To life!

Our TEACH expedition in Ghana

Posted on: January 12, 2010

Dedicated to Orlando Holness
The main artery of the University of Ghana
(click on pictures)

As I mentioned  before,  in August 2004, I led a team of US science educators to Ghana on an expedition. What I could not have forseened was that one of them would die an untimely death four years later. The gentleman in the foreground, with rasta hair, Orlando Holness, passed away recently. He suffered from rhumatoid athritis and probably died of drug complications. He was a close friend who invited me twice to speak at his school, Lansing Residential Center for girls in Ithaca, New York.

Thanks to his efforts, I mentored two girls who became dear to me. Orlando was so committed to his vocation that he would not quit despite the special challenges he faced daily. He displayed my art work in his classroom and would always take me to the dinner and then to the airport. The last time I saw him was when I waved good bye to him after going through security. Standing there looking long at him, I had an urge to run back to him and hug him.

I wish I had.

And now, let me take us through what we did in Ghana. We had a blast!  When we first got to Accra, we stayed at Erata Hotel (can’t find the picture). Our flight from the U.S. was long, eight hours to London and six and half hours to Accra. If we had flown direct, it would have been only about 9 hours. The Prime Meridian passes through both London and Accra, so Accra is about the same distance from New York. as London is.  Our first day was a day for resting and touring parts of Accra.

I figured I might as well tackle death in one post:) This is the mausoleum where President Kwame Nkruamah is  buried. He led Ghana to independence in 1957. The sides of the monument are curved to represent the sword resting, a symbol of peaceful leadership. Ghana has been blessed not to have any civil war in its history.

This is a common sight in Ghana, and a tame one at that. At any traffic light, you’re bound to see peddlars selling anything from drinks to, ahem, condoms. They lean at your windows and try to tempt you to buy grilled fowl, toys or doughnuts, anything at all. In this picture, the vendor in the foreground is selling “PK”, chewing gum. The lady at the back is carrying plastic bags of plantain chips.

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6 Responses to "Our TEACH expedition in Ghana"

This is very interesting! Sorry about the passing of your friend.

So sorry to hear of your loss. I hate that last look back – and the feeling that you should have run back.I love your note about the curviture in the monument. What a statement. I didn't realize Ghana had gained independence so recently. So interesting to hear about the culture.All the best,Corrafrom the desk of a writer

Thanks so very much, Anonymous. Kind of you to comment. Corra, thanks a lot for visiting. Yes, Ghana is only 53 years old this March. During our fiftieth anniversary, many officials from America came. It was wonderful.My best,Bisi

I just ran into a couple people that Orlando and I worked with in 1986 at the Lansing School for girls and they told me about Orlando’s passing. I live in Ithaca and hadn’t heard a thing about it. I remember the first day I worked with him, he was so quiet and since I’m not it was a little uncomfortable. We soon became friends and after we both left the job (he returned later as a teacher) I would run into him occassionally, like once a year. I actually thought I was about to see him the other day at the grocery store for our annual catching up conversation but it wasn’t him and now I won’t get to see him again. So very sad. Fortunately when I googled him your blog came up. The last time I saw him was when he was picking up his car from the repair shop and he mentioned Ghana to me but I didn’t remember any details. Thanks for sharing this picture and the information about him.

Hi Amy,

Thank you so much for visiting. Indeed, it was a shock when I found out. The last time I talked to him, he had just returned from Ukraine and showed me beautiful pictures of the Ukrainian girl he hoped to marry. He looked so happy. We were planning on getting together, and then there was silence. His phone was disconnected, so I called the school. That’s when I found out. I wish I had spent more time with him. I’m glad he had you as a friend. I don’t think people realized what a loner he was. We had a wonderful time in Ghana.

All the best,
Bisi

It sounds wonderful. 🙂

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