Wednesday, 15 June 2016
Monday, 13 June 2016
Sunday, 12 June 2016
Saturday broke dreary and rainy for the wedding of Meagan and Kirk. It was cold, so Memory donned her traditional outfit and along with that she put on my sweater and Sandy's winter dress coat (yes, it was that cold, even we were wondering where the sun went!) The wedding was beautiful, almost a full Ukrainian ceremony (without the mass) and Meagan was the most beautiful bride. Memory had a smile on her face every time she saw the bride, she was stunning!
Ray is here from Idaho as well, so we need to go on a bison hunt! Memory has never seen a bison, and they are formidable creatures that everyone should get a chance to see once in their life! We drove down the highway towards Vegreville, certain that bison spotting would be easy. No bison on the highway so into Elk Island Park we go, right to the "Bison Loop". Who names a road "Bison Loop" when there are no bison? This is the best we could do for Memory, the wide open plains in front of her....with no bison :(
Friday, 10 June 2016
Thursday, 9 June 2016
I cannot imagine being this adventurous. Here she is, thrown into a family in disarray (ok, we say we will eat at 5 but really it's going to be 7). I picked Memory up from the airport and, after dropping her luggage off we went veggie shopping at H &W. I think our meat is fine, potatoes are starch,but veggies? Fruit? I need guidance. Memory, bless her,was not much help. Except for the watermelon at the end.
I like celery. Grab some, even though it's not something she's had before. Green onions. Yum. Some zucchini (she thought it was cucumber) cantalope, and lo and behold...they gave us a free watermelon! Get home with our haul and find no Cheese Whiz.....imagine celery without it...yes, she hates it. Wish I had a picture of her face when she tried it without Cheese Whiz.
I'm all over the place tonight. Tomorrow we work...tomorrow we will try to solve the problems of a small but mighty credit union in Malawi. Tomorrow is what I live for, as long as I can keep her off that longboard.....
Wednesday, 8 June 2016
I was reminded today, as I presented a meeting in one of our historical branches in the city, what a credit union was and what we want it to continue to be. Our 149th Street branch is steeped in history, Firefighters Credit Union history to be exact. Memory arrives tomorrow. She represents, to me, the history of credit unions. From Lilongwe, Malawi, Memory has traveled to Canada with the hope of creating a stronger and more sustainable credit union. And we have the honour of hosting her for the next 9 days.
So begins our journey. I do not know what fears Memory houses...but I know what lies within me. Imagine, if you will, hosting someone in your home without understanding what "comfort" may mean to them.....what "clean" might mean...what "home" might feel like. Delainey and I went out today in search of "chips" which Memory indicated are part of her breakfast. Chips? Lays? Dill Pickle?? We have decided on a variety, banana chips (which I fear will not make the grade), casava chips (which may make the grade) and plantain chips (which I ate frequently while in Ghana, and have come to enjoy immensely).
I'm hoping that you will join us on this journey that begins tomorrow. If you are able to physically join us that will show Memory our close knit village. If you can only be with us in spirit then that will resound as well. Memory will be taking in many valuable lessons at Servus, along with (I hope) many familiar scenes where neighbors are getting together with neighbors.
I hope this is a time that we, as a credit union and a family, in Edmonton can get together and display some of the community spirit that I have witnessed firsthand while traveling in Ghana.
Memory is missing her two precious daughters, Kate and Angel, who are waiting for her to return home. She has chosen to spend her birthday, June 11, away from family and friends, to further develop her credit union...and her community...at home. I already admire her, and I have not yet met her. I hope that you join us on our journey!
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
OK, Dorothy isn't with me but Nancy is. We are in Faversham, Kent, England. We have a beautiful room in the Sun Inn, originally built in 1349. Yes, 1349. As a Canadian it is hard to even imagine 1349, but here you see this kind of history everywhere you turn. It's in the cobblestone streets, in the residences that have withstood centuries of wear, and in the churches where people mourned and buried their dead-marking the graves with sad missives carved in stone in the 1500s. It's a different world than Africa, and Nancy and I are both grateful for that. The pace is slow here, the weather crisp, it's what we need.
So this isn't Africa. Am I missing Ghana? In a way I am. I miss the people, and the new adventures that one anticipates will be around every corner. But that's looking back now, and I'm looking forward to getting on the plane on Friday in London and coming home to see my family and friends. It's been a long trip and I'm thankful for this little town that is rejuvenating and relaxing, and for the chance to walk on the soil of my forefathers.
Monday, 2 March 2015
I hate goodbyes. They are so sorrowful and really difficult to deal with. Most of the coaches just got on a bus to Heathrow, they are disbursing to different parts of the world to go live the lives they left behind when we started this journey. And it is a journey. I hugged Jackie, Laurie and Katherine-it is their first journey to Africa, and I remember what it was like last year saying goodbye. They are going home with stories that will touch the hearts of coworkers and friends, and they will be thinking of coming back next year. I hugged Liam and Larry, gentlemen that they are, their lives forever changed because of the women they were forced to live with for the past fortnight. And Louise, she has kept me sane and in good humour for the past two weeks, how do you say thank you for that? You don't, you just give hugs and pleasantries and then you cry. At breakfast this morning we were chatting about what we were doing today. Some were leaving, others were going to enjoy some sights this city has to offer. A couple were thinking of checking off "Phantom of The Opera" on their bucket list, something that we did on Saturday. Some are going to see Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trefalger Square. But nobody is doing what Nancy and I are.....when they asked us we were unique. We were the only ones that could say,
"We are going to Faversham."
I know, I can almost see the blank look in your eyes. It is the same look that those around the table gave us this morning. Deer in the headlights. In the late 1800s Horace Bloxham Hawkins, my great grandfather, made his way across the ocean from Faversham to settle down in Winnipeg with his lovely wife Bessie. I am going to find my roots. I am going to stand on the soil of my forefathers, wander the streets they wandered over a century ago, and hopefully find where they were laid to rest. The journey ended this morning when the coaches started to say goodbye, and now my new jouney, however short, is about to begin.
We are going to Faversham. I am going with my illustrious partner from last year, Nancy, who is "along for the ride," If you think you had a blank look on your face when you read that line you should see the looks Nancy is getting. She happily describes splitting up to cover more ground in the graveyard, she has a plan.
So now dear readers, I have to take my leave. I am going to find the house Horace was raised in, and the house that his father, Thomas, was born in. Hopefully there is a story in Faversham. If there is I will be sure to let you know.
Saturday, 28 February 2015
This isn't a physically stuck in Africa. This is a mentally stuck there, I think very similar to last year, only last year I could hold my breath and hope that I did a good enough job that CCA would be able, in good conscience, to invite me back for a second year. this year is the end of my two year commitment so now there's a real possibility that I may never set my feet on Ghanaian soil again in my lifetime and that is cause for reflection. We have arrived in London for the debrief. The Ghana CCA and Irish coaches have had a wonderful day, thanks to Louise for dragging us around London for 12 full hours of unbelievable sites. We toured Westminster Abbey. I can check "See Phantom of the Opera at the place it began" off my bucket list. We did The Tube. We walked in the rain together. Nancy used the umbrella to protect my Phantom program from getting wet inside its protective plastic bag. We are now nicely fitted in our hotel rooms, with hot water and what seems to be unlimited power. I got to message Sandy tonight with no interruption of wifi. I should be delighted.
|OK Louise, which way?|
|#CCAcoaches meet again!|
|Look, no hands!|
I have to chalk it up to jet lag. I had a wonderful day with wonderful people, in a wonderful city that has a rich history and beautiful sites....but I'm missing Ghana already. Tomorrow morning is our debrief, maybe that will put everything into perspective for me. For tonight I'm just thinking that the right is wrong, and the left is right, I'm not too sure which way to look crossing the street unless I'm staring at Liam or Louise's back and just blindly following...and I've had a beautiful journey so far.
|Regina, another inspiring woman|
|How can Kofi be 80???|
Friday, 27 February 2015
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
The Ghanain people are by far the most hospitable that I have come across in my travels thus far. That being said, although English is the official language here there are over 70 tribal languages that are spoken. Most are "mutually intelligible" according to my sources [Wikipedia] but we must realize that sometimes things may inadvertantly [or purposely] get lost in translation. I thought, if you were kind enough to "slog through my blog" yesterday, with the visions of Debbie standing by the sea darkly reflecting on humanity, you may need a little humour to make up for it and maybe have you visit again. So, instead of taking you through yesterday [which was a wonderful day at Ramseyer CU and the meeting with the full Board was fantastic] I will give you a few "faux pas" that have occurred to Louise and I over the weekend and tonight.
Firstly, you all know the story of ending up on a canopy walk instead of a slave castle...this is an example of purposeful rather than accidental. Nancy and Larry's driver, Bright, listened to them when they said that we all wanted to do the Elmina slave castle Satrday and then, becase they had a shorter drive home, they wanted to do the Kakum canopy walk Sunday morning. As near as we can figure Bright decided there was way more time to do the canopy walk on Saturday, and the slave castle Sunday AM.....it didnt occur to hìm that we planned it in such a way to avoid some severe phobias.....lost in translation, you know the outcome, I walked the canopy walk.
For a week or more now I have been thinking I am the center of the universe. OK, Sandy caused this, but I walk down the street and everyone is calling my name. DEBBIE!debbie!debbie! I always turn around and smile although they don't seem to be particularly interested in me...and always seem to be saying my name with a little venom...Today I remembered to ask Alfred what my name meant in Twi. He said it didnt mean anything, which clearly is disppointing to someone who is the center of [Sandy's] universe. Then he got a good chuckle. All those people calling my name on the street...."Daabi" is the Twi word for "no", Burst my bubble. Lost in translation.
Tonight, knowing that we should not anticipate anything on the menu for fear it isnt available Louise and I asked our friendly waiter, Fred, if the chef had any pizza [we have lucked out once during our stay]. Fred rushed off and came back saying no, there was no pizza, but he could get us one. What a nice lad. We told him around 6 PM to have it delivered. Our other waiter, Michael, came up to us shortly after and asked us what we felt like for supper as the chef had two pizzas left. We thought Fred had gone to Michael and talked to him about the pizza. At 6 PM tonight Fred delivered the delivery pizza to our table. About the same time Michael brought our pizza from the kitchen,,,,don't ask, we bought the wait staff a pizza for their dinner tonight...lost in translation.
Power outages are common here, tonight was no exception. Louise and I had settled ourselves around the pool and were busy writing our report when the power went out. Normally the generator kicks in at the 5 minute point, but it didnt this time. I am a big subscriber to Louise's mantra "Dont let it in" [meaning eyes forward, it's all good] but when the giant bug landed on me I did let out a pre Africa shriek [but maintained my sense of humour]
Michael: "Ma'am, have you both provided for the mosquitoes?"
Me: "Yes Michael, we have blood."
Michael: "Very good ma'am. Thank you, all is fine."
Louise and I thought that was good crack, [here's your Irish saying for the day] and giggled a little as he walked away, assured we had provided for the mosqitoes.
The power outages are a little like camping, blackout conditions but the possibility of reprieve with a little light. Now, the "light" is a segway as we had the best day of our skin turning into other's amusement today. We were at our new credit union and we were taking a walk around the block to bounce some ideas around. We walked by two older ladies, one was staring at us intently so I said hello. She didnt answer, but held my gaze until we passed. I felt that she was still looking at us so I stopped, turned around, and she was staring at Louise's legs. She looked, laughed, then went on her way....lost in translation? Louise has the perfect white skin like Delainey, but I have to admit, she does stand out here in Ghana. She stops toddlers from crying and school children in their tracks, both of which happened today.
I can only wish I had that much attention....it will never be the same....."Daabi! Daabi!"
Monday, 23 February 2015
Canadian author, Lawrence Hill, penned "Book of Negroes" in 2007, for those of you who haven't read it this is a book that you cannot put down. I'm prefacing this post with the fact that I have read this book (among others about the slave trade) and it may make me a little pensive in the writing, just like I was pensive the whole day today. It could be that I was still reeling from actually doing the canopy walk at Kakum, but I needed a little time by myself last night. I walked down to the ocean and stood and looked out over the vast expanse wondering if there was much difference from the look of the ocean in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Probably not. I could see Elmina castle (St. Georges Castle) in the distance, a place that best be remembered forever for the number of lives lost in it's stone dungeons and the number of lives forever changed as the slaves left their homeland through the "door of no return." This was a powerful experience, one that I liken to Sandy's and my tour of Auschwitz in 2012. So many souls left this earth in this structure, it's almost palpable as you walk through it. Our guide told stories as we entered each area-here, there were at least 150 women, children and babies with four small pots in each corner to relieve themselves....here is where the governor stood as the women were brought out into the yard for him to choose one....here is where the men were thrown who tried valiantly to revolt-only left to die with no food or water. It could be up to three months that these men, women and children sat in the filth of this place before the ship came to take them away. To what? Fates worse than death in many cases. Three months. The strength of the people echoes in the walls.
I'm reminded again how many times that humanity has been lost. How many times people have turned a blind eye to something so utterly wrong....you can only pray for the souls and hope that you have the strength to not turn a blind eye in the face of a travesty like this.
Sunday, 22 February 2015
Last night was interesting. Now, I want to let you know that this hotel we are in is very nice, and although there is no hot water you really don't need it because it's so hot. I have a bathroom, a little balcony and a bed which is all I need. I was in the bathroom last night getting ready for bed (excited about the coming visit to the slave castles!) when a little movement caught my eye. There seemed to be something coming up the toilet. I did what any good camper would do, I sat on the edge of my tub, interested. A few minutes later up came a small snake....he looked at me, I looked at him, he looked at me.....I flushed. Wow. Something to laugh about, but my heart was pounding....looked like a baby, where was mom? Why did he pick me? Why Room 119? Why tonight? As I sat on the tub it appeared that he wanted to answer all these burning questions and he reappeared in my toilet again. I bolted to the phone, called the front desk, and they told me "Flush it madam." I came back in and looked at him, he was actually trying to get back down my drain (which I was relieved about) and I helped him do it. If you love something...set it free.....he didn't come back. My wonderful husband, forever the recorder of all occasions on his camera, had one question: "Did you get a picture?" No, honey, no....it slipped my mind. I will try to do better next time.
3 Lord's prayers
25+ "I'm scared" repeated rapidly for an entire bridge
15+ "I can't do this" again, rapidly in succession.
20+ "He said don't look down, so don't look down. YOU LOOKED DOWN YOU IDIOT"
I videoed myself on the first bridge, just to hear it afterwards. It's not pretty. But I did it. I beat my fear for once. And I'm Debbie, I think I might have had a little Abenna in me today, but I'm Debbie and I can do a canopy walk!!! POWER!!!!