Just another day at Hope Community

This morning was my first morning at Hope Community in almost a week, due to recent class schedule conflicts and the weekend away at the Volta Region. I was really quite tired and not sure how ready I was to tackle work with the kids, but goodness, how I forget what fun it is to intern at an orphanage.

As I walk into the courtyard, I see that most everyone was still eating breakfast, each child with a steaming bowl of porridge and a slice of bread. Eunice, the adorable (yet strong-willed) toddler daughter of Pastor Joel and Felicia, walks up to me and demands, “Auntie Sara, you do it,” holding out her bowl of breakfast. “Feed me.” Simply because she is she such a beautiful child and all the others are obviously occupied, I sit her down on a stool opposite me and began blowing on her cereal for her, spoon-feeding her and asking of the other children. Pastor Ashley sees me from the window upstairs and yells down, “Sara! Are you tasting the porridge?” I explain that I am feeding Eunice, and he laughs and starts to come downstairs.

Desmond, a sweet, whip-smart 13-year-old, comes up and announces, “Sister Sara, today is Eunice’s birthday!” Eunice is three years old today, and everyone is celebrating. Pastor Ashley comes out, along with Eunice’s mother Felicia, and Desmond leads us in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Afterward, Desmond and Prosper, the 6-year-old, dip their hands in the faucet and yell, “Hip-hip, HOORAY!” splashing Eunice with every “HOORAY!” while everyone cheers. Desmond brings Eunice her slice of bread and pretends it is her birthday cake, “cutting” it ceremoniously with his hand for her.

After all this excitement there is even more happy news: Pastor Ashley’s wife had her baby last week! The man is simply beaming, and I tell him I will come up and see the baby once Courtney, my work partner, arrives.

The older children start to disperse for school, and the younger ones set into the morning chores, the boys washing dishes and Matilda, the only girl at Hope besides Eunice, washing a large pile of clothes. At this point Courtney walks in, and we make our way to the classroom, knowing that lessons won’t start until we sit there for a while and wait for the children to trickle in from their chores. We’ve tried to help them in the past, but we’re so inefficient we just get it their way.

Right as we walk into the classroom inside, Courtney and I hear a terrible loud noise outside, the sound of a creature in appalling distress, and all the children start yelling with excitement. I hurry back outside to see what the ruckus is, and see an old woman walking through the courtyard carrying a large, squawking chicken by the legs as if it was nothing at all. The thing is really making a racket, and all the children are loving it, while Courtney and I just stare dumbfounded at each other and the old woman carries it inside and down the hall, past the classroom to the kitchen. “They’re going to kill it right now,” Courtney says. I nod; the squawking stops, and we believe the poor bird a goner. Felicia comes down the hall from the kitchen and pokes her head in, asking, “Did you see the chicken?”

“Oh yes, we did. It was very loud. Did you kill it?” we respond.

“Oh no, not yet,” Felicia says, and she whips the poor thing out from behind her back, holding it by the wings now, and it starts yelling and screaming again, scaring the wits out of Courtney and I. She proceeds to take it back out to the courtyard, laughing all the way, and the condemned fowl meets her sorry demise.

As we wait for the other children, and avoid the mess outside, we decide to go upstairs and meet Pastor Ashley’s new baby girl. She is indeed beautiful, sleeping on the bed beside her mother, with a lovely full mouth pursed into an O like only babies can when they sleep, and a fuzzy head of hair. If it weren’t for all the paperwork, I might just bring a baby or two back with me to America. A good idea, yes?

All in all, an exciting day; can’t wait to go back tomorrow. Thank you, Hope Community, for always keeping me on my toes.

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