I'm going to post something I wrote the days after I got back to England, a year ago. It is a reflection on my time out there. Hope you enjoy reading.
'I wasnt going to write a coming home from Ghana note.....because I wasnt sure how I felt and I thought that I could tell everyone in person if they asked... But a lot of people have asked me about my trip and so I wanted to write a reflective note on here.....
Coming home from Ghana has been a very odd (and nice!) experience. At first it was so hard to acclimitise back to a culture so alien to African life, particularly in a fairly rural village surrounded by mud huts and goats where people get up with the sunrise and go to bed when it gets dark (6pm there). I found myself being confronted with contrasting lifestyles. It is hard to explain but I found a simplicity of life in Africa- without gadgets or material influence... people spend more time face to face talking together and there is a huge emphasis on community. I found that in the street people would greet you, in taxis people talk to you, and this could be because you are the exciting different person but also it is generally a courtesy to talk to others and ingrained in Ghanaian life. The other day sitting on the London Tube where everyone goes out of their way to avoid eye contact, I found it an odd and quite disturbing experience (even more than I had before I left!)
I have found that coming home to 3 big meals a day (if i want), clean water from the tap, fast internet all the time, hot showers and having my hair cut to be a luxury that at times in Ghana I didnt have. I had cold water showers for 2 months which actually was quite refreshing in the heat! It has been weird going from maxi dresses and birkenstocks to winter coats and tights in the space of 2 weeks. It is odd being able to drink from the tap without fear of getting ill, not having to sleep in a mosquito net or be bitten by malarial mosquitos. I experienced the wrath of mosquitos out there and it made me appreciate that living in England we have MUCH less to contend with!! I found that malaria out there is rampant in the rainy season.... and was told that the hospitals are overflowing with severe cases. I learnt to appreciate the NHS when I had to pay for a consultation with a doctor and learnt of those who could not affrd to pay for drugs. I was told that in Northern Ghana there is only one Gynaecologist and two psychiatrists. It is a region severely limited in resources and it was horrific to learn of this injustice especially as the North is where the majority of the poor live.
I learnt that the education I have recieved is a luxury...that I can use a computer to communicate, that I am literate and numerate and can read books (let alone buy books) . I learnt that despite not having much and gone through so much, the human spirit in the women I worked with was strong, and BRIGHT and incredible........and I hope that they go on to live good lives.
So coming home to 'Western' life has made me a little shell shocked again...at how lucky I have been purely through an accident of birth and circumstances. It has been wonderful seeing family and friends but I know that my experience in Ghana is one I will carry with me through life and I encourage all to go and witness it, volunteer and see for yourself.'
And the memories are still carried with me every day even now a year on.
Have a great Tuesday xxxx
(images: my own. copyright eleanor s.)