Last Week’s Catch Up Story

Now I’m going to cover this past week starting with where I left off on Sunday night…

 Before I fell asleep on Sunday I noticed that my stomach had some minor pains. Not really upset, more of a direct pain. I figured it was something in my food and I tried to sleep it off. I woke up at about midnight and the pain was much worse. I felt like something was trying to jump out of my stomach from the inside. I just woke up, so my thinking wasn’t clear yet and I couldn’t tell if I needed to throw up or just poop. I rushed to get a bucket and fill up the back of the toilet. I got the toilet paper from my room and went into the bathroom. Well no throw up came out, but my poop was completely liquid. Ghana has finally cnquered my stomach. It’s been about a month and a half with good poop fortune. I’m feeling relieved now because at least I will start feeling better and can go back to sleep. I get back to my room and my stomach starts to get a sharp pain again. I figure this is a good a time as ever to take my cipro. I take one pill and after about 20 minutes I get enough relief from my stomach pains to fall asleep.

 On Monday I met with the Anota SHS tutors after school to find out what happened on Friday. They tell me that they didn’t come because it was raining and they thought it would have been over by the time the rain stopped. I reinforced our policy and told them that they need to show up, rain or shine. I told them if they don’t show up next week then I will find new tutors. I also reminded them that they missed out on 10 Cedis for 2 hours of work because of the rain. I think I got the point across this time. It’s unfortunate because when I spoke to the Academic Headmaster at Antoa, he said that the students can’t come when it rains. It’s going to be hard to break a habit that has been reinforced through these students entire childhood. When it rains in Ghana, people just don’t do anything. They don’t go to work or school. After the Antoa meeting, I call Logical to make sure he’s planning on being there this week and the Wonoo Headmaster to start looking for new tutors.

 Tuesday, on my way to the Wonoo program I stop by Moses the welder. He is a very nice older man that I greet as I exit and enter town. When I walk up he always yells “Akwesi Mattew!” He’s a very genuine guy right down to his core. He the town welder, car repair guy, and maze grinder. Everything he does is self-taught. One day he just bought the machinery and had to learn the trade to feed his family. He has three daughters, all in school outside of Antoa. His whole family is from and still lives in Antoa. He looks like he might be in his late fifties with some gray hairs, but he is still very fit. I think he can be considered handsome for an older man. He is always smiling when I see him and always makes me feel like I’m at home when I visit his shop. I met his wife and she’s not exactly the best-looking woman, she’s missing a few teeth, and certainly isn’t in his kind of physical fitness. Yet you can see the love he has for her, his customers, and his town of Antoa. I think this sums up the rest about him when I asked him if he would ever want to live anywhere else, like in the US. He crinkled up his face and said “Go somewhere else!? I was born here, so by God I will die here.” Well Expo needs to weld a sign on our new SAT office building, so I figured this would be the perfect guy to give our business. Not only would he do a good job, but also he would charge us a fair price. I ask if he can come by on Thursday when I will be at the office to see what the job will cost. He gladly agrees and we exchange numbers.

 On my walk I meet Spencer two towns down. He is coming to my program today to observe how it is going and to visit his old town. I think he’s also interested in seeing the people on my walk after I have said so many positive things about my experiences. I still say that my walk to and from Wonoo is my favorite part of the week. We walk by all my normal people, but the clouds aren’t today to protect us from the scorching sun. Some of the key people aren’t out, so we try to pick up our pace so the sun doesn’t defeat us. We get to Wonoo and Spencer asks some of his students about their BECE exams at the end of their JHS schooling. We get to the Wonoo JHS and Spencer checks the scores in the official book. 100% of his students passed the test and the majority of them got into their 1st choice school. Needless to say he’s on cloud 9 right about now. It really proves that his time here in Ghana has been well spent and he has made a huge difference in these student’s lives. I’m very proud of him and excited to make some of my own similar change.

 Logical shows up late again for Tuesday’s session. The session went well and all of the tutors did well with their groups. I meet with them after and give them some things to improve on and things they did well. Then Spencer and I met with logical after and told him that we know he’s a very good tutor, but he is going to be replaced if he doesn’t show up on time. He argues a bit, but we end with a handshake and he says thank you.

 

Wednesday, I go to the Wonoo program for the second day. Logical is late again. I meet with the tutors at the end like usual. I go over the positives and negatives or their performances. Then I tell Logical that he has been late two times this week and his pay will be deducted. He starts to argue with me again. I don’t accept any of his points because they are all unintelligent excuses. I tell him that the next time he shows up late he will be kicked out of the program. I have asked him about the situation and given him enough chances.

 Thursday, I have a lot to do before I go to the SAT office with Moses the welder. First, I meet with the microfinance man, nicknamed George Bush, right next to my house. He’s a very kind man and can break down my large bills into smaller ones. I also enjoy chatting with him about all kinds of things. Today, I am asking him about his business and maybe if I can get some sort of apprenticeship out of this. What he does doesn’t sound like what I’m really interested with. I think I am more interested in micro lending. I am looking for organizations like the Grameen Bank and their program called Gramin Shakti, run by Mohammed Unis. From there I pass by a young girl who works in the bar because she wants to make me some food. I tell her that I will be back in town around 18:00. Then I head to meet one of the JHS masters. We have a really long and great conversation about our two cultures. I love these kinds of exchanges because I learn so much. I leave there and take a side path to get to Moses. On the side path I meet a whole new group of people I’ve never met before. I also notice a road that leads away from Antoa to a town I’ve never seen before. One day I will need to go explore that area. I get to Moses and we travel to a place called Stadium, to the Expo SAT office. During the trip our Tro Tro breaks down, we get rear ended by another Tro Tro, and then finally get to Stadium, a little later than expected. I get back to town later that night and I meet this young girl who has made me Banku and stew. I make no hesitation to feast down on the food. On my way out she gives me a short story book to read. I get home and read through the 10-page storybook, which was actually quite awful.

 On Friday, I stop by the girl at the bar and give her the book and thank her. She gives me another, slightly longer, book to read. I enjoy these books because they are very culturally relevant and are pretty easy to get through. Only one tutor shows up on time for the Antoa program. I tell him that he needs to teach all 40 of the students. He had a look of panic on his face. I can’t help but laugh and I tell him this will be good for him to experience. Then three more tutors show up a few minutes later and I split the groups up between the tutors. I meet with the tutors after and only pay the one on time in full. The other ones I only pay for the second session. It might seem harsh, but since this program is only once a week for two hours, a late tutor has a much more detrimental affect on the program. I’m letting go of the fifth tutor who didn’t show up either time these two weeks.

 I travel to Kentinkrono at night, so we can just leave from there in the morning for the SAT office. On Saturday, many students show up to our office for our program. It was a very successful day. Later that day head to Kumasi to get a new phone. This time I go to the Vodefone café with hopes that I will get an honest dealer there. I get on the Tro Tro at my usual station for Antoa. There are about 40 people waiting in line for the Tro Tro. Wow, there is actually a line and people not crazily pushing to get into the car. Then, I notice a policeman to my left. Oh great, I try not to make eye contact with him. I’ve heard so many stories about how corrupt the police are, so I don’t want him to target me for a bribe or anything. The next Tro Tro comes and the policeman calls Obroni. I look over at him, preparing myself for anything to happen. He tells me to come with him. Well there’s no way I’m getting out of what ever is going to happen now. I leave the line and he gestures for me to go to the front of the line. I tell him that I don’t want to cut in front of all the people in the line. He doesn’t hear any of it and gestures once more before I listen. He leads me to the car. All I can think is that he is going to ask me for money for him getting me to the front of the line. I feel really uncomfortable cutting all of those people in line. I don’t want to be given any special treatment because I’m a white man. I really want to live and experience a small part of the life with the locals, but as I’ve found so far, that’s pretty much impossible. He doesn’t ask me for money as he closes the door behind me. I am sitting in the middle of the back row. There is an older gentleman to my right and a Muslim woman to my left. I can see the man look over a few times out of the corner of my eye. I catch him looking and he asks how I am in English. I answer him in Twi and he yelps. He starts asking me the general Twi questions I hear everyday, so by now I’m able to answer them in rapid fire sequence. The woman to my left joins in on the conversation and can’t stop saying “Obroni te Twi paa.” That roughly translates to the white man is speaking Twi very well. Directly translated that means white person speak Twi very. Then the woman directly in front of me turns almost completely around in her seat to join in on the conversation. I’m trying not to speak too loudly because Tro Tro’s are mostly like public buses at home. People don’t really have conversations with each other, unless they are arguing about something happening right there. Now the mate keeps turning around to look at me and he gets the attention of the people in the front row of the car. Now I’m speaking with this group in the back and everyone in the Tro Tro can’t resist from turning around to watch me speak Twi.

 Sunday, is a slow day as I spend most of it to catch up on blog and Expo stuff. I meet with my friend Charles and we talk about our cultures. He asks me some questions about the US and I ask him all kinds of things about Ghana. He tells me that it’s an abomination to greet someone on the way to the toilet. He also tells me that if you’re sitting down, it isn’t you obligation to greet people who pass by. The passer by is the one that is obligated to greet everyone nearby their path. I’m still a bit fuzzy on who I need to and don’t need to greet. But, it sounds like it’s better to go out of my way to greet then to assume that I can just pass.

 One of Charles’ friends joins us and they show me the dances of the Ashanti region. They look really goofy. They are good dancers, but their moves look like their peeling something or throwing something behind them. They said they will need to teach me all of them soon. Then Charles’ friends tells us that Momma Fausty has died. Momma Fausty is the woman who Adam introduced me to, in order to make sure that I am wanted by the town. She is a very powerful person in the town and everyone knows her. Her mom just died last weekend and the news that she just died really surprised me. All I could think of was last week when I spoke to her. I was on my normal koko run for breakfast and a girl runs up behind me and tells me that Momma Fausty was calling for me. I walk all the way back across the town and she was sitting on the front porch of her restaurant. We shared a few words and I it ended there because my Twi is terrible and I don’t think she likes or knows English. She tells me to go get my food and on my way back I hoped to see her again, but she had gone back in her compound. I forgot to write my experience of the first time I went to meet her on my own a few weekends ago to give her my sympathy for her mother passing. I asked someone at the front of the compound where she was and they lead me in to her. I felt like I was being lead to speak with the godfather. She was sitting in the back of a large group of people. She was in a row with some elders of the town. She was wearing all black to show that she was mourning for her mother. I greeted her and started to express my sympathy. She snapped and pointed somewhere and someone came out of the dark corner with a chair for me. I have no doubt she could make the same motion and have someone ‘disappear’. I really didn’t know her well, but I’m very sad that she died so young. After all, she only lasted a few weeks longer than her mother and she still has three children, all in SHS and JHS schools. 

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