Close your eyes & imagine the smell of a public urinal... Given that your eyes should be shut, everything is black yeah? Well, that's what our bathroom looks like, black with mold!!! with the stench of Boys toilets! I almost fainted when I saw a street vendor selling bleach! so I bought it & went crazy in the bathroom. Given that there has been 2 lots if gastro & 1 malaria in the last week & the fact that the family does not use toilet paper or soap, I don't think bleaching the bathroom is such an unreasonable thing to do. I did the loo, then the sink... Ohhh the results were so satisfying! Then the shower! So, I don't know what base of paint they use here, but it's not very durable..... Red paint came gushing down the tiles and was not draining away, cause again drainage is also not a strong point of our shower's. Opps! I was freaking out. So I finished my shower & tried to slip out of the bathroom unnoticed. I got my Aussie room mate to assess how noticeable the damage was, & she didn't think it was bad at all, but the bleach smell was! Then she joked "they wouldn't recognize the odor anyway" Too (sadly) true.
I feel bad, but it's not obvious at all & some thing really does need to be done but the lack of hygiene. By Ghanaian standards I think our house is fairly good. By Aussie standards it's certainly not. My room has concrete a floor, walls & ceiling, a small cupboard, a fan & an excuse of a bed. I'm sleeping on slats and had a pillow which was solid balls of god knows what! (I bought myself a decent pillow) There's no kitchen, everything is cooked over hot coals outside. There is no laundry, no tv, no hot water or pressure & the family does not have a car. Barely anyone does actually, trillions of taxes & tros on the roads, but few private cars. It astounds me how many half built or falling apart structures there are! People start building house, then run out of money so they stop. There is no maintenance. Something starts falling apart = abandonment. I don't get it? People live in over crowded shanty / hut like numbers amongst feces & rubbish, yet what nice buildings they have are let to go to ruins.
My family doesn't appear to work. I think one of the sisters sells stuff on the street but I think the money we bring to them as boarders is their income - consequently we are barely being fed! Our "board" is partially meant to be spent on food- can't really see where though. NOT HAPPY PROJECTS ABROAD!!!!!!!! I paid a fortune to be here so that I would be some what looked after! Not happening- we are malnourished to say the least! Plain rice and pasta does not cut it according to my recollection of a food pyramid! Vegetables are a distant memory of mine. Not impressed that I have to try to find safe food to eat on the street in the sweltering heat 15mins walk from my house on a daily basis. I accept that what we eat is very different to what my host family eat, they don't understand what we are after/need, so I don't blame them. I blame projects abroad for the empty promises. However after a lot of inventiveness, resourcefulness & my taste buds withering up & dying & my diet is not TOO bad & I don't mind the food. Plus it makes going out to eat a super exciting experience (and i better loose a few kilos to make feeling hungry ALL the time worth it)!
(I'm sorry to do this to you Eds but) I was chatting to Eddie last week before he left bout essentials I'd like him to bring- this included vegemite, coffee & a bucket load of aquium. His response was, if there's stuff I forget I'm sure we'll be able to buy it somewhere there. Ummmm not really.... Where would you propose we get "stuff" from? A mall? A shop which has 4 walls? Umm no, there isn't actually the western concept of shops in cape coast. Yes, there are in the big cities, but not in cape. It's just street vendors - people in shipping containers which have shelves in them, or wooden hut structures or sitting on the floor or from the bowls or boxes that everyone carry on their heads. Brace yourself Eds.
I'm pleased to report that after one week of vomiting my host sister was finally taken to hospital!!! Us volunteers had decided that we'd just take her ourselves of something didn't happen by mid last week. The hospital visit was promptly followed by a 3 hour church service in the lounge room and she is making a speedy recovery.
I sound like I real downer over my last couple of blogs! Don't take it that way, cause I am smiling & enjoying myself & I'm not home sick. It is challenging & thought provoking though. These are rather thorough too so that a have good documentation of everything for Uni on my return - the good, bad & the ugly!
Eddie got here on Sunday & had his first day at the orphanage yesterday. Eds is here now and loving it - he is bright eyed and taking it all in with gusto and giving it his all - helping with maths & English homework, teaching them handball & playing soccer. The boys were stoked cause they rarely get male volunteers. We found a guitar in town yesterday & have "converted" it to a left handed (taboo!!!) one. Asked the head of the orphanage what english songs the kids would know, and they know gospel songs so Eds is practicing some old favorites! I think the kids will love anything they can dance around to - whether they know the lyrics or not.