Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Impressions of Ghana #2: The African Family

Just a few from the family, Efutu village, 2005
In the Western world, our families tend to be small and focused on the nuclear family. In Ghana, families are larger, and extended family members are close. In fact, cousins are often referred to as brothers or sisters, which can cause confusion for us obrunis. Large families often live together in one compound, with adults from several generations in one household. Here is Michael (far right, back) from New Life. His mother Grace is next to him, and her brother is next to her. Grace is a widow, and her brother helps care for the family. The other children here were introduced to me as Michael's "brothers."
Best Friends and Brothers, 2005
Here is Michael again, on the left, with his brother Amos. They are actual biological brothers. Amos lives at the orphanage, while Michael lives at home with his mother. A sad fact of Ghanaian life is that not all parents can afford to feed and care for all of their children. Many times, some of the children of a family are sent to live with better-off relatives, or to live at orphanages.
Hard Workin' Mamas, 2005
It is not uncommon to see women working with their babies on their backs. Babysitters are an unheardof concept in Ghana, and mothers can't afford not to work. Often, if the family is very poor, the children must stay out of school to work the farms, or hawk things in the street to help the family survive.

Playtime for Mother and Daughter, 2005
Here, my host mother Mama Vic plays a hand-clap game with her daughter Nana Esi. Whether gripped by poverty or not, families still find time to play together in Ghana. This can be through simple games, songs, or stories.

Brothers by Love, 2005
Here, Frank and Abraham show their brotherly love at New Life International Orphanage. They are not biologically related at all, but the bonds forged through love are often as strong as those made by blood. The children in the orphanages may be there because they have no families, but they often find a family in each other.

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