Mid-October, we arrived at our homestay village and made our way to a corner of one of the local churches, where homestay families had already started to gather. We all eyed each other, wondering who ‘belonged’ to whom. I spotted a lady with a baby boy decked out in Chelsea FC blue. I commented to a fellow trainee, “I hope that’s my family.”
Introductions were made, ‘rules’ to both parties re-iterated, the church got hotter as the sun climbed higher, children grew restless, trainees wanted to unpack. Finally they started calling out pairs. My name was called and a man I had not noticed, materialized out of somewhere and came up to me. A minute later, his wife joined and to my delight, it was the woman with the Chelsea baby!
Turns out Richard and Agnes were pros at this homestay thing. I was their seventh Peace Corps Trainee. The couple has four boys, with the eldest, Raphael, away at boarding school.The parents prioritize their children’s education and work hard to have them attend private schools. Except baby Jeff, he still gets to hang out with mom all day.
For a while I was confused because I thought they had more children – at any other time about five to seven other boys always hung around, helped Agnes with chores, she fed them, etc. but they were only neighbors. Her boys never wandered off to others’ houses or to play football (aka soccer). They were not allowed but equally did not seem to mind.
For the few weeks we got to spend in this village, I came to adore my homestay family and became particularly attached to Jeffy Jeff. With Raphael away at boarding school, Maxwell effortlessly took up the reins of man of the house, especially once Richard left for work (see next paragraph). Phinehas was the absolute sweetest, with the most tender smile, twinkling eyes and innocent laughter. He was the least shy around me, always asking to play cards and willing to learn new games. I had fun playing with ‘my’ boys (both my homestay brothers and neighbors), as I had started calling them. Aside from the games, we did yoga, played music and they danced, made videos so they could watch and laugh at themselves or we watched movies. I was genuinely sad to leave them and I look forward to seeing them again. I have every intention of visiting whenever I travel south.
It will certainly be interesting getting to see these boys grow over the next two years and already this week, the new batch of Health trainees have arrived and I wonder who will get ‘my’ family. Already, I am being possessive and wondering things like ‘what if they like him/her more than me?!’
**Disclaimer: The content of this blog is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Ghana Government.**