Monday, August 22, 2011

From Englewood to Ghana....

I am back in the states and slowly but surely trying to digest all I've seen and experienced during my trip in Ghana....Everyone advised me to journal and blog while I was there but being in the midst of such a GRAND experience, I must admit it was difficult for me to do....As I rode through the streets of Kumasi, Elmina, Cape Coast and Accra...My mind just wandered throughout this magical journey...I did take time on one of the "road trips" headed to Accra to journal and here were a few of my thoughts on August 5th...

My travel mates

I arrived from Ghana on Thursday, July 28th with 9 other hopefuls ready to embrace, enjoy and provide service in this very important destination. The trip was organized by one of my mentors, John Z. of the Depaul Egan Center...

We both serve as members of the Englewood Community Cultural Planning Council (ECCPC) a cultural council based in Englewood...He typically goes about once or twice a year and has established great relationships with many of the people here.  He also serves as a community organizer for Abira, one of the villages who needed some assistant with establishing a stable economy....Sounds a lot like Englewood right??
John Z.

Many people have asked the question, why do you want to go to Africa? Which I found so strange to ask why do I want to go back home? For the African-Americans who have been brainwashed, let me clarify something....Africa is our home not America...So the question should be to all African-Americans...Why don't you want to go home??

Me at the Slave Dungeon of Elimina
Well, I had various reasons why I wanted to go home....First off, I wanted to see exactly where many of our people came from. I was curious to see what was our culture before it was stripped away? How did we live and survive before we were "americanized"? Is there connection between us and our brothers and sisters who were left behind? I was also curious because I know our current state in America seems unnatural and many of us are filled with so much hostility and pain. Well, being in this peaceful place I had all of my curiosities and questions answered...The spirit of the people in Ghana has not been fully touched by the ills of American culture...Yes there are some things they emulate from us, however, their spiritually make-up is much different....Everyone I greeted smile with such a genuine love and there was always a sense of peace in the atmosphere that I have never felt before. So being black and poor does not equal a violent and hostile environment huh? Everywhere we went, the natives welcomed us with grace to this holy land where our ancestors were snatched away a few hundred years ago....

The Chief and Council Men of Abira

The respect, culture, traditions, dialect and just the perspective are things I would never forget about this experience....It really shed light on the European culture we were force to adapt in America, our over consumption attitude and behavior, our sense of urgency for no reason, our obsession with money and material things, our lack of spirituality but commitment to religions are many of the unnatural moral fibers of our existence here....

Now, can I ever live in Ghana? Perhaps, Maybe...if planned out correctly...Its a much simpler life with a slower pace and everything is done with a element of patience...Even the words the people speak, are very literal and gentle with the best intentions behind each word...Here, something as small as eating is viewed as a very important time to share and gather with one another, this sense of community/village is real and there is an underlying system that works, unfortunately this is lacking in the black communities here in the states...

The Fish Market in Elimina

There were very little places to get "fast food"....There were no signs of a McD's, Popeyes's or even a Walmart...Everyone is their own little enterprise, which is something I admired the most...Very few people work for "the man" and almost everyone have their own businesses!

Can you imagine if everyone around you were an entrepreneur? Now how great will that be if everyone in your circle had their own business!  Just think about how far the black dollar will stretch if this was the case in our communities....I am definitely working towards having a circle of folks around me who are the architects of their own enterprises, that way building an empire will come easily!!

Anyway I understand what people say about a life changing experience...Seeing the culture firsthand has really made me appreciate so many small things we take for granted in the US, like hot water, towels, toilets that flush, running water, stoves, refrigerators, TVs, Internet, t-shirts, body lotions, nail polish, close toe shoes, electricity, paved roads, etc....These are just a few items that are seen as a commodity or luxury here in some parts of Ghana, while we in the US see this as our standards.

This has definitely been an eye opening journey for me, especially as I witnessed the work ethic of small children who work so diligently just for drinking or bath water.  Damn our children are privileged and don't even recognize it...Even the youth from my village of Englewood...Folks can write story after story about the abandoned buildings, vacant lots, or low performing schools, however we do not even come close to what the people here has to endure and they still are gracious. 
Male Slave Dungeon in Elimina, Ghana

Elementary School in the Abira Village of Ghana

Abira School Classroom

As we visited the schools here, we learned that the teachers have not been paid in months, however, they continue to educate these students.  Can you imagine our teachers not getting paid for months?? I think CTU would go crazy if this was the case....Teacher's here go on strike when there are no increases in pay, so I am sure if they didn't get paid in the states our children would suffer greatly!  Again, what are our values?

We complain about little things and these students have no computer labs, lockers, or just a freshly painted wall....I don't even think our toughest students will be willing to learn in this environment and I am sure our savvy youth would probably protest against these conditions like they did about the food at CPS.
The lovable Mary a student at Abira

A day of service...Painting the Junior School of Abira

One thing is certain our value system is very different in America! We value money over family, cars over friends, clothes over a piece of mind, a pastor over true spirituality...To be in a place where poverty is obvious and folks still live peacefully, proves to me that is not about being upper or lower class or how much money one has to be happy or fulfilled, it really all depends on what you value and love...

I learned so much through this journey and it has made me reflect on my values and the ones I am instilling in my daughter.  I am proud to say that we could happily live in Ghana as well as Englewood, because we do value family, peace, love and understanding like many of my brothers and sisters here....So although I am 5000 miles away from my other home, I am at ease knowing that I have the same sense of PEACE within regardless of what environment I am in...It is simply about the values you hold dear to your heart that truly makes your environment and being in Ghana really showed me what's truly important in life...I love every bit of my experience and cannot wait to return!!

So, until next time, BE PEACE & as always TAKE ACTION to CREATE the life you truly desire!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello from Ghana!!!

Just wanted to send another thank you for all the words of encouragement and donations received before my to trip to Ghana, Africa!!

By the time you receive this post, I am probably settling in at One Africa a beautiful wellness resort here in Ghana!! On Tuesday, we will visit the Abira Primary School and assist them with any work they need to help build this educational institute for their village.

I just wanted to personally thank all the RAGE members who contributed to Abira school project before my departure, your donation is greatly appreciated!! I am taking a lot of pictures and cannot wait to share them with you all!!

Again, thank you for all you do and I look forward to seeing you upon my return! I am ever so happy to make my dream a reality...So as always TAKE ACTION to CREATE the life you truly desire!!