Ghana Team Journal

Day Two

Sunday, October 31, 2010

We’re on our way!! Ten hours later though a rough night of no sleep we had arrived and met Esther. We had traveled to St James Guest house and met Amo, another amazing man.


Today was a wonderful day. We met Esther finally and she was great and so, so sweet. Went to our welcome ceremony and there we met the people of the village and also the chiefs, mayor and the Queen Mother. They sang and danced for us and gave us a big welcome. I’m so happy to be here, it is a great honor. Later we shall have dinner and cool off until tomorrow. I have signed up for construction for now, can’t wait to teach too!


An Inroduction

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Sauer Children’s Renew Foundation has partnered with Global Volunteers to engage at risk youth in the Twin Cities in international service work. The goal of this partnership is to provide a life changing experience to youth here in Minnesota by engaging them in community development work. The hope is that by making an impact in someone else’s life and being provided the opportunity to contribute to the world that they too will be able to realize their own potential, through service. The following blog entries detail their journey in Ghana, along with the rest of the Global Volunteers’ team.

My name is Jasmine. I live at The Bridge for Homeless Youth and I don’t get along with my parents very will. I was abused from the time I was 11 until I was 16 which made things very difficult in my life. I wasn’t ready to deal with it so I acted out, my parents couldn’t handle the way I was acting so I got kicked out of my house and couch hopped for about two years. I finally contacted the Bridge and was accepted into the program a month later and have been living there ever since.

Akwaba! Welcome to my description of me. Wofe me Travis. That means my name is Travis. I am 20 years old and happy to be. I am a very outgoing person that can make people laugh. I have funny remarks and lots of knowledge. If I don’t know it, I want to learn it. I have a very big hear that at times is shadowed. My mind is set on a lot of helpful things AND self goals. One of my goals now is to set a footprint in the world and I am working on it now. I go with the flow of life and energy.

Day One

Friday, October 29, 2010


Mostly the perfect words to describe it. The first day we had started off great! When we left New York though…we had to trun around due to mechanical failure. Sadly, we had to spend another night in New York.


Today was the day we set off for Africa, it was great. Didn’t get much sleep but I was excited we were on our flight to Ghana finally after being delayed two hours….then got an hour and a half into the flight and had to turn around. We got a hotel and had to leave the next day at 4pm. Let’s hope all goes well!


Reflecting on the School & our new Friends...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Team Journal ~ October 21, 2010

Written by: Volunteer Kathleen

Quote for the day: "We will all be together when we reach common ground." ~ From a song we sing at First Unitarian Society in Minneapolis.

Before going in to my second grade classroom, I take a little tour of the grounds of Beatrice Akoto School. There are two one-story buildings with classrooms for students from grades one through six. There are two small buildings away off which I imagine are latrines. Garbage burns in a corner of the yard. Sometimes I see the older children “cutting” the area grass with yard-long machetes.

The office—the wonderful office: two of the ever popular molded plastic stacking chairs, a table and two or three stacks of books on the ground. All this is under one of the big sheltering mango trees. What a dream office!

Madam Rhoda wears dresses made of the colorful African fabric, some traditional style, some not—but all tailor made for her. Even the students’ uniforms, brown and peach and yellow, are made by a seamstress, pants for the boys, skirts for the girls. No “off the rack” for Ghanians, at least not in this village.

There seems to be no concept of stealing here. Madam R’s purse hangs on the back of her chair most of the time half open, her cell phone and money on the desk. Esther tells me that if someone finds money or anything else not belonging to them, they must try hard to find the owner. If that proves impossible, the finder must give the money to charity. And this is not a land of plenty. Every piece of paper, every worn down pencil (sharpened by its owner with a razor blade), every bit of eraser is precious.

The path to school today is surprisingly dry; only larger puddles remain after yesterday morning’s deluge. The rain has cooled the air somewhat—more so yesterday when some kids were wearing hooded sweat jackets. One boy was wearing an enormous Air Force Academy sweatshirt.

The second graders on their way to the classroom from morning assembly in the yard race to meet me and see who will carry my books to my chair/office where a nail has recently been appropriated to hang my backpack.

Madam Rhoda is not here today — at a class or meeting, the headmistress tells me. Madam Rita wearing an Afro-print pantsuit will help me. She has a class of her own in the next room. She starts the children on mathematics “Applying the Properties of Addition.” After board work, from the supply cabinet textbooks are passed around. The children don’t write in these books though they are intended to be workbooks. They write only in their personal notebooks. These very much used textbooks, the class textbook are not to be folded back; the book spines must be protected from wearing as much as possible.

During the board work, the kids often clap for a fellow student’s right answer or the whole class claps for itself. It is a rhythmic clapping—one two, one two three, one. I like it. I think it encourages the kids the shared moment.

For English we work on phonics (letter sounds) from pictures in the textbook, again writing only in the individual’s notebook. I read a story in the primary English book and the children read back to me. I ask them to write six nouns and six verbs (desk work). Then I grade the kids’ verb and noun lists. With a little help, they all got 100% A+. Not being the real teacher or a professional, I could be somewhat relaxed.

The teachers gather and eat oranges during the recess. Later when the students are quietly doing desk work, a mama goat with two babies comes to eat the orange seeds thrown out the door and the babies even dare to snatch some under Madam Rhoda’s desk chair.

After lunch at the villa, Esther arranges for Michael to take Madeleine, Betty, and me to the Thursday market. I think it safe to say we all three had a marvelous time seeing the many and varied venders and buying some things African to remember our tour here in Senchi Ferry and to take home for friends.

Letters from Ghana

You may have seen these images if you follow us on Facebook. But, for those who prefer to check the Ghana blog for info and updates, here's your chance to view some of the greatest penpal letters ever! A number students in Ghana have been writing with students in Minnesota and their sentiments are beyond heart warming ~ not to mention our pride in their excellent English skills!! Read on & enjoy.

Teaching & Touring!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Team Journal ~ October 14, 2010

Written by: Volunteer Madeleine

Quote of the Day: "Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace." ~ Albert Schweitzer

I read the story of the tortoise to the class. We then began discussing the moral of the story: greed and selfishness. A good class discussion. Then we did the recall questions. We also discussed and compared Ghana with the U.S.A., capital, regions, states, and countries. They were quite good in social studies.

Second period there were five questions on the board. They were to choose one and write a paper. This was their exercise. They were given until 9:25 to finish the paper. Then they were collected. I asked the class to help grade. Grading was like 30/30. Nothing was given below 3 ½ over 30. After the exercise and the papers were collected, I stayed in the room with then until the class was over. They came and went. I guess to use the restroom facilities or just visited with other. They were not as loud as some of the other classes.

Third period the science class came in. They were supposed to be studying for their science exam. Their teacher had not yet come in. When he came in, he wrote the exam questions on the board. Most of the students were studying at their desks. Some were at the board working math problems. I guess this is considered study hall. Before the exam, the bell was ringing for the break for 20 minutes.

At 1:00 p.m. the taxi picked us up at the arts and crafts market at Aburi which was about 3 hours away. The drive was glorious through the beautiful countryside as we drove up and up through the mountains. We passed beautiful tropical trees: pineapple, mango, and banana. We passed beautiful churches—Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian,. The missionaries did their job well. Lush grasses, beautiful flowers.

We passed many villages with their share of everyday goods. Some of the roads (highways) were quite good. After about an hour and a half we arrived at the arts and crafts market where there were beautiful hand made carvings. Behind the shops one could watch the artisans as they created their own works of art. They used kisi shoe polish to add an extra luster to the statues. There were beautiful beads all made by the owners of the shops. Bargaining was expected, and prices were quite good. Also, the workmanship was good. The shop owners were very friendly wanting you to look at their wares.

On our way home, we observed on our way home, there were some very beautiful homes and gardens. Probably the rich owned them. There were many people in the villages that we passed. People were everywhere. The Ghanian people were very well dressed regardless of what they were doing. Some were even chopping weeds in their yards in their nice clothes. As we traveled through the countryside we saw the same type of uniforms that we see in our school.

Orientation - "If we went home today, the trip would be worth it!"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Team Journal - October 10, 2010

Written by: Volunteer Betty

Quote of the Of Day: "In the final analysis, our most common link is that we inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future, and we are all mortal." ~ John F. Kennedy

After breakfast, we traveled to the St. James guest house while we enjoyed the sights and sounds of Sunday in Ghana. We saw many people in their beautiful authentic colorful dresses. Others were carrying baskets of fruit on top of their heads. We listened to praise mujsic on the radio while visiting some with Eric and Vincent. People were selling watermelons, tomatoes, cocoanuts, pottery, and other things.

After lunch we participated in team building exercises. The three categories that evolved for our purposes to be here were these: 1. to help the children, 2. to encourage our own personal growth, and 3. to learn about the Ghanaian culture.

We found the guest house to be clean, comfortable, and attractive.

After walking to the palace in Senchi Ferry, we had the experience of a lifetime being welcomed by the tribal chief, the queen mother, and many major leaders of the community. We met some of the teachers and heard speeches of welcome. They were all dressed in native costumes and tribal robes.

One man told the story of this golf staff which was important to every formal occasion. It included a carving of a man climbing a tree—but he needed help—signifying that we all are in need of each other. It indicates that we are all on this earth as one.

They invoked the memory of their ancestors with an alcoholic drink poured. One unusual happening was when the serious, revered tribal chief answered his cell phone!

We have now begun to test our taste buds with the spices of Ghana mixed with rice or pasta. If I went home today, the trip would be worth it!