Friday, 24 November 2017


After living with complete strangers for 7 weeks, who are strangers no more, meet my wonderful host family, whom I can only extend the uttermost gratitude to for welcoming me with open arms.

Bobo has to be the most excitable four year old with the most energy I have ever encountered, which is great when you have him on your side playing five-a-side, and more of a challenge when trying to teach him past ‘H’ on the alphabet. Unlike the rest of the family, Bobo can’t understand English other than a few words, as he speaks his local language like most here in Tamale, so one of the first things we both learnt was different ways of communicating with each other. Where words can no longer be used, expressions, hand motions and tuning in with each other’s mannerisms to communicate has become the usual. There is something quite beautiful about us both learning a new language to connect with one another, and there is certainly amusement at dinner time when the he tries to teach me some of his local dialect, providing the whole family with their comedic entertainment for the night. It’s really interesting as a UK volunteer to compare Bobo to a four year old from the UK that I am used to encountering. As Bobo becomes fascinated with my front camera iphone, he finds entertainment elsewhere in coming up with imaginary forts and wonderlands which we will explore together, or crime fighting action packed car chases for when he’s feeling particularly energetic. In the UK I think it would be quite the contrary. Bobo, my little four year old brother, teaches me about a way of life outside of material possessions and normal societal conversation, where we communicate in smiles and frowns, and get out of breath running around mythical forests together rather than one projected on an iphone screen. 

The mysterious enigma of the family, Dada is a boy of few words. It was only after week two that I acquired the information of his name and his age; 12. Although he understands my language more than Bobo, he chooses to stay mostly mute; I think he’s still trying to figure me out. At least that doesn’t stop him from beating the combined effort of both me and Bobo at football, and laughing along with everyone else at my incompetency to pronounce Ghanaian syllables. We did however bond over our love of avatar and spider man, and when I’m colouring at the table, I’ll always have a silent companion who will help me out. There is a peaceful energy about Dada, and I don’t know if I truly understood the phrase ‘comfortable silence’ until spent two hours colouring with him. However, just as he as taught me how to eat effectively with my hands, from the spark in his eyes and the little sideways smile he gives as he listens to me trying to explain English culture and mannerisms, I think we’re making progress.


I see Madia as kind of like a big and little sister at the same time. Even though she has lots of responsibilities, she is never too busy for a laugh, and fortunately for me, is scared incredibly easily, which always makes for an entertaining game of ‘hide and scare’ on a  lazy Sunday afternoon. She has also, like the rest of the family taken a liken to my colouring book, so as we all leave for the day I leave it with her, only to find some new additions in it when I arrive home. From her amazing cooking, to her awful taste in Tella Novella’s, it’s her ability to laugh that I have learnt most from. It is not a day started well until I have heard the roosters call, and Madia’s giggle.

It seems everyone in Ghana really are just extended family. Just as the generosity my host family has been kind enough to give to me, it also seems to extend to most of tamale. Every time I walk into the living room there is someone else new, who will sit with me and greet me with a big smile, almost like the UK at Christmas time, where people all come together and there is a real sense of community and family. Every day I am presented with the generosity, love and spirit like every day is Christmas day, and where I will quite happily sit between two strangers and watch an awful Tella novella as they avidly and animatedly discuss its awful plot line, as we are all, as cliché as it sounds, ‘one big family’.


For me, my counterpart Abigail has been my sister, best friend and anchor here in Ghana.  If it wasn’t for her I would be smelly, broke and sad, and I say that because she literally taught me how to wash my clothes, fetch water to bathe and to bargain with a Ghanaian; which is definitely the hardest task of all. We really are a team, from washing the dishes, to eating together, to laughing together at the end of a hard day; we go through it together, and I’m so thankful for that and for her.

I have such a huge respect for these people, who only 5 weeks ago were complete strangers to me, and now I can’t imagine my day to day life without them.  My host family has extended the uttermost love, generosity and kindness to me, qualities which I will take home with me and return the favour. I’ll miss you Ghana, but I’ll miss your people even more.

Written by
Chloe Ross-Brown

Photo credit: Chloe Ross-Brown

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