Back in February, we read the amazing story of Myra Parks, her husband and young son, who made a bold move by transplanting their lives from the US to Ghana. We followed up with Myra to see how things are going, and were surprised to learn that some new and interesting developments had steered their lives into a whole new adventure in Africa.

Two months ago, my family and I took a huge leap of faith. We sold all our possessions and moved to Africa from our comfortable lives in Los Angeles. We appreciated all the support and encouragement we’ve enjoyed over these months, especially from our network of friends in Ghana. But, let me just say this, a lot can happen in two months and a lot can change as well.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster living in Ghana. We have been extremely overjoyed at times, while at other times our days result in pure frustration. The country is beautifully amazing but living here over the past few months has gradually uncovered a lot of obstacles in our path, and we’re not sure these obstacles are worth hopping over, day in and day out.

Has this changed our mind about repatriation? Absolutely NOT! Africa is going to be our home, and there is no turning back. BUT there are a couple of major reasons we have questioned if Ghana is the permanent place we should be based.

saying goodbye is always difficult

Saying goodbye is never easy…especially to these friends who received us with open arms

Firstly, the lack of major family activities is a major issue for us. Yes, we do spend most of our days sightseeing, checking out local eateries, and, believe it or not, spending a lot of time at the mall (the AC is delightful in the merciless heat!). However, it has been quite difficult to find family-friendly activities. We’ve come to realize there’s little to do here and the activities that do exist aren’t cheap and cater to expatriates and the wealthy. It’s hard to explain to our 4-year-old that there isn’t even a park where we can take him where he can run around and play. That’s right, Accra and the surrounding areas don’t have parks. This is one of our major frustrations because we are a young family and a very active one at that.

In addition to the lack of family-friendly activities, the electricity and internet services are major concerns for us. Frequent and long power cuts (we’re talking 6-7 hours sometimes) mean we are left sitting in the dark for hours. Imagine not being able to use your computer or cell phone because they have died. Even having a power pack to charge our devices is pretty futile because the battery eventually dies on the power pack as well. Overall, not having consistent electricity is hard to deal with, mainly because running an internet-based business seems almost impossible with spotty, unreliable, and expensive internet.

packing our bags - downsized from 7 to 4 bags!

Downsized from 7 to 4 bags for our next adventure!

And to add to our woes, we are disappointed that there are not many like-minded repats. We came to Ghana expecting a big repatriate community and some young families to connect with. Although the repat community is pretty big, there are no young repat families here to gather with and most of them keep to themselves.

“Why are you still there?” you may ask. Well, like I said in the beginning, a lot can change in 2 months. When we arrived in Accra, the plan was to find a place to stay, fork over the required upfront rent (1 to 2 years in advance), and do business. But, we had to have a serious conversation about whether present-day Ghana is the right fit for our family.

Well, we have decided it isn’t.

So now a new adventure begins. We’ve decided to travel the African continent to determine what country we will eventually call home. The beginning of April will see us head off to neighboring Togo, and then on to Ivory Coast, Senegal, the Cape Verde islands, and Morocco, and we plan to visit many other countries well into 2018. We hope our journey ends with priceless memories and a place to call HOME!

60 Responses

  1. Ruby Boyd

    Many thanks to a family like the Parks. Many of us do not have the insight to recognize when a country is not for us. We are fortunate that they do and are able to explain to us why it does not suit them. It is important for us that have not already repatriated to Africa to realize that each and every one of the 54 countries in Africa are different! What is amazing for us as repatriates is that we have a choice to decide which one we will live in.

    Reply
    • B. Tagoe

      I pray this family enjoys traveling our motherland Africa. Anywhere you decide to live in Africa is a blessing. I’ll say this: One must not, however, want to move to anywhere in Africa expecting their experience to mirror that of America, Europe, or anywhere else. African ideas of family and gathering are different from that which one may be used to outside of Africa. It takes time to appreciate that, and that can be realized in festivals and other events. Africa continues to have its share of problems. Ghana, a place I’ll forever call home has its share of problems, not to mention the “dumsor,” the load sharing which had traumatized Ghanaians for some time now (it was almost nonexistent where I lived when I was home this past March, compared to what it was two years ago during another visit).

      Like the young couple, I was frustrated at some things that I thought could be better, and it opened my mind to what little I could contribute when I move back home. You see, growing up in Ghana in the 70s and early 80s is far different from the Ghana of today. There was never “dumsor,” and it was the happiest place one could live. I am sorry in the two months this young family was in Ghana, their experience wasn’t 100 percent favorable. People repatriate for different reasons and I’m sorry they were unable to meet like-minded people. But that happens everywhere.

      Yes, and Accra is a different place today. Take a look at a map of Ghana, and see how small the Greater Accra Region is in relation to the other regions, and yet it seems all Ghanaians centered there. So yes, we have a lot of work to do in Ghana, we have a lot of work to do in Africa. I hope that this family could connect with me so the next time I go to Ghana, if they could, we could meet up, and maybe my family and I could introduce them to a different Ghana they were unable to enjoy.

      Meanwhile, stay blessed family and enjoy Africa. It’s you’re able to do that. There are many who only wish and are never able to accomplish what you have done so far. May the ancestors forever guide your path. Hotel!

      Reply
      • Myra Parks

        Thank you for the encouraging words and sharing a little bit of your experience with us!

      • Jendayi Serwah

        Totally agree Erma. Our job as repats is to help rebuild Afrika and sometimes that may mean creating services that do not exist but are very much needed. This way we are contributing. I think the age issue is also an issue as most repats are retired and living comfortably on pensions especially if they were born in the 1950s. Younger families do not have this cushion and so may not even have the resources to travel extensively before settling. We must all recognise that we have to calibrate our mentality and expectations with those we are settling amongst. Yes we are all Afrikans but we are 500 years removed and this has had an impact on how we are and how we integrate. I maintain that Afrikan will greatly progress when we learn to work together and kick out neo colonialism – the black and white faces of it!

    • Christmas

      Thanks, you gave me some things to think about before taking another journey to Africa to repatriate.

      Reply
  2. Arondo

    It’s very true and it’s very difficult for young families looking for same environment and friends. Most repatriating people are retirement age people. Much of it is due to economic situation and years if frustration with the western system which young people are still trying to make it work out in America.

    Reply
  3. jeffery james

    ‘Returning’ to Africa with an American idea of what you want African to be can be deadly. I have seen so many African American coming to be country saying “this would never happen in America, or, in America, we have this and that to keep us busy”. Id say return back to your country

    Reply
    • Myra Parks

      We believe that those who come with only complaints should probably return home. Those who see the issues and are willing to help change them should stay. We have no plans on returning to the USA however Ghana was not the place for us and we have a whole continent to explore to find a place where we believe is a better fit for our family! Thank you for reading!

      Reply
      • Angella

        Please don’t hesitate to come down to the Southern part Africa, Namibia is waiting for you and family. Will personally take you to Zimbabwe the country which most doubt to even step a feet into, I am sure you will be Shocked to see what a beautiful country it is. All the best in your African exploration.

      • Myra Parks

        We will definitely make our way back south soon! Please stay in touch!

      • Stella Marine

        Welcome to Africa. Make sure you visit Kenya even though it ends up as a stop over. Safe travels and enjoy the continent and your/our people❤️. Feel free to reach out/email with any questions should you decide to visit.

      • Myra Parks

        Kenya is on the itinerary! I will send you an email this evening!

      • Layna

        Glad you found out, sorry it was not what you expected. The continent has alot of growth to do. Though my husband.and I are both Ghanaian he has actually brought up this very subject. Ghana has because very expensive of course around Accra. I actually do not want to live around there though. I prefer the riral areas.

      • Myra Parks

        Its ok! We will definitely visit often because we have a bunch of friends there but we are excited about seeing more of the continent.

      • Hadiyah

        Hi Myra, I’m not sure how much research you and your family did before moving i.e. How many times did you visit Ghana? Did you have any connection with people there who have repat that could guide you give you and family guidance. I plan on repat to Africa, Ghana is first to visit several times, I have friends and I will definitely do my research. Good luck to you and your family. I don’t think you should give up on Ghana so soon

      • Myra Parks

        Hi Hadiyah! We had only visited once on an extended stay but we have several friends there whom we talked to almost everyday. There are just some things you cant plan for however we should have taken more trips before moving but we figured we would just take a chance and we did and have no regrets. The greatest thing is that we have a friend that owns a lodge there so we were able to do a month to month situation instead of the usual 1 to 2 years rent up front which allowed us to have the flexibility we had to leave when we decided it wasn’t for us. Thank you for reading and I hope Ghana works for you.

      • Meshandale Tucker

        Myra, I think it is amazing and courageous that your family even had the means and the guts to pack up and leave. I do hope you all find the place (wherever it is ) that is perfect for you to grow and prosper. Just keep updating us on your journey. Thank You.

      • Myra Parks

        Thank you so much! We are growing, learning, and unlearning each and everyday which makes this such an amazing journey not just a search for a “home.”

  4. Helen

    Togo and the Ivory Coast are Francophile countries. Togo is extremely poor and the infrastructure and services even poorer than Ghana. Do some research and see which countries are advancing technically and culturally. Look at Rwanda, which has made a remarkable recovery due to women becoming a strong political presence. I also live in Accra, but I don’t have children. Children here are expected to school and do chores and are not “entertained” as American children are. I spend some months in Togo so my experience is first hand. All Francophile countries are corrupt with abject poverty due to France still draining them financially per colonial taxes…

    Reply
    • Myra Parks

      We liked Togo and Ivory coast but we see what you mean. Are you from Ghana? We are definitely heading west and Rwanda is on our list!

      Reply
      • Ken

        Hi sister My children are still schooling in Tamale Ghana with their mother. I too have decided that Ghana cannot be my home. I’m looking at Tanzania. Zimbabwe will tick most of your boxers. I spent 2 weeks there in the capital. There are parks, you can walk on the street I.e footpath, cycling, horse riding path. Proper Roads not like most of the dangerous ones in Ghana. Something to do every day. This coun try also has it’s own challenges.

      • Myra Parks

        We are looking forward to checking out Tan and Zim. There are pros and cons to each country in the world, however we are just looking for a place that work for us.

    • Tim

      I heard Parts of Zimbabwe actually had some very nice neighborhoods

      Reply
    • Chantal

      You are absolutely right Rwanda is one of the best country in Africa to visite or the place to live well so you are well welcome in Rwanda as you still on you journey to find the right place

      Reply
      • Myra Parks

        Rwanda is also on the itinerary and one of the countries we are looking forward to the most.

  5. Renae Joslyn

    Hi, congrats on the bolded step your family has taken. My sister is a missionary and she is in Guinea doing some research for a little while but she is stationed in Senegal. So hopefully you find Senegal feasible. All the best!!

    Reply
  6. Ms Afrikan Roots

    As one who has repat to Gambia, if I told you how many let downs, no water, electric problems, no money and language barriers…I had to put my wants/needs aside to deal with reality. What I was accustomed to in the US. I had to rid all of that to appreciate what I could do in Gambia. It is not easy in any African country, they all come with their own trials…but those trials can be where you find ur greatest rewards.

    Reply
    • Myra Parks

      The greatest thing about Africa is that its made up of 54 nations with all having their pros and cons of course but there is the possibility of finding some of the things we are looking for. We will travel to the countries we are most interested in and make a decision from there. Currently in Senegal now and looking forward to our experience!

      Reply
    • Layna

      Agreed, i do think people have to be realisc when returning back to the continent. There is alot of building up that must be done. And i also think 2 months is not enough time either but i umderstand it is a family effort as well.

      Reply
  7. Reshida

    I recently returned from a shortened vacation in Ghana, staying at Palace Afrika Lodge. I was very disappointed by MANY things; (1.) the electricity outages were rough, and angering, as the lodge-owner advertises having a standby generator, which wasn’t true… (2.) Lack of internet/wifi service/availability, yet another amenity advertised by the lodge owner, that wasn’t true… (3.) The trash!! I was appalled at the amount of trash in the streets, in the neighborhoods, and ON THE BEACH, in Ghana. There is no waste management system in place. How can this be?? The situation will only get worse. (4.). Those who build homes put up walls, topped with either barbed wire or an electrical fence, to hide/secure the premises. This is very telling.

    The entire time I spent in Ghana I thought, “No way I can live like this.”

    Reply
    • Myra Parks

      I’m sorry your experience wasnt the best and we definitely understand. I will be reaching out to you via email personally. Looking forward to talking with you!

      Reply
  8. Doreen

    You need to live in a country for a while, before you uproot yourself for another brand new experience. There’s an African American returnee community in Ghana (cannot remember if it’s Kumasi..but somewhere coastal). You could visit them before you head off- who knows, if you might return. Senegal might be good to you. I love Senegal…And believe me you, even for somebody born in a country, if you leave for a long time…the cultural shock is real!

    Reply
  9. Sharnika

    I’m sorry your experience in Ghana wasn’t what yiy would have hoped but I do hope you find what you’re looking for. I’m also a black American living in Ghana (as a Peace Corps volunteer). I’ve been here since February of 2016 and have been living in a village although I do spend time in Accra, Kumasi and exploring Ghana in general. I’m always finding new things and interacting with Ghanaian families and other Americans from time to time. Its hard not having or finding things that I’m used to in America but the joy when I discover something here that I would never see back home? Priceless! Memory Lane Art Park in East Legon, Rufus Green Park in Adenta, L’Italy in Kumasi (with a well used playground for kids parties), etc. I think that if i had left Ghana after my experiences after two monthsmonths, it would’ve been because I hadn’t allowed my mind to fully embrace where I was yet (I was always looking for American things and ways of life). I still don’t like fufu though, lol. I often ear from other volunteers of color in other African countries and out stories are similar. We’ve had to learn to appreciate what each country offers and not so much on what it doesn’t. Good luck in your search and explorations!

    Reply
  10. Faith

    Sorry to here things aren’t working out as planned. I wish your family all the best in your journey.

    My friend and I are coming down for the first time maybe you can recommend so do’ s and dont’s for when we come down.

    Thank you

    Reply
  11. Andrea

    I admire your family’s strength to do that. I look forward to hearing more. I’m sure its an amazing experience to say the least. I’d love to do something like that. For sure it would be an eye opener and a way to remind myself, my son and daughter the true ways of living without all the finer things we think we need now. Learning new things and cultures would be amazing. Wishing you all the best and cannot wait to read more!

    Reply
  12. Cynthia

    Please keep posting because this has been one of my hearts desires as well but I didn’t know how to start ?

    Reply
  13. Wanda

    How courageous of you and your family! I am very interested in hearing about your journey. Keep the updates coming and be safe!

    Reply
  14. Feliscia

    Im glad your article made you new friends in Africa. Now you have many places to visit on your journey. Please kept us posted

    Reply
    • Myra Parks

      We are so blessed to have so many connections on the continent now!

      Reply
  15. NaaAkushika

    There are a lot of family activities for family and children in Ghana.Yoyo kids club and storybook Ghana just to name a few.You have to so your research before you go to a place.@everythingbaby has family activities planned for kids and family.

    Reply
    • Myra Parks

      Thank you for the information. We will check those out the next time we visit! Thank you for reading.

      Reply
  16. Earna Terefe-Kassa

    36 years ago I made my first trip to Africa, 5 countries in one month. 18 African countries more than 75 trips later I Repatriated to Ghana 7 years ago to make little piece of heaven on the Atlantic Ocean. Please NEVER expect to find America in ANY parts of Africa! Wish I had met you and your family before you left! Remember Africa is a DEVELOPING CONTINENT! The greatest thing about this fact, are the wonderful POSSIBILITIES, and the DIFFERENCE we can make! Good luck on your journey!

    Reply
    • Myra Parks

      Awesome story! We arent looking for America in Africa just a place that works for us. We hope to cross paths with you one day. Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  17. Maggie

    Namibia is one such country where you can find all those needs. Great parks, great infrastructure, clean, good schools and universities, good telecommunication network, great skies, great safaris, big malls, good roads, a coast line that will take your breath away, stable political situation. The downside though is that the main city Windhoek is expensive in terms of acquiring a house, renting, utilities are also expensive, crime can also be a downside if not careful and immigration can also be a pain. the 1US$=N$13. it’s a great country to try

    Reply
  18. Daryl

    So very unfortunate that you & your family didn’t find Ghana “as welcoming as you’d hoped”… I visited Ghana many times myself, have numerous ‘local friends’ there. I’ve also visited numerous other African countries… Continue to “find your comfortable place” in Africa. It’s a blessing that you & your family can travel the continent in search of what you seek. Stay diligent & enjoy your journey.

    Reply

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