Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunshine in Africa

I’m finally home.

The last few days have been incredibly wonderful, and incredibly exhausting at the same time.

I just put on some of my country tunes to relax, water in the boiling pot to drink, and of course my fan on so I can get some cool air in my room.

Today, a group of my friends and I went to Independence Square to celebrate March 6—Ghana’s Independence Day! Today was the 53rd anniversary, and I felt honored to be celebrating with hundreds and hundreds of Ghanaians in Accra. I even got to see the President arrive in his motorcade and wave to everyone attending the march. Independence Day wasn’t as big as of a deal as I thought it would be, but still, watching the military forces and school children enter the square with precise marching movements was fascinating. After the ceremony, we spent some time in town at a few markets, and I came back home totally spent. Not only was I tired from a day of intense heat and lots of walking, but I only got 3 hours of sleep from the night before! Theresa, Chrissy, Lindy, Karlie, Taylor, Rachel, Patrick, and I crammed into Theresa’s room last night for an epic sleepover! We played apples to apples among other things and had a really fun time. I feel so grateful to have the friends I have here—I think there is a strong mutual understanding that we all have each other’s backs, and that we will all take care of each other while we are abroad here in Ghana.

Still, no other day this weekend, rather, no other day during my time in Ghana, or quite possibly my life was quite like Friday.

Friday was absolutely what life should be about.

We—the Kissemahn school volunteers/teachers—got to take the kids to the beach.

It sounds like a field trip, right?

And well, it was. Except, most of these kids LIVE 30 minutes away from the beach had never been before. It was a lot more than a field trip.

We arrived at Kissemahn close to 10:00 am. As we turned the corner to where we were to meet all of the kids, I outwardly gasped at the amount of kids I saw waiting on Kwame’s porch. I was thinking 15 kids would show up. 20 tops. Oh no, we had 37 kids, wearing the best clothes that they own, ready for the beach. I knew it was going to be a good time.

Kwame, the director of the school program, had a friend charter a tro tro bus for us. It was big and orange, and somehow, we managed to squeeze in over 40 of us! That is certainly the most amount of people I have ever been on a tro tro with. Before we left though, I went to one of the children’s homes to make sure it was okay with his parents that he came to the beach. Kwayze shyly brought me to his mother and she seemed excited about the opportunity for Kwayze to see the beach. They invited me into their home, and as I waited on a bench, Kwayze’s mother had him bathe, eat lunch, and put on his nice jean outfit, likely the nicest outfit he owns. It touched my heart. Once he was ready we quickly ran back to the tro tro bus—it was time to go!

We sang songs the whole way to the beach. My favorite, no question, is a song we sing with the kids almost every day. It goes like this:

When the sun shines in Africa

Beautiful people in Africa

Sunshine in Africa

Move around in Africa

Sunshine in Africa

Beautiful people in Africa

We give thanks to the Lord of Mighty.

We had an original plan of going to a free beach, but due to the beach being primarily rocks against the rushing ocean, we opted for Labadi Beach, which by the grace of some kind-hearted people, allowed all of the kids to get in free, and only the adults had to pay 1 cedi.

I was holding the hands of so many beautiful children as we approached the beach. One girl, Favor, looked up at me and asked if the pond nearby was the beach. I could only smile and assure her, “Just you wait, it’s so much better.”

Once they could see the ocean grazing along the sandy beach the looks in their eyes filled with utter excitement, happiness, and curiosity. They screamed and yelled as we got closer, running into the water for the first time. Eventually, many of the kids just took off their clothes and jumped in without any hesitation. They played in the sand, they screamed the entire day, and there was so much laughter. It was perfect. I couldn’t believe I was witnessing something so pure, a moment where so many kids could just be kids. They were happy. Those few hours at the beach, I am sure, are some of my most treasured memories already. Friday, was one of the most moving, incredible, and just great days that I have ever lived.

I wish I could express the emotions of that day better. But, the expressions of these children, the sounds of laughter, and joy that we all felt is really just completely beyond words.



  1. Heather,
    This blog & the pictures accompanying it were so beautiful. I am so happy that God has blessed you with the opportunity to not only be with these kids every week but share this particularly great experience with them. I give thanks to the Lord Almighty for you and your beautiful spirit.


  2. I love this. Every little bit. It was so good to talk to you today :)

  3. This is such a cool experience, B! I'm so glad you had a wonderful time with those beautiful children!