Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Monkey Sanctuary and other frolicks

Right Now, I'm in MY OWN room, the first of the trip. But I am wondering if it is the small victory I had assumed it to be. I have protection on in the form of a mosquito net. Why? Because it might be just like when Pandora first opened the box of mystery. So many new disgusting and revolting creatures. The net keeps me from dying. You know; that pesky malaria? I feel now that I can empathize with the bubble boy. I was attacked by a huge moth, it flew straight in my face as I was trying to shut a window. I might have made the slightest scream, which might have sounded like a girl. My bad!! The sheet for my bed was themed after 101 Dalmatians. When I first laid down the sheets were so grimy. I wasn't sure when the last time they were cleaned and didn't dare asks. This is why I have come to lovingly refer to my bed as 101 STDs.
A Monkey sanctuary is a curious thing. The monkeys, are they sanctified? Supposedly they are the town's people's ancestors. So, the next life for the African Villagers is dwelling atop trees to provide an income for the progenitors by attracting tourists to their town. I wonder that sounds satisfying to them? I guess they wouldn't worry need to worry about food. Some dumb white people would pay money just to feed them. They're the African equivalent of the marina carp at Lake Powell. They're just searching for the easiest meal. And aren't we all?
Earlier today we hiked to a waterfall. I didn't get in because, I think for the first time, I was cold(that was short lived). It was raining a little and the water was pretty frigid. I'm told I'll regret not getting in. Will see? What made the falls distinctive was the presence of hundreds of thousands of bats to the left of the descending drops of water. While swimming in the pool of water below the falls, the girls made some unearthly noise which disturbed some of the bats and the began to move from the perched they were resting on. Our guide saw that we were intrigued and banged a bench with the side of his machete to create a greater stir in the normally nocturnal creatures. I might have messed myself at this point. The guide was pleased with our fear.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cluster Clan

I was suppose to teach the cluster clan today but ended up taking more surveys. We are surveying the school children about their understanding of AIDS and its prevention. WE then teach them some basics about the disease and conclude our study by giving them a post survey which determines if our class has made any difference. It is eye opening to see what they believe and don't believe about AIDS transmission. For example they believe AIDS can be transfered by sharing toothbrushes or going to the same barber. Why there sharing toothbrushes is beyond me but the believe if they do they will get the acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Oh and "Deep Kissing" which at first I thought was kissing devoid of superficiality but later learned it was French kissing. Beware NCMOers(or should I call you NCDKers) you can get AIDS from your pernicious actions.
Some may be wondering why they are called the cluster clan. Our teaching group; Lauren, Danny, Natalie, and myself, on the day we met our class. In the small doorless room the cluster clan we watched as the teacher told the children that they write to slow. This woman then told one of the students after investigating his notebook that he was a big boy with a small brain. The kind of positive reinforcement you'd expect if your teacher were Dr. Laura.
Today our mission was to educate the children about AIDS but instead I was called off by a teacher known to me as Kofi(the Ga name for a male born on Friday). So many events in my confrontation with Kofi reminded me of how Kathleen Willey might have felt on Nov. 19, 1993, a.k.a. violated. The conversation started out casually enough. We spoke about America and the inception of the national anthem. He then asked if I spoke French. I should have been tipped off at his motives after that question. Lets just say that the conversation included him stroking my hair and referring to the continental divide that is my hairline. He then looked deep into my eyes describing their blue beauty. I was confused but, chalked it up to the abnormal affection shown by Africans to members of the same-sex. Such as holding hands or hanging off one another. The kind of affection that in America would cause people to think there was some hanky-panky going on between the two of you. That line of thinking caused me to justify his behavior. Kofi asked what we were doing in Africa. After explaining that our group was studying community health, he asked if we teach things like sanitation. This is where the conversation took an altogether creepy route. Lets just say the highlights of the conversation were when he volunteered to shave what my mother always taught me were called "my special parts" and then later in an ill attempt at double entendre by throwing, nuts at yes my "nuts."
I felt sexually harassed but believing that Ghana has not yet progressed to this level of legal action am powerless. I have a sugar daddy in West Africa named Kofi. I never want to go back!!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

After bargaining the vendor of shop #18, I was the proud owner of a deep mahogany elephant stool complete with white tusks. I gave the merchant my money and he handed me my prize. As he handed me the sculpture my hand suddenly dropped with weight. The manipulated timber weighed almost 30 pounds. I had seen the elephant. I knew how big it was yet I had not prepared myself to carry around this elephant for the next 30 minutes in the hot African heat. My elephant became a milestone.

Sub-Saharan Africa is like many other places in the world, distinct in geography and culture. These people have much to celebrate when it comes to heritage and history. Yet they have been struck down in the past century by the epidemic of AIDS. So serious is this epidemic that many countries have over a fourth of their population infected. This means that almost everyone in these countries are effected by this virus. Yet, in Africa very little is mentioned about HIV and AIDS. The idiom concerning an elephant in the room seems appropriate when describing the state of AIDS in Africa. It is an obvious truth ignored for whatever reason.

I began to ponder the effects of this unspoken elephant and what it would lead to. I considered the recent surveys we had given school children in Ghana. These children understood that HIV exists and can be contracted but they are still missing vital data. They don’t understand the full impact of AIDS. I actually hope they never do understand the full weight because one cannot truly understand until they experience it. I’m sure that a person’s spirit unprepared for the full load must drop under the weight of such news. This is why it is so important for us to educate the young and let them know just how heavy it is. For every bit of information we are able to get out there leads to a smaller likely hood that these children will be contract HIV and be afflicted with AIDS. Meaning there will be fewer children orphaned left to care for themselves or the children they conceive will not be forced to live a brief life of agony or that they will become stricken and die from multiple diseases since their immune system weakens and is unable to fight them off. I began to picture these children having to carry AIDS and I am glad that I can teach something that may prevent them from truly experiencing this Virus. Speaking from experience, the elephant was not easy to carry. I’m guessing AIDS would be harder to carry.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


So I've been in Africa for three days now. What do I have to show for it? I have the runs and nausea every time I eat and drink. Speaking of drinking I have to drink like 4 liters a day just because I sweat so much. Like I say,"I don't sweat I rain." I think I'm might be melting from the inside and out. It seems that everything that comes out my body is liquid and clear. So today I'm sleeping and seeing if I can acclimate my body to the foreign food I've ingested.
Right now is free-time. Some are at the beach or temple, I'm in a dark air conditioned room typing to you thanks to the wireless that have at the hostel. That is a perk.
Yesterday we went north into a small village to introduce ourselves to a women's group that was maybe interested in learning more about AIDS. The village was what I might expect of an impoverished area of Africa to look like; many malnourished children, wood and tin shanties, and dirt roads. What I wasn't expecting was a mixing table with DJ blasting when we arrived. The DJ spun and mixed everything from traditional African beats to The Real Slim Shady which oddly felt like a poorly attempted reach out to our culture.
Speaking of cultural mis-connect, we attempted to play a game that allowed each group to get to know one another. We poorly wrote the questions that confused the poor women. One was involving some cultural aspects of carrying objects by placing them on you head. We asked what was the most they had carried on their head. A)they didn't know and B) they found it bizzare that we didn't carry things on our head.
Oh and I have no money to buy water. This is why Africa might kill me. Where is my money UVSC?? Better yet UVSC why did I receive an email saying that my SAP had caused me to be dropped from consideration from financial aid? What is an SAP and how did I screw that up. Why does my school want me to die?