Small Adventures Make for A Busy Week
This has been a week of small adventures – hilarious, joyful, tiresome, and sad ones. Between taking care of Appentin’s infected eye, bucketing water at the house from the well to the standing tank, volunteer cooking day, and a sports day with the kids, it has been both a good and busy week.
After my little weekend getaway to the beach, my week started on Tuesday morning, bathing the babies. Five thirty came early, indeed after a weekend like that. The shenanigans began almost immediately. As I’m trying to get things together from the kitchen to serve breakfast, Augustine and Joshua decide to show me what they did while I was gone – catch a fish from a pond nearby. Not just point to the fish they had put in the large cooking pot in the kitchen, but take it out and really show me. They dropped it, of course, and had a fun time trying to pick the poor thing back up. I thought Joyce had killed it at one point when she tried pinning it down with her foot. Once it was caught and back in the pot, no harm done I suppose, Augustine told me he named it Cori.
Next, I noticed seven year old Appentin’s left eye was swollen shut, along with a slight fever, a lump under his throat, and a bad cough. Usually he is a fully energetic kid, running around, wreaking havoc everywhere, but that morning he was barely awake. I took him back to the house, and quickly found out on the walk over, that the poor thing is afraid of anything that moves. With every goat, dog, chicken, or bird that passed by, he shuddered in absolute fear. It was a struggle trying not to laugh too much, which dragging him to the house. Once we got there, I cleaned his eye, fed him one of my egg sandwiches and some pineapple, and walked him back to school. He missed French class, but I don’t think he was too heartbroken.
I was then immediately handed a baby. At the school now we have three 8 month old triplets living there and all three of them had some horrible flu, and were being treated for Malaria. The lovely family that had been doing an excellent job of giving them their medicine had gone into Accra for the day, so I was left with the task. I managed to get all three of them to take all of it, and only one threw up on me.
As I’m walking out of the school, I hear “Madame Cori, Madame Cori,” coming from above me. Bernard and Evans had been instructed to find a pointer stick for the Class 2 teacher. I was thus enlisted to help them. I walk over to the stone wall in front of the tree just opposite the school yard and see thirteen year old Evans high up in the tree with a kitchen knife in his hand. Why these kids use a machete to cut their shoelaces, but a kitchen knife to cut tree branches down, I just don’t know. So I swung myself up over the stone wall and into the tree where I was handed a kitchen knife to start hacking away at branches for a classroom pointer – resourcefulness at its finest. As soon as I swung myself though, I hear shouts of earnest and urgent concern below from the triplets’ mother, absolutely horrified to see me climbing up in a tree, apparently. Between fits of laughter, I calmed her down and showed I was okay to help out, and began hacking at tree branches. We managed to get a few from the tree, but they told me to leave behind the largest one I cut, saying “That is big, Madame. That is big for a cane, not a pointer.” Oops.
That evening the standing tank that makes the water flow through the taps went dry, again. So Patrick unfortunately sent all the kids to bucket water from the well to the standing tank. We of course helped in this process. Mostly, it was really just the older boys and girls doing the work and the little ones making things difficult for them – dropping buckets, splashing water, getting into arguments. But it was fun. Abednago took it upon himself to lead the team drawing water from the well, while Bernard lead the team on the standing tank, and Arnold the team up the ladder. Remarkably organized, these kids are. We spent a couple hours doing that until night fell and they headed back for dinner. I decided to go with them to help them carry back some things they had gathered from the garage. It was an adventure back to the school. Appentin, who had been afraid of everything two days before, decided he wanted to catch a fish from the pond like his big brother, and almost fell in. The girls decided they wanted me to push them in the wheelbarrow because I drive it so poorly they think it’s fun. And six year old Elijah, usually always right close to a volunteer, hand in hand, was off somewhere catching birds and fireflies. We eventually all made it back unscathed for dinner.
The next day was more tiresome. Appentin’s eye did not get any better, but worse even, so we decided he should go to the clinic. I elected to take him that morning and went into Kasoa with two of the medical volunteers. Appentin was a trooper with the first four hours, but grew incredibly tired and cranky in the afternoon, naturally. He loved the ride into Kasoa – they rarely get out of the vicinity of the school and house – and we arrived in the queue around 9:15am, where we were shuffled around before we saw the first doctor over two hours later, who we spent about thirty minutes with, waited another hour to see a second doctor, and finally another hour or so walking back and forth from the doctors to the pharmacy trying to get the medicine he needed. I was smart to have brought a coloring book, reading books, and a deck of cards to keep him occupied, though. He was alright until the last when he was just flat asleep in my lap, almost unable to wake up. Ultimately, they just gave him some medicated eye-drops, and an ointment I’ve had to fight with him four times each day to get in his eye. It’s much better now, though!
The Kasoa clinic was impressive to me, though. It was hectic and overwhelmed with the number of people seeking help, but well-run. It seemed like they were giving generic prescriptions and treatment to everyone that came in, but also that they were all doing the best they could. It must have been a peculiar sight for everyone there to see me, a young Oburoni, with a small child. I got the question from everyone, “Is this your son?” To the people it mattered, I explained who he was and what I was doing in Ghana; to others I simply nodded, too tired myself to explain.
That day at the school was also “Volunteer Day.” Once a month, the volunteers plan and cook three meals for the kids to eat, to give the cooks a day off and give the kids a little treat of having something new. It was mine and one other volunteer’s job to do dessert. We decided to get them one of my favorite snacks: a bunch of bananas and a lot of ground-but paste (essentially peanut butter). It was hilarious giving these kids peanut butter and bananas. The majority of them looked incredibly confused, though delighted. Augustine refused to try it until all his friends said it was good. Kingsley asked for three before he even finished one. Gifty looked horrified when I put one in her hand, apparently grossed out by the texture of it in her hand, and immediately threw it back in the bowl, with a sharp “Madame, no!” All of the kids spent about an hour licking peanut butter from the roof of their mouths, though. I think they enjoyed it.
Friday was a particularly fun day. The kids had holiday off from school so we got to have a fun sports day with them. One volunteer brought with her a large set of mixed field games – badminton, baseball, that game with the Velcro balls and mitts, and a couple others. The family also had balloons to hand out to the kids. And of course, there was plenty of football. It was a fun time. I learned that Christiana and Abigail love to play baseball!
Friday night was peaceful, a good end to the week. I finally earned the trust of one of the newer little ones – Prince, age three. He lives very quietly in the shadow of his twin sister who never stops seeking attention, and his little sisters, the triplets, who need a lot of attention. But I finally got him to play with me some, and later he fell asleep in my arms. I could feel his little heart beating quickly against mine – and there are very few things in this world I love more than that feeling.