West Africa Discovery Ends with a Castle Finish

West Africa Discovery Ends with a Castle Finish

Operation Groundswell family in Sandema

Better late than never, right? Ghanaian life was more than good to us. We were the little team that could. And we did. It’s hard to believe the last magical six weeks really happened: it went by in a busy blur and we definitely got caught up in the whirlwind of African time. Our last two weeks of the program was spent in Sandema. With the schools out for the summer, it meant we had more opportunities to put together an awesome Girls Leadership Program and spend every other moment getting our hands and feet dirty with the boys of the Horizon Children Centre. From the exhaustion of the Sandema Boys Football Tournament, to slogging through rainy-season worn road, to the G-Roots field site, we tried our best to balance “family time” with individual learning…and climbing the famous baobab tree.

The OG ladies really came through for the girls of Sandema with the Girls Leadership Program. With the schools and teachers supporting their initiative, we met with eager young leaders several times a week and practiced public speaking, writing, computer skills and the importance of being a strong young woman in the community. The program’s grand finale was held at a local restaurant where all the girls performed speeches they had been working on. Parents, friends, and community members were all in attendance and the evening finished with festivities, food, and full emotions. No one wanted to leave! What’s next? We hope to create a lasting relationship and support system for all the girls in the program. Careful documentation and ongoing brainstorming from our OG team will hopefully help to keep what was started this summer going and going. The Sandema girls are full of ideas!

Sarah and BB celebrate Ramadan by going to the mosque for evening prayers with their friends from Sandema. Sarah and BB celebrate Ramadan by going to the mosque for evening prayers with their friends from Sandema.

Programs at HCC were equally successful. It was tons of fun and made the thought of having to say goodbye unbearable. We worked on a camera club to teach the boys how to use donated digital cameras and take their own pictures to put up on the organization website. We even interviewed and filmed the boys for a HCC documentary! We were lucky to be sharing our stay in Sandema with Heather Menezes, the incredible founder of Horizons. She was always around and willing to share the story of HCC, the challenges of running an NGO from Toronto, and her vision for the future. Heather, as a former volunteer in Sandema herself, inspired us not get discouraged with the small amount of time we spend working in communities, but instead to make connections, and focus on the small things we can do. HCC started with a knock on Heather’s door by a young, wounded boy, and a decade after sharing meals and stories with him and his friends, HCC is thriving and is like the family we have always dreamed of.

Michelle and younger HCC boys going on a Sunday School adventure. Michelle and younger HCC boys going on a Sunday School adventure.

The ten days the group spent dispersed all over Ghana for Independent Travel Time  proved that after a month backpacking, all the girls are now experienced and expert backpackers. Some reconnected with friends and partners in Tamale and Accra, others saw elephants and walked the stunning west coast shoreline. After overcoming malaria, bumpy roads and the president’s funeral, we all got together again in Princess Town for a castle finish, literally. Yes, the last few days was spent tucked away in an old German castle overlooking a cute little town and stunning beaches.

Playing out in the field with Yaw from HCC Playing out in the field with Yaw from HCC

Ghana, you certainly gave us the royal treatment. No, it wasn’t always smooth and easy, but we learned to co-exist together, functional dysfunction. So now looking back with slightly bigger brains and darker skin, we can be proud of all the little moments we put together on the way and hopefully continue to keep building on the incredible adventure that will last forever in us. OG West Africa Discovery crew