Not going to lie, I’m super depressed right now. But depressed for all the right reasons. If that’s possible. I live in a compound with what started out as 16 people. My neighbor has all but disappeared. My other neighbor is now someone else and one less person. The girl across the compound is leaving soon.
Then there is my Ghanaian family. My dad and mom are still around, still making me laugh and teaching me new things. My oldest sister, who was my guide to Ghanaian home life, has taken a job in another town and is no longer around. She taught me how to wash clothes properly, how to laugh at children in an awesome way, how to scrub a pot clean until it shines like a mirror, and to be myself in this foreign land. The oldest brother, who is 19, just went to college. He always cracks me up with his sense of humor, his ridiculous choice of questions, and sarcasm. There is my youngest brother, who is 11, he is pretty bad ass and is always a goofball. The youngest girl is 5 and cries like a toddler constantly being pricked with needles, but she is cute as a button and dances like a queen. So my oldest sister and the oldest brother have both left the nest. They have been here everyday since I arrived at site. The middle sister – who is just about a year and a half younger than me – just returned from college a few months ago.
We hit it off instantly. She teases me, as I tease her. She makes me laugh and I entertain her. She translates for me when no one understands my ridiculous English. She is an amazing cook. The other day she made palm nut soup with chicken and fufu. Hands down the best meal I have had in this country. I salivate just thinking about it. I am eating a Twix though, so part of the salivation is probably a result of the caramel stuck to the roof of my mouth. Anyway, my sister is phenomenal. She really is a sister to me. She is the sister I always needed and never knew I wanted. I am constantly learning from her. Learning the language, the culture, about life in a Ghanaian family, food, dances, and how to open myself up.
I just helped her look up her National Service assignment. (National Service is a one year required volunteer year – much like Peace Corps, but required and shorter.) It isn’t in Wenchi. It isn’t even in the district. It is in a little town named Buni. That’s right, Buni. Pronounced like Boonie. Like out in the boonies. This town probably has 100-200 people in it. It is smaller than most Peace Corps villages. It is probably 3 hours away, if I’m lucky. And the worst part? It is only about 25 miles from Wenchi. But middle of nowhere in Ghana, really does mean middle of nowhere.
My sister is the only one who cooks and cleans in the family right now. My mom and dad both have jobs. My younger brother is just old enough to start pounding fufu. And don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he is just fine, but honestly I wouldn’t trust him to cook. How many goofball 11 year olds would you trust with making dinner every night? With my sister leaving that means no one will be around to cook and clean. So the family will have to either hire someone, enslave someone from the Ivory Coast (unlikely, but still an option in these parts), or my mom will have to quit her job and stay at home.
My favorite memories from Ghana all involve my Ghanaian siblings. Now they are all leaving/gone. I have such a real attachment to this family, I feel like it is my duty to step up and start to cook and clean. I feel like it rests on my shoulders now. I know that it doesn’t and I shouldn’t, but I feel enough a part of the family that those thoughts and emotions keep creeping up.
Who will cook? Who will clean? Who will entertain me? Who will be my sister? Who will be my guide? Does this mean I have to actually go out and make new friends now?
After we looked up her assignment and site, my sister and I just sat next to each other in my room. She turned to me and told me: “how will I sleep tonight? How will I break the news to my dad? I think I am going to cry.” I told her, “You should be crying! I’m going to cry. I am going to miss you so much. How will we survive here without you?”
I still have another year in the Peace Corps. Another year and some odd months. How will I handle leaving this country? I’m already having a horrible time saying goodbye to my siblings. In one year, I will just have to escape in the night. Already, it is too painful.