Spanista » Self Care Rituals, Reflections & Resources for Joyful Living by Ginny Shiverdecker

Into Africa Day 3 Hard Work for Humanity Brings Many Rewards


Dear Wellness Seekers,

Into Africa Day 3 Hard Work for Humanity Brings Many Rewards is my personal story of the power of time devoted to honest sweat and toil that feels so solid and right. On this trip to Asikuma, Ghana it’s about building a family a sustainable home they can call their own with your own hands. Giving someone a sustainable space that shelters them from the elements so they can focus their lives to making a living that raises their quality of life rather than worry about where they will sleep night after night. The rewards double with opportunity to build AbodShelter micro houses with a team of diverse people – It bonds you in ways that are indescribable.

We woke on Day 3 with the sunrise thanks to hotel rooster outside our windows claiming his territory in the garden courtyard – his robust crow once again brought memories of my childhood on my grandparents farm in green pastures of Wisconsin. This sunrise would take us to Lake Volta again with the quest of building the first floating AbodShelter in Africa or anywhere for that matter – another dream come true for our Foundation as we seek the transform housing for the neediest families in the developing world.


Yesterday we build the floating platform raft with the right design framework, labor skill and creative ingenuity it came together. Today we need to get it on the water and build the Abod on it. Exciting! The sky offers a full sun with no clouds in site so being on the water was like working on a tanning bed all day.  Very hot and sweaty with the hard physical work involved – we hydrate all we can and press on with dedicated intensity.

This is all hands on deck with a ‘problem solve as you go’ mindset. You need to be ready for anything because Murphy’s Law will emerge at anytime. Here are the challenges;

Step 1:  How to get the steel platform down the cliff and floating on the water?  See the pics and video.  Anything we needed meant climbing 50 steps up and down to reach the storage building. Thank goodness we are all in reasonable shape to do it even me!


Step 2:  How do you recover a major piece of the platform after it gets bumped? When one works with people who have not done this kind of work before one unexpected move can change everything. One of the heavy metal platform plates was bumped off the platform only to slip into the bottom of the lake. Doug dived to find it but the lake waters difficult to see through. We had to call in a local diver with an air tank and hose to stay under water. We had to go to another village to find him but we was happy to have the work. It took him a solid hour to scan the lakes bottom and turned up victorious – he brought up the plate and saved the day.


Step 3:  How to build a house on a platform that bounces with every foot step we make? We took it one step at a time – first the frame, then the interior, then the side panels with the windows and then the exterior insulation wrap and the exterior cladding frame. We organized the materials, and I championed a work process for each major step, Doug and Jacques led the building process – with Leslie doing  hard-core metal work that required expertise to install like the windows and door.


Given it is Winter in Ghana, dusk came upon us early yet the setting of the sun  was stunning – the AbodShelter structure is completed in one day. The setting sun offered a beautiful setting for the featured pic that leads this post. We headed for the tro tro – climbing our last hill for the night. Sweaty, thirsty for something more than water, hungry and exhausted we take the bumpy, dusty road back to the hotel with African music blaring along the way while African laughter fills the bus.


Into Africa Day 3 Hard Work for Humanity Brings Many Rewards as I take stock of what we accomplished today as we navigated the challenges I feel humbled in so many ways – Spanista is compelled to pray silently on the way home counting my blessings as I compare the world I am working in this week to the world I live in America. I realize as we bounce around the lifestyle difference are so extreme it brings ones emotions to the surface. I turn away from  the guys to look out the windows as tears stream down my face. By the time we get to hotel a new kind of understanding takes hold of my heart – it’s a deeper level of compassion and a resolve to do what I can to push forward to expand AbodShelters for the people for Africa in partnership with my friends. Arriving at the Hotel I snap out of it – Cold shower, tilapia and rice dinner and good conversation with my new friends will bring about a great nights sleep dreaming about this little guy who will now have a secure home unlike any other – he deserves it.

Tomorrow we take on the next level of the AbodShelters build project – come by to see what new Spanista discovers on Day 4, won’t you?

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


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  • Kathleen - My dear friend,
    This is absolutely awesome! I can only imagine the emotional ride back to your hotel that night. What extreme differences in these two parts of the world. It makes me cry. Thank you for sharing all this. It’s a real eye opener.

    • gshiver - Dear Kath,
      It is so good of you to reach out. Yes, the extreme change from our comforts here in the US is difficult to comprehend. I am just now landing on my feet again after whirling emotionally form the experience. There is so much to do to support people in the vast world – especially in Africa. I will return so there will be more chapters to share. More coming then. Thanks for being a Spanista – Please share with your friends too.