“It’s n-coco, not n-cowcow.”

Ghanaian village names continue to baffle me. I fail to pronounce them 95% of the time and hesitate to say them in ear shot of discerning natives. And our recent trip continued to deliver on difficult ports of call. We went through Kofiridua (I got that one) to Abomosu (almost got that one) and then to Nkawkaw (not even close). Not wanting to pronounce it “n-caca” I went for the much more delicate “n-cowcow”, epic fail. Isaac, who come to find out is a walking GPS, corrected me, “it’s n-coco, not n-cowcow.”

The rest of the trip, however, went off without a hitch as we set off to visit potential schools for future installations. The main attraction was a little school way off the beaten path near Abomosu named Abrenya (got that one too!). After what seemed like a week of traversing muddy trails and crossing a rickety foot bridge, we arrived at the World Joy sponsored school. World Joy is a non-profit who has sponsored the construction or remodeling of 19 schools and health clinics near Abomosu, and on this little excursion we were lucky enough to have Ike and Gloria Ferguson with us. Ike and Gloria have been involved with World Joy for a long time and have, as you can see, a huge following with the locals.

The school was beautiful, very remote, and the children were a little leery of their new visitors. Usually we are flocked by kids when we drive up in our Tata Sumo, but these kids have never seen us before and, understandably so, kept a safe distance between themselves and their intruders. After a little while villagers and teachers came out to greet us and ask what we were doing. And then, when we left, many of them walked behind us and split off through the jungle in their separate ways, headed home or back to the fields.

After a good nights rest, and some country roosters who think 4am is sunrise, we were off through the early morning jungle fog to Akyremanteng (try it, I dare you), one of the pilot schools for our new US produced merry-go-round. This tiny village is perched on a hilltop across a little valley between 2 mountains, got a mental image yet? These children knew who we were and soon after we walked up to their village, smiling children and shouts of “Obruni” surrounded us. Ben, ever the engineer, seized the opportunity to teach a little physics lesson on the merry-go-round about conservation of momentum. Kids were to stand on the outside edge of the merry-go-round and as he pushed he would count 1-2-3 Go! Then they would run to the center and start whirling faster, sending shrieks of delight into the air and claps from the other kids. The funny thing was that we had done this same lesson with high school students at Orem High in Utah with the same response. It amazed me how, much like love and math, play is universal. Laughter and fun are understood no matter where you go, and like a wonderful disease, are both contagious.


Stay tuned. The next post will be shop signs and street vendors, a must read for any true Ghanaian-aficionado and Empower Playgrounds groupie.