Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's in a Name?

I will always love the kids of Grey Memorial B.S. 4. When I taught them sign-language, Carlie and I had them all write their names down so we could practice spelling. Though I couldn't possibly learn them all by heart, I wanted a written record to jog my memory in the future.

*Joyce Adimeh *Leticia-Simon *Stephanie Amponsem
*Salifatu Brimah *Joseph Donkor *Jennifer Kodua
*Rose Gyimah *Christiana Nartey *Layla Hussein
*Priscilla Tandoh *Emelia Heddey *Richard
*Mary Asante *Olivia Opare *Hillary Tabi
*Grace Incoon *Doris Naa Ankrah *David Nkarsah
*Sarah Atteh *Giffy Appiah *Isaac *Rita Ajuro
*Sarah Churcher *Abigail Fekpey *Samuel Ayesu
*James Acquah *Tawiah Emmanuel *Elizabeth Bondzie
*Godfried Odue *Sarah Adum *Aeetey Adams
*Saratu Iddris *Benedicta Serwaa *Ruth Ajure
*Janet Anoff *Francis Ocansey *Mary Damiel
*Rashid Awell *Douglas Ohceul *Gloria Yaa Amankwah
*Ebeneser Antwi *William Cheetham *Pascaline Apenyo

My favorite part of all the names is the fact that everybody wrote their first and last name...except for my little Richard and Isaac. They were the smallest of the boys and always sat at the same desk together. They were the first names I memorized because of their little faces~

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Field Day

So you know how on "Get Smart" there are two opposing sides...chaos and control? Well, I think the kids at Grey Memorial School secretly belong to the chaos side. We held a field day for them today as a last day going away activity. We set up stations (water balloon toss, jump rope, relay races) out on the dirt field behind the school grounds.Luckily, I chose to work at the mural station. I wrote "Grey Memorial School 2009" across a long piece of butcher paper in purple marker (of course!) but that was totally subconscious come to think of it. Funny. We had to screen out the legitimate school kids from the fakers. The school is located near two other schools. Our kids' uniforms look exactly the same as another schools except for a badge on the chest. However, everyone's uniform is torn and old so half of them don't even have badges. I would have let anyone sign, but just our school alone has 350+ kids, so adding two more schools would have been "too crazy." So I started testing the kids. Haha. I would ask them who their teachers were, and if they could give the names of my classmates who taught them we would let them trace their hand. Sounds mean, but it was necessary! Then we even had to put X's on their hands because they kept trying to sneak back in. Hence, my theory of secret workers for "chaos". It all adds up~

My Mary

Jennifer...and a surprise Abigail

Little Richard and his beautiful face! Love him.

I was mostly happy for the chance to get some photos with my favorite students: Richard, Mary & Jennifer. I am not ready to say goodbye, so I'm going back to the school tomorrow morning before we have class here at the hostel so I can give my kids little bracelets I made tonight, just so they remember me.

This boy, Bernard, is so good with the kids. And he always raised his hand to answer when we taught. I hope he has a chance at some good opportunities in his life.

Laya & Christiana

Lynley giving high 5's

The female teachers got together and made all the girls in our group dresses and all the boys in our group shirts. They didn't even take our measurements and they fit surprisingly well! They just had them in a big pile on the office desk and we randomly picked ours out, but mine is perfect for me. It's blue and has a sparkly neck line. (Above, with Jennifer.)

After we were gifted our dresses we all filed out of the office for the culture show. Once again, I felt like a celebrity as the students performed some dances they had prepared for us. The kids were all gathered around the square and clearly having a ball.

Really, the kids just like to touch us; our arms, legs, chests, tummy, hair, and apparently...feet. This little guy kept "patting" my foot throughout the culture show.

Their outfits were just pieces of fabric wrapped around them and tied in knots. For the most part their outfits are pretty simple designs. And to carry their babies they just take a piece of fabric and wrap it around the baby on their back then roll the ends and tuck them under each other in front of them. No sewing, just tying. And they don't cut off the selvage either. It's all very simply constructed, but surprisingly well fitted. Or maybe that's because both the people and the fabric are just beautiful, so simplicity suits them.

It was like a sea of faces and little black heads in every direction

The dances were pretty similar to each other, they just had different age groups perform. They started out pretty innocent,, seriously, we were kind of laughing to ourselves because of the dance moves. Like, super suggestive in a strange-foreign-culture way. We must be missing something was just funny. But for the most part they were just way cool~

We were guessing he was waking them up???

This was the last leg of our send-off party. They climbed the tree to wave goodbye over the wall. They're like little monkeys...everywhere!

I'm gonna get back to working on my kids' bracelets
(little bells on stretchy
cord that I brought over so when they hear
them twinkle, they will remember me)
and chatting with the roomies~ Another good day in Ghana!
(Mom, I added a video on the Monkey post.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Do you ever have one of those moments where you think your heart feels too big to stay in your chest? When you suddenly just feel more than you can put words to; when you feel like crying or laughing because your throat gets tight and your eyes prickle? Today was one of those days~~I showed up to teach today and our kids were taking exams….leaving me with an hour and a half to wander the school.

Jemima's office

I wandered into the kindergarten class and found Lynley teaching a lesson about germs. Watching was so fun, all the little faces and their wiggling in their seats. One little one raised his hand to give an answer and it just hit me. Just a rush of feelings. Not my first “moment” since I’ve been here, but another cute one. I got to help Lynley teach them “Do As I’m Doing,” which pretty much means me and Lynley sang a duet while a class of little ones mimed our motions as best they could. Haha…

There are always little ones eating breakfast around
the campus grounds. Looks like porridge?


Next, I wandered over to the older kids class to watch them dance. Lots of Michael Jackson impersonators. Way to go Michael…what a legacy! Then…..I’m really not sure what made me think it would be a good idea….. but I DARED to wander outside and pull out of my bag a sheet of stickers. Bedlam, pure bedlam. I was showered in “Madam, please. Madam, I want one.” Seriously, I was swarmed with children. It was all I could do to keep upright. And at one point my skirt was literally being pulled from my body. Pretty sure I flashed some children…not my fault. And the pipe cleaners, well, I handed out 4 and had to put them away. “Too crazy!” was all I told them. “It’s too crazy!” Too bad, but they can be vicious:)

We rode back to the hostel and had a class on parasites. It is so gross how many things can infect people here from poor hygiene and sanitation. One of our maids actually is infected with something they call the "fiery serpent." It enters the body through drinking contaminated water, grows about the length of your leg, then tries to exit the body right above the ankle, the whole time making your leg "burn." It can take months to mature, then up to two months to exit the body. They tie a stick to the ankle, wrap the head of the worm around the stick a few times, then everyday for a month make one turn of the stick to slowly pull it out without breaking it. Just awful. I'm learning lots of crazy things here; things that make me (a germ-a-phobe) even more phobic. Anyway...

We've got a big day planed for tomorrow. The kids have some drumming and dancing for us to learn, and we have "field day" activities. With 350+ kids, this could be "too crazy!" Then we head back to the girl-guides to teach lessons requested by their leader as well as to play some games. Granted, this is all in the works. Things have a great deal of ebb and flow when it comes to plans. Seriously, everyday is a surprise on some level. We just go with it, since the whole purpose of our time here is to help and teach what the people really feel they need.

It has been a crazy feeling knowing I am on the tail end of my experience here. I have waited a life-time to come to Africa and this experience has been so much more than I could have planned. As hard as it has sometimes been for me to accept, I have to admit that the Lord's plan for my life is far better than my own. I "envisioned" myself somewhere else entirely at this point in my life/education. But you know what? This path just worked out pretty great for me so far, so I think I'll just keep rollin' with this one for the time being. His guiding hand has directed my wanderings so lovingly through the years, I trust it can only continue~

Monday, July 27, 2009

Winding Down

Sadly, today (Monday) was the first day of my last week in Accra, Ghana. Seeing as how this means we only have two more days teaching the kids, Carlie and I are pretty much teaching all the remainder of our lessons in a potluck sort of way. A little weather/storms + light energy + sign language + and songs = 2 hours of semi-controlled chaos.

Color changing beads for light energy lesson

Knowing I was spending my last week with these kids made me surprisingly calm when teaching. Sometimes I never know if anyone is really listening, I mean really understanding, but today I KNOW my little Richard was. When I started talking and showing photos of lightning his eyes got huge and his mouth was literally hanging open. So cute.

B.S. 4

Overall, it just felt real easy today. I just tried to have fun and enjoy the last little while. One of the girls I love, Jennifer, was wrestling with a boy in the corner near the end of the class and to break them up I started teasing them that he was trying to kiss her and she was trying to kiss him. Woo hoo that worked fast! They immediately broke up. He started laughing and the boys were harassing him while Jennifer turned bright red. It was great. Even though they are in 4th grade their ages are a little sporadic, so this trick still worked on these two, thank heavens:)

Girl Guides/Boy Scouts

After school, we headed to the girl guides/boy scouts to teach about HIV/AIDS. This was the smartest group by far...and the youngest. They were asking such detailed questions about the virus, transmission, testing, infection, treatment, etc. We were actually laughing out loud because we were expecting this group to know the least because of their age, and here they were proving themselves to be the most knowledgeable.

Happy Kids School

I found myself very interested in a discussion I had heard many times because this time it was different. We were able to discuss real life situations of how this virus affects people of Africa through customs, traditions, myths, etc. Very enjoyable.

The rest of this evening has been spent desperately trying to find Internet connection, chocolate, and entertainment. So far, I have succeeded in finding all three. We got really distracted by Grey's Anatomy a few days ago and Kate took it upon herself to try to download the next season. Only problem is our Internet is so bad it said it would only take about 308 hours to download one episode. Hmmm. While we waited, a group of us walked down to the pharmacy only to find they had a very poor chocolate selection. So...we jumped in a cab and headed to Frankies for ice cream. Check #1. On the way home we stopped by the local market, Koala, and as luck would have it, we found some pirated DVD's of Grey's outside. Check #2 (shhh). And clearly, I found Internet through a round about way. Check #3. We now have about 10 of us piled in our room to start the next season. Party!

Lastly, we also hit up the market today. I'm getting better at bargaining. Once again people tried to rip me off. Wanted 108 cedi for fabric...I gave him 25. I'll post photos of my spoils soon. Hope all is well in the states; full of Internet, chocolate and entertainment~ and remember, please do not urinate here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Monkey Village

We headed to the Volta Region for this weekend’s excursion. As soon as we arrived, we were once again surrounded by kids. They just lined up and stared at us as we sat in the bus.
We went on a walking tour to see the monkeys, which was great. One moment there were just empty trees and the next they were teeming with monkeys.

Apparently they stick pretty much with their families. Lots of females and only one male. We got to feed them bananas. You just hold it up and they come right down and peel it in your hand, eat a little, then take the rest up the tree.

Now I was a little hesitant since last weekend I had a bit of a run in with a wild monkey. But these were actually nice monkeys.

Next, we took a tour through the village and spent some more time with the village kids. We then took dibs on which rooms we dared to sleep in. Luckily, our room had two beds and two mosquito nets!!!!! We managed to fit 5 of us in those two beds.

Hello bum!

Our tour guide took us on a walk to Wili Waterfalls. It was beautiful. Lots of greenery and totally rainforest like.

Cocoa Pod...we got to try the seeds. Yuck

It took about 45 minutes to get up to the falls and then we got to swim in the water. I assumed it would be freezing but it was great. We all waded in the water to take a group photo, and even though none of us jumped in, the wind and water blowing off the falls was enough to get us drenched and almost knock us over.

And to top it off, the whole rock wall to the left was covered in bats. We wanted so bad to wake them up so we all screamed together…nothing. After a few tries our guide, taking pity on us, took a big board and slammed it against the dock. That did it! All the bats woke up and the sky was dotted with black bats. Creepy but so fun!

Dinner in the village was better than expected. We went to this little thatched roof kitchen and had a huge mound of rice with some bean sauce and pineapple. I was not expecting such luck. Then we were invited to culture night. Gathering around a fire, we were told stories by the blind village storyteller. He spoke in his dialect, then our young guide interpreted for us. Every story was followed by him saying, “The first moral of this story is….The second moral of this story is….” Kind of funny. The little children were then asked to do a dance for us around the fire. So cute. Next…drums. The fire was put out and anyone who wanted was asked to join in dancing around the now fireless fire pit. Gladys, who was sitting on my lap, pulled me up off my chair and we danced together. For the record, I do NOT move like an African. Quite regrettable really. But there is just something in their genes. There was one mama who had her baby on her back fast asleep but she was just dancing up a storm. Maybe that’s how they learn to dance…they’ve literally been doing it since birth.

Jordyn, Carlie, Ashley, Sarah and I then went back to our room, played a mad game of UNO, took sleeping pills and called it a night. It was not nearly as terrifying as I thought. Only a few spiders, mostly relegated to the bathroom. However, if it weren't for the mosquito net I don’t think I would have slept at all.

On the ride home we went on a little boat ride. Our planned hike got totally rained out so we drove to our first rest stop and decided to have a little fun. It was kind of humorous actually because we all looked so dead. We were crashed on the bus, would wake up for the rest stops, then crash again. Any chance we get though to take photos and see Africa we take it.

Glad we did. We saw lots of water front little homes with everyone out doing their wash, taking baths, and fishing. Just a regular day for them that we happen to catch a glimpse of.

It was by far the most rural of our African adventures. It of course made me anxious and I did not like being dirty, but I made good memories!