Maase 1 (2/13/14)

Internet access especially via wifi is few and far between. I’ve written 2 updates since I last found Internet. Here’s one:
Blog 2-13-14

We are halfway through week 2. We have been with homestay now for about 4 days. My homestay mama is a 62 year old woman named Cecelia. My African name, which she gave me, is Akosua (“Ah-koh-see-ah”) Amponsah, which means Sunday-born plus her last name. Her older sister also lives at this compound, along with two small children who do most of the chores. Rahey, is an 11 year old girl that fetches everything for Cecelia and Kobe is Auntie Kate’s 9 year old boy worker. They are children of relatives from other regions. It’s hard to be sure I understand who they belong to since everyone is a sister or brother, auntie, or uncle… The children are given over at a young age to care for relatives without small children. I’m unclear when or if they get to see/visit/spend time with their original, immediate, biological family.

We’re staying in the Maase community (outside Tafo, not too far from Koforidua), in the Eastern Region.
I have my own room, with a bed, table and chair (including locking door, all of which PC requires for homestay). All rooms are off the main courtyard which is open. My compound is quite near the Methodist church where PC training occurs. We enter the compound through the side gate and we are directly across from the school soccer field.
In the mornings I take my bucket to the center of the courtyard and fill it from a barrel for my bucket bath. The barrel is filled from the well and catches rain. The bathing area is a small room off the courtyard with a door and a hole in the floor. Two doors down is the toilet room. I throw my toilet paper into a trash barrel even though the latrine is a pit and therefore this practice is unrelated to concern for possible plumbing issues. This I don’t understand, but do as I am asked.
Mama Cecelia makes all my meals: morning, noon, and night and is very good about allowing me to remain vegetarian, including a small salad in many of my meals in addition to the main dish, which usually contains stew (a tasty thick tomato paste with spices, onions, and eggs), and some sort of starch, such as rice, plantains, cassava or yams. For breakfast, I get scrambled eggs with veggies and bread. So far the food has been delicious and I feel like I’m getting some balanced nutrition. Some of my fellow trainees are not fairing as well with meals, with one trainee getting 2 cookies for yesterday’s lunch…
I sleep under a mosquito net, even though this is not a mosquito-ridden area. We are practicing these habits now so we are old pros when we get to our assigned site.
Everyone has now met with John, the Health Sector Director. He will announce our languages soon, which suggests he has decided our assignments. He will not share assignments yet in case there are a few drop outs or changes. We have had one trainee leave already as her phobia of lizards was so extreme that she could not function here. It was sad, as she was a neat girl with lots of enthusiasm. To wait so long for an assignment and then have to leave so soon must have been difficult.
Anyway, people here are very friendly always wanting to greet you, ask your name and how you feel. This is true even during my morning jog, which makes for an interesting challenge. Challenging as well because we only know how to greet with a good morning (mah-che), good afternoon (mah-ha), or good evening (mah-jew), followed by a simple exchange of how are you? I am fine and you? And that is where we end. Once languages are announced the Twi group can continue to practice here and the rest will stop trying Twi and focus on their assigned language (dagbani, dagaare, ewe, or mamprusi).
It continues to be an adventure. Everything is different and challenging at some level, from simple things like brushing one’s teeth, to the more complex, like navigating the area or purchasing daily needs. There is a reason training is ten weeks; we have a lot to learn on every front.


3 thoughts on “Maase 1 (2/13/14)

  1. Ellen Arnold

    CT (Akosua), I love your blog. I had a little bit of a tearful moment just now because I could hear your voice in what you write. So lovely to hear about your training and adjustment to life with your homestay family. The people in Maase — and your fellow PC volunteers — sound wonderful! I can just see you out for your jog being stopped every few minutes to say hello! Can’t wait to hear more!

    1. chrismtodd Post author

      Ellen, I usually have access to internet on Sundays. I’m glad my voice is coming through. I’m having a blast! I’ve also learned some new tools that would be helpful in CAFE, grassroots development techniques. I’ll find a way to share more when I can. I miss you!

      1. Ellen Arnold

        You are so awesome! If a friend were to send you a care package, how would that friend get it to you? And what should it contain?
        I hate to think of you scrounging for t-roll.

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