Today, I hit the worst button possible on this WordPress blog: “Add new category.” That new category was “After”, meaning that this post officially calls my trip to Ghana to a close.
The flights went smoothly, the planes took off and landed on time, and my brother was only 15 minutes late to pick us up from the airport (well, that’s mostly our fault, Customs and Immigration was pretty fast).
Now I can look forward to the joys of Band Camp, finishing summer reading assignments, getting in shape for cross country season, and the beautiful monster known as the Common App. But at no time will my trip be too far from my mind. Even over the past 36 hours, there have been countless moments where something simple reminds me of Ghana in some way. I’m still hesitating to drink water out of a faucet, having mini panic attacks when I feel a mosquito bite me, and confused when my dog actually allows me to pet him (Ghanaian dogs aren’t treated so nicely by….well anyone; if you reach out to pet a dog, it thinks you are going to hit him/her).
I will remember the friendly people I met, the amazing mini-trips I got to experience on the weekends, and chilling out with my fellow volunteers. But as I revert back to my privileged lifestyle, I know my most permanent memory will be all of the young women starting and expanding businesses in the rural villages of Ghana’s Volta Region. With each shower I take, each refrigerator-chilled drink I sip, and each day of my free high school education, I’ll be thinking of Anita, Edith, Evelyn, Margaret, Etonam, and all of the other women I had the honor to meet and work with. While I can sit back and enjoy the rest of my summer, they are out there working hard so they can increase their profits and repay their loans. While I have the opportunity of secondary education handed to me on a silver platter, those women will be struggling to pay to even send their children to junior high.
It’s not fair, but we can make it better than it is. For me, this “After” is merely after the trip. It’s after seeing the hardship, after understanding the disparity, and after realizing our power to do something life-changing for these women.
I’ll be perfectly clear: microfinance will not be the be all, end all solution to an immense problem like poverty. Heck, for a couple of these women, it might not do anything at all. But microfinance is one element of chipping away at the income disparity that defines the world.
This experience will stick to my mind like the Play-doh stuck to those Ghanaian children’s fingers the first time they ever mixed up that wonderful, vibrantly colorful molding clay.
Thanks for reading, and stick around if you would like. There will be a few extra things going up that I didn’t have the chance to blog about earlier.
The traveling is finished….at least for this summer. Backpacking through Europe anyone?