Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jerusalem Gates, life in the Dump, We Press On

Evening of July 8, 2009

After a good brunch, a long nap, and a warm shower, I felt more human again!
So many blessings, we take for granted.
I notice little improvements each year -- for example, this year, we have a water heater for our showers. No more cold showers or bucket-baths! YAAAY!!!!
There seems to be a lot more construction going on, also.

We took a little walk when the rain let up. Our team and Rev. James walked over to Jerusalem Gates Academy. While school had already been dismissed for the day, we still managed to talk with Headmaster Julius and his wife Salome. What a welcome we received from them! We will go back there tomorrow morning and visit with the students, and later in the week we have a program planned for the parents and kids together.

Dinner was marvelous! Knowing how much Dave loves fufu & goat --that’s what they prepared! I was really proud of Becky -- she ate that fufu like a pro! I’ve tried it before, and its just not my cup of tea, er…fufu…. So Davi & I shared some spaghetti! Dessert was fresh pineapple and mango , oh so sweet!!

Ordinarily our first night we just crash -- but this evening we went to Wednesday night church services. It was spirit-filled worship that soothed my soul in places that had been worn raw…
There’s something about the harmony of African voices, raised in heartfelt praise, that makes me tingle all over! And while I am NOT proficient in the Twi language, I am able to pick out a word or two here & there in the twi songs to help me understand what they are singing.

I was so tired I don’t remember when David came to bed. I think I must have fallen asleep instantly when my head hit the pillow.


July 9
This day started out really hard for me. I woke with a sick headache that made me feel dizzy and a bit nauseous. It wasn’t a migraine, but it was close. I tried to join the others at breakfast but couldn’t eat a bite. I took a couple of aspirin and went back to bed for a couple of hours. When I woke again, I felt a LOT better -- and I was relieved, I was afraid I was going to be AWOL on our first day.

My friend Ato visited with us this morning, and he joined us as we walked to Jerusalem Gates Academy. The recent rains left deep ruts in the roads, and everywhere was red mud. Walking was slippery and we traced each others’ steps in single-file as we made our way to the school.

We met first with Julius, who said the children were excited about our visit. As we walked into the school, we were met with a sea of smiling faces. The children crowded into one room, smaller kids in the front and the older, taller ones were in the back. We each spoke to them, then they asked us questions or told us what they wanted to be when they grew up: a scientist, a doctor, a good mother.

Jerusalem Gates school building was created from an abandoned chicken house. It is located in what is now Community 25 in Tema -- an area that is being developed with very nice homes. This little school building, with its rag-tag group of children is slowly being shoved aside. Where their soccer field was last year is a new, large home. Land has been donated for a new building; getting a new school erected is the next issue.

Most of these children are “Dump kids” -- they live in the dump, scrounging for the barest of necessities. Often their education is interrupted because of their inability to pay school fees of $18.00 a quarter.

We left the school, and went for a ride out to the dump. This was my and David’s 2nd visit, but it was the first glimpse for Becky and Davi. It is, as David puts it, a “kick in the gut” to see families struggling just to survive on the trash left by the rest of the world. I have many words in my vocabulary, but describing this place is a real struggle for me. As I get my thoughts collected to the images in my brain from today, I will share more. I know Dave & Becky are both struggling to describe it as well.


We made a quick trip to the market, and our friend Evelyn helped us to purchase fabrics, lovely batiks and wax prints, to be made into shirts or dresses. The market is such a mixture of sights and sounds and smells and people! We wound our way deep into the market, among the stalls with people selling everything from dried fish to bed linens to clothing to fresh pineapple. After making our selections for fabrics, we took them all to Victoria, who will be creating lovely garments from the yardages.


Winding down the day….we had a delicious dinner, then our group gathering. Each night, we try to spend a bit of time caring and sharing with each other. Some things we see, hear, and do can be a struggle to manage -- and we can always use group hugs!
We press on, there are challenges, but joys come through the pain.

Please, if you are reading this, say some prayers for the children who live in the dump. Pray for their survival, pray for a way they can climb out of that lifestyle, pray for a peaceful, healthy future for them.

More later, Blessings yall.


Craig and Becky said...

Thanks Anita for so lovingly describing the day - and I echo Anita's plea - if you are reading this, please pray.

Anonymous said...

I tried to post on Becky's blog and it didn't work... hope this one "takes"! My Dave just said... The kids here have no idea how blessed they are... and that is so perfectly illustrated by your Dave's pics from today... We are praying for the kids... and for each of you... Jonny T. and Daddy T., too

ashlea said...

Thanks for the wonderful description of ya'lls day. I certainly feel closer to ya'lls experience through reading your words and seeing all David's photos (and Mom's). It is hard for me to process and I'm not even there. We're praying and will continue to do so. Love to all of you.