The Warmest Welcome

The day after I arrive is a blur of orientation, rules and expectations. The overall gist being- lower your living standards and the better your experience will be. I know this should worry me but I’m so caught up in the frenzy of change that I don’t think too much about anything. At a humid 81 degrees, it’s hard to think about anything except popsicles.

The ten or so volunteers from team Turquoise and Silver squeeze into a van, red faced and sweaty waiting for our driver. Everyone here operates on Ghana time, at some point something should happen at some time. When this will happen is never known.

When we finally take off we drive for what seems like hours, flashes of ramshackle housing passing by. I repeat silently, “I’m in Africa right now. I’m in Africa right now.” But I can’t seem to process what I’m seeing or feeling. Culture shock permeating my senses.

Team Silver is dropped off first in Kasoa, a bustling mini city full of vendors, trucks and small buildings with Jesus quotes painted on signs out front. As the van pulls up to the homestay, 15 or so little kids run up in sheer joy, pulling volunteers and suitcases out of the vehicle at rapid speed. Their new home is a semi circle of dilapidated structures covered in dust. The remaining Silver people exit the vehicle and as we drive away, I lock eyes with one of the younger volunteers with braces, wide eyed clutching the hand of a small child. Her terror becomes my terror and it hits me…

I moved to Africa and this is my life for the next 8 weeks. Holy hell. This is not the Disney version of Africa. This is not some sugar-coated carnival ride constructed for my amusement. This is Africa. The real deal. Life is no longer a picnic and I will need to adapt quickly to the most unfamiliar territory I have ever known. My hands feel tingly and my heart pounds visibly through my sweat drenched shirt.

We drive away from the hustle and bustle of the city, vendors and storefronts make way to green trees and grassy pastures. My heartbeat grows calmer as we near ocean air. The van bounces over broken dirt roads into a small village, Senya. Locals wave and smile at us as we pass by. We pull into Becky’s Home, the name of the local orphanage and my new life as a caretaker. Children flock to help us out of the van.

“What is your name?”
“What is your age?”
“What is your name?”
“What is your age?”

The same questions repeat over and over as children fight to carry our bags to the volunteer house (located a 2 minute walk from the Orphanage). Alice, a bright and cheerful nine year old hoists my backpacking bag over her shoulders and grins expectantly at me. She asks if I brought her books and I happily reply I did. Thanks to a partnership with The SF Book Project (and my dear mother) I have over 100 books with me. Alice is so excited she chats as if she’s not carrying 50 lbs on her small frame.

Sabina, a sassy and thoughtful six year old, jumps on my hip and hugs me almost immediately

Sabina hanging out on her favorite scarf.
Sabina hanging out on her favorite scarf







“I’m Sabina. What is your name?” Her voice melodic and soothing.
“I’m Lindsay.”
“Hi Lindsay. What did you bring me?” She smiles wide, knowing this ritual like the back of her hand.

“Tickles,” I reply, running my fingers up and down her back. She laughs open mouthed, big shiny teeth take up most of her face and she grips tighter onto my neck happily as we head into the volunteer house.

“I’ve got this.” I tell myself over and over as I take a deep breathe and walk in the door to my new home.


2 thoughts on “The Warmest Welcome

  1. You sure do Got This my love. I am so proud of you, tears of pride and love well in my eyes. Say hi to your new little friends from their Aunt Sharon in New York. Peace


  2. You’re a superstar Linds!!! So happy you can bless all those amazing children with your love, smiles and laughter. ❤️


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