Thursday, February 21, 2008

I sat with Balloon today (actually, it was about a week ago when I first started writing this update) for about 20 minutes. He didn’t verbalize anything. We just sat there, watching some of the other children take part in an afternoon activity that their caretakers had arranged. Some of the time Balloon was giving me a hug, holding his cheek against mine, some of the time he just had his arm around me, some of the time I scratched his back, and some of the time we just sat there. All that was being communicated was peace and calmness.

Then we joined the other kids, who had been split into two competing teams. There was a large, central bucket of water and each team had an average sized bucket and a small can. And the kids took turns taking the small can to the central bucket, filling it with water, and carrying the water back to their team’s bucket. First team to fill their bucket won. The extra challenge is that some of the kids don’t have the steadiest gait, some have barely any grasping ability, some probably don’t realize it’s a competition, and some have a combination of many different challenging factors – autism, mental retardation, etc. One of the kids, while filling his team’s can with water, got distracted with drinking the water from his can. Another used his can to bop his opponent over the head – his opponent didn’t seem too aware of it, though. At the end, biscuits (cookies) were had by all – and then it was off to the pool, where the deep end reaches to a little above my knees.

And this is not an atypical afternoon at the PCC Operation Hand in Hand. I’ve been here for a little over four weeks – gradually learning about the children, about the caregivers, about the project, about my role in it all. There are 20 caregivers and 46 abandoned children – all the children with a combination of disabilities. There’s also a sheltered workshop – and a separate boys and girls dorm for those who are placed in the workshop but are too far to go home every day, or for whom home-life may not be the best option.

The sheltered workshop has four main components – necklace making, weaving, bead-making and the restaurant. Some of the people from the sheltered workshop have also branched out to help in other areas around the PCC – taking care of the grounds, helping manage the animals, etc. Other skills to develop will be determined as time goes on – maybe some basic tailoring (sewing together the strips of cloth being woven to make traditional shirts, skirts, vests or even light blankets), pottery, etc. (Any suggestions are welcome.) I’m only including pictures from the weaving department in this blog update. I’ll be mostly working with the sheltered workshop in a few different areas: developing the business - we spent a lot of time this past week working on clarifying some of the sales/business aspects of the products from the workshop (I even taught myself Excel - with the help of a workbook my dad gave me from a class he and my mom had takent) so the people in Holland who are helping to market some of the necklaces and bead products made here will have information that matches what we have; getting to know a little better and also encourage the families of the people who are working in the sheltered workshop; finding ways, with the staff and the workers at the workshop, to make the work even more meaningful for the people there (such as introducing some new vocational skills, increasing their understanding of the money they are earning, etc.). There are many possibilities - it's exciting.

Oh yeah – and I have a few pictures from around the house:

There was a new roommate applicant - but he was escorted to another place. The next night I saw his son (or daughter?) on my bedroom wall, but then I forgot about her and just fell asleep, instead of helping her move on to join her dad.

The day after I painted part of my door red, my neighbor came to call. Notice how she tried to match her polka-dotted coat to the new paint on my door (clicking on the right-hand picture will make her efforts clear). Cool.

I also have an upstairs neighbor – a cat, living between the ceiling and the actual roof. I’ve watched her going home, kind of amazing how she scales up the screening on the windows. She’s mostly active in the mornings – at some point after I wake up I can hear her dancing around. I’m hoping she will not make efforts to turn this space into a Kitty Birthing Center to rival the Puppy Birthing Center (if you click on this link, you need to scroll about half-way down the page - into the 23 July posting - to read about the Puppy Birthing (and Rehab) Center) of my last home.

Check out the website for where we are at this time – it’s much more informative of what’s going on than this blog entry is and has some great pictures and descriptions of the family I’ve joined here - including a picture and some of the story of Yaw Balloon, the guy I referred to above (click on the children, the third tab down on the left, and then scroll down the new page).


At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Rick said...

Thanks for the update and all the photos and information. It helps to get a sense of what things are like there. The Pool looks like a lot of fun! I'd be interested in learning more about the business/sales aspects of your project, that sounds challenging. As for a new name for your blog - hmmm. Maybe "Hand in Hand in Nkoranza"?

At 4:13 PM, Blogger MJ said...

Glad to see you finally had time to post about your new work. Thanks also for the link providing more info about the place and the work done there. The picture of the week was pretty interesting too, by the way.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger MJ said...

Trying this again--don't know why it's showing the post as from the West Bend News when I did put down a different identity. I'll see how this one shows---but thanks again for all the info and the great pictures. If it still shows as West Bend News--well you know who that is.

At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi steve, Thank for this nice update of your new mission, small small you get to know your role it seems very nice.
I am sad that I did not have the opportunity to visit before leaving ghana. but I know we will see each other again. Next time I want see picture of father Peter and bob.

At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
The kind of love you have for less fortunate personalities is amazing. You are really doing a marvelous job. Keep it up.

At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
It is wonderful to see some photos from your new mission! Thanks for your great work and wonderful mission to your brothers and sisters there in Nkoranza.

At 6:50 AM, Blogger krampatt said...

Hey Steve, looks like I was pretty lucky to see you in Madison when I was there. So glad you've found something you really want to be doing. Looks like great work. Will likely be camping with Chaz and David Simmons in May.

Keep in touch and thanks again for the window into your life.


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