Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Preparations and a Special Guest

As I continue to update the blog today...on March 4 we had a guest speaker from the social work department, Randi, come and talk to us about her experiences taking students to Ghana. She showed us a DVD she made about VCU social work in country and aside from it being amazing, it totally pumped me up to leave! Not that I need all that much encouragement. :-) She talked about what sorts of things we need to pack, what we need to do and what we need to avoid while we're there, and about the amazing people of Ghana. What struck me is the network of street children. For those of you who don't know (and I must admit that I didn't until recently), street children are orphans, children from bad family situations, or those who lost their homes and family who live on the street. It was fascinating to learn about how they take care of and rely on one another for support, money, protection, and encouragement. For example, Randi once gave a group a loaf of bread and instead of fighting over it, they meticulously divided the loaf so that each child got an equal share. A large amount of the children work for a living in dangerous jobs for little pay and are at constant risk of contracting diseases and infections such as Malaria. But, this is their way of life and from Orme and Seipel (Survival strategies of street children in Ghana), a boy stated "I think, tomorrow maybe I don't have money. So I will go and find some work to do. I will earn money tomorrow and buy some food which I will cook and eat."

Among other things, I am extremely excited to meet and interact with the people of Ghana, go to the market (which might be a bit overwhelming!), and visit the coast and the rain forest! But, in preparation for all of these exciting adventures, I'm first doing all the boring logistical stuff. Last Wednesday I got all of my vaccines (and subsequently couldn't raise my arms over my head for 2 days) and am in the process of filling out paperwork for my Visa. I've also begun to put my packing list together and am slowly acquiring all of the necessary *stuff* for the trip (at the top of my list is sunscreen, Deet, and Immodium). I figure if I make it to Ghana with those three things, I'll be ok. :-) Ghana, here I come!! Well, in 2 months...

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