March 12, 2016
Today we found a strange safe haven in Kumasi when our bus broke down. We were stranded in a busy area of town that appeared to be designated for used auto parts. It was the ultimate Pick and Pull. This area that could easily be overlooked amongst the wreckage, was the most beautiful place in our eyes.
|Nicole playing Mancala|
A few of us found ourselves drawn to a corner that was stacked with car axles under a shady tree canopy. There, we found a few mechanics passing the time with games of Checkers and Mancala. We stood there watching with curiosity and soon after, we were embraced into the games. Our rules were different than their's putting us at a disadvantage, but quickly the game shifted and we drew a crowd. People laughed and cheered as the game progressed.
When we first got out of the bus, we were standing in the hot sun wondering what to do with ourselves while we were waiting. A few of us saw some beautiful children sitting together on a bench. We attempted to approach them in a gentle way with smiles and waves but the children appeared terrified. We quickly figured out that they could be scared because we are different than what they are used to seeing, or possibly because we speak another language. In moments like this it is important to consider how we affect others, even if our intentions are purely positive.
A while later, Mel saw a little boy holding a deflated ball. She went up to him and motioned him to kick the ball to her. After ten silly attempts of basically playing charades with the child, he finally kicked the ball. For the next hour and a half they played and played. They shared smiles, giggles and many celebrations for the legendary soccer that was taking place. When she had to stop playing with him to avoid cars, or get some water, he would follow her and cuddle up to her. This was the first friend she made in Ghana.
What we like about these stories is how they show that relational practice is a universal language. We do not need to be able to speak the same language, have the same culture or share the same skin colour in order to connect. We are all more alike than different. Similarities connect two beings. Focusing on differences will always put us on other sides of a river. Recognizing similarities creates a bridge.
Before we realized, we had spent a majority of our afternoon lost in the bustle of Kumasi. The Ashanti people will not be forgotten for their kindness.
Mel Hameluck and Dawn Hillman