On our second to last day in Accra, we decided to talk to the director of the Play and Learn Foundation to set up a Tutors vs. Students fútbol game. There were only a few tutors so we had to recruit some of the kids to join us which made things a little more interesting for everyone. We thought this would be a fun way to wrap up our time with the kids and an opportunity to see their faces when they defeated us tutors…which they did well and good!
It was so heartwarming to see the kids’ faces light up once they stepped onto the field. I’ve never met a group of people as passionate about anything as these kids are about fútbol, and it made me stop and think that maybe life doesn’t have to be so complicated and we should just enjoy what we’re doing in the moment while it’s there. For some people it takes a lifetime to find their passion and others may never find it, but if you’re lucky enough to have something in your life that makes your face light up as bright as those kids’ do when they play fútbol, I’d say you’ve found your passion. So to all my fantastic students and fútbol superstars, thank you for being my passion and letting me watch you pursue yours.
I’ll never forget when I went to watch some of my students play in their fútbol game, a little girl was sitting alone on a ledge overlooking the field, so I sat down next to her and learned that her name was Rosalyn. She was waiting for her brother to finish the game so that they could walk home together. Within a few minutes of keeping her company, she started pouring the bagged water she was drinking onto my ankles. I was confused why she was doing this, but looked down and saw that they were covered in red dust from walking on the dirt paths to get to the field. I was shocked to see that she would take it upon herself to sacrifice her drinking water at the expense of helping someone next to her.
She also noticed that I was shivering (it gets pretty cold here after the sun sets) and asked me if I had a jacket. I assumed she was asking so she could wear it so I said yes, but when she took it out of my backpack she put it on me. From a very young age, children here are taught to care for their siblings. Rosalyn is nine years old and has five other siblings, so she is used to looking after them. Ever since that point, she has clung to my side and runs up to hug me anytime she sees me. Moments like that really put things into perspective for me.
Danielle Gehrlein is a rising sophomore at Pace University. She is pursuing a double degree in Adolescent Education and English. She was in Ghana from July 15 – August 8 and has been posting about her experience here on the School of Education’s blog.