past Sunday, I realized how lucky I was in only a short time to have somehow become “un-lonely”. In contrast to my first day in Ghana, last night I watched a football match sitting next to Faiza and Manshara, two girls who sleep under the same roof as I, and amongst 30 people of the community which recently accepted me as a new member.

Above - In this community making 'gari' a roasted flour from cassava is the primary source of income for women.

I’ve found a new home with fantastic family. First, there's Faiza and Manshara who are 7 and 8 years old and are great fun to play with. Yesterday we spent the day riding my bicycle around town in the blistering heat, laughing all the way as the two of them tried to learn how to ride. In the evenings we sit together and play waori – a Ghanaian board game which is 20% strategy and 80% luck, or at least it is to us!

Close-up on Manshara as Zalaifa and Faiza play waori in the background.

In the mornings I wake up to the chilly weather this time of year brings, but also to warm greetings from Salamatu, the head of the household, who also feels inclined to constantly remind me to bath…at least the water is also warm! Being clean and well-fed I hop on my Japan-made bicycle and travel to work. On the way I pass swarms of children and adults who shout friendly greetings.

Salamatu and Zalaifa prepare a delicious bean cake called tubani

In the evenings I come home to Zalaifa, the hard-working 19 year old who is usually stirring supper or sweeping the yard. She is always patient with my eager yet clumsy attempts to cook, speak the local language (Gonja) and question her about her culture.

Zalaifa stirs TZ - the most common staple dish in Northern Ghana. In this area it's made with maize and cassava flour. Stirring it is really tough work!

I really love it here and am blessed to have found a family and a community that has welcomed me so acceptingly. And for now, as I keep up home in Saskatoon through emails and phone calls, I will also enjoy this new home that has been added to the patchwork of homes that sometimes defines who I am.

Posing with Manshara - she's dressed up because it's market day and we're going!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Corrected Blog Address

Here's the correct address for my friend Dan's blog (referenced in the blog titled 'Top Down or Bottom Up'). We just updated it so definitely encourage you to check it out if you're interested in a home-grown education focused project!