Home from the trip of a lifetime!

Hello!! Well, I am back now! I have been back nearly a month (how time has flown by!) after having had the best experience of my life in Ghana. It is incredibly hard to fit it all onto this blog what we have done and what we have experienced!! I have met people who have most definitely impacted my life. People who have inspired me. People who have taught me so many things about myself and the world around me. People who will always be in my heart and mind, people who I will never ever forget.

Christine, Amy and Emma with Monica at El Mina Castle, Cape Coast

So, what did we do in Ghana?! We spent a lot of time in schools, which I absolutely loved!! I think that the schools are going to be one of the biggest things I am going to miss. The students in Ghana truly value their education, and it is such an honour to have been a part of their cultural learning experience. They asked so many questions: about England, schools and even politics! Politics?! At 15 years of age?! It is amazing, no?

Julia and friends from St. Clement's JHS.

We also got to visit some medical centres, hospitals and nursing schools which were very interesting. We were also fortunate to visit a special needs school and a leprosy nursing home in Cape Coast. It’s incredible the work that people have done to make sure that every Ghanaian has a future, whatever that future may bring.

Students with a friendship tree that people from the CHRISP Youth Club I volunteer at made.

The Gappers with children from Sunday School.

We were so welcomed by everyone that we didn’t want to leave! I have to say, I did love when students and teachers attempted to say our names….the variations were wonderful! One day I was Amen, the next Emmy and the third Amy! It provided us all with much comedy. Even us speaking one of the local languages, Gruni, in Bolgatanga provided the locals with comedy. I remember Headmaster Moses of St. Clement’s roaring laughing everyday at us when we used to say good morning to him in Gruni. But, they were prepared to listen to us, even if we did make a few mistakes in pronunciation. They were all so polite and kind, and once they beamed at us with their big smiles, we all knew that we would be alright. I think that the warm personalities of the people that we met made us feel right at home, which is just what you need to feel when you are so far away from your own home and family.

Amy and Adelaide from Takoradi.

Have I learnt anything? Oh, so so much!! I think that we all totally emerged ourselves into Ghanaian culture (incidentally, I am wondering how much longer my “I’m still on African time” excuse will last at Just Youth before it becomes just “Amy is late”!), learning languages, eating traditional food, even wearing the local attire! I think we all became honorary Ghanaians, and we loved it! The food was incredible, I am missing it already! The fruit tastes so much more delicious, we just couldn’t eat enough of it!

I have learnt that life is there to be lived! Life is there for enjoyment. You are meant to laugh every day, smile always, and just accept what life throws at you. And I learnt all that just from the people that I met. They were incredibly strong people. They are people who have to deal with a lack of such natural resources such as water, a lack or electricity. Even students who have to struggle every year to pay for their education. But they do everything with a smile on their face. I remember one of the teachers saying to me, “Amy, nothing good comes easy”. It’s crazy to think that people are learning this in Ghana from such a very young age, when it could take someone from the UK to only figure this out at college or degree level. It probably sounds clichéd, but we really should count our blessings every day and be grateful for what we have.

A poster on a notice board in the SHCJ boarding school in Cape Coast read “the happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything that comes their way”. After my recent month in Ghana, I completely agree with this statement. We met people that have worked hard to get what they want. We have met girls at the SHCJ School whose mum’s and dad’s are doctors or MPs. These people have worked hard to get where they want to be, and their daughters at the school are doing exactly the same. We met young midwives who have to study from 7am until 5pm, and still have to apply to get their own work experience on their own time. We met people who have nothing. We met students who have to get up hours before school starts to go and collect clean water. We met students who have to go and search for light to do their homework. Students who manage school work with having a job and looking after their brothers and sisters. We have met people who need a helping hand, who just need to know that someone is on their side and they aren’t going through it alone. But we also met the people who are trying to provide the helping hand. People who have set up workshops in order to get people into work and have a trade. It is incredible what is being done to make sure that everyone is content in Ghana.

Amy, Crystal and Emma in the SHCJ School, Cape Coast.

Would I ever go back? In a heartbeat. If someone was to walk through the door into the office right now and say, “Amy, here’s a ticket to Ghana, you leave tonight”, I would not hesitate taking that ticket from them and boarding the plane (although my family might, they will have to worry about me all over again! Don’t worry everyone; I am staying at Just Youth until summer!). It is a completely wonderful, new world in Ghana. I think that we all felt right at home there. None of us wanted to leave. But one thing is for sure, Ghana will never leave us. It will always be in our hearts and will be reflected in everything that we do. Thanks for the most amazing trip CAFOD!! And thanks to the SHCJ Sisters and everyone we met out there for making our trip truly amazing.



Gappers 2012: Christine, Amy and Emma in the treetops of Kakum National Park.

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