Joining Felicity, Samantha, and all of your American Girl Doll favorites is Delia! Delia is an American girl, who is living in Africa. Delia is an optimistic and friendly girl. Follow her adventures with all of her new friends! Delia comes complete with a mosquito netting, a flashlight, six pairs of shoes, and many other great accessories!
In Ghana, I sometimes feel like a life-size, American doll. I can sometimes close my eyes and envision people placing me where they want me, putting the accessories on me that they want, and telling me to smile, while they do the talking. I know some of this is for my own safety, so I don’t get cheated when I go to buy things or robbed by rogue taxis (always take the taxis that have the “No Weapons” signs), but most is because there is this image of a young, well-educated American girl as made of porcelain—rich and fragile. The questions all start the same, like when Kwesi, Ekua’s fiancé, asked me why a young, Harvard graduate would leave her comfort zone to come all the way to the Africa? Their thought: maybe she just doesn’t know. And it is a source of great frustration when one is trying hard every day to be taken seriously despite their age, foreign status, and gender.
I can probably best illustrate my point by this story: My old neighbor Akua came into town two Saturdays ago. On the Friday before, she called me to confirm her visit. I told her I would first do my laundry (read: scrub away with a bucket and soap and “tough” palms my clothes by hand) and then head over to Adenta. She told me to please wait and let her do it for me. I was shocked. I told her that there was no way I was going to let her travel from her village to Accra, just to do my laundry! And then she kept asking me why, as if I was keeping something from her. I just did not know what to say. So I told her that I would not bring my laundry in a tro-tro, and that seemed to finally help my cause.
What those who view me as an American girl doll do not realize, is that a true American girl doll would not have what it takes to thrive here. She would not stand the hours of work outside of normal work hours it takes to create truly great programs. She would not return to settings where she got malaria and a typhoid-esque illness. She would run far away from the numerous sanitation issues and the lack of running water. And she most certainly would not enter a beat up, old van with 20+ other people as her main source of transportation.
Oftentimes when someone does not know me well, such as George and his family or Emma and his family, they just assume I could not possibly know how to do—or want to do—the things that they have to do here. So I instead look for the openings when I can tell them that I want to learn, that I can learn, and all I need is a patient person to show me. It takes willingness on my part, but it also takes some belief and patience on theirs. It is a story that will unfold together. Just the way a world that becomes more and more intertwined should.