Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 5 (Saturday 4th June 2016)

 Posted by Michaela Harris at 8:27 am  Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 5 (Saturday 4th June 2016)
Jun 052016

Another day and more new experiences.

Morning – I was kept awake last night by music until 6am.  When I asked why Isaac explained that it was due to funerals being held in the village.  So after breakfast, Isaac took me to a couple of places where the funerals were being held. 1,000’s of people can attend one funeral.  All the chairs are lined up about 5 rows deep under large gazebos (black and red as these are the funeral colours in Ghana) around a large square area, with a dj and massive sound systems.  Close family of the deceased sit in a separate building where people come to pay respects to the deceased who is either in a closed coffin or laid out in the open.  I was invited in to one of the funeral buildings and asked to take photos, which I initially was uncomfortable with but they wanted me to so I obliged and was assured this was not disrepectful.  One of the deceased was a woman of 110 years old.  Posters of the deceased with their photo and age are put outside and insder the funeral building.  The funerals can last a couple of days.

One the way to the orphanage we visited a pig and chicken farm.  These are reared to sell at local markets and in Accra (the capital of Ghana).

At the orphanage I helped to offload bags of fertiliser from the a truck using very large bowls and buckets.  The Pastor (in charge of the orphanage) explained that these would be used to grow mushrooms.  This is one of their sustainable income projects.  I did try to carry one of the bowls on my head but it was too heavy so I shared carrying one with Vincent, one of the orphanage boys.  It was another amazing show of how working together they get things done.

Evening – I took the colouring books and pencils for the children to use again.  They love this activity and get totally engrossed in what they are doing.  It is lovely to watch them happily colouring in or doing the dot-to-dots.




Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 4 (Friday 3rd June 2016)

 Posted by Michaela Harris at 8:11 am  Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 4 (Friday 3rd June 2016)
Jun 052016

Market Day – Isaac took me around the market to buy provisions; cabbage, carrots, ground nut paste (similar to peanut butter), smoked fish, yam, plantain, eggs, coco yam leaves (a little like spinach) and cucumber (used like courgettes).

School – Decided to go into the next classroom of 3-5’s.  Had a great success teaching one of the boys to write the number 3.  He started off doing it backwards but after many repititions and guidance he did it.  What a great feeling – this is what it’s all about! I went back to the under 3’s after break to spend some time with them as they kept calling my name and then went to play volleyball with the older boys.  A very exhausting day, but very rewarding and fun.

Afternoon – back to the orphanage.  I took some colouring books and pencils which kept the kids happy for a couple of hours.  The smiles on their faces was wonderful.

Afterwards I helped the girls wash/rinse the dishes and pots.  They are each given chores to do and everyone helps out to keep this community running smoothly.

Evening – Nana, the volunteer co-ordinator, sorted out my phone so that I can use the local network.  Now have access to Facebook and Whatsapp so I can contact my daughter and friends around the world.  Happy, happy.

Feel very tired but in a nice way.

Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 3 (Thursday 2nd June 2016)

 Posted by Michaela Harris at 7:55 am  Ghana, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 3 (Thursday 2nd June 2016)
Jun 052016

So excited!! First proper day.  Up at 6am to get dressed and ready for breakfast at 7am, which was a lovely omelette sandwich.

8am – 30 minute walk to the orphanage, escorted by Isaac, and met by schoolchildren on the way.  There were shouts of ‘Obroni’. This means white person, which I find funny as I am brown, but I am not a black person and this is how they differentiate people, so not offended.

I was introduced to all the teachers at the school, who were all very friendly.  There are about 5 different classrooms for the different age ranges.  School starts at 8.30am and finishes at 2.30pm as it gets so hot in the afternoons.  It was up to me to decide where to go so I decided to start with the under 3’s.  We played scribble on the chalkboards and played with the plastic building blocks and then walked around outside during the break-time with a little one holding each of my fingers.  You don’t know how hard it is to walk with six plus children holding on until you try it!  We are managing to communicate through simple words and a type of sign language which is impressive for 3 year olds.

At 12 noon we walked back to the volunteer house for lunch.  At 4pm it was back to the orphanage.  I sat with the kids and watched tv to let them get used to me.  Sometimes they seem to just want to sit quietly and have hugs.

At 6pm it’s back to the volunteer house for the evening meal. So even though I have to do a lot of walking (2 hours/day!) I don’t think I will lose much weight.  No cooking for me yet, but I helped to prepare the vegetables.




Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 2 (Wednesday 1st June 2016)

 Posted by Michaela Harris at 7:14 am  Ghana, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 2 (Wednesday 1st June 2016)
Jun 052016

After a good night’s sleep and breakfast, collected by Rose & Eric for the drive to the United Hearts Children’s Centre.  This is where the orphanage is located.  Dropped off at volunteer house and Rose went through the house rules and basic Twi (local language).  Met Isaac, the volunteer house assistant, who does the cleaning and cooking (with a little bit of help from the volunteers) and Nana, the orphanage volunteer co-ordinator. Then it was onto the orphanage for a familiarisation visit. It was a bit overwhelming being greeted by all the lovely children and taking it all in, but I did expect this.  The orphanage has a school next to it which is used by local children and the orphanage.  Walked into Bawjiase town to see where to get the TroTro (small minibus) and taxi.  During the tour I was kindly given some cooling fresh watermelon by Isaac’s aunt, who sells them from a roadside market stall. Walked back to the volunteer house for dinner and to get ready for the next day.  

The week that was. ….

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 2:32 am  Uncategorized  Comments Off on The week that was. ….
May 312016

As I sit in a hotel room in Guangzhou and quietly reflect on the last week I don’t know where to start… much has happened. The last week at the centre was endured (yep I do mean endured)  with a mixture of emotions. It felt such a burden having to leave the children after achieving so much, sad as I’ve formed a loving bond with a couple of the children and elation as one of the children got to go home for a visit with their family. I swayed from just wanting to leave in the middle of the night so as not to have to say the enviable goodbyes, staying longer and wanting to see more of the country. But the reality was to see out the end of the week, cuddle the children as much as I could in the time I had left and document the things that I was doing in the hope that the next volunteer can continue the routines. One of the children with disabled legs that has a gentle soul and is doing well with picking up English fron the volunteers had a surprise this week. In fact it was a surprise for everyone. The story was that her mother was dead and her father couldn’t look after her on his own, hence why she was at the centre. He remarried and took her home but the new wife could not cope with the level of need and she was returned to the centre. Father visits on occasion. Well this week four women, a grandmother and a male arrived to visit the child. It appears the mother is alive and well and working in China. She had come home for a holiday and she, her mother, sisters and brother had come to take child [click here to read more]

And the learning continues…

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 10:00 pm  Uncategorized  Comments Off on And the learning continues…
May 172016

Although Hanoi was a pleasant break I was glad to get back to the quieter life of the village. Things to try in Hanoi…. egg coffee. Yep it is what you think….take a egg yolk and beat with condensed milk, add freshly brewed coffee, whisk and warlah. It tastes real good although a bit sweet for me. And then there is crispy fried chicken feet. A great snack food to wash down with a local beer. Or if you are feeling adventurous there is the boiled baby duckling in its shell. it is supposed to be high in,protein and sort after. I watched one being eaten and decided not for me. Then the rice wine. This is more a man’s drink as it’s supposed to improve potency. Usually comes infused with either a sea horse, some animals penis ( still haven’t been able to decipher from which animal) a snakes beating heart or for the vegetarian some herbs. It’s on my list to try before I leave. The other day while having lunch at the local cafe a motorbike pullled up at the cafe across the road with a load of 6 month old puppies. Yep…they were on the menu. They are eaten by mothers whom have just given birth to bring down their milk and apparently taste like lamb. Very strong. I couldn’t watch them being unloaded. Put a damper on the rest of my meal and the afternoon. Apparently, a certain breed of dog is raised for the table. Other dogs are pets and will never be eaten. Monday night the restaurant we always have dinner at caught some fresh water fish from the lake. He offered it to us for dinner.. it was lovely and fresh. He didn’t charge us for the meal as he didn’t pay [click here to read more]

The week that was…..

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 6:40 pm  Uncategorized  Comments Off on The week that was…..
May 062016

Today I went to the supermarket about 12kms up the road in a nearby town. What an experience…… The traffic was intense and navigating the people walking, pushbikes, motorbikes and various size trucks was not for the faint hearted. Then I heard a booming horn and turned around to see a kenworth truck fastly approaching I went white. As he passed us and I was staring at the lower hub caps within touching distance I had a vision of squashed ants!!!! Then into the supermarket. You have to leave your bag in a locker and carry around the key. Don’t forget your locker number? . Then off you go. There are at least 3 employees at every isle chatting and security guards wandering around the place and the music is loud and the lights super bright. Get your stuff and off to checkout. Then to security where they check your items against the docket before letting you get you bag from locker. A bit about the centre. It is government owned and run centre for orphaned children. There is around 320 – 400 (depending who you talk to) people living there ranging in age from birth to death. Some children have no disability, some have various levels (mild to severe) physical disabilities and some have mild to severe intellectual disability. They are split into different rooms of around 25 people per room. There is a nursery and some children are adopted out to foreigners. This process can take around 18 months. There are govt workers in each room and they work 24 hour shifts. Their roll is to feed, bathe and toilet the children. The volunteers role is to give children attention, stimulation, touch and love. The older children (teenagers) usually have the role of looking after the children and [click here to read more]

Things I have learnt so far…….

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 9:54 pm  Uncategorized, Vietnam  Comments Off on Things I have learnt so far…….
May 052016

With the luxury of having a day off I have been able to reflect on the things I have learnt so far. Everyone is suppose to have equal rights on the road. However, who’s going to argue with a massive earth moving truck…..or better still a fleet of them travelling together.  The death toll on the roads on the holiday weekend was 150 in one day. Two of them were just up the road. How do I know? They mark the road with white paint the shape of the bodies where they landed. Ang  (lady that takes me to work and back) stopped the other day at the place of the accident  as there was still good pineapples on the side of the road and I had to pick them up. She said they came from the accident…. I noted that not many people smoked. Wrong!! The men smoke a huge bong. Not with THC but local tobacco. One of the volunteers that smokes said she tried it but the tobacco was very strong and bitter so she went back to bought tobacco. The main local diet is rice and noodles various ways, greens ( mainly morning glory and taro leaves), pork, beef, chicken (expect all parts of the chicken except feathers), tofu, eggs, all with various pickles and sauces. Not overly hot but spicy, sour and salty. They eat a lot of fruit. This village sells mainly pineapple. But have mango, bananas, and various other fruit I don’t recognise but taste good. Eaten on their own or with yoghurt which is always sweet even the ‘natural’ variety. yesterday I got to experience riding with three of us on the bike. This is fairly normal and you regularly see bikes with four and even five people on the bike. Nothing [click here to read more]

Ponte Abusada Stephanie ! -My mom..

 Posted by Stephanie Jimenez at 7:06 am  Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ponte Abusada Stephanie ! -My mom..
Mar 172016

Hola familia y amigos ! Disculpenme por tardarme tanto en escribir ! Hello my loved ones ! Sorry I have been so bad at updating this lately. Its been a crazy couple of days because a lot has happened in such little time. Honestly, I apologize in advance because I can already feel that my english grammar skills are suffering a little bit… Don’t worry, I’m sure my sister will fix that in a couple of days hahaha ^_^ <3  She will get right on that when she sees me haha :). Anyway, I want to say that I miss you all very much and I will feel such great joy when I see you. I am excited to share my experience and stories with you in person. Its much more exciting when I can use hand motions, make funny faces and accents hehe… Let’s see, let me try to remember where I left off… The last thing I wrote about was LEON the humping dog hahaha. Mmmm…that happened exactly a week ago ! Wow … I am so sorry. I really have been bad at updating my blog ! That’s good though right ? It means I have been busy :P. Ok so lets see: Friday March 11th I went to my first authentic Argentinian Asado. Meat here is really good. That is an understatement. It’s kind of mean to say but I’m glad the whole vegetarian thing didn’t work out for me before getting here because I would have suffered. Meat and Bread. That’s basically what the Argentinian food pyramid contains. Every type of meat you can imagine….or might not want to imagine, and bread in every shape possible everywhere you go haha. Let’s just say….I might be rolling on to the plane back home. There is plenty [click here to read more]

Echale SALSA !

 Posted by Stephanie Jimenez at 4:35 am  Uncategorized  Comments Off on Echale SALSA !
Mar 092016

BUENOS DIAS ! Good morning everyone ! I hope you are feeling great and refreshed and super excited to go to work ! Right ? hahaha Im sure ^_^. Today is my first day officially on my own without any type of orientation or guidance. Let me tell you something…Argentinians do not have a sense of time. If you say get here at 4…the person could get there at a “reasonable” hour around that number , so in this case any time between 3-5 or even 5:30.  They don’t really plan things out… it’s more of a “whatever happens happens” kind of mentality.  This is very weird for me because I am a person who requires structure and requirements and expectations. I think this change and adjustment will help me though. It will help me be more flexible with myself and others. Even the buses run on their own time so you just kind of have to guess at around what time they might be there. Today I woke up and practiced my “argentinian” ways for the first time. It feels strange to not be worrying about what time it is… I still constantly look at my watch. It has been helping me stress out less though. I got ready, walked to the bus stop about three blocks away. Took a very bumpy ride to “Las Omas”, helped them clean out the building, took a bus back, got a little lost, finally learned my way, came back home to shower because I STINK ! ^_^ and I am about to make myself some food and shower so I can go to class. Today I will also be going to a Salsa class with Gerard, Laura and Clara and two other friends. I’m very excited ! I will update you all [click here to read more]

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