My Home Away From Home

By Cleo S. Blacke
Humanist Service Corps Ghana Co-Coordinator

Growing up, home was two rooms shared with my mother and four siblings in a compound house we shared with five other families in Ho, the capital of the Volta Region in Ghana. We never had enough money for anything but there was an abundance of laughter and love every single day.

We moved to live in Accra, the capital of Ghana, when I was about eight years old. My stepdad was a teacher and we moved around the city quite a bit every time he transferred to a new school. By the time I finished junior high school, I had changed schools three times and called a couple of different places home. It didn’t matter the situation we were living in or the new hardships we acquired with every move. Every new place was home. It was home because I had people around me that were my home.

I went to boarding school for high school and for the first time I had to make a new home in a new environment alone. Boarding school was hard. I remember every time I had to return from spending school vacations with my family, the hardest part was getting off the bus in front of the school knowing it was going to be another excruciating three months before I could go home again. No matter how many friends I made, home was still waiting for me three hours away with my mother and siblings in Accra.

Once you leave high school and officially become an adult however, things change. For me, they had to change. I was determined to be as independent as possible and make as many memories as I could on my own.

Memories were made and experiences had; bad and good. I missed my mother every where I went. I missed the smell of home, the food, the stupid things my siblings and I did to each other, the feeling of knowing I wasn’t alone. It was all gone.

No matter how much fun I had, no matter who I fell in love with or how many times I was so tired I wanted to give up on everything, nothing beat that feeling I got every time I came home to wherever my family was. Nothing beat that overwhelming feeling of content I got every time I laid in whatever spot was my bed that night knowing I was truly home.

I recently turned twenty-seven and have found myself thinking more and more about everything I have and have failed to accomplish over the years. I was dismayed to realize I had failed to accomplish the seemingly easy task I set for myself many years ago. Or had I?

cleo and zeus

Me and my cat, Zeus, at home in Bimbilla

Here in Bimbilla I live in a big house with my Humanist Service Corps teammates. It’s just a little over a year since I moved here. I’ve had up and downs and have once again acquired a tremendous amount of experience and memories I don’t think I could acquire anywhere else. I have a cat and a dog I love. My mother lives 3,391 miles away from me and we talk every day. I am relatively happy here.  A part of me still believes home is anywhere my family is and a part of me says home is anywhere I feel happy and safe.

I haven’t seen my mother in over two years and I miss her terribly but the drive and importance of the work I am doing here in Bimbilla is what keeps me going on those days when everything else seems bleak and meaningless.

On days when I am tired from a particularly busy day in town, I just want to curl up in bed and text mom. I want to turn on some good music and make food with my teammates; I want to tell them some funny thing that happened to me that day. I want to be with my dog and my cat. I want to go home.

Cleo S. Blacke

cleo thumbCleo is a secular humanist/atheist from the Volta Region of Ghana. From an early age, she was driven to expand her knowledge of the world through music, books, and movies. She is still very passionate about music and credits that love for her humanistic perception of the world. After graduating from high school, Cleo studied graphic design for a year and worked as a secretary for a small company in Accra before taking a short course in child care and working as a nanny in Saudi Arabia. She also spent a year in South Africa working again as a nanny and touring the country. During that time, she joined the Durban Freethinkers of SA, which led naturally to her joining the Humanist Association of Ghana when she moved to Accra a year and a half ago.

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