This blog follows one of the many projects in which Miami students combine service with learning. Eighteen Architecture majors are in Ghana to build a community center for the people of Abrafo-Odumasi village. For more information on participating in such projects contact the Office of Community Engagement and Service.
By enabling you and others to learn from the students' experience, this blog illustrates the integral role that writing plays in a Miami education. For more information about writing at Miami, visit the Roger and Joyce Howe Center for Writing Excellence.
An opening reception for the Ghana Design/Build Studio 2008 Exhibition will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, in the Cage Gallery, Alumni Hall.
Despite how wonderful it is to be home, it is hard to readjust to the western world, to get over the things we have seen and done.
It seems like only one or the other world should be real. Is it possible that only a few months ago I was spending all day out in the sun shoveling dirt? Does my job here at Miami really matter in the grand scheme of things after the immense poverty I have seen in Ghana? Why is the US and its citizens so lucky?
As sad as I was four days ago to be leaving Abrafo, I cannot express how wonderful it is to be home.
The flight back to New York from Accra seemed to (excuse the expression) fly by and I enjoyed my last chance of talking to my Miami seatmates about their plans for when they got back. We loved the airplane food (because it was not our usual Ghanaian chicken and rice) and were probably the happiest people inline as we went through immigration/customs in New York.
Today we said goodbye (or bye bye oo) to Abrafo, our new friends and our beautiful building.
After spending all morning franticly finishing up last minute details (like the door!), we all went to the guesthouse for our last lunch. Josephine had prepared a feast for the workers and us, complete with spicy rice, pasta with red sauce, chicken, stewed vegetables, plantains and pineapple. The tiny guesthouse was filled with people laughing and filling their plates with mountains of food.
With the roof in place and the screeding nearly completed we are realizing all the little things that need to be finished before the goodbye ceremony tomorrow.
There are still a couple of window frames that need to be planed (no sander or saw here, only a plane or a carpenters’ tool that acts like a razor on the wood, taking off thin slices of wood shavings until it get to the right size/smoothness).
We are yet to put the door in place!
The columns need painted.
We are going to be planting some trees to help create some natural shade and hopefully prevent erosion.
With my bum toe (which still bleeds at times and doesn’t fit into my tennis hoe) it has been pretty hard to find jobs I can do at the work site. However, screeding seems like something right up my alley.
All of our walls have to be covered in a concrete mix. I imagine the coating is used to protect the structural integrity of the blocks, but just because I use phrases like “structural integrity” doesn’t mean I really know what I am talking about. Nonetheless, all the rest of the buildings in Ghana also seem to be covered in the stuff.
We have a roof! That’s right, with the walls finally finished and sturdy enough to support the weight, we were able to put up the truss.
You have heard of “shooting yourself in the foot,” well I have done just that by complaining about the routine we have gotten into.
Today I was making block. Rather than being one of the shovelers, I was a carrying person. It seemed like we had been making block for hours. We had settled into a rhythm and were discussing “classic” movies.
It was my turn to lift the mold and drop it to settle the mix inside. Now keep in mind my shoes perfectly match the gray of the block and I had laughed to myself when it was suggested I bring steel-toed shoes.
After the exciting match last week, it was back to work for the Brunie Ballers. While I would love to talk about all the exciting things we did, I am sad to report nothing all that exciting is going on.
After experiencing everything new and exciting the past few weeks, we are starting to settle into a bit of a routine. We get up early and are on the bus by 7 am, in Abrafo by 7:30am, have breakfast, get to the worksite by 8am, work, have lunch at 12pm, are back at work by 1:30pm, then get on the bus to go home by 6ish.
While we are working we are doing one of a number of things:
The world over LOVES futball (aka soccer) and Ghana is certainly no exception. Apparently a few months before we arrived Ghana had hosted the African Cup and the banners celebrating the Ghanaian team could still be seen everywhere. Furthermore with the next world cup being hosted by South Africa and the European Cup on the television every night, it is pretty hard trying to get away from it.
To further embrace out emersion into Ghana, the Abrafo futball team (or club?.... sorry I just know about football) and the ‘Brunie Ballers (us) squared off in a match (aka game) today.