Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Durbar Day

Amber Prince
July 23rd, 2011

We awoke early with the chirruping of birds, "swish, swish" of brooms, and Fante chatter of the cooking staff playing as the gentle background melody. The warm sun was rising steadily, baking the earth and illuminating the vast expanse of our Father's creation. We enjoyed our final breakfast on the patio, looking out hungrily over the hillside of bright green foliage, allowing our eyes to drink it all in one last time. Each person was trying to memorize the scenery, taking in a final glimpse of the incredible landscape that had become as familiar as breathing.

All attired in our fashionable Durbar garb, we busied ourselves around the guest house, getting last minute things ready, attempting to balance the weight of souvenirs in our suitcases, and saying final farewells to the incredible workers. As our drivers, Dominic and Eric, arrived, Dr. Clerico shouted a final "Yenko brunyis!" and we ambled to the vehicles, saddened by this penultimate tro tro ride. Bouncing out of the driveway, we waved goodbye to the Fairhill guest house- a place that had quickly become synonymous with the word home.

We ventured forth along the careworn road to Tuwohofo- Holly International School. We were greeted by an unparalleled exultation of delight from our students, and we were surprised to see them clothed in Durbar outfits that matched our own.
Ato Baidoo pulled out all the stops for this grandiose occasion, providing several tents, elaborate programs, printed paper hats, keynote speakers, and awards for the top students in each grade level. Dr. Clerico was invited to sit in the Chairperson's seat alongside the guests of honor at the head table on a raised platform. During the program, he was beckoned to inspect the troop of student cadets and the marching band, give a speech of welcome, present a plaque to Mr. Baidoo on behalf of Charleston Southern University, and give prizes to the diligent children of T.H.I.S. It was a well-deserved honor for this man who gives so generously and has worked tirelessly to make this trip a possibility.

We were pleased to see that the JSS house named for Dr. Clerico won the gold trophy this year! The students of each house are invited to participate in many academic and athletic competitions and the Professor Don Clerico House surpassed the rest in all areas of competition!

The rest of the program was wonderful. The students of Tuwohofo-Holly practiced incessantly to present on this day. We were entertained by the marching band, the cadets, a group of traditional dancing girls, and many students reciting poetry or prayers. As we sat under the tent, some of our favorite students slowly filed in, perching on our laps to enjoy the vestiges of quality time that remained.

All too soon, the 25th Anniversary Celebration was over. At the conclusion of the ceremony, tear-streaked ebony faces accompanied us to our tro tros. We were showered with countless hugs from the sweet children, clinging to us. Leaving was the most difficult part of the entire trip: the children ran alongside our vehicles, reaching out for one last touch, waving frantically. Many of our group members were sobbing more than the children, heartbroken by the final farewell.

We were taken to the Jangle's Hotel a few minutes away, and presented with a buffet style lunch of grilled chicken, banku, light soup, joloff rice, fish, and many other Ghanaian dishes, prepared by Theresa Baidoo.
A few people changed clothes, and we were met by Fuseini and Kwame in the Sunseekers bus to cart us back to Accra for our final evening in Ghana. The three-hour ride was a quiet one, as many people were lost in thought, reflecting back on the time spent at Tuwohofo-Holly.

After stopping for dinner at Sunlodge Hotel, we arrived at our overnight lodging: The Crystal Palm Hotel. The events from the day left us exhausted, and sleep was a welcomed treat.

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