My Interactions at the Fishing Village
My interaction with the children at the fishing village was intense and complex in terms of emotions and reactions. When we approached the fishing market in Cape Coast I was extremely eager to shop and interact with the local children.
The sight of the beach was beautiful and in the distance the harbor was full of the brightest boats I had ever seen. In briefings, we were told to stay in groups of three or more and were advised not give money to anyone, particularly the children. However, it seemed that as soon as our feet touched the ground those rules went out of the window. I was one of the last people to get off the bus and all the groups had already gone. Since I was not in a group I did not want to get back on the bus and miss the adventure, but I was smart enough to not venture out on my own too far.
When the first child approached me, I gave her one of the cards that I intended to give away instead of money and a sea of children gathered around me each wanting their own. Soon the cards were gone and they began to ask for money. Quickly, I said no but still continued to talk to them. One by one they told me that they were selling their various products to put themselves through school. At first, I did not believe it but as it turned out, most schools in Ghana were on break. Regardless of if it was true or not the strings of my heart started to pull. No child, whether African, American, Asian or any other nationality should have to work during their precious childhood. Slowly, I began to ask them about their products and an idea hit me. I had no use for any of the things that they were selling (pineapples, fruit, popsicles and ice cream) but maybe if I bought items for them, they would enjoy it and make a buck or two at the same time. So, the auction began! I started bargaining and asking how much for all of their products. The highest price I had to pay was 2 cedis (2 dollars). The kids started laughing and grabbing for the products. I had bought almost every child’s product except for one of the little boys who was selling bread. Bread to me is no fun. It is not a Popsicle that is super fun to eat. He was persistent yet polite in asking me to buy his bread. Every time I bought someones else’s product he looked at me with a puppy dog face and asked “could you please now buy my bread?” Finally, I gave in and said yes. Now, I had a crowd of about 15 kids surrounded me.
Although there were a number of kids around, it did not bother me. Unexpectedly, a man came to the group of kids around me and started to instigate the children to raise their prices. Since I was aware of the situation, I slowly tried to move the crowd of kids closer to the bus to counteract anything the man was planning to do, but I soon became frustrated. The man was intensifying the situation to a level with which I did not feel comfortable. Before I could finish my transaction with one of the children in the crowd, Anthony, the photographer, pulled me away from the children and into the bus without any regard for my feelings. His intervention caused me to feel disoriented and out of control. I was confused by his actions and my peer’s reactions to my situation. Most of peers felt like I was endangered when in fact I felt fine throughout the chaos. Through the conversations I had on the bus I noticed most of peers were attaching their own notions of cultural baggage to my situation. To them it seemed like I did not have control over the situation, but to me I was know that I knew what was going on.
I hated this feeling because no one told me anything. The entire time I was trying to explain to my peers that I promised the little boy money for his bread and I wanted to pay for it. I began to argue with my peers and insisted to them that I was aware of the situation, but no one believed me and I was further ignored after that.
My most intense interaction in Ghana was not necessarily the interaction with the children at the fishing market but instead the reactions and perceptions of my peers to my relationships with the locals in the fishing market.
I could understand their reaction. However, I was hurt and upset because it seemed like no one could understand my reactions to the fishing village. I truly loved it, I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with the kids. I was happy to learn about a small part about their daily life, even if it was a hard to deal with. It was still a very rewarding experience.
On that day, I decided to buy some products from some kids and I don’t regret it. As we were leaving the fishing village I happened to look outside my window and I saw one of the girls that I had encountered that day enjoying a moments rest and eating one of the oranges that I had bought for her. Will her situation in life get any better because I sent a few cedis and minutes in the fishing village? I doubt it. The next day or even later that same day she will have to go back to the realities of life, but for a few minutes she seemed content to just eat her orange and that was good enough for me.