This past weekend we stayed at a small village called Abutia Agodeke in the Volta Region of Ghana. We worked through a program named DIVOG, Disaster Volunteers of Ghana, to help build a school and stayed with a local family for the night. As our bus pulled into the village center, we were immediately greeted by a dozen hugs. We were sat down and formally introduced to the chief (through translation) and each given a welcoming bracelet. Then the dancing began. The men played drums, the women sang and the children danced better than I ever will. Some of my colleagues were pulled into the cultural performance and were guided through different dances, all concluding with a tap on the ground in front of the chief.
After some debriefing, the students, staff and local men went to work on the school. We carried water on our heads, cement on our hips and slathered paint on newly built walls. Because of the mass influx of help, the first day's work was finished in less than three hours. We then breaked for lunch. The students who only came to work were bussed home, while those staying the night were introduced to their new families.
My host dad, Jonas, took me to the house and I met my new mom and siblings. My mom showed me to the bucket bath behind the house, and I had my first outside shower. Freshened up, I returned and played with the kids, communicating mostly in hand gestures. I was then dressed in traditional fabric and ushered off by the babies to dinner with colleagues.
After dinner, the village had a bonfire dance in celebration of our presence. We danced with our host-siblings for hours until we disappeared into our individual huts and fell to sleep. The following morning after breakfast, our host-parents decked us each out in traditional African dress for church. The sermon was partially translated and interspersed with more dancing, but I spent the majority of my time babysitting the kids who slipped in with my colleagues and entertaining them with my camera.
After church, we settled back into our boring clothes and re-painted the school with a second coat. With little time left, we packed our belongings and said our goodbyes to the families. My host-parents made a dress for me to take home, and the village gave us coconuts to drink/eat before our departure.
Though our time with these people was short, I have never experienced such welcoming, kind people in my life. I admittedly am not a rural kind of girl, but this trip opened my eyes to the beauty of that lifestyle. These people were untainted by the constant hustle of life in cities. And though I was ready to depart from mega-spiders, I returned with a different understanding of Accra and what it means to be Ghanaian.