ARE YOU PACKED? YOU TOOK YOUR SHOTS? LET’S GO GHANA! AND THE BEST PART IS… YOU DO NOT NEED TO GET A PASSPORT!
Coming to Ghana Day 3 – Meeting The Children
After an uncomfortable sleep, I quickly got up to go to use the outhouse to finally go and pee. It was quiet outside except for the cock crowing, chicken rustling among the grass and birds calling to each other. It was as tranquil as I imagined.
Marie and I got ready for going to the primary school. As we ate our breakfast, there suddenly appeared six children, one was completely naked and two partially naked. They seemed fascinated by Marie despite the charity frequent white volunteers stay in the town. They sat outside on our porch looking in, laughing and hiding. Marie did not enjoy the unwanted attention but I was enjoying their little faces. I started talking to them but they only responded in laughter and giggles. Alfred gave them brightly coloured toothbrushes as they do not have proper oral hygiene practices and also to build a relationship. Alfred said that these children and others like them did not go to school. I felt sad for the children because they are not learning about the world outside their town; however, I thought our presence meant that we can bring the outside world to them.
We got on to our motorbike taxis and went to the Charity’s school. We zoomed pass a big football match tournament on the Catholic school’s playing field. There was a big crowd cheering on their teams, many of whom were children and teenagers.
We arrived to the free school. I saw little children outside running around while waiting on us to start their day. One young lady was already there who was a teacher named Dorkus, 24. She called the children in and they got chairs and set up their classrooms. I stood outside the three classrooms and observed Dorkus teach English to children 5 to 9 year olds. Shalom was teaching nursery rhymes with her two to four year olds (the biggest class), and lastly Marie and Alfred were teaching maths to the three children who were nine years old in their class. I then wondered around the small humble school to get orientated.
The school was painted in an attractive bright sky blue with triangular shapes outside the three classrooms along with an office with colourful hand prints design around the door. On the side of the building there was a painting of a tree and read ‘The Mango Tree donated by Beth & Misch’.
The school is rented for $600 cedis (£120) a year since the school originally belonged to a church a long time ago. Initially, the Church asked parents in the district to pay for it but without the cooperation of the parents, the school did not take off. Alfred saw the opportunity to use this abandoned school to teach the children of whose family could not pay for the schools with greater facilities. The foundation offers a free school teaching maths, English, Ghanaian languages, religious education, maths, natural sciences and art; from 8:15am to 2:40pm. It was evident the school did not have enough pencils and pens, exercise books, text books, chairs and desks.
I sat in on Shalom’s class. She asked the class to stand up when she entered in to the classroom and they stood to attention until she sat down. She greeted the children and started going through the nursery rhymes they had learnt. Alfred came in shortly to give out balloons and toothbrushes before resuming to learning English rhymes and words. The children were bright, filled with a coipus amount energy and playfulness. There seemed to be little structure or discipline that I was used to in the Caribbean or England.
After a break, Shalom asked me to teach her class. I was not prepared with a teaching plan but I thought I could teach them their body parts with the song and actions of ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes.” They did not have a long English vocabulary and I did not speak their language so it was challenging but Shalom was there to translate if needed be. The children started copying the song, words and action. I went around testing them before doing the whole song in the middle of the room. I was so impressed with them. By the end of the period, I was really connecting with children, laughing and playing with them before dismissing them for lunch.
In the last period, I sat in on Alfred’s class with older children. There lesson was on water for natural science. The children were excited to learn about where water comes from, what is good drinking water and various uses f it. They had a better understanding and speaking English. They had more of a structure and less overactive. I enjoyed the children’s enthusiasm. All the teachers were using well used teaching and text books. They have great needs and I learned the school is only living on donations of volunteers and donors from abroad. Without this school, these children would not be able to receive any formal education or have a place to be while the rest of the family working long hours.
We left the school and walked into town with the sun beating down on us. We decided to go through the market so we could sight-see as Wednesdays and Thursdays are the main days when everyone around the river go in to town to sell their goods. There were soaps, Kente cloths, seamstresses, beads, fish, fruits and vegetables, and so much more. It was busy and we had to weave in and out of stalls and jump gutters and avoiding speeding vehicles. I brought small ripe yellow mangoes, yellowish-green starfruit, and my favourite drink, coconut water straight from the nut. I was so thirsty that I could not get all the water in my mouth fast enough! After refreshing myself, we headed back home for dinner.
On our way, I wanted to find out more about the culture of the town. It was typical for a man to marry up to five wives so he can have a large family. However, a lot of these fathers with such big families would leave the town by themselves and their family to survive. A lot of children do not get a full childhood in this town and have to be independent from a toddler. Some children had to leave their families to be trained by a guardian who tend to mistreat them. The social culture is very aggressive and about survival of the fittest. The majority of the township are migrants and they mainly speak Adele. There are three religions seen: Christianity, Idolatry/Spiritualism and Islam. It is considerably cheaper to buy here but the jobs are limited and wages varied but it was significantly lower than in Accra, the capital.
We were greeted by the local children at our door, they were not the same as the children from the morning. We had around 10 children excited with their smiling faces to see the strangers. A few spoke good English. The eldest, James, introduced all of his brothers and sisters. We spoke until it was dark and our neighbour, the teacher chased them away. Shortly after, Alfred had to leave to go in the nearest city, Have, to prepare for the medical outreach and get the wifi modem.
Shalom took us down to the Volta river behind our base to collect water for us to bath. We had a scenic view of sandy banks and agriculture. The fishing boats were docked and the sun was setting behind them. There were dragon flies dancing around us when we got to the river and the birds chirping. The peaceful waters and natural sounds were so pleasant after a long and hot day. Shalom placed a piece of cloth on top of her head then placed the black basin on top. She scooped up the water with a blue small container until she filled the basin and gracefully glided out of the river. We walked back to the base following Shalom. I was grateful for her hard work as she does this along with other locals daily.
Marie and I sat down and had a simple dinner with soda. We tried to play ‘Guess Who?’ under our nets but the light from our phones and tablets attracted a swarm of flies and mosquitoes so after 1 game it was lights out and sleep time.
Stay tuned for day 4 for more blogging for the interesting characters I meet and if the children from the school bond with me.
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