Saturday, July 30, 2016

Final day at Crossover

We were on the road at 7am again this morning, and I was determined to make it to Crossover on my own (and I did).  The day was spent just hanging out, which was really cool.  Jacob and I played soccer w the boys.  Jenny & Savannah hung out w the girls: sitting in a circle being led by Jenny a clap song, they read to them, they walked with them, the entire time engulfed in a sea of kids.  
We walked down the path to the site of the old school, which used to consist of two thatched huts with dirt floors.  Now, it's a building of 4 rooms, each room with 15 of the merry mats we bought a few years ago.  They average about 2 kids/mat which is hard to imagine.  There is also another building of about 3 rooms which is where Dave lives with his family.  Of the 309 kids now at Crossover, only about 80 live there (all boys), the rest live with families or churches in the surrounding town of Djemini.  In exchange for the boarding of Crossover students, Dave gives tuition to some of the kids whose families take in boarders.  We also walked down to the lake, which is just a few minutes down the path.  On the way down, we saw that one of the houses had a "pet" baboon.  Savannah knelt down to snap a picture of it and he jumped on her side.  Crossover had never heard a scream so loud!  It was pretty hilarious.
I also had a long talk with Dave about Dorms.  They obviously could really use dorms so kids don't have to be sent off campus to sleep.  But the reality is, we don't have enough funds to build the dorms and I told Dave this. We have come up with a plan though.  He is going to get an estimate to build a 80 meter by 40 meter building which would be big enough for a girls dorm and a boys dorm.  Based on what Dave says, I think we have enough cash to pay for half of the it.  Our plan is to get an estimate and share it with a church in California that has already done a lot for Crossover.  We would propose to pay half of the cost if the church can raise the funds for the other half.  That's the current rough plan, we will see how it goes.  
Back to the rest of the day, it's hard to put it all into words but not only was it a great experience individually, but to see the people you love have that same experience is just awesome.  Around noon, we had lunch.  It's quite a chore to organize 300+ kids but they have it down to a science.  The lead teacher, a woman named Grace, was like a lion tamer, directing the kids, grouped by grade into the food line.  everyone had a big bowl of rice with chicken and spicy tomato sauce.  It was very tasty...if someone opened a NY food cart serving this, it would rival the Halal Guys franchise. 
We left Crossover bound for the airport around 1:30pm.  The kids all lined up and bid us farewell with another Crossover song and dance, complete with a 3 drum band.  A few of us got teary-eyed as we waved good-bye to our new friends.
The trip to the airport was interesting.  It's about 100 miles from Crossover to the airport in Accra and it took us about 5.5 hours.  The roads and traffic suck (like really, really bad) and you realize that Ghana truly is a third world country.  Most drivers don't pay any attention to driving on the right side of the road vs. the left.  Or to stop signs, or speed limits.  It's shocking there aren't more accidents.  Our driver, John, who is the driver/janitor/generalist at Crossover, drove us back to the airport.  At one point about 4 hours into the drive, he stretched out his arms and I almost puked.  His BBO was off the charts (BBO - Beyond Body Odor).  Fortunately, we only had to withstand another 90 minutes in such close quarters.

A few miscellaneous notes:  In total, we brought 14 computers and 10 tablets (thank you to the Browns, the Trapps, and every donor who has donated as 10 of the laptops were new, purchased by wings for crossover).  With all these computers, Dave is going to dedicate one of the rooms for a computer lab.  He will also make the lab available to the community (for a charge) so that Crossover can generate another income stream, which is important in their quest to become self-sustainable.  

They have the mobile aquaponic system currently in use, which is a huge canvas "pool" with about 2000 tilapia in it.  The water is filtered with the old water being recycled to water and fertilize tomatoes, cabbage, corn, and other vegetables.  Right next to this mobile system, they've built a permanent system made of concrete, which will have 2-3x the capacity of the mobile unit.  They hope to have this permanent system up and running in about 2 weeks.

The Kindergarten block is about 90% complete: it has 2 classrooms, a bathroom, a nap room and an office.  This entire block was donated by the church in California I mentioned earlier, called Crosspoint Church (Huntington Beach).

Other updates:  the 2 cows we bought about a year ago have had 2 calves with a third on the way.  Once the cows reach a certain age, they are sold at auction for about $500.  In a cow's lifetime, they typically have about 5-6 calves before they are sold.
We are now off to Kenya, the part of the trip we are all really looking forward to...Thank you for reading!!

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