Student from Ghana visits Morenci 10.8

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

In America, we hear stories from the older generation about how they trudged long distances through the snow to reach school every morning.

Peter York’s story has some similarities, and maybe some day he’ll be the older generation who tells tales of hardship to his children and grandchildren.

As of today, his stories are still the daily reality in his native country of Ghana.

Peter, who was named Papa Arhin in his native village, is now a student at Siena Heights University and he spoke Monday to three classes at Morenci Area High School.peter.york.jpg

As a youngster growing up in rural Ghana, Peter arose in the dark and got busy with a variety of chores such as fetching water. Then he joined other children in the long walk to school—about 14 kilometers or 8.6 miles.

“We were gone all day,” he said. “We only saw our parents early in the morning and again in the evening.”

The kids walked together, often passing through the forest and spotting scorpions and snakes. They sang songs to keep their attention focused on the long walk and to make the time pass faster.

“When you go in a group,” Peter said, “you don’t feel the pain of walking.”

They chewed sugar cane during their walk and that was often their only food for the morning.

The concept of leisure time didn’t exist for children in the village. It’s a luxury that millions of people around the world don’t understand.

Peter’s life changed when he was eight years old. An uncle took him to the city to attend school.

“When I went to the city, I started over,” he said. “About 10 years ago I began to discover who I was.”

He developed hobbies and interests and had the opportunity to dream about a future for himself.

His initial trip to the city of Accra was astounding.

“I never knew you could see so many lights, that there could be so many big houses and so many people,” Peter said. “It was a very strange place for me, but that’s where I was able to develop myself.”

He hopes to dispel notions of Africa as a slave nation, always at war.

“Africa is a good place to be,” Peter said, while acknowledging the problems of the continent.

Helping people realize their dreams and lifting them out of poverty could bring an end to the fighting that goes on in many areas, he said.

Peter describes Ghana as a beautiful country and Africa’s first constitutional democracy, a status achieved in 1957.

The country’s flag—red for the blood of it struggle for freedom, yellow for the rich minerals including gold, and green for the leading industry of agriculture—is highlighted by a black star.

“This not only depicts our black heritage, but it’s a star for all of Africa,” Peter said. “We were the first to gain independence and the star gave hope to the remainder of Africa.”

The nation remains very poor. When Peter was asked about medical facilities, he told students that clinics are scattered here and there. From his village, you often need to carry a person on your back to walk to a clinic and sometimes they die along the way.

Peter showed two objects from home and explained their significance to the students. He also spoke about his clothing and showed a robe worn at his high school.

His time in America will be used to enhance his skills, knowledge and experience, and to take a good look at how the country functions.

“I want to learn about what makes your country so rich, what makes it one people.”

All the while, his home will remain close to his heart.

“I don’t life in Africa,” Peter says, “but Africa lives in me.”

  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017