My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Adventures in Ghana

So, yesterday was an adventure...

I took the volunteers to Accra to change in money, buy a few supplies, have a nice American lunch, and hit up the Arts market.  We did all that and more!

We made it into Accra around noon, only to find out that the power was out in the mall.  Of course, they had generators to keep everything going, but many of the stores were not running their a/c's due to the power outage.  Let me just tell you...on a busy Saturday, when the humidity is skyrocketing, and you are packed in the supermarket with hundreds of other people...it was not a pretty sight.  I was so sweaty by the time we left the mall, I kept thinking, "Oh man, this is going to be quite the day!".

After a quick trip through the mall, we went to this cute little cafĂ© that we've been to a couple of times before.  They have great smoothies and their food is delicious--sandwiches, wraps, and salads.  A little taste of home!  When we pulled up, their power was out as well (of course), so while it was sweltering inside the restaurant, we pulled up tables underneath the shade of their tree outside and we were quite comfortable.  We enjoyed our smoothies, chatted, laughed, talked about the week that had passed so quickly, talked about others preparing to leave (Jessica and Austin leave on Tuesday and Kathy sadly leaves on Saturday).  It was such a nice afternoon of food, and friends, and fun!

And then, it was off to the Arts market for all kinds of fun touristy items.  It's always a little adventure there for our volunteers.  They try out their skills in bartering, get to look at all the different handicrafts available here in Ghana (we're known for our cloth, some basket-weaving, beads, and various wood carvings, though you can pretty much find anything in the market!).  I pretty much meandered through the different stalls, helping occasionally with a bartering transaction, but trying to let them do it on their own as much as possible.  After about an hour, their money was gone, and it was time to go home.

So, off we went.  And here is where the real adventure began.

Emily and Kathy have been waiting for a local seamstress to complete their clothes for almost a month's time.  They asked me to call her again, so while I was thinking about it, I picked up my phone and called Aunty Rose to check in on the progress of their clothes.  And a policeman saw me talking on my phone.  A carload full of obrunis.  A big 4x4 vehicle.  And an obruni on her phone.  All not good signs.  Needless to say, I was pulled over in the middle of the roundabout (the last place I needed to get through before getting on the motorway headed toward home).  He took my license (thank goodness I had my Ghanaian driver's license--I think that helped a little) and told me he was going to take me to the police station and process me.  I could hear Emily make a little noise in the backseat and I immediately scolded her thinking that if we stirred up any trouble, it would only get worse for us.  At that point, all the volunteers got so quiet, I wasn't even sure I could hear them breathe.

The policeman took my driver's license and made me sit and wait and wait and wait, occasionally coming back to my window to let me know that he was going to send me to the police station for the offense I committed.

Knowing that if I got upset with him, it would only make matter worse and also knowing that he wanted a bribe, which I REFUSE to give, I just sat in my seat with the saddest face I could muster and begged him over and over, apologizing for what I had done, telling him about the work I do here in Ghana with "my children", begging for him to show me mercy.  At one point, he walked away for about 15 minutes to direct traffic again and another cop came to hear my case.  I pleaded with him, and he just told me it was up to his friend.

Finally, the policeman came back to the car (after I had pitifully begged the other policeman to speak on my behalf), and he asked me, "What would they do to you in your country if you were talking on your cell phone while driving?"  Luckily, I had time in Ghana on my side.  I responded, "Please sir, I live here in Ghana.  Ghana is my country.  I understand I have broken the law and I promise that I will not do it again."  He quizzed me about how long I've been living in Ghana and where I stay (which I had already explained to him again and again, but now he was listening), and he slipped me my license and told me to go.  I let out the biggest sigh of relief.  It took about a half an hour to convince him, but we were on our way!

All I was thinking was what would happen if I had to take all these volunteers with me to the police station.  Ack!  I was praying and praying and praying that God would help me.  You should have heard the whoop that let up from our car when they finally gave me back my license and we were back on the road!  What an adventure that was!

Then, the rain started falling.  Not just a little dribble, but a downpour!  My windshield wipers couldn't even keep up with the rain that was pouring down.  The bridges were flooded and we had to slow down considerably on the highway at the risk of hydroplaning.  I was worried that by the time we got to the Children's Village, we would have a time of it driving in through all the wet clay.  And it certainly was!!! 

Austin said that that was his last great experience in Africa--just what he needed to complete his trip.  We had a lot of wheel turning, a lot of side-ways driving, a lot of slipping and sliding, reversing and trying it again at a different angle, but we finally made it home!  And I was surprised to see the electricity on, and it stayed on throughout the whole night, even with the drizzle on and off all night long.

Needless to say, today it poured down again (thank goodness, it was after we had planted our corn and peppers), and our water was turned off again (2nd week with no water...arggghhhh), but we filled up every possible water receptacle here in the house with rain water.  Tomorrow, hauling water from the well begins again. 

Adventures in Ghana...

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