Kelly and Katie were told about an orphanage in the Eastern Region that is always looking for volunteers. They decided to go this weekend and at first, I didn’t want to go – not because I didn’t think it would be fun or interesting, but because when it comes to working with kids I think it is important to commit to volunteering long term, which is not something I could do in this situation. BUT I decided to go anyway because I didn’t have anything else going on that weekend and I wanted to check out the bead market in Koforidua (the district capital which we were going through to get to the orphanage).
We got a late start because Kelly was asked to play in a field hockey game with Ghana’s national women’s field hockey team. She was playing with the university men’s team a few days before when they asked her – so cool! We left when she got back around noon and took a trotro from Medina to Koforidua. From there we took a taxi to the bead market. The bead market is big on Thursday, which we knew, but had heard there might be a few vendors on a Saturday. There was only about five or so and they didn’t bring many beads. We want to go back on a Thursday. A woman from the orphanage met us at the bead market and took us to the orphanage (called BASCO)
It was a lot farther away from Koforidua than we expected; they made it sound like it was basically in town. We took a trotro from the Koforidua station to a junction about a half hour away and from there a taxi down a dirt road to BASCO. It was really beautiful; thick greenery everywhere you look – like a jungle. The BASCO complex was a nice piece of property too. We didn’t know what to expect. They showed us where we would be staying then gave us a short tour and told us a little about the orphanage.
Baptist School Complex and Orphanage (BASCO) was started in 1996 and has about 200 kids. Not all the kids are orphans though; some kids are boarders and pay and some live in the surrounding area and just attend the school. I think about half are orphans. The youngest kid is 6 and there are a lot of teenagers. They said they have only gotten a few new kids since it opened. They are so low on funding that once a student completes school there they teach for a few years until BASCO can help them (hopefully) attend college or some kind of higher level of education. I am not going to go into any more detail, but if you want to find out more about BASCO, visit their website: http://basco-ghana.org/
We stayed in the volunteer house where two Germans have been staying. They have been at BASCO volunteering for almost a year now. One is teaching and the other is the nurse. We got to BASCO pretty late in the afternoon so we just settled in and then played football with some of the boys. They brought us dinner and we relaxed a bit then some kids showed up at the volunteer house. We ended up hanging out with a bunch of kids on the porch for a few hours – it was really great. We just joked around, talked, and played some games they taught us until the power went out.
The next morning we just hung out with kids. I ended up playing cards with a group of young boys for probably four hours or so. It was fun, but the games we played were limited because they had barely half a deck and all the cards were really tattered. I didn’t understand why BASCO was so grateful that we came until that afternoon. They kept thanking us and feeding us and making sure we were comfortable and taken care of, but I didn’t understand what we were actually doing to contribute. All we were doing was coming for a few hours, playing with some kids and leaving. After a few hours of being with the kids I realized what a big deal it was that we were there. We were really in the middle of nowhere and these kids couldn’t go anywhere but the BASCO compound. And within the BASCO compound there wasn’t much entertainment. Having us come and hang out was like a treat for the kids it seemed. When we left that afternoon (it was a long way back to Accra and we needed to get back before dark) they thanked us and thanked us for coming. I still didn’t feel like I had done much of anything, but I’m glad we were able to help in any small way they thought we did.
3.30.12 – 4.1.12
Kelly, Katie, Emma, Lisa and I got a late start to our trip to the Western Region of Ghana. We didn’t end up leaving Accra until about 3:30, but it all worked out. We arrived in Takoradi at like 8:30/9, checked into our hotel room, grabbed some food, and called it a night. We were up bright and early Saturday morning to get a trotro to Agona Junction and from there to Butrie, a small coastal village.
Butrie is absolutely stunning. It is this little gem of a community, seemingly untouched by the outside world. The beaches are pristine and people warm and welcoming. The castle stood atop a mountain overlooking the community. We each paid 5 cedi for two guides to take us up to the castle. The money goes into a community fund so although the guides weren’t exactly necessary, we were happy to spend the money.
From there we hiked to the next community over (about 3km) to Busua. The first part of the hike was over a small mountain through the forest and when we got to the bottom we were met with another beautiful sandy coastline which we walked along until we got to Busua. We had lunch there and then hiked to the next town, Dixcove (2km?). Dixcove was much bigger than Butrie and Busua, more like a town than a village. It had a castle as well, but we couldn’t go in for some reason. We just walked around, chatted with some people and then decided to head to Awidaa.
Awidaa is where Green Turtle Lodge is located and where we had planned to stay the night. If we did it again, I wouldn’t stay there just because it was really expensive to get to. Green Turtle Lodge is about 10km from Dixcove, but it takes forever to get to because the roads are so bad. The only way to get a trotro there was from Agona Junction (we didn’t want to go all the way back to Agona Junction just to get a trotro back to Awidaa) so we had to pay for a cab from Dixcove, which was very expensive.
It took about 30 minutes or more to get to Green Turtle Lodge, which ended up being a nice place. The beaches were beautiful and facilities nice. We stayed in the dorms, which were fine for 10 cedi a night except there was no fan or electricity and it got pretty hot. The other problem with being all the way out in Awidaa is that the only place to get food is at Green Turtle Lodge so obviously, the prices were absurd. Despite all that, we enjoyed ourselves. The next morning we took a canoe ride in the lagoon (the 10 cedi it cost us each went into the Awidaa community fund) for about two hours – it was pretty cool. When we got back we took a taxi back to Agona Junction and from there a trotro to Takoradi. It was a Sunday so there wasn’t much going on around town. We ended up just waiting at the bus station for a few hours until out bus came because we didn’t want to schlep around in the crazy heat when there would be nothing to do anyway. The whole trip went smoothly and we all had a great time. Now we are thinking about an Ivory Coast trip during exams…
Today we were supposed to leave for Togo and Benin BUT Katie gave her passport to the ISEP program coordinators to get her visa extended and she still hasn’t gotten it back yet. They promised her she would get it by 2 today, but it’s almost 5 now. We are hoping they get it to her tonight and we can leave in the morning. Fingers crossed.
Title quote: John Steinbeck