I had just arrived back from an amazing three days at Mole National Park. All of us JFs, along with some African Program Staff (APS) had taken a tro-tro to the beautiful site to recharge, have fun, share learnings, reflect, plan, and have some awesome discussions. There were elephants, baboons, and warthogs. There was “white people food”, and I ate plenty of vegetables. There was even a swimming pool. It was strange for all of us, going for deep immersion into Ghanaian culture to a setting where we felt like such tourists, but it was a wonderful visit nonetheless.
We were back in Tamale, where we had gathered with the rest of EWBers in Ghana for the “Team Ghana Retreat”. I jolted awake at 6:15am, not sure why my body would not let me sleep. I decided to take the opportunity to go for a walk and have a nice, slow chance to wake up.
It was nice to be on the familiar roads, using simple greetings as I passed others. I decided to stop at the stall selling Egg & Bread, a Ghanaian breakfast classic.
The women working there greeted me, and we had as much of a conversation as I could offer in my broken Dagbani. They laughed as I struggled to ask how their work was going, and how their children were, and finally I decided to just sit down and read. Reading my bible and drinking tea is my favourite morning routine in Canada, and it was nice to have the chance to do it in a beautiful Ghanaian context, with these friendly women providing the “tea” (in this case, Milo, which is still called tea so it counts). I told them I was going for a walk, but that I would “go and come”, saying hello to them as I returned after my lovely walk along Tamale streets.
A few mornings later, I was back at the Egg & Bread, and delighted to see my favourite ladies working there. There were too many of us Canadians to keep track of, so I volunteered to be on “help with orders” duty. This meant getting to stand with my favourite women, helping stir some drinks, remind them of orders, and laugh along with them as they taught me to say “Zayini, Dabai, Dabaata, Dabaanahi, Dabaanu” (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) so that I could communicate “Dabaata Laam” (3 eggs) and “Panu, 30 peswas” (the quantity of bread). After all the time I had had with Canadian friends, it was refreshing to be around such lovely Ghanaians and just appreciate their company.
Working happily together, running to the corner store when they ran out of Nescafe, and patiently serving our large team who was in a rush to pay and return, I just watched and marvelled at these women. The fact that the smiles on their faces could be so large despite such mundane affairs for them gave me so much joy, and I truly consider my experience richer because of meeting them.
We never even exchanged names, but I consider them great friends.
p.s. A big shout out to my favourite lady of all – my mom! Happy Birthday, mom!