I’ve tended, in my blogs, to emphasize the positive. You haven’t heard about the couple of times we have shown up for appointments to find no one home. Or the couple of schools where people seemed more interested in our grant projects (which are very modest) than our letter writing (which is at the heart of our program and mission). Or the many times we wondered whether or not we were on the right road—and often were not. Or the effects of eating too much goat meat on intestines used to milder fare. Or how you feel when the vehicle you are in hits a dog. Or the times that all three of us have faltered while speaking to students or teachers and admitted that we were just really, really tired.
One reason I focus on the positive is of course is that I want people to be excited about Yo Ghana! But I also focus on the positive because that’s what people in Ghana do. About the biggest complaint one hears from a Ghanaian, is a “we are managing,” followed by a laugh. In fact in the early Peace Corps there was a saying: volunteers came back from Asia meditating, Latin America radicalized, and Africa laughing.
Another reason why I have emphasized the positive during this trip is the example set by my two dear friends and colleagues, Lucy and Elizabeth. Lucy does a million and one things at the Aya Centre for Intercultural Awareness and Development, and ever since we met four years ago, I’ve been impressed by her resilience and determination. She is a relentless problem solver who cares deeply about people, both in the abstract and as individuals. We are truly blessed to have her as our Ghana coordinator.
Elizabeth seems like she was born on a different planet—and I mean that in a good way! Lucy and I have learned to expect a burst of energy and enthusiasm whenever Elizabeth says “I’m so tired.” I don’t know that I’ve ever met someone who has so much fun doing the work of trying to do good. Like people from Ghana and the rest of Africa, people, not abstractions or personal ambitions, reside at the heart of Elizabeth’s world. She lives out the insight that I think resides at the core of Yo Ghana!, namely that it is relationship, in knowing each other and working together in partnership, that we are most fully human, more fully alive.
So at the end of our four weeks, I can say that, at Yo Ghana!, we are, even on hard days, managing--and laughing.