Here is an inspiring update from Stacy Marr, who is writing about her experiences as she volunteers her services to the Bizung School of Music and Dance, located in the city of Tamale, Northern Ghana. To learn more about her journey, see her previous post, Volunteering at the Bizung School of Music and Dance, Ghana. Photo credits: Stacy Marr.
By Stacy Marr
A special day was in store for me as I was asked by Chief Suale to meet the Elders of his village.
It had rained that morning and I mean bucket loads of rain to the point when peering outside my bedroom window, the rain appeared to be continual white sheets. I wasn’t sure if we were going to have a chance to travel considering the monsoon rains and the road leading to the village is rough and unpaved. However, the sun was making its way through the clouds and the sky had cleared by late morning. It turned out to be the perfect day for such an adventure into the countryside.The Journey
Chief Suale picked me up and as we turned off the main throughway, the roar of the busy street dissipated. No tall buildings or the hustle and bustle of Tamale could be heard, only the quiet of nature surrounded us.
The landscape quickly changed to a lush, green countryside with towering trees and gorgeous, colorful flowers dotting the roadside. A bright iridescent blue bird winged its way across the sky and a red-orange butterfly as big as my hand floated to a nearby wild flower.
We saw a few boys tending to a herd of goats just off the side of the road. When we stopped to take a photograph, the boys took off running until Chief Suale called out to them in their native language. The boys stopped and laughed at themselves. I’m not sure what they were thinking, but the Chief and I had a good chuckle at this as well.
Traditional mud huts with thatched roofs began to appear as we sped along the bumpy, dirt road. Most people here have not traveled outside their villages since nearly everything they need and use comes from the land.
We came upon a stream by the road where children were playing, singing and swimming. I stopped to take a photo and immediately the children climbed out of the water and swarmed around me and Chief Suale. I don’t know for sure, but I believe I may have been the first Caucasian they had ever seen.
The children appeared inquisitive, wondering about this stranger who was decisively different from anyone they had seen before. Chief Suale was my translator, but when we asked questions, they became a bit shy and smiled—big beautiful, beaming smiles. After a bit of conversation and a few photos, we bid them farewell, good tidings and set off again for the Chief’s village.
I didn’t know what to expect upon arriving at the village, but I came to realize that I was the guest of honor.
As I walked through the village, there were young children playing and a man weaving thick reeds into a large basket. I felt I had stepped back in time and into a National Geographic photograph. I was escorted to one of the mud huts where three Elders were waiting for me. They expressed their happiness that I had traveled to their village and I conveyed my gratitude and thanks for their kind hospitality.
Chief Suale began chatting with the Elders on several topics, including what was needed within the village. I wasn’t fully aware at the time, but when you’re a Chief, you make decisions to help and assist everyone within the village. That’s what Chiefs do (among many other things); they are the decision makers and do what is best for the community as a whole.
One item that came up during their discussion was the need for a medical clinic. Such things as band aids, antiseptic creams, and hydrogen peroxide are not as accessible and readily available as they are in the States. It was moving to witness this exchange: Chief Suale chatting with the Elders and expressing his desire to help his village in every way possible to ensure that they all would enjoy healthy and thriving lives.
I noticed that a group of children had appeared just outside the door of our hut. When I turned and peered out towards them, they giggled and smiled. I waved to them and they returned the gesture. These children, their joyful spirit, and their genuine goodness touched me. No words were needed—just a simple act to connect.
I spent some time with the Elders, talking about their lives, and the village. They also asked me about my life and my family. Now our meeting was drawing to a close. The sun was starting to set and we needed to travel back to Tamale before it got dark.Goodbyes
I thanked the Elders for their time, graciousness, and hospitality. One of the Elders rose and asked me to wait. When he returned, he handed me a sack filled with guinea hen eggs. He wanted me to know how much they all appreciated me traveling to their village and wished me good health and a blessed life. I was so taken aback by this tremendously kind gesture that tears welled up in my eyes. Food is a precious commodity in Tamale, so to give someone whom you’ve just met a dozen guinea hen eggs is a special gift indeed. I thanked them for their kindness, generosity and wished them all well.
We said our goodbyes and as we rode off towards the city, I was overwhelmed with feelings of joy and happiness. The Elders and the people from this village had received me with open arms as if I was one of their own. I felt lucky to have met them and to be so welcomed into their village. We may be of a different race, we may not speak the same language and have different cultural backgrounds, but what really matters is what comes forth from the heart. At that moment, my heart was overflowing with love and gratitude.