dust and joy

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I continue to be amazed by the people of Ghana. Today, as I worked with locals building a hut, other people from the village came and asked to help. With almost twenty of us, we were able to construct a solid foundation along with all four outer walls. We had to end work earlier than I wanted because after sunset and without electricity, there would not be enough light to continue building. As I walked back to the hut, Henrietta, my translator, told me about what life is like here. She said that the people in the village often help each other despite their own trials. I began to wonder what life back home would be like if we would be willing to help one another like the people here do. I think we would all be happier, knowing that others want the best for us.

I must admit that I have been dealing with culture shock. Of all of the places I have traveled, I have never been somewhere that is as different from home as Ghana. Other than the few villagers who speak English, there is no hint of western culture in the little village. I love seeing how different their lives are. They practice customs that seem strange to me and have a different value structure and way of thinking through problems. I may find the culture here to be new and different, but the villagers who have asked me about life in the United States have told me that many of the customs that I find normal, like Christmas trees during the holidays, are strange.

Tomorrow I will be running a camp for kids in the village; Henrietta has volunteered herself to translate. I am nervous about what the kids will think of the American activities I have planned, but I think they will have fun spending time with other kids. I have also brought toys to give out to the kids when they leave. I saw a small boy today playing with a little car made out of a cardboard box; it was broken and dirty, but he still played with it as if it were the most precious thing in the world to him. I hope he comes tomorrow so that I can give him a little toy car, one that wouldn’t break as easily.
I am glad that I came to Ghana, being here has made me realize how much I have and how little I need. This trip has also shown me how my simple effort to help can give people hope, something that they do not always have. When I get home, I will continue to help the people in Ghana from home, maybe there is an organization that I can get involved in that works with villages like this one, but that is something to think about later. I have to go to sleep; I have been up since before sunrise and I have another long and exciting day tomorrow.





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