final distings update
My students (teaching, clubs and the like)
Nothing has given me more joy in Ghana than my students. Every moringa tree planted in the ground, every piece of trash we picked up, every not-so-pc play about HIV we performed and hand-washing song sung (cuss when you waaaash yuwr haaands, you won’t git sick, sick, sick!!), and every new shiny book read has been worth the stress that we call being a PeeCeeVee. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like in every other village on the face of Ghana. I always decide that not-a-one has students as funny, quirky and bright as mine. I really believe that.
Months before Avi passed away, he and Obey formed a widows association. I happened to walk by the school right before each meeting, which I then somehow was roped into running. As Avi was dying, he was adamant that I receive a message: his last wish was that I take on the widows association. No pressure. I spent my last month working tirelessly with these 80 women. My goal was to get each able woman in one of the three income generating groups in the village, shea butter, groundnuts, and rice. Working with these women may have been some of the most fun I have had in Sankpala, for sure one of the most rewarding. All the women are in groups, and meeting more frequently then ever. By the end of the month I received a sampling of their best shea butter and finest rice and groundnuts with pride.
I think SAYA forgot I would be leaving eventually. They are terrified that without Avi and I, SAYA will cease to be productive. I beg to differ. I am so proud of the work they do in Sankpala and I am truly at peace leaving them to continue to serve the community. Every PCV wants to leave behind a group of passionate and self-sufficient youth who will continue two years worth of projects. I consider myself pret-ty lucky.
The library that hath many names
Every class, both Primary and JHS, received introductory library classes, and now the school is waiting for the long-ago promised librarian. Until then, my man Joshua will be the temporary librarian, and in my opinion there is no better man for the job.
During the opening of the library, the chief sent a message that the library would be named after me, in honor of the work I have done in the community. “Omigawd!” Kimmie squeals to my left. “Weren’t you going to name it after that…dead guy?” Kimberly whispers to my right. So, yea. We worked it out:
This girl has bounced back and forth between Accra and village life every few months since I have been here. She came to terms that she is truly a city girl, one after my own heart. In March, while I was traveling with Ciana and Krista, Azara packed her things one last time and moved to Accra for good. While she told me she would be back in a month or two, I knew this was it, she was ready to start her life in one place. It is hard to describe life in Sankpala void of Azara, Avi John and Adams (who is in school in Tamale). The people and families I spent all my time with were all elsewhere. My last month was looking a lot like the first month, and in all the wrong ways. My very last week in Sankpala, Azara just showed up at my door. “I had to come home,” she said “My sister is leaving Africa!” She stayed with me for a week and hoped on the 14 hour long bus the very next day after I left.
Azara continues to dream of a better life for her and her son. She is living with relatives and is pursuing beauty school. She has never seemed happier and so sure of herself and where her life is going.
Adams spent the last ten months getting his pharmaceutical license in Tamale. He is taking the exam at the end of November, wish him luck! There is officially nothing that he cannot do. Saying goodbye to Adam is completely heartbreaking. For a month now, the boy will pause in the middle of our conversations and say, sorry, I was just thinking about you going. Who will love me when you go? (I will always love you Adams.)
Aze has enrolled himself into school. He is now the biggest third grader on the planet. His teachers report that he beats the children more than he learns (that’s my boy!), but at least he is keeping busy.
My last week, Aze’s mother sent me more yams than I could ever eat. Azara and I went to his house the following day to thank her for the gift. We sat there and talked a little bit, and she told me that when Aze was born, he was perfect. He was more than perfect, he was the most beautiful child she had. She told me her enemies came together and put a curse on him. This explanation did not surprise me, Aze has scarification (little but deep cuts all over his body including on his forehead). His family was trying to protect him, heal him, maybe reverse the ‘curse’. Azara told me that most families would never have kept a child like Aze.
I told Aze’s mom a story. After Avi passed away, I had gone to his house every day for weeks to spend time with his grieving wife and children. I can’t begin to describe the sorrow and fear on this woman’s face. Usually she would break into tears just at the sight of me, which would then make her two young daughters cry. One morning Aze came along. I don’t remember what he did, but whatever it was, it made Avi’s wife giggle. And then the girls started giggling. Before I knew it, the room had erupted in laughter. Once Aze realized he had an audience, ooh boy, he had them going for quite some time. It was the first time I saw her so much as smile since Avi’s death.
“A boy who can make someone laugh when all they want to do is cry, that is something special,” I told Aze’s mother. “He’s not a curse. He’s a blessing. We are so lucky to have him.”
Musah has grown a foot since that first night I showed up in Sankpala, when he and his brother frantically swept my empty room and fetched me a jerry can of water to keep me till morning. I can’t tell if he is more or less of a troublemaker, he is for sure a full-fledged teenager. He has formed a hobby of writing letters to my Peace Corps friends and me. While my friends receive clever and heart warming letters, mine usually go something like: “Madame. Hello. I am very happy to write you this letter. Please, me and Aze want an apple from Tamale. And speakers. Why did you go to Kumasi and not bring back apple? Musah.” I finally confronted him, demanding a nice letter. The next evening, he slipped this behind.
Here is the transcript: Hello Maria. I am very glad to write you this. How are you? I hope you are fine. The reason why I write the letter to you am want to said you hello, because you are my Best Friend and my Best LOVE in Sankpala. I don’t want something. Do you? So goodbye Maria.
Who me? What’s next?
Hek if I know.
(But its probably gonna be good)