Monday, January 25, 2010

Out Of Africa

In exactly two weeks I will be stepping off a plane in Ghana, Africa. I am alternately excited and nervous, having never been to Africa before and having no idea what to expect, but my friend Valanga Khoza, who is from South Africa, assures me Ghana is 'Africa-lite' so I'll be fine.
My booking agency Booked Out have lined up some pretty wonderful school visits for me recently; trips to Darwin, Perth and Beijing, but this one would have to top them all. I am spending four days running workshops with kids in a big international school in Accra called Lincoln Community School, then have a few more days in Ghana before I head back to Australia. Coincidentally, my sponsor child, Elizabeth, lives in Ghana, apparently only a few hours away in an area called Ahanta West Area Development Project (ADP), so I am hoping to visit her on my second last day there. She is now ten years old and have watched her grow through yearly photographs since she was four, so it will be very exciting to meet her and her family, and I'm sure a stark contrast to the comparatively well-off students in Accra. World Vision have been extremely supportive of my visit, but all the same it's been weeks of preparation and forms to fill out including police checks and multiple vaccinations. I am so full of antibodies now I could probably just about trek through any jungle and eat off any floor in Africa! I am still waiting on a confirmation on this before I go out and buy presents. World Vision helpfully suggest a list of presents that won't create jealously or incite thievery so looking down the list I'm thinking coloured pencils for Elizabeth and Australian animal posters for her school might be the way to go.
Apparently, internet connection is dodgy in Ghana but if I can I will try to post regularly throughout my stay there, like a kind of travel diary, including photographs. If I don't have any luck getting online while I am away, I shall certainly write about my experiences when I get back on the 18th February.
Then, it will be straight into a row of book launches: The Race For The Chinese Zodiac on Sat 20th Feb, with Gabrielle Wang. Gabi and I will be painting faces so bring your kids along. The following Saturday Feb 27, is the launch of Peeking Ducks by Krista Bell. Then on Sat March 13, I am launching Gabi's new YA novel. I will post details on all these launches soon.
Meanwhile, can I ask you to check out this website and consider joining Peter Singer's pledge. If you earn under Aud$154,000 (which I imagine is probably most of you), by pledging only 1% of your annual income to charity we could virtually eradicate world poverty. If you earn more, you pledge more. Sounds too easy, doesn't it? Don't take it from me though - Peter's done the research: - hope to see some of you there!