Saturday, July 31, 2010

Volunteering To Do Chores

[Belated Post]
There has been some grief given to me about chores that I don't do in my house. The other volunteers have had the same schedule I have had but then they have to do laundry as well. I have had the luxury of my home-stay mother do my laundry for me and believe me, it is a huge perk. Yet there are some things you had better learn how to do on your own before traipsing off into the cold reality of being the one responsible for cooking and cleaning for yourself. It seems that the past few days have fit that bill nicely. I'm volunteering my rear off with chores to get a feel for it.

Yesterday I pretty much sat around and watched the soup that I sup and the fufu that I chop (chop being the preferred word to use when referring to eating) be made. I helped where I could by fanning the charcoal, mashing and grinding the tomatoes for the soup, and pounding fufu for maybe twelve seconds before my mother here felt that her fingers were too precious to be crushed by my wildly inaccurate pestle thrusts. She was laughing while telling me to go rest small. So my sense of cooking is a bit aided but far from complete.

Today saw me spend most of the day at Kukurantumi training but when I got home and finished eating another scrumptious dinner of rice balls and palm nut soup, I walked to the outdoor kitchen that we have here and saw what I would call peanuts roasting over the fire. It looked like fun and most of the family was there collected around the fire laughing and trading stories in Twi that an invite to join them was eagerly accepted. The nuts are called ground nuts as I may or may not have mentioned before, and they are identical to what we know as peanuts but just about ten to twenty percent smaller. My sister and brother were set to the task of removing the skins of the batch that had just come off the fire and I figured I could help. While the nuts were not scalding, they were hot enough that at first I could not hold on to them long enough to get any skins off. That papery wrapping was no match at first. My soft buttery hands are not used to 170 or 180 degree heat either, which meant all present giggled as I couldn't keep my mouth shut as the heat burned the palms quickly.

Not content to quit, I kept at it and did about a tenth as well as my sister and brother did at removing the skins. They will use those ground nuts to make, well, ground nut butter. This in turn can be used to make the ground nut soup in large batches for hungry families. It was fun and gave me a chance to talk and just be with the family which a lot of the chores seem to have in common. Everything is done mostly by hand over wood-burning fires and outside. Maybe there is something a bit romantic about being able to not dictate the schedule by what is on television but what needs done and who you get to talk with while doing it. If this post is a testament to anything, it is that a little hard work won't kill your typing fingers by any stretch.

Tomorrow, Sunday, will be another day of chores. I will take part in sweeping the compound which is done everyday, washing my clothes by hand to get the technique down under the supervision of my mother, a trip to church (yes, I do consider that a chore but one that has some dancing and drumming included), and then some cooking. The boys also wish to get me into a game of football and I want to show them that I really am an American and therefore don't understand this game unless it is called soccer, and even then I won't play it well. I hope not to disappoint!

Sunday will also be August 1st. It has been about two months in Ghana. I hope you have enjoyed reading the updates as much as I have been enjoying telling you about it. Most of the volunteers are preparing for their interviews for language proficiency and I feel somewhat comfortable with where I am. Just a few more things to review and memorize and then I can head into that on Wednesday. Several more tests are coming to make sure the Peace Corps knows that we really were paying attention to the 30 or so informational sessions we have had so far, and then we can swear in. Ah, it is hard not to jump to the day two weeks early.

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