It’s been too looong dahhlings!!
Looks like we’ve made it to November 2019….. It’s strange mentioning that month as sweat trickles down the backs of my legs. I’m sure you’ve all forgotten about me, much like I’ve forgotten about you. Just kidding. I could never forget about my millions of faithful followers. I’d like to blame my absence on the fact that I’m roughing it in the sticks. You know, that image you get in your head when people say “I’m a Peace Corps volunteer” – living in a mud hut in a village in the middle of nowhere, trekking far into the jungle to fetch water, trudging down a long winding dirt path to market under the scorching sun, speaking to community members in only the local dialect, no electricity, no phone service, no contact with the outside world… The truth is none of these apply to me lol. We call it Posh Corps.
I live in an town just a 1cedi ($0.20) trotro ride away from the closest city. Many of my friends are able to speak perfect english – although they prefer speaking Twi with me so they can laugh, hysterically laugh, shouting, patting their stomachs, tears streaming down their face laugh at me for my abominable pronunciation. I scroll through Instagram as I lie in my bed. When the lights do go off, I sit outside pouting until they come back on. Water flows from the tap 60% of the time (the other 40% of the time I bribe my students with food from Suzy’s Kitchen to fetch water for me). Cous and I drink champaign and eat bonbons every evening as we lounge in our matching satin PJs… you get the picture (lol jk that last part’s a lie, I’m much more of a silk girl than a satin girl). My town is very much home. I get homesick when I’m away for a few days. I miss my students when they go on midterm break. I know which spots will give free drinks if we stay long enough, and which market women will dash me extra fish on market day. I know the short cuts that avoid grandma sitting on her stoop with hours of stories to tell, and the ones that lead to my friends who I can sit with, laughing until my face hurts. You get the point, the reason for my absence is that I’m busy doing absolutely nothing here and loving it.
We’re now on year two of teaching at my school. Last year I taught mainly Creative Arts with various other subjects peppered in. This year I’m still running around the Primary school teaching 4th, 5th and 6th grade science. (Hopefully Dr. Ryan never catches wind of this.) My main project however, is the vocational school. I’m sure you recall my begging for money a while back? Well thanks to all of youuu we are up and running! The point of the vocational school is to give kids an option after they complete JHS (Junior High School aka middle school). Even the Deaf kids that have the grades, and money to complete SHS (High School) finish school and are unable to find work because of the limited work opportunities for Deaf people in Ghana. The vocational school is an alternative to SHS. It is on the same campus as the middle school but the schools, teachers and students are separate. The students choose between carpentry, hairdressing/barbering, dressmaking, catering and Batik (fabric making). The goal is for the students to learn their trade over the course of 3 years, take a government test, earn a certificate, and set up their own business. We’re in the first term of the first school year of this goal…. still lots of bumps and question marks, but #byGod’sgrace somehow it’s working out.
^^^This is Rebecca, she is everything I want to become. She is the glue that holds the vocational school together. She’s a business woman, a carpenter, a seamstress, a mom, a hairdresser, a saleswoman, a cook, a plumber… I promise you she can do anything. And if she can’t do it, she figures out how. We spend a lot of time together discuss vocational plans, gossiping about our students abilities, eating the food we cook in the catering school, bargaining with metalworkers, etc. Over the past 8ish months we have slowly built up the vocational school to where it is today. It’s hard to capture her character in words but here’s a story that might help paint a picture.
A few weeks ago I called a plumber to get an estimate for some plumbing we needed done in the hairdressing room. The plumber shows up, assesses the situation, scrawls the materials that he’ll need for the job and their costs on a paper torn from my notebook, and announces that we should give him 333 Cedis for him to go and buy to necessary the supplies for the job. (This is the typical process for something like that). Rebecca laughs, snatches the paper from his hand, and tells him to go home and come back tomorrow morning to work. “We’ll have the materials you need ready for you tomorrow morning.” The man grumbles for a bit about us women buying plumbing supplies for a man’s work, and then goes on his way. I grab the list from Rebecca (which is about the length of my forearm) and can make out the names of maaaybe 4 items. “Auntie Becky do you know anything about plumbing?? Can you even read any of the things listed here??”. She chuckles softly, “no, let’s go”. Twenty minutes later I’m trotting behind her through the market like a 4 year old trying to keep up with her cool 8 year old brother. We snake through the bowels of the market until we arrive at a plumbing store. Rebecca, totally unsure of what she’s asking for, confidently rattles off mispronounced and incorrect names of items on the list. When the man eventually produces the item, Rebecca looks at it for a minute, then tells him how much it should cost – most of the time cutting the price the plumber gave us in half.
Fast forward thirty minutes and we’re riding home with a taxi full of pipes and valves and bells and whistles (you know, plumbing things) all for the cost of 140 Cedis. (you recall the estimate the man gave of 333 Cedis). Becks don’t let NOBODY rip her off. In fact most of the time I leave shops feeling like I should slip the saleswoman a 20 because we’re ripping them off. She’s a wizard… and iiiii am Scabbers along for the ride :).
Here’s some evidence that I did in fact use the grant money for the school and didn’t spend it all on FanChoco and muffins (my fav midday snack)
My fav midday snack (the froyo in my hand not the girl sitting next to me) ft the muffin particles in on my tongue #stillclassy
Wow here I am going on and ON about these boring details when I know all you want to hear about it Cous! Gosh I really didn’t want to make this about my cat …. you push to haaaard but I accept. Last time we chatted I believeee Cous was still a tween.
So young, still stealing my phone to take selfies
She’s popped out one batch of lil appetizers … (ft Cous staring into the cold hard eyes of motherhood.)
Thennn a second batch of snacks (Cous is a hippy that lets her toddler breastfeed)
Cous and lil cous were actually pretty cute together… All of the kittens have been given to friends. Lil cous was an angsty girl who enjoyed tap dancing on my chest to wake me up, and defecating anywhere BUT the litter box. She’s since run away to shack up with her sweetheart – the school carpenter’s rascal of a cat. I’m not too upset about her absence.
aaaand now we’re pregnant again.
The past year has been filled with successes and failures and rock bottoms and crazy highs and pregnant cats and my students driving me to the brink of insanity and then making me so proud. Here’s a highlight reel in pix because let’s be honest it’s 2019, no one tells stories anymore.
2019 Spelling Bee – Five of my students weaseled their way into the finals of the National Spelling Bee. (What??? Deaf people can spell??) Over 400 students from rich, hearing, private international schools qualified for the final rounds. Godsway, village boy from a Deaf government school got 4th overall. Ghana was shook. (Also yeah we are TV famous now)
The spelling bee (perhaps more importantly Godsway’s 5 minutes of fame on Ghana DSTV) sprung a chain reaction at the school. The picture below on the top right is my two most stubborn students (most often found wandering into class around 11am after hanging out at the towns “Soccabet” joint all morning) sitting in the back of the class paying absolutely no attention to the teacher, but diligently quizzing each other on spelling words.
Funerals – Funes are weekend affairs. Whether it’s your best friend, a coworker, or someone you bought banku from last year, you go to the funeral. On Saturday morning you throw on your black and red and hop in the bus, taxi or trotro heading to the burial. From morning until evening you sit, talk, eat, dance and drink.
Sunday morning you change into your white funeral wear and you’re back at it for a morning church service, then more sitting. Not my fav thing in the world but you gotta pour one out.
Weddings!! You know the drill.
Some things I do with my friends: swim, get caned, drink Palm Wine, get schooled on the football pitch
Camp!! Occasionally us Peace Corps Volunteers and members from our schools and communities will come together to host camps for our kids so we can crush them in relay and three legged races.
The man I’m three legged racing with is Shaibu. He’s my best friend at school, my football teammate, and my Deaf bible. The Deaf community is tight. There are 14 elementary and middle schools, and 1 high school. Everyone knows everyone. When you don’t know someone they’ll use location, appearance, and relationships to describe them to you. “You know Shaibu. Teacher in Accra, bald spots, football skilled, best friends with the white girl that teaches at the school.” I interpret for Shaibu and his wife and in return he drags me along to various Deaf events and answers every question I have about Ghanaian and Deaf culture.
^^ some random pics of my students being amazing.
Most important update of all —- a visit from mumsy and n8dogg!! Any occasion to throw other obronis under the bus for a moment of peace while my friends have a field day laughing at someone who is not me for a change.
I know I cannot possibly satisfy your insatiable appetite for updates on Suzy’s riveting life but I hope this is an adequate attempt. Describing my life here is impossible but this gives you a bit of insight. Stay tuned for more because Cous Cous is VERY pregnant and what kind of person would I be if I kept all my cute kitten pix to myself.
Until next time,