While attending the pre-departure orientation of the program, I had vaguely heard that we would be visiting a Monkey Sanctuary in the Volta region of Ghana. Since that day, I had been dreading this visit and the inevitable encounter with the monkeys.
When I was 11 years old, I was attacked by a monkey. I still distinctly remember that I had gone to play with a friend and was waiting for her outside her house. As I was facing her door, something hairy calmly grabbed my arm from behind and I thought that this was another stupid ‘trying-to-be-funny’ tactic by one of my friends. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my upper arm and instantly turned around to retaliate. Little did I know that the ‘friend’ was a monkey that had clutched my hand so tightly that its fingerprints were to remain for ten days. Fear and shock descended and I could neither move nor speak. After a few seconds, I screamed for help and hearing more people coming to my rescue, the monkey ran away. However, I had a swollen and bruised arm for ten days and got seven injections over a period of three months.
As a consequence of this traumatic childhood experience, I was not looking forward to the Monkey Sanctuary visit in Ghana. I had a strong feeling that all the species of monkeys hate me and I might be attacked again. At the same time, I told myself that I cannot harbor this fear for my entire life and should at least attempt to confront it. I just needed some encouragement — and I got plenty from my friends in the Media in Ghana program.
We reached the Sanctuary. Trying to appear calm, I could feel my heart madly pounding. I held a banana, stretched out my hand and anxiously waited for a monkey to come. One came and looked at me. I could feel my heart about to explode. He quietly climbed up my hand, perched himself on my lower arm, peeled off the banana and happily ate it. He got off as soon as he finished and jumped to a tree.
I had finally done it! This has been a personal accomplishment!
I am still not sure if I have overcome my monkey fear, but I have definitely taken a step in that direction.
Also, I am quite positive now that the all the species of monkeys do not hate me.