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Tuesday, March  27, 2012 – Today we said goodbye to Kumasi and drove to a refugee camp. This camp is close to the border of Ivory Coast and is now the home of many families, mostly women and children who have escaped the violence in Ivory Coast and have sought refugee status in Ghana. The camp has a very large population and is divided into two sections, A and B. The divisions do not have any significance, it is just the way the camp was built. The “A” section was built for the number of refugees that were expected to come, however, as the population of the camp grew, the “B” section of the camp was formed. The camp, only one year old, has tents still standing from when the camp opened one year ago. These tents  should only be used for up to six months. The lack of new tents is only one of the many problems the camp faces. At the forefront of their issues is the food crisis. The camp, which is given aid by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), depends to the World Food Organization for its food donations. However, given the food crisis and the rising population of the camp, food rations have been decreased and are only expected to last until June 2012.

Visiting the camp was another eye-opening experience of the plight that many people not only in Ghana, but in Africa face daily. The children were all sick. Some had infections, others had malaria and a variety of other typically treatable illnesses. The camp, although equipped with a clinic does not have all the resources its needs to fully provide care for the children as they need it.

Given that the refugees were mostly from Ivory Coast, they spoke French. Luckily, 1.5 of the students spoke french – one fluently, and the other able to speak only the basics. We were able to communicate with the children as we toured the camp and all the kids loved posing and having their picture taken then looking at the pictures on the camera afterwards. Even though sick and living in such extreme conditions, the children seemed happy. They were happy to have us visit and they were happy to see all the donations that we were able to drop off for them.

The donations included toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, clothes and other items the camp needed. Thanks to all those who helped donate for the trip, we were able to leave a large amount of supplies at the camp.

After the visit to the refugee camp, we drove to Busua, Ghana where we stayed for the night.

- Yolanda

Saturday, March 24

Today we headed to the largest market place in West Africa, known as the “Central Market.” Here, our goal was to buy toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, diapers and sleeping mats for the Orphanages and Refugee camp we will visit later into our journey. We split up into two groups and hit of the Central Market running! This included dodging large carts trying to squeeze through tiny spaces, chickens walking about and most obvious, the tiny hands crawling beneath your feet.  Amongst the hustle and bustle of the market place we met the Kaykayei girls. These young girls  travel from northern Ghana to work in the market place. Here, they quickly learn to carry large bowls on their heads assisting shoppers with their heavy loads.

We employed two girls, ages truely unknown but placed somewhere around nine or ten that spoke English. By the end of our shopping trip the girls had carried 5 boxes of 48 bars of soap on their head not including many boxes of toothpaste.

One of the girls, rather shy kept trying to hide her feet whent she sat down after we baught her a coke. We then noticed injuries to both of her heels, which is known in the medical community as necrotic tissue. Luckily, we had braught our primitive first aide kit and an actual Registered Nurse from the States (That’s me!) But, unfortunately, we were were literally only putting band aides on a problem that is much bigger than one little girls feet.

Professor Buske gave the young child a business card with the name and number of the local doctor and we pleaded with her to seek medical attention.  However, unless she is able to stay off her feet after treatment, it is likely intervention would only speed up the inevietalbe. Hopefully, with the wage we paid her today she will be able to take some time considering her normal earnings are astronmically less than what she received today.

Candace treating one of the girl's foot

- Candice DeVaul

Friday, March 23

KUMASI - On Friday, we spent the day at Our Ladys’ Apostles School, a local nursery/primary/junior high school.  This particular stop in our adventure was the primary recipient of the funds that we raised back in the states (thank you to those who donated!) – we were able to equip the school with a variety of cleaning supplies, landscaping tools and a homemade snack (made by a student’s mother) for each of the 800 children in the school.  We hope to use some of our funds to sponsor a child or two with full year’s tuition ($250 US/year).

Morning Assembly

Walking into the schoolyard around 8:30am, the children were preparing for morning assembly.  When they saw faces of visitors, they roared with excitement – many were shouting an endearing, “BRUNIE!” (translated: white person!)  We were offered formal welcomes by the students – the headmaster led them in morning prayer, singing and the reciting of their national allegiance.  Three  of the older students gave us their official school welcome: one in English, one in French and the third in Twi (the local indigenous language in Ghana).  After morning assembly, we took a tour of the school, visiting classrooms – the one- and two year-olds sang us a lively “Good Morning Jesus,” and we had the opportunity to speak with the older students about what made us want to become lawyers.  We attended the school’s Friday worship service before heading back into the classrooms.  I spent some time with a class of third-graders as they reviewed their Moral lessons and English grammar.

Deah Hill with several students

Me with some of the students during their mid-morning break

In the afternoon, we suited up with rubber gloves and brought out the supplies.  Teamed up with some of the older children in the school, we worked in small groups to wash the shudders around the courtyard of the school; others cleaned out the basement and raked behind the building where the school burns their waste.  Along the way, we stopped to learn new games (“Jump In” is a very popular one with the girls – they graciously taught me how to play, but I admit- I wasn’t quite as good as them!)  We were asked a bevy of questions about America: some that made us laugh, “Do you know Barack Obama or Beyonce?; others that made us cry, “Do you know [name of Ghanian woman]?”…”No, who is that?”…”She is my mother, she is living in the United States.  She says she will come back to get me one day.”

Shanae and Nicole hard at work!

 

Our brows were dripping (and dripping some more) with sweat from working outside in African heat (and it’s not even summer here!), but what a tremendously rewarding first day.  We experienced the graciousness of the people in Kumasi, serving and learning at the same time.

- Julia Goff

Greetings  blog-readers!  Our apologies for the several day delay in getting up material from our Ghanian adventures thus far – the internet here is sporadic at best. We will post several things today to cover the events of the last couple days.  We arrived in Kumasi (our home base north of the capital city, Accra) on Thursday, and are staying on the campus of KNUST, the large public university here.

After months of preparing, the 2012 Comparative Law class will leave North Carolina headed for Kumasi, Ghana in 2 days! Everyone is excited about the trip (after the 15 hour flight, of course) and cant wait to be in Ghana. We received our itinerary and the trip is packed with adventure and many educational opportunities. We dont want to ruin the surprise, but the trip will most likely involve  lots of children, legal classes, African drums, market visits, and you guessed it…monkeys! Remember to follow along with us on our daily (power and internet willing) blogs.

To raise funds for the service projects that will be completed in Ghana, the class hosted a social at Whiskey River in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 10 , held a Chick-Fil-A fundraiser night, sold letters with messages which will be posted at a local school in Ghana,  hosted a silent auction at Florida Costal Law, and other independent projects.   We would like to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who has helped along the way, through emotional support, planning, and financial donations.

Once again, CSL is offering a comparative law course with in-country field research over spring break.  This year, in a departure from previous years, the course is focusing on Ghana.  Students will travel to Accra, Kumasi and the Cape Coast region over the break.

This year the group includes nine students from CSL, two students from FCSL and CSL Professor Renee Hill.  The group will travel over spring break and meet-up with Professor Sheri Buske who has been in Ghana since August 2011 as a Fulbright Scholar. 

It will be an amazing experience — we hope you’ll follow along!

Its 6am and time to wake up for the finals.  Jeff and I got super pumped and headed off to the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) to compete.  The SCA is the highest court in South Africa sitting even with the Constitutional Court which handles purely constitutional issues.  We entered a beautiful, old courtroom.  It had a gallery that filled up during our round and a large bench for the five judges that ran across the opposite side from the gallery.  The judges entered from behind a large red curtain to take their places above us in their king-like chairs.  All five judges were either High Court Justices or Supreme Court of Appeals Justices. 

            We represented the respondent, a difficult side to take, and argued our hearts out.  Our opponents were extremely well versed with South African law repeatedly quoting cases, statutes, and international treaties.  Jeff and I were not intimidated.  We stood up and argued one of the most passionate rounds of our lives.  The retired highest Judge in South Africa hammered Jeff with questions which he answered wonderfully and refused to give in.  I fielded questions from all five judges and not one made me squirm. After hours of practice with Professor Wofford, Lynna, Bo, and the rest of those that helped judge, Jeff and I were ready for anything. 

            We watched the round after ours and then exited for a relaxing (attempt to relax) afternoon before hearing the results that evening at the gala.  We got all dolled up and headed to the gala at six.  The gala was at a school outside Bloem, in a beautiful room with a thatch roof.  Huge candelabras on the tables, amazing food, and all the soft rock hits from the 80’s, 90’s and today.  We were so lucky to listen to our guest speaker, a retired High Court Judge (equivalent to a circuit court judge) speak briefly about ethics which is crucial for practitioners no matter where you are.  Finally, time for the results.  Best English speaking team: Team J (that’s us!) then Best overall team (between us and the best Afrikaan speaking team) “For the second year in a row, Charlotte School of Law, Team J!” 

            The night was filled with handshakes, hugs, flashing pictures, cocktails, and gandering (ask Jeff what that means—he’ll give you a demonstration).  We will never forget one of the best nights in South Africa. 

            The next day we headed out to a shelter for street kids bringing KFC, fresh fruit, candy, and treats along with a rented, huge, blow-up waterslide and twenty soccer balls for the boys.  I got a little emotional watching the boys joy playing on the waterslide.  We took tons of pictures and when it was time to go the boys did not want Jeff to leave!  Next thing we knew we were back on a plane headed home.  We cannot wait to see everyone when we return and we will never forget what an amazing experience Charlotte Law has given us.

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