A Letter from Ghana
Photos and Captions by Catherine Rinko-GayWhen most people think of studying abroad, they imagine doing their homework on a quiet spot beside the Right Bank of the Seine, or passing St. Paul's Cathedral as they walk home from class. For me, after my class in the Ghanian language of Twi given by Professor Kofi Saah, there is nothing I like more then to walk down the red-dirt path past a pineapple seller and a woman who fries plantains, to the Osu Children's Home.
"I lend them my camera all the time and they take pictures of every little thing that brings them joy."
I am a junior in the Department of Teaching and Learning, studying childhood education and special education at the NYU Center in Ghana. I chose to study in Ghana because I wanted to be able to volunteer with children at a place where my help was really needed. Osu Children's Home is a community for orphaned, abandoned, and needy children from birth to eighteen years old. My official job is helping in the nursery, feeding babies and changing diapers. When I began volunteering, I noticed right away how fascinated the older children were with my camera.
The awe struck girl is three. The photo was taken by a nine year old.
Where I saw a world of hopeless poverty; they saw a life filled with highs and lows; joys and sorrows. I saw children who don't have underwear to call their own, whose toys they are often are empty water bottles and rocks, and the children saw the good times - like a friend goofing off.
I lend them my camera all the time -- they return it usually while I am bottle-feeding a baby -- and they take pictures of every little thing that brings them joy. This could be a sticker I gave them or a pile of new donations to sort through.
In this picture, a young boy is going through a pile of donations from various organizations across Europe. The pink tights he has on his head are one of his first discoveries. The home is mainly supported by donations from all over the world.
This photo was taken on Valentine's Day. The child liked the way the light through the tree above formed a heart. The photographer's name was Emmanuel, and he has a really good eye.
Flourence taking a picture of herself. She is deaf, but very smart. We communicate through sigh language.
An amazing part of my experience abroad is learning how children view their own world, and seeing the world through their eyes. The children of the Osu Children's Home don't want people to feel sorry for them. They want the same things all kids want - to spend good times with their friends, to be cool, to feel loved.