Saturday, March 7, 2009

Market Day in Damongo

I’m trying to catch up before I forget everything, and so I post one more new post today before I head back home.

After the festivities of yesterday, we settled back into the normal ebb and flow of the Damongo week with a trip to the market this morning. First, we caught a ride across town in Abraham’s vehicle, then made the mistake of asking the children, ‘who wants to come to the market with us this morning?’ Hands shot up, feet left the ground, the begging began. Market Day is one of the great excitements of the week.

After narrowing down the field to, ‘who didn’t get to go last week?’, waiting for the children to put on their best clothes, wash their faces, and find their new shoes—already covered in dust—we set out: 4 Cobruni (foreigners), 12 children, and 1 mouse—yes, you read that right, one mouse (pictures later).

It’s a fairly long walk, and the temperature was already well above 30 degrees Celsius. I, for one, was tired even before we arrived. And even before we reached the market it was time for another shock to my system, as one of the children stopped and pointed to a house along the way, saying, ‘hey, sister, that’s your house!’ We looked at the older girl to which she was referring, and she answer, ‘yes, that was where I lived.’ And as soon as she said that, we heard a call from the opposite direction. Over the rise, out of the maze of houses, there approached a woman who, it turned out, was this young girl’s aunt. She asked how her niece was doing, and explained to us that there were simply too many children to take care of, she couldn’t feed or take care of her sister’s children as well. My heart broke.

As we carried on, we pieced together a bit more of the story. The girl’s mother was still alive, but after the death of her father, they had lost everything, as is the custom in Northern Ghana. In order to survive, her mother had needed to take a job a few hours away, and, even working, she was not able to support her children. She brought them to her sister in Damongo, and there this girl had lived for a while, but there wasn’t enough food, and so her aunt, in what I am sure she thought of as the only loving thing she could do, brought her niece to Pastor Abraham. The girl fell silent at the end of her story.

It’s a story I can’t imagine, and yet it is a story that repeats itself time and again with very little variation here. It’s a story that begs for a solution that is more than one children’s home can offer. It’s a story that Pastor Abraham and others hope to be able to change one day, but, at the same time, it’s a story that will not change over night.

It’s a story that is part of our discussions during my time here, discussions that attempt to get at the root—or at least a deeper root—of the problem. Discussions as to how the widows of this area might be empowered and equipped so that their families need not be torn apart, even though their lives have been by the death of their fathers…

But for now, Market Day, because though it may seem as if the world should stop and stand still at the telling of a story such as this, it continues to roll on without much of a bump at all. And it was soon after this that we exited the maze of houses and goats and chickens to find ourselves facing the burst of colors and sights and sounds that is Market Day.

A gathering of grass-covered wooden structures, it seems to set up on a first-come first-serve basis. There were stalls of kente cloth, rice, maize, pineapples, soccer jerseys—Ghana being most prominent—bags ice water carried upon the heads of women, ready to be taken down and sold to you for a mere 5 pesoas, shoes, sandals, chickens, goats, just about everything you could imagine. And bargaining going on as far as the eye could see. We 4 cobruni attracted some attention, but the people of Damongo are so used to seeing the influx of cobruni surrounded by Pastor Abraham’s children that they barely bat an eye. And from out of the woodwork, the children around us soon grasped food or drink or even a Ghana Cedi (dollar), slipped to them by a relative here, a relative there. It was overwhelming and so much fun to be a part of, but the children quickly tired out.

So, after a parcel of water bags had been passed about, we soon turned our feet back toward RCH, and meandered through the maze of houses once again. Market Day, at least for us, was over.

I can’t believe I’m actually caught up! See you soon!

1 comment:

Marty said...

It reminds me of the days spent playing "kick the can" as a child. We didn't need expensive equipment, just a used tin can. How simple could it be?