We left the Tampa airport in the morning, September 16th, headed to New York city to meet the rest of the team. On the way to the airport I called my brother that lives in Connecticut and asked if he would meet me at JFK for some lunch. By the time I arrived in NYC, he was already there with is wife and kids. We had lunch and rode around on the AirTrain for a bit.
The city in the distance.
We left New York that evening and flew to London, here is a photo from the airplane. Nothing special, just London.
British Airways had the best food I'd ever had on an airplane.
After a long layover in London, we headed south to Ghana, West Africa. We arrived late in the evening and drove to town in which we would be staying, of course somebody had hit a power pole and there was no power, our shipping container with all our tools was on site, so we pulled out a generator and powered up the whole complex. We slept in a little Monday morning to try to recover a little from the long travel.
We loaded the tools we would be needing into a truck.
Then began the approx. 2 hour drive to a small village called Dominasie. It is between Accra and Cape Coast, and a little North from the coast. Here are a few photos of the sights along the drive.
This is downtown Dominasie, our building site is just out of town.
Here is the site as it looked when we arrived. The foundation was to have been prepared for us, but I think somebody forgot how to use a level. One corner was about 8 inches higher than another. We coped however.
You can see the elevation problem and how it was overcome in this photo.
Here are some photos to show what the surrounding area looks like.
People from the village began to gather to see what was happening.
There were lots and lots of kids.
With lots and lots of smiles.
Since we started late, then had a two hour drive to the building site, we worked a short day then headed home. On the way John wanted to stop at an internet cafe to check on some of the sports scores. Here are a few photos I took while waiting.
Then back into the car for the ride back to Doboro.
The following day, the ladies joined us, my wife Kathy was able to join me on this trip.
Here she is posing with a few of the kids.
Jeff and John are building trusses..
While I lay block with Ray, Brent and Wes.
Meanwhile, Kathy and the other ladies explored the village with the women from the village. Here are some of the photos she took.
In the center of this photo is a woman doing her wash.
A happy young lady with a baby.
Bath time for this one.
They decided to teach some of the village kids the Hokey Pokey.
This stick with wheels was a common toy that I saw there. The kids would run through the village pushing it. They were probably imagining they were driving or racing, who knows.
Here is a woman preparing lunch. Notice they build up three mounds of clay soil with fire between them and a pot sitting on them for a stove.
Kathy in the kitchen. Aren't the clothes these women wear interesting?
Kids playing outside the kitchen.
I must.. get.. in.. the... picture!
The men eating their lunch.
Dale and Dale working on the trusses..
Brent laying block.
We had packed our lunch, so we sat under these trees and ate at lunchtime. That stuff the village men were eating didn't look too tasty.
John and I posing with a few of the kids. They all wanted to be in pictures. They would either say "Flash Me" or "Snap Me" which meant "Take a picture of me"
While we men worked that afternoon, my wife Kathy and Brent's wife Hannie played games with many of the children, here Hannie learns to balance a pot on her head like the Africans do.
Some of the girls.
A couple of the women with a baby and a boy that wants to be in the picture.
The young girls with the pot were headed down to the creek for some water and asked us to come along. Here they are gathering water the same way it's been done for generations.
While they were having all this fun, we were erecting a building. Here is Wes putting steel rods in the walls so the concrete will hold once we fill the cells.
Some from the village watched, many helped.
And the kids played with the most simple of toys. The remnants of lumber from the trusses.
While we worked Wednesday, the ladies took a break back at the Bible School which is where we were staying. CWE had built a building there just a month or two earlier.
They also washed our yellow shirts for us, and hung them out to dry the African way.
The students are not only being trained to lead churches out in the remote villages, but also being trained to show the villagers how to better farm their land. Here are Kathy and Hannie in front of a corn field on the property.
My granddaughter calls me Paw Paw, and in Ghana they call this a Paw Paw tree, so I had to get a picture with it for her.
On the way to the jobsite each day I would notice this sign, right next to a man laying on a bench, I had to snap this picture.
On Thursday, rather than working on the building when we arrived, we went to the children's school, we sang songs, put on a little puppet show and just mingled with the kids.
This is the path to the school, there are not many cars this far out, so this is as good as it gets.
More Hokey Pokey.
Gathering at the windows to see what is going on.
John and a few of the school children.
This boy wanted to be in a picture, so I asked him to act like he was writing on the chalk board.
More photos from around the school.
I was standing in an empty room on the second floor when these two boys spotted me and yelled "Obruni", which means "White Man" They don't see too many white people so most everywhere we went we would hear that. The kids would walk up and touch us. It was really funny to us, but we must have looked like aliens to them.
While up on the second floor, a few boys climbed a tree to be in a picture, starting with this one.
Then these guys followed.
Here are a few other things I saw while up there.
I set my camera up on the rail and set the timer so I could be in a photo with a few kids, then they came out of nowhere and jumped in the picture.
After the photo, I was showing the kids their picture on the digital camera and they were making so much noise that we got the attention of the teacher up on the second floor who was trying to keep things calm for the classes going on. Kathy was up there with her and called down to me and told me I was getting detention, so I went upstairs and took this punishment instead.
Then Kathy and I wandered around and took some more photos.
Soon that fun was over and it was back to the building. Some of the kids watched.
Ray, Brent, Wes and I laid block.
Even little girls were helping. This little girl was shoveling dirt into the wheelbarrow to fill the floor.
Everyone was so friendly.
While we worked on the building, three of the ladies went home, while my wife Kathy and Brent's wife Hannie stayed behind. (rather courageous, considering the village had no electricity, running water or even an outhouse. If nature were to call, it would mean off to the woods you go).
I was thirsty so while getting a drink, I saw some of the kids playing this game. It was a relay run in a circle, the first team to complete the race would grab a block from the middle of the circle and would be the winner.
There's always time for another photo.
These were children passing through with their wares on their heads. They stopped to gaze upon the work.
While I was stacking more block.
As we reached the top, Kathy snapped this photo of Brent and I.
Here are a few photos I took on the way home Thursday. You don't see this very often in our part of the world.
Here we are buying some pineapples on the way home. They were three for about a dollar.
We took a detour on the way home because John wanted to buy a soccer ball, when he saw this building we had to stop. Election day was the Tuesday before we came on this trip and John had just been elected as a Circuit Court Judge.
We wandered these streets in search of a soccer ball and eventually found one. As bad as the area looks, it was actually quite safe and the people very friendly. Ghana has a very low crime rate.
Friday was our last day of work, the carpenters had completed the trusses and much of the clean up was done, so while Ray, Brent and I finished the block work, some of the other guys goofed around with the kids.
When I got the opportunity I wandered around and took a few more shots.
The Missionary found out that one of our daughters is studying to become a Missionary herself and feels like Africa might be here destination. We had him make up this sign for us to e-mail to her.
I had been talking to Gideon, the Pastor's son and asked if he knew where I could buy some African fabric for my mom, she wanted me to get some for her while in Africa. He said he knew of a woman in the area, so we began walking. Along the way I heard kids yelling "Obruni" again, they started to follow me down the road when their dad jokingly told them that I was going to take them back to America and they began running the other way. We began talking with them and when I asked if they would like to take a photo, the whole family came running, the mother handed me a child, the dad grabbed my hand and here is the photo.
Here we are at the fabric woman's house. Her name is Stella. She brought out some material and modeled the typical clothing worn my most of the women in Ghana.
After returning home, Gideon, who just happens to be a big fan of the military, asked if I could part with my hat. If you've read through my website, you'll notice that hat has been a lot of places, but now it's in Africa. From the first Gulf War to Ghana with a lot of stops in between. It looks good on him.
Saturday morning Gideon showed up with some mudcloth made by a woman in his church. Here his mother is modeling her outfit so Mom can possibly recreate it back in Alabama with the ladies she works with.
While killing time before leaving for the airport, I went down to the well and pulled up a bucket of water.
We stopped at the market in Accra before catching out flight. It was a mad house, I've been to a lot of markets in a lot of countries, but this one took the cake. It was like a mob scene. The vendors were very persistent. One man with some sort of instrument, after I was already in the car and Edwin was driving out of the parking lot, tried selling it to me for 60,000 Cedis, I offered him 30,000, we went back and forth, a couple of hundred feet through the parking lot, the man walked quickly next to the car trying to make a sale. Finally out on the main road, about the time we hit second gear and the man could barely keep up, we made a deal. The five of us in that car laughed so hard. It was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen. It was dark so I didn't even know what I had bought, but the memory was worth the 4 dollars I spent on that thing.
One last thing, after returning from the last trip to Brazil, my passport went through the washing machine and I never bothered to get it replaced. I almost didn't make it out of Ghana. I was grilled about it 4 times in the airport. At one point the man checking it put it under the counter, looked at me and told me that my passport was no good and that I would have to go the the US Embassy and get a new one. My wife's jaw dropped, it was late on a Saturday evening. I just looked at the man, smiled, said with a strait face "you're joking" he smiled, gave it back to me and on I went. I think I'll get a new passport before the next trip.