The first two weeks in Ghana are coming to an end and I really am shocked at how fast they went by. This was my first week at New Mission Academy (which is my service site) and it was interesting to see what it meant for a village to raise a child. Each child has their smaller circle of people that take care of them; however, at school that circle is expanded. I am in the classroom with 14 children aged 6-11 months old and while most of them still can’t really talk well (or just choose not to), the ones that do talk refer to the teachers (myself included) as “mom” or “mama”. Originally I thought it was because of an inability to say the names of the teachers (or other words in general), but I noticed that the parents introduce us to the kids as “mom” or “mama”. This was a new concept to me because at home I’ve seen teachers do their best to ensure that the kids aren’t calling them as they would a parent. In the US, there is a very “this is my child” kind of culture and sometimes there is tension when those lines are crossed by others even if it is a teacher. In our ANT 232 class, we learned that children are the responsibility of the family and neighborhood more broadly as opposed to just the parents (so there is no real ownership over the child just their acceptance into the larger family).
Every day after school I stop and get mangos from the lady down the street from where we are living. I purchase a 5 GHC mango every day
(which is the largest mango for about one US dollar) and can never wait to start eating it (although chilling them first is great too).
Also in terms of food, my favorite meal here so far is redred and plantains. This version of black-eyed peas is very similar to the way we eat them at home in North Carolina. Prior to trying plantains in Kumasi, I thought I did not like them. I felt this way about mangos too prior to my trip to Guatemala. Having and enjoying plantains here really just reinforced my desire to see the world. While things can be brought to the US for me to try, they aren’t able to provide me with the intended experience. Enjoying these fruits and produce in general closer to their origin is also a way to help push back against the major produce industries that overwork and underpay their workers. In 2016, 53.1% of fresh fruits in the United States were imported. Fruits like mangos are grown outside of the United States by people who are paid far less than minimum wage (not to mention the lack of safety in these environments from things ranging from chemical exposure to sexual assault).
Overall, the first two weeks have been great and I look forward to eating a mango every day after school and all of the other adventures this week will have to offer.
References (also linked):
Dr. Mercola. (2015, August 26). Pesticide Poisoning Effects to Farm Workers. Retrieved June 1, 2019, from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/26/pesticide-poisoning.aspx
Karp, D. (2018, March 13). Most of America’s Fruit Is Now Imported. Is That a Bad Thing? Retrieved June 1, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/13/dining/fruit-vegetables-imports.html
Weller, A. (2018, May 1). Migrant farm workers vulnerable to sexual violence. Retrieved June 1, 2019, from http://theconversation.com/migrant-farm-workers-vulnerable-to-sexual-violence-95839