Day 6 Ghana 2012: Botel, Braids, and Chicken Bones

Thursday January 19, 2012

We are now at Hans Cottage Botel (that’s not a typo) in Cape Coast. Our four-hour drive took six hours. It was 6 hours of breathing red dirt and diesel fumes without air-conditioning in a van with 10 other people.

The windows were open, for better or for worse. If I end up with emphysema, I know why. I brought one bandana with me and I gave it to Leah to wear over her nose and mouth, because, I am a mom and that’s what moms do.

We arrived at the botel, checked in and I dare say this is the first time I’ve checked in somewhere and found rat droppings on the bed sheets and headboards. Ronai’s shower is full of bugs and more rat droppings are on the beds on her room. I finally found the giant spiders! There’s a big one in Aaron and Leah’s bathroom. Would you believe Curry had actually upgraded our rooms when he checked in.

We were all hot and sticky with layers of dirt plastered to our faces, arms and hands. We had dinner and Leah promptly threw it up, over the railing and into the pond. At least the crocodiles ate well that night. Leah may have overdosed on carcinogens for the day, who knows. Maybe it’s the Malaria pills… which is a medication that we discovered is only taken in this large quantity to keep people Malaria free AND this dose treats certain STDs. (What? Yes, that’s why the pharmacist was looking at us funny.) There you have it!

Aaron did get an electric shock while in the shower tonight. I wore shoes in the shower, so I think that’s why I escaped that excitement of getting shocked this time. I learned my lesson four years ago.

I guess I should start by writing about this morning. This morning started with our daily egg. I skipped it and had a Probar. We have polished off the coffee packets, but thankfully we grabbed a box of Starbucks Via while in the JFK airport. I had a headache when I got up this morning at 7am, as if my brain is trying to figure out WHY ON EARTH I’m getting up for the day at midnight??? My body seems to take a 4-hour nap when I hit the sack, but that’s because it’s 5pm at home and so I sleep just long enough to thwart a good night’s sleep. So… coffee, Probar, Advil and off to school I go!

This morning, Emilia measured Leah in the sewing room for a wrap skirt. The five other skirts for everyone else were already finished!

I went over to the L’Oreal Training School (it has been here for 3 years) and I got my hair plaited. They started working on my hair at 8am.

They finished at 2pm. I’m not kidding!
I had such great conversations with the two teachers who were training the high school students. The teachers kindly shared their lunch with me. Three spoons, one plateful of chicken and jollof rice. I learned so much from talking to them and listening to them. We finished lunch and they asked my why I had not eaten the chicken bones too. I wasn’t sure how to answer that:) I said, “I didn’t eat the chicken bones because it has never crossed my mind that I could or should eat chicken bones.” I now know that “you get your calcium from eating the bones.” (I still didn’t eat them.)

I was a little worried when they brought a flame to my hair, but Aaron was close by and promised to “stop-drop-and roll” if things got out of hand.

I may have had concerns about the giant scissors too.

My braids look awesome!

Meanwhile the rest of the classrooms were labeled by the Team and the students were taught that everything has a name and a sign. Everyone took a turn teaching. It was great!

Carissa and Pablo delivered the school supplies that we had purchased for the SOHI students. They packed up all of the things that we had purchased at the Koforidua market, and loaded them in a taxi and brought it all to school.

Joyce, who oversees the hotel and our dinners, had a long chat with Carissa, “you are not missionaries trying to save our souls, are you? You are all many different religions aren’t you? So, why are you here?” This lead into a lengthy discussion about deafness in the US 30 years ago, and deafness in Ghana today. Joyce suggested to Carissa and Pablo that she could learn GSL and care for some of the deaf children on break whose parents don’t come back for them.

She had told us that her mother’s name was Lucy, when we told her about our daughter Lucy Joyce. Aaron showed Joyce our family photo and explained spina bifida and cerebral palsy to her. Later, Joyce told Carissa, “their daughter Lucy is as beautiful as art, “ but she said that she was glad that we had not brought Lucy with us to Ghana because people here see her as a burden and they would offer to “help” with her. “They mean, ‘to take care of the problem’ forever.” (That’s the part where the color drains from my face and I feel sick to my stomach.) The phrase, “Don’t do me any favors” has new meaning.

We had asked Lucy if she wanted to come with us to Ghana. She thought it over. We talked about what it would take to make sure she had clean water for her medical needs, the immunizations required, and that we would mostly carry her on our backs when the dirt roads wouldn’t work for her manual wheelchair. Her power wheelchair is not an option. Lucy thought it out for days. Ultimately she chose not to go. Lucy always knows best!

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About Rachel Coleman

The opinions and late night musings published on this blog are Rachel de Azevedo Coleman's alone, and are not ever intended to represent the opinions and sentiments of any organization or product that Rachel is, was, or will be associated with. Rachel Coleman is the creator and Emmy-nominated host of Signing Time!, the children's American Sign Language vocabulary building series. She is also the creator and host of Baby Signing Time, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, and Rachel & Me. Rachel now serves as the Executive Director of the American Society for Deaf Children, a 501c3 nonprofit established in 1967 by parents of deaf children. ASDC is the American Sign Language organization for families who are raising deaf children. Motivated by her child, Leah's deafness, Rachel has spent the last 18 years creating ASL products to help bridge the communication barrier between hearing and signing communities. In 2006 Rachel founded the Signing Time Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to putting communication in the hands of all children of all abilities. In 2014, the Signing Time Foundation launched a 50-Lesson online ASL curriculum called "Sign It: ASL Made Easy" that is available free-of-charge to families with deaf or hard of hearing children ages 36 months and under. Apply at For those who do not qualify to receive Sign It ASL for free, they can find it for purchase at very reasonable rates on Rachel and her husband, Aaron, live in Salt Lake City Utah. They are parents to Leah who was born profoundly deaf, and is now a senior in college at NTID/RIT in Rochester, NY. They are also parents to Lucy who has spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and recently graduated high school. In 2010 the Colemans were joyfully reunited with Rachel's daughter Laura. Rachel is proud to be Laura's birth mom. Laura was placed for adoption as an infant in 1992 when Rachel was 17 years-old.

12 thoughts on “Day 6 Ghana 2012: Botel, Braids, and Chicken Bones

  1. The braids look awesome. How bad is the pain/discomfort? I remember that Leah took hers out shortly after getting braided last trip.

    • It wasn’t bad while they put the braids in, not bad at all for me. The itching gets bad only if you are hot and sweating, which is most day time/waking hours;) Kidding. I thought it was bearable. The hair is heavy though and that is just an odd experience.

  2. I still enjoy reading about your Ghana adventures. However, learning how their culture handles special needs children gives me the “creeps” big-time. All of those deaf kids are lucky someone did not “help” them. 🙁

    • When I was there 4 years ago I heard about mothers who ran from their villages and went into hiding with their disabled children. I was told that once they found a place to live/hide, the child was kept indoors so that no one would even know they were around (safer that way). Typically they are indoors on a dirt floor. No wheelchairs, walkers, or therapies. Mommies hiding their babies to protect them. Chilling.

  3. I have enjoyed reading your blog. What a blessing you and your team are to these precious children. I was wondering, how have the people of Ghana accepted Leah’s cochlear implant?

  4. I’ve been eager for each installment of your Ghana reports. The braids & clothing are beautiful. The work you’re able to do along with SOHI — a thing of beauty & peace, too. So glad for the opportunity to learn of this & sending my financial gift today.
    Also, I am curious — as are my kids — about the shocking showers at botel. We went back to your blogging from last trip but still don’t understand what causes the electrifying shocks. ????!

  5. Have immensely enjoyed reading about your blogs and how you are introducing the concept of teaching sign language to the deaf kids! Wonder if Leah could share her perspective, as well, for it would be thrilling to hear from a deaf person’s point of view, as well! Also to see her more in pictures! Keep on doing what you are doing- it’s an amazing gift of a lifetime for both your group and them!

  6. I LOVE reading your blog each day, Rachel! You tell a wonderful story and paint a picture so well of what life is like there in Ghana. I couldn’t last a day there, I don’t think…and it breaks my heart to hear of how disabled children are treated. Our little special-needs sweetheart brings unspeakable joy into our lives and home, and we are truly blessed to have her! Thank you so much for being such a tremendous advocate for so many of us! God bless you, and have a safe trip home!

  7. Can I just say that you are sooo… Awesome?!! I came across your site looking for information on baby wearing and didn’t even make the connection that I “know” you until I read Laura’s story and you said something about being the signing time lady. It suddenly hit me Alex, Leah, and Rachel!!lol We used to check out almost the entire collection of signing time videos at our local library every week. I am a single mom with 4 children, a 15 year old son who has Autism, a 9 year old daughter, and 3 year old twin girls. I can truly appreciate everything you do for your family and other’s despite the difficulties. Keep it up!:) Love the braids too 🙂

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