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Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Why it’s hard to be raised a Christian

In Ghana everyone is a Christian, or ‘at least’ a Muslim. When you go to the hospital and have to fill out a form to get treatment, you have to fill some basic information and things like what tribe you are from and what religion you follow. Ok, since we’re all obroni’s, the volunteers obviously don’t belong to a tribe, but then the religion question comes up. I’m a Christian, yeah, but the other volunteers aren’t. The person that fills out the form for us asked “I hope you’re a Christian?” When they get no as an answer he looks up with a worried expression. “Ok, but at least you are a Muslim?” Like being a Muslim means that you’re less than a Christian, but you still get a small reference. “At least.” Isn’t everybody equal anymore? Does equality have to change per country? The volunteer says no again, worried that she won’t get treatment because of this. The guy looks up, looks down at the form and just awkwardly crosses the whole question out.

Being here in the volunteer house, I’ve been learning a lot about tolerance. Since everybody here is different in a way, we all have different opinions, and that’s ok. For me, it doesn’t matter how someone thinks or if I think differently. I’m not going to try to force my opinion on anyone just because I think it’s right. I can tell them what I believe and why I believe it, but for me it’s not important to have someone believe in the exact same thing. I just think people should think about life every once in a while and decide for themselves what is the best way to live it.

That brings me to deciding for yourself. That is what has been bothering me lately. I was born and raised a Christian and I have always thought that was the right way to live my life. Even if the rest of the world doesn’t believe it, my mom believes it so I do too. It’s not like my mom told me that Christianity is right and everything else is wrong, it’s just the way it worked in my head while growing up. Coming here and seeing there are different ways to live your life is one of the most important lessons I could have ever learnt. It is so important to know who you are in this world and not who other people want you to be. I have always believed in God, but this year it has been really hard for me. Coming here I had to make the transition from believing because I was taught to and believing because I was thinking for myself. And the hardest part of all is to separate my own thoughts from my church’s thoughts and my family’s thoughts. I tried and I’m still trying to distance myself from everything I have learnt, and finding it all out for myself, but it’s so so hard to see if what I’m thinking is really coming from myself.

I was raised in a relatively atheist environment and seprating these things is already hard for me. Here in Ghana, it’s the complete opposite. Everybody believes in God. They pray before meals, they pray for forgiveness, they pray for blessings, they pray for healing. Most of the time they don’t do it because they believe in God, it’s just that they don’t know how not to believe in God. When I ask them why they believe, they don’t know how to answer me. Don’t get me wrong, I want them to believe in God, but just not like this. I want them to know God because of God and not because of the world. I want them to think and not just follow.

Being a Christian in Ghana is really hard for me, because I want people to know what they believe and why they believe it instead of just believing. For me, not believing in God and knowing exactly why is better than believing in God because everyone does it. Listening to the kids pray should make me feel happy, but it makes me feel uncomfortable instead, because I feel it’s not true. One of my favourite verses is 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and it goes like this: “Test all things and hold fast that which is good.” Another translation says “Examine everything carefully and hold fast to what is good.” Not everyone believes in the Bible, but you have to admit that this is a good verse. The Bible is telling us not to just accept, but to examine everything carefully and to stick to what is right. That right there is what really matters, in my opinion.

RME textbook for primary 5

RME textbook for primary 5


Back in Accra!

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t blogged in well over a month… For a change it’s not because I was being lazy, but because I literally couldn’t blog. (I just waited for two weeks after I arrived before I finally started writing this, but well xD) Me and a couple of other volunteers left to Larabanga in the northern region of Ghana to volunteer at a school over there and it’s safe to say that it was Completely different and absolutely amazing!

So the 26th of March Elise, Faye, Elin and I went on a little 18 hour bus ride to Larabanga. So yeah, I live in the Netherlands. You can go from top to bottom in the Netherlands in around 3 hours. I think it’s safe to say that Ghana is just a little bit bigger… Looking out of the window during the bus ride I could literally see the environment change. Up north everything is different. The air is dryer, the people look different, most of the population is Muslim instead of Christian, food is prepared on the open fire and for me everything just felt a little bit more Ghana.


Our little clay huts

We stayed about half an hour away from Mole national park. Since Mole doesn’t really have anything like a fence to keep the animals inside, all the animals that were there were also in our back yard. Hussein, our host father took us for a walk about 10 minutes away from the house so we could see crocodiles (in the lake where the kids fetched water), elephant tracks and buffalo tracks. One night Hussein pauses for a moment saying “Did you hear that? It’s a hyena, about a kilometer away.” On one of our last nights when we went to the lake for a bit, I almost tripped over a crocodile. Sitting next to the lake in the afternoon, and around 50 cows come running to drink some water. Women carrying buckets of water on their heads are running away so they won’t get trampled. In the morning the first two things that walk by a window waking you up, a chicken and a goat. Oh, Ghana. What animals do you think I see at home in the wild? A squirrel or a runaway dog… I love this country!

The teaching was also definitely something else. Since Larabanga is a kinda small village, the kids have a little less education. The school there basically relies on volunteers coming to teach. If there are no volunteers, there are almost no teachers. When we first arrived, Elise and I taught together so we got the biggest class. Primary 2. For the first few days we called it the class from hell… There are 38 kids who can’t speak a whole lot of English. Honestly, it was really tough. I felt like giving up so many times, but I’m really happy I didn’t. Instead of giving up I decided to learn some basic words in Kamara, the local language and to keep trying. Of course when kids learn something new and they don’t understand, they get messy, but that moment when they smile because they actually understand something is priceless. I will never forget the looks in their eyes when they found out they liked learning. Once one kid understands, this kid can explain it to another kid in Kamara and so on. After a while I started liking class 2 more and more.

The school grounds

The school grounds

Class 3Class 3

Besides that I quickly got really attached to the atmosphere there. In Larabanga we didn’t have wifi, supermarkets, fan ice every 10 metres… It was very very peaceful. In the morning we woke up at around 6 (Partly because of the chickens going crazy next to our door). We had breakfast, we went to school from 9am to 1pm and after that the day is what you make of it. I spent a crazy amount of time reading and just going for random walks. Going from a house with about 20 volunteers to walking around and having no one around was weird, but good weird. From having people constantly walking in the room to having to look around to find a person to talk to.. It was a really nice change of pace! Granted, for complete quiet it was better to stay in the room or wander in the forest. Walking to the lake or to town usually led to around 10 kids instantly trying to hold your hands for ever. During our stay we also got to eat a lot of the traditional ghanaian dishes. Fufu, banku, kenkey and TZ. I literally loved All of them! Still every time I tell someone around here that my favourite dish here is kenkey, they laugh and act surprised. I’m guessing most obroni’s aren’t that excited about this one. As for me, I dread the day when I get back home and I’m looking for some kenkey, and I can’t find any because I’m living in obroni land…

When Faye and Elise decided to leave both Elin and I felt like staying a little longer, to write the kids exams and enjoy the peace and quiet a little more. We started giving afternoon classes before the exams, we wrote the exams and then we found out there was no way to print the exams… We found out the night before the first exam. That night the two of us copied 3 exams for P2, 3 and 4. That is exactly 74 copies of exams that we had to write out in one night. Afterwards I’m still laughing about all of it but at that time I can’t even tell you how much my hands were hurting XD. The rest of the week basically looked like this. Wake up, double check exams, breakfast, write exams, school till 1pm, write exams, afternoon classes from 3 to 6, write exams, shower hour, write exams, dinner, write exams, sleep. I think you get the basic point, we spent a lot of time writing exams xD. But let’s go back to the point where my kids showed up for afternoon classes for 3 hours a day, every day! The nice kids in class that wanted to learn spent an extra 3 hours at school just to have me help them read! That’s amazing.

I felt really sad when I left Larabanga. Especially when literally all of the people we’ve been living with came up to us, one by one, to tell us how much they appreciated our stay. Awula, the 14 year old girl that acts like a 25 year old if you see all the hard work she does, was begging us not to leave. Everyone was sad when we left. That was really really hard. I really miss Larabanga, but I missed the kids in the orphanage like crazy for those 5 weeks. Coming back and having all the kids run up to me again, telling me how much they missed me. That was definitely worth it. Man I love those kids ❤


Awula. The most amazing 14 year old I’ve ever met. Seriously, the women in this country are so naturally beautiful and strong and amazing!


Oh wait, I almost forgot about the part whene I went to Mole National Park and saw some elephants and when I went to Wechiau to see Hippo’s! Seriously, in Wechiau we slept on a tree platform and we could hear the Hippo’s at night on land and we could see them in the water during the day. It was so so so freaking Awesome!!


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