I cannot recall the moment it happened. It crept in like a light breeze or soft whisper. Was it the first glimpse of a tropical paradise by the lake side, or the abundant greetings I received as I was toured around my dwellings? It might have been my first swim in a warm, clean lake viewing the African hillside full of lush vegetation – baobab, mango, palm trees and one of bright red named flamboyant. Was it the moment I was introduced to the chiefs of the neighboring villages and welcomed so heartily with smiles, many handshakes, Coke and thanks for my presence? Yes, it may have been then. Was it on a starlit canoe ride back from the villages where the stars appeared as bright as lanterns with no other surrounding light to block them – surely it was. Maybe it was when one of the staff sat and played his guitar and sang with a chorus of birds, frogs, crickets and other night creatures. I do not know when it happened…but I have fallen in love with this place. It was the bird, the star, the smile of a child, the hand of a chief and the song of a friend in the beauty of nature where love blossomed.
I have found a place to plant myself alongside all the mango and palm that have been planted to sustain the community.
Sunset over Lake Volta
I have decided to stay at Xofa for the month of june and volunteer in the local village at the school. There are some 200 children from 2-3 villages with only 3 government teachers. They are ecstatic to have me. I do not know what I will be teaching and they do not seem to care that I am not trained. They just need help. Xofa is rustic – bucket showers and toilet, but the complete lack of disturbance makes it worth it. It has been years since I heard so many birds and bugs singing so loudly! The beauty of the place is wonderful, but it is the spirit of the place that has entranced me. Kujo and Amy are sharecropping the land in an agreement with the local villages. They have and will continue to give parts of their crop and profits to the villages. They have yet to see profits but instead are providing education to better the land. They are teaching good agricultural practice to sustain the land for the people and the animals who live here. By gaining volunteers they are helping the children. It is a completely cooperative farm. They grow vegetables in addition to the mango and palm and eat what they grow. The future of the farm is production of mango juice, palm and mango oil for the villages and outside sales which will be put back into the farm and the community.
There are new challenges ahead of me as I spend each day with impoverished children who do not have much grasp of the english language. I am quite sure the local teachers will help me and I will gain far more than I have to offer.