I went for a run
yesterday a few weeks ago (it really does happen from time to time) and turned down a trail in our neighborhood that I had never explored before (quite possibly because it was not there the last time i ran). There have been several new walls almost completely built for some unexplainable reason and the trails have popped up to address the new needs. Anyway, the trail took me to the edge of a fantastic soccer pitch I had not come across before. It wasn’t full size, probably slightly larger than a basketball court. The sidelines were identified by partially sunken tires, which mostly kept the ball in play. There were adults and kids hanging out around the edges and the 7 aside game even had a referee. Of course, I stopped to watch.
I stayed awhile. It was beautiful. It was frustrating.
The game was intense, and lively. Arguing is just part of the game here. A broad age range of men were playing hard and totally in the moment. The beautiful game provides that unique space where little else exists. The ball, the physicality, the sweat, the arguing, the laughter. But just outside the lines, on the other side of those sunken tires was reality.
There was so much trash.
Plastic bottles. Plastic bags. Styrofoam containers. Paper. Everywhere you looked. Stuck in the low limbs of a few scrubby trees. Partially buried in the dirt and tumbling free across the bits of grass that managed to claw its way through. And just beyond the trash, sits the village. Tiny homes. Not the fashionable kind, the just existing kind. Made of a few pieces of plywood. A strip of vinyl for a door. A piece of tin for the roof.
As I decided it was time to move on and walked past the pitch, I found myself deeper in the village than I realized. I felt like an intruder. Completely out of place. But quickly, someone pointed me in the right direction, full of smiles, not a question asked. Of course there were the omnipresent calls of “obroni” from children and from the group of ladies sitting outside their home as I passed. But they were delivered with smiles. No one seemed bothered I was walking through their space.
Maybe it is knowing that our time here is ending. Maybe it is the fact that I don’t run enough. But it left me with a heavy heart. Heavy for what we’re leaving behind. As a family, this place and its people that have taught us so much. Ghana has opened our eyes, minds and hearts and helped us grow and flourish beyond any of my expectations.