My Adventure to Ghana...Two Years On

As we flew across North Africa and began our decent into Accra, an overwhelming sense of fear and unknown began to creep upon me. I looked out the window of the airplane to see nothing but vast barren land, which, in places was home to small 'favela' like clusters of houses constructed by tin, wood and concrete. It was a dark image, where lighting and electricity sources appeared to be scarce.

When I stepped off the aircraft, the preceding feeling of worry immediately disappeared. That familiar smell of humidity that most of us have encountered when we arrive in a foreign country was comforting. We were greeted with smiles so warm and genuine that they were contagious. From here on in, everybody we met, we soon befriended, it was hard not to when they were all filled with such a positive energy.

Over the course of the next two weeks, we worked alongside local people in extremely impoverish conditions to help improve their quality of life. 

I soon noticed that the most important thing for these people was music and dance. Everywhere we went, there was a radio playing music aloud for the whole village to enjoy. To my surprise, it was not just the young people that liked to shake their booty's, children as young as two and elderly people alike danced to their hearts content. It was almost as if they couldn't help themselves but move when they heard music. Seeing how music made these people happy gave me a sense of gratitude and was an eye opening experience.

The colors of Africa are truly sensational. On a trip to a local market, I was blinded by the huge array of bright colors. Everybody was dressed in the traditional African attire, full of unique designs and an abundance of eye catching colors which portray happy vibes and could easily lighten up anyone's day. As we wandered through the market, anxious to take everything in, venders scrambled to get noticed. Their perceptions of making little money quickly changed and hope built up inside them when they spotted a group of tourists, something very out of the ordinary in this Western African country. I was deafened by the sounds of merchants shouting out their best prices for an array of products from wooden carved animals to leather satchels, all desperate to secure a sale. We all bought small trinkets and memorabilia to take home to our loved ones, at the same time eager to support these local people who were solely trying to earn a living. 

Women brushed past me, carrying liters of water or baskets of fruit on their heads, while clutching onto their children in slings attached to their chest. I was amazed at how strong these women were, I struggled to carry my backpack in the sweltering heat.

As we made our way back to the bus, with faces a much brighter shade of red than when we had disembarked two hours previous, I longed for a chilled beverage or an ice cold fan-ice (an ice-cream typical of the region that is eaten out of a bag). We crossed the dirt track type road and just as we got onto the bus, vendors started to appear at every window. I felt awkward as I tried not to make eye contact, we were warned that this only entices them more and they will never move on. After what felt like 20 minutes of these men and women peering in the windows to try and do some business, they finally moved on. As the crowds cleared away, one man was left sitting on a curb in the distance with a pile of paintings thrown to one side. Something told me that he was sad, that he had given up and lost all hope. When I pointed him out to the rest of the group, we all shared the same urge to do something good for this man. One girl suggested that she would buy one of this paintings and began to signal him over to the bus. We invited him onto the bus and he started to show off his works of art to all on board and we quickly realized how talented this man was. His paintings were passed around and nearly everyone wanted to buy one off him, his smile began to grow larger buy the minute. There was something that attracted us all to him, it could have been his sad face or the fact that he wasn't pushy and didn't force the paintings on us like others had tried to. He hugged each and everyone of us before he left and thanked us from the bottom of his heart, as we drove off he gave us a big meaningful wave and it was evident that he couldn't contain his happiness. 

As we drove away, I sat in silence and thought about this mans life and the potential difference we had just made.My time in Ghana was a humbling experience and I would go back in a heart beat.