The Greatest Gift of Life is Friendship

The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.
— Hubert H. Humphrey

Making friends was difficult to do in Ghana. Friendship is based on equality, but the financial disparity between many Ghanaians and me was often too big of a gap to fill.

It would go like this: I would meet someone interesting, maybe in class (I was studying abroad at the time); we would hang out a few times; then he or she would start asking me if I would take them back to Canada with meif I would help him or her get a job in Canada. At first I would say no, but the requests wouldn't stop. I felt like I was being used for my citizenship and money; it didn't feel like a friendship based on mutual interests. 

My friend Charity

My friend Charity

Charity was a cleaner at the international student hostel I lived at while I studied at the University of Ghana. She was also the woman I paid to do my laundry for me.

She stood apart from the other cleaners because of her light skin. Even though most of the hostel workers spoke traditional Ghanaian languages to each other, I understood that she was sometimes teased for her lighter skin. I couldn't tell how old she was; she had few wrinkles and was strong enough to wash my jeans by hand (which I couldn't do), but her hair was losing its colour and she was a grandparent. 

Because Charity got to know me intimately (she was hand washing my underwear, after all), we became close, even though she was older. A few times I visited with her, her children, and her grandchildren at her house in the city. One weekend she invited me to visit with her extended family at a village in eastern Ghana. I was curios to see where she came from and experience in real life in a rural Ghanaian village, so I took her up on the offer...

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