Last week on Monday I was coming home from school with Br. Daniel when we made quite an interesting discovery. I noticed as we approached the base of the hill, aptly named Roman Hill by the villagers, that the men had come to empty the large rubbish container located off the side of the road.
It is nice that they come to take away the rubbish, but honestly they only come about once every three months and most of the rubbish is found on the ground around the container. The workers are very good at sticking to their duties: remove and empty the container. They were never told to clean up the rest of the rubbish, so they don’t. The place never looks like it is being cleaned up.
Anyway, so this one day we drive by to find the semi-empty container sitting on the road up to our house. Rubbish was scattered all over as if the workers had quit in the middle of their job. It turns out that is what happened. In the process of removing the container they managed to knock down one of the cement electrical poles on a knoll next to the dump.(I still don’t know how they managed to do it.) Instead of calling the police and notifying them of the accident the two men jumped into their truck leaving a lot of rubbish and live electrical wires on the ground.
The wires were directly connected to our house and our house only. So luckily we were the only ones effected. We had no light and our water was soon to run out since our pump was shut off. I have found myself without light a million times here, but never because of something like this. My fear, which was shared by Fr. Bob and Br. Dan, was that this is something that might not be able to be fixed for weeks or months, which would not be nice at all.
Fr. Bob acted quickly and went to visit the Electric Company of Ghana (ECG) to see what could be done. Although nothing was done the first night, we were told that if we hadn’t reported the incident right away like we did then we would have been without light for at least a few weeks.(Not really sure why, but you don’t give these people attitude.) So we had no light that night.
The next day I had a great story to tell people at school, but I was worried about the situation. On this day Fr. Bob went back to ECG in his habit to visit one of the big bosses, who is a Catholic, to convince him to fix our pole and give us light. Well, by about 5p.m. we had light again and for a low price, too!
Unfortunately for the two workers who caused all this trouble our gardener, who was taking a “break” from work, witnessed the whole event. It turns out he knows the two workers and where they live. So pretty soon they can be sure that a few of Ghana’s men in blue will show up at their house.
About four months ago we lost our Broadband internet connection and telephone service, which is provided by Ghana Telecom. After making some inquiries as to what the problem was we discovered that it was a theft. A theft? Yes, a theft. Some individuals, not far from our village, dug up and cut the cable in one spot and walked about 20+ meters another direction and did the same. They hooked the cable up to their vehicle and pulled all of it out of the ground. Why? Simply because they want to sell the copper inside the cable.
It took Ghana Telecom a little over three weeks to replace the cable and restore the internet and phone service to our area.
So about a month and a half ago this whole scenario happened again, but this time it was replaced very quickly by Ghana Telecom. In less than two weeks they restored everything.
Two weeks after they replaced the cable was stolen out of the ground again in the exact same spot. We were without internet and telephone service for about three weeks. Just the other day did we get everything restored.
I think I said in a previous blog that many of my students here could benefit from some professional counseling and that even though none of us are trained professionals we try our best. You have to understand how difficult this is.
One of my first year students, Philip, isn’t exactly a great student. He talks during class. He is always late. He often doesn’t come to school at all or leaves during lunchtime for reasons unknown to me. He is a handsome young guy and he always tries to look fresh, even in a school uniform. You can see the fairly short boy walking around always wearing his “tough-guy” expression on his face.(He can never wear it for too long when I come around though.) He tries to be the guy who isn’t affected by anything...the whole macho man, men can’t cry kind of guy.
His English is horrific. He can understand very little of what I say to him so I have had to write down my comments or questions on paper for him to read and respond to when we have one on one discussions. At first I was irritated by him and his behavior. I would always call him a punk, of course no one besides myself understood the word. After a while I saw that he was really trying to change his attitude. He was putting effort into his work and was paying attention in class. I would call on him often and he really tried to participate; but, he was still late for class.
The past two weeks however, he came to very few classes and the ones that he was present at he was as silent as silent could be. In the middle of last week I approached him to see what was wrong.
With tears welling in his eyes he said, “Bro..my mother…dead….”
That is what he told me. So what do you tell a poor Ghanaian boy who lives with his Grandmother, whose father is working and living in Cape Coast, and whose Mother has died. What can you do to help the boy who barely understands your language? How do you comfort a young boy who, with the grief of losing his mother on his heart, has to walk five miles to school with an empty stomach day after day?
I talked to him and told him not to feel sad because his mother is in heaven. I told him not to think about his loss, but rather about what his Mother has gained. I said and wrote a lot of things hoping that something could help him. I listened, even though he could not express himself. I tried my best. Imagine someone giving you an opportunity to talk about something that is causing you great pain, an opportunity that doesn’t come up too often for people out here, and you cannot express how you feel.
I just wanted to tell him that it is ok to cry.