Written by; Marina Peine
My name is Marina Peine, I’m 18 years old and I come from Nieheim, a small town in mid-western Germany. The reason why I decided to spend some time abroad was that I wanted to experience something new and to get to know more of the world. The decision fell on Ghana because it’s an English speaking African country and that was the only claims I had. Until May 2022, I went to school and finished my A-Levels.
Time went by and suddenly I had to prepare for my journey… I applied for a visa, started to pack my suitcase and the whole thing began to feel real. My friends organized a surprise farewell party for me. It was a strange feeling having to say goodbye for six months. On the one hand I was full of excitement but on the other hand I was sad that I already had to leave. But in the days before the departure I had too much to do to be melancholic or to regret the decision.
On the 13th January, 2023 at 2:00 a.m. my family brought me to the airport. I checked in and it was hard to realise that I am not just leaving for some short holidays. When I met the other volunteers at the airport of Amsterdam, my happiness raised again. As we entered the plane to Ghana I felt well, everyone was so nice and helpful. After a six hour flight, the AFS team welcomed me and the other seven volunteers at the airport. The air felt hot, polluted and tropical. Busy people running, talking and shouting everywhere. I was tired, overwhelmed, excited and curious at the same time.
The next days felt like a vacation: taking a tour through Accra, going to the Marina mall (which has become my nickname since then) and swimming in the hotels’ pool. In addition to that we did some organization stuff as well (Non-citizen card, Sim card, Work permit etc.…). The excitement of getting to know the host family and the organization increased more and more.
On Wednesday the 18th January we finally moved to our host families. Mine welcomed me very warmly. After my host sisters, Eugenia and Caroline showed me our house, it was time for a traditional ‘Fufu’ dinner. I ate some bites and my mouth was burning (because of the spice)!! Even if I wanted to try more, I couldn’t. My lovely host mum was understanding and I didn‘t have to eat more. After a walk through Kissehman with Eugenia I went to bed and fell asleep immediately.
On the next day, it was time for me to go to the Fafali Organization. As excited as I was, I already woke up at 6:30 a.m (or maybe it was a mixture of excitement and the time change). My host sister wanted me to have breakfast before I leave, so I was late (on my first day!) but nobody was angry at me. Everyone introduced her/himself to me and I got a two-week-plan to get to know Fafali. The team fully integrated me and I felt very comfortable. I love their balance of being fun and diligent.
“Thank you for sunshine, thank you for rain, thank you for joy, thank you for pain. It’s a beautiful dayyyyy, it’s a beautiful day ayyy.” Everyone knows the song here in Kissehman. In Germany we call it “Ohrwurm” when a melody keeps repeating in your head. I think this song describes the mood of Fafali – being thankful, optimistic, and looking in the future instead of remaining in the past.“
On my first weekend Katharina and Sarina took me to a lovely Art Gallery in Osu and I had the honour to experience my first ‘Trotro’ drive. I was impressed about how 20 people could fit into one van! Overall the traffic in Accra is crazy anyway. On Sunday I had my first Twi lesson and we ate afterwards. It was great to exchange the experiences with the other volunteers. All this was in my first week in Ghana.
I enjoy going to work everyday. Almost every Ghanaian is so happy and friendly. Especially in the afternoon when the kids come back from school, the streets of Kisseman are lively and busy. Chicken and goats cross the street, Children call me ”Obroni“ which means as much as white person and the whole mood is so warm and beautiful. This is my favorite time of the day.
Now I’ve started my own Fafali project at the Unity Baptist School in Christian Village. The name is “Happy Art Club”. The artist, Mic Yorny and I teach 13 children drawing and painting techniques. It takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays. Currently the children work very concentrated and are a little bit shy. However I can imagine that it will change as soon as they get to know us better. The rest of the week I help Katharina with her Fit-for-Fun training and I go to Drum Classes on Fridays. I love to work with children and to see how passionate they are.
I hope my next months will be as great as my first one and that I can have a little positive impact on the lives of the children.
Thank you for reading!