Research Has Begun!

4 Jun

I went to bed feeling a little on the burned out and overwhelmed side last night…but today changed everything. I went for a great (but very hot) run with Lorenzo this morning and took the most refreshing bucket shower ever (that was not sarcastic!) After a quick breakfast, Paula, Megan, and I headed over to the nursery at Asuansi to observe and meet the kids. We had been invited last week by Solome, one of the teachers at the primary school, and she was so excited to see us. The classroom tiny and packed with about 30 rambunctious toddlers, but the kids were in disbelief when we walked in the door. All of their eyes were like saucers, and most had probably never seen a white person before. We observed Solome for quite some time and then learned that they teach English through song and dance because they don’t have any school supplies. At one point, Megan walked over to a young boy, and he started sobbing. She asked Solome what was wrong, and she said he was frightened of the color of our skin and afraid we were going to take him away. It was an incredibly disheartening reality. Most were very curious, however, and I soon had children surrounding me and climbing on my lap. I felt strange about just walking into a school and doing research, but we got permission from the headmaster to start today. I ran back home to grab my equipment and came back armed with my scale, measuring tape, growth charts, and data tables. I was soon mobbed by kids who were all eager to step on this strange black device. It was incredibly overwhelming at first, but I finally figured out a system and ended up measuring 20 students. Many had swollen, hard stomachs, characteristic of edema, and it was incredibly eye-opening and sad to see in person as opposed to in a textbook photo. One girl in particular, Priscila, grew extremely attached to me and did not want to be set down. She had gorgeous brown eyes, and when I left, she followed me with her gaze until I was out of the building. A few minutes later, we were talking to the teachers, and she suddenly appeared at my side. I promised her I would come back, and even though I don’t think she understood me, I’m going to make every effort to visit a few times a week.

After leaving the Asuansi school, we stopped home for lunch and then headed out to the Abakrampa Senior High School. I wasn’t expecting to do much research there, as the students on the upper end of my age range, but I ended up running right into the food and nutrition teacher! We had a fantastic talk, and she told me all about their program. She also said that religion plays a significant role in the malnutrition problem here because some Ghanaian religions forbid people from eating certain nutritious foods, such as beans and legumes. She was incredibly knowledgeable and also very grateful for the research I’m doing here. She asked if I would please come back in a few weeks and share my findings with her.

After heading back to Yamadam, I packed for our five day journey, took another rejuvenating bucket shower, and watched the sunset on the porch. After a delicious dinner prepared by Joyce (which she brought over on her head), we had another cleaning sesh, and now we’re all working on our research. I don’t know how much internet I’ll have this week, but I will try to post when I can. Off to Kumasi tomorrow!

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