Ghana Team Journal

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quote of the day: “The future belongs to those who live intensely in the present.” – Anon.

By: Daniel Chen & Jim Leslie

When I came to Africa on this service program, I had doubts on whether I wanted and had the ability to handle these jumpy, boisterous kids. But three weeks here have changed that perspective entirely. I started the day with a heavy stomach, knowing that I would have to say goodbye to all my new friends by the end of the day. I ended the day wishing that I could have stayed longer. - Daniel

The day began with Jim, Esther, and I organizing our donation boxes which were going to be presented to the school in the morning. When we arrived at the school, I was assigned to bring 2 kids back to Esther’s car to carry the boxes to the enormous mango tree. 9 kids came. 2 kids snatched the boxes from the trunk and lifted them up on their heads. 7 kids fought amongst each other to hold my hand and walk back to the classrooms.

Fifteen minutes later, the entire primary school had lined up outside the P1-3 classrooms. Esther, on behalf of the 10/29-11/19 Global Volunteers team, presented these boxes to the headmaster. When the three soccer balls were changing hands, you could see the excitement in the kids’ eyes. Global Volunteers also donated some books (courtesy of Jim), sidewalk chalk, math flashcards, coloring pens and pencils, and some clothes for the construction crew. The headmaster humbly thanked Esther and the team for their efforts in the program, and sent the kids back off to class, much to their dismay. They thought they were going to play with the soccer balls right away!

My P2 class was responding well to tighter time restraints on math and English exercises. In fact, every student handed their workbook in before time had expired. Progress! One step at a time. Recess was the usual disorganized chaos – kids fighting over soccer balls, Frisbees, and jump ropes. I took the opportunity to say goodbye to all of the primary school teachers and thanked them for accommodating the team so well over the three weeks.

Teaching English to the P2 class is always interesting. While Teacher Kennedy was educating them about the difference between present and past tense and the conversion between the two, I wrote exercises on the board. Everyone had gotten “Skip” wrong. “Sir, why isn’t skiped right?” I made them wait (im)patiently as I refused to put up the answer until everyone was done the exercise. When I wrote, S-K-I-P-P (e-d) the class went, “OHHHHHHHHHHHHH SIR! YOU TRICKED US!” Barely containing my laugh, I replied, “I told you it was special! Now remember this!”

Ten minutes before noon, I asked the entire class to line up outside to take a picture. Of course, chaos ensued. The cries of “Cut me! Cut me!” could not be drowned out. Kennedy eventually settled them down for a solid 30 seconds so Jim could take a proper picture. As I said my final goodbyes, it was sad yet heart-warming to see the teary faces on the faces of my little friends. They even tried to chase down the taxi as it drove away from the classrooms.

I (Jim) had a very rewarding last day at the junior high school and at the library. At the school, I observed a moral and religious education class, I donated several novels by West African novelists –Chinua Achebe and Helon Habila- and a world map to the school, I tutored my young Togolese student in English for the last time, and I said my goodbyes to the junior high school staff. I was touched that many staff members said that they would really miss me, and I told them that I hoped to return to Ghana because I appreciated the warmth of their welcome.

The library session had more pictures taken than books read. I (Dan) was trying my best to capture my reading partners in the act of reading, but another kid would always jump into the picture. It took a full hour to get good pictures with my kids. In the end, I gave up trying to keep the camera away from their fidgety hands. They had a blast taking pictures of each other and of anything they could think of. I think I have over 50 pictures of someone’s finger.

In the afternoon, Jim worked at the library with a beautiful Muslim girl who is a P5 student at Senchi Ferry Methodist School. She read a number of books with enthusiasm and skill, and Jim will remember her and other West African children who are eager to learn.

Our departure from the library was stalled by a sudden shower, much to the children’s glee. When the taxi came, Munaia and Salamatu had grabbed on to my shirt so tightly that I thought it would rip straight off. Even in the rain they wouldn’t let go! Finally, after much effort and skillful peeling, my shirt was free. We drove away from the library, though I wasn’t sure whether the West driver knew where he was going. His windshield was so foggy, and his wiper was completely ineffective!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quote of the day: “You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

By: Daniel Chen & Jim Leslie

Over our usual breakfast of omelets and buttered toast, Jim and I discussed certain issues that impair student learning at the New Akrade Presbyterian School. Jim, with his extensive teaching experience, had not only provided suggestions to the headmaster and his teachers but also prepared a report of critiques, evaluations, and observations of the junior secondary school. I, with my limited experience in teaching, had no such report. I simply presented Esther with concerns in the primary school.

As we walked to our respective classrooms, we were taken aback by the lack of teachers. I asked my P2 students, “Where’s the teacher?” They shrugged, happily, I might add, and pranced away. As I headed to the junior school to find Jim, I saw a gathering of teachers surrounding the headmaster. I found out later that the headmaster was pressing the teachers to engage and challenge the students more.

I had my first experience of solo teaching when my teacher walked out of the room to talk with his wife. Not only did the kids fidget excitedly during math exercises, they simply refused to sit still while I was writing corrections on the board. They sat really still when I threatened them with a soccer-ball-less break. By the time break was over, I was thankful that the teacher had returned to restore order in the classroom. As we were learning about measuring lengths and heights, it was amusing to watch each kid stand against the wall to record their height. The shortest kid had a fun time escaping the hustling.

Jim had another quiet day at the junior high school. He had hoped to observe and perhaps co-teach a social studies class, but the instructor for that class did not arrive at school until the class was over (8:00 – 9:10). Thus, Jim continued to work with the P6 student from Togo on his English, and he corrected a number of simple English class exercises. Jim ended his morning by having a long conversation with Godwin, the religion and moral education teacher, about life in the United States and life in Ghana. He will be observing Godwin’s ninth grade religion and moral education class tomorrow morning.

We walked back to St. James at noon for my favorite lunch of sautéed chicken and French fries. Jim and I were slightly disappointed that Esther could not strong-arm Samuel in allowing us to use the library for reading that afternoon. Samuel had planned to use the library for entertaining the Senchi Ferry Methodist School administrators.

Thus we were left with an open afternoon. Jim finished up his detailed report while I was invited by the kitchen staff to try out fufu. Fufu is basically a hardened dough mixture of mashed plantains and cassava. It was delicious, especially with the spicy chicken and beef soup. The shocker: you weren’t supposed to chew the dough. You just swallow it. Confused but determined, I thought: Challenge accepted! Ghanaian food is certainly interesting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quote of the day: “You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live.” – Joan Baez

By: Daniel Chen & Jim Leslie

Morning breakfast was educational as I learned the history of European control of the main slave castles in Ghana and the extent to which the British and Portuguese empire controlled in Africa. We departed promptly from St. James as there were no announcements or journals to be read (Jim was planning to read his at lunch).

As we walked down to the school, I prepared myself for a loud morning. It was Wednesday at the New Akrade Presbyterian school, meaning that there was a 30 minute worship service before class. When I reached the source of enthusiastic drumming, clapping, and singing, I saw the entire primary school of 150 kids packed into one classroom. I took one step into the room, planning to join in the festivities. Boy, was that a mistake. The overwhelming wave of sound literally blew me backwards. It was as if I was standing next to a large speaker.

As the weekly offering was being tallied on the board, I saw that my very own P2 class was losing by a small margin. Determined to help them win, I scrounged up a few coins from my backpack. An explosion of cheering ensued as the teachers announced P2 as “FIRST PLACE”. The cheering didn’t stop until well into the next hour.

Jim’s day began with a junior high school worship service that turned out to be much more than a worship service. At the start of the service, Harry, the young French and social studies teacher, gave a very heartfelt talk to the entire student body about the need for everyone –staff and students- to try much harder to make New Akrade Presbyterian Junior High a better school. This talk seemed to be well-received by the students. Harry’s talk was followed by an inspiring Christian worship service of enthusiastic hymn singing and beautiful prayers. The service ended with the announcement that, effective tomorrow, any student caught speaking a vernacular language at school would be severely punished. Students will be expected to speak only English or French at school.

Much of the rest of Jim’s morning was devoted to correcting B.E.C. English practice tests.

After the excitement of the morning, we were drained. But a big lunch of chicken curry and rice with fried vermicelli (SO DELICIOUS) refueled us for the afternoon reading session at the library. I got to teach some kids about world geography by showing where certain countries were on a globe and their corresponding flags. I also watched a Ghanaian version of “Duck, duck goose”, which sounded like “Goat, Cat, Mosquito”.

Sadly, however, Jim and I learned that we would not be reading at the library tomorrow as the librarian was entertaining guests and school administrators attending a classroom opening in Senchi Ferry that afternoon.

Jim, Amo, and I discussed our assessment of our service program over a dinner of shepherd’s pie and home-baked cake. It was really remarkable that people from many different areas of expertise and backgrounds mingled so well together during the program. Esther and Amo also do an incredible job of keeping the volunteers safe and satisfied.

We topped off the night with some much-needed CNN news. We were going crazy watching the Nigerian soap operas every night!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quote of the day:” Living well and beautifully and justly are all one thing.” - Socrates

By: Jim Leslie

Dan had a busy day in P2 as he corrected composition books, science tests, math tests, and REM tests. He also helped P2 students with their numbers. For Jim, it was a quiet day as many junior high school students attended a government sponsored career seminar that included students from other junior high schools in the area. This event was held at the nearby Presbyterian church. Most of Jim’s morning was devoted to correcting English composition books and giving English lessons to the P6 student from Togo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quote of the day: “We are governed not by armies, but by ideas.” – Mona Caird

By: Jim Leslie

Today marked the beginning of the third and final week in New Akrade for Dan and Jim. Dan spent his morning in the primary school classrooms where he corrected math exercises, and corrected English reading tests.

For Jim, his responsibilities changed at the junior high school. Instead of spending a lot of time in English and social studies classes, he worked with small groups of students on their English reading skills. With these students, he modeled certain steps that should be taken before reading any material that is in English: Look at any pictures that may go with the reading, look at the recall questions that are at the end of the reading, and identify and define any of the reading’s words that you may not know before beginning the reading.

Jim continues to enjoy his one-to-one work with a Togolese student in P6 who speaks French but does not speak English.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quote of the day: “Be like a postage stamp – stick to one thing until you get there.” – Josh Billings

Journal by: Daniel Chen

Today was very relaxing. Jim woke up early to watch the sunrise, while I stayed in bed until 6:40 A.M. As we reached the dining room, it was sad to see only 2 plates prepared at the table. It was a somberly quiet breakfast of eggs and toast.

I then watched 2-3 games of football while Jim enjoyed his novels on the adjacent patio in the blazing Ghanian sun. We rendezvoused for lunch of spicy fried chicken and crispy French fries. Feeling lazy and drowsy, I decided to take a long afternoon nap.

By dinner time we had grown accustomed to the quietness and emptiness of the room. We gulfed our plates of rice, cabbage salad, and curry beef before the weekly Sunday thunderstorms trapped us in the hotel for the night. I was going to make sure that I got ample rest for tomorrow, as Billie, Judy, Arla, and Gary left me all the soccer balls, jump ropes, and Frisbees to play with the kids. I knew they would overrun me like a tidal wave the moment recess started tomorrow!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Quote of the day:

Work, thank God, for the swing of it, for the clamoring, hammering ring of it.

By: Arla Lewis

Breakfast was fun with the addition of Esther’s boys. We discussed the final day and were eager to arrive at school. The students were in the classroom sweeping and getting ready for a Friday of games. They were not enthusiastic about finishing assignments but they did complete some work. The students thanked us for volunteering with the school program. After lunch we went to the library and had a huge crowd for reading. It was rewarding to have so many children eager to read. They also told us thanks for helping volunteer.

After library we walked to the Volta River and saw the fish farms, an old church, and the beautiful river. We met our teachers at 7 and enjoyed a dinner with them while giving gifts for teachers and educational programs. Photographs and addresses were exchanged and so we know we will not forget this memorable experience.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quote of the day:

“I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

By: Billie & Gary Kennedy

Our day started with a French Toast breakfast, minus syrup. Daniel would have preferred regular scrambled eggs. We discussed with Esther the schedule for five of us to go to the Volta Hotel for appetizers and drinks. She would have a taxi here at the St. James by 4:30 P.M. and we would depart from the Volta Hotel by 7:00 P.M. and have a late supper at 7:30 P.M.

Five of us ventured off to the school and our respective classes. Most classroom participation was about the same as other days. Gary, and the Teacher’s Aide, seemed to be left with the responsibility of keeping the kindergarten children occupied all morning. The main teacher left fairly early to take her 11 month old to the clinic. The other teacher left and didn’t come back until lunch.

The five of us returned to the St. James Hotel for lunch and to check out Daniel’s abrasion on his leg. He told Esther he was feeling better and felt like he was good to go to the library for reading time, and also for the trip to see the Dam by the Volta Hotel. We also discussed who would be asked to come to the dinner Friday evening. We were told to tell the teachers to be here at 6:00 P.M., knowing they would show up by 7:00 P.M. We also discussed with Esther the time of departure on Saturday for Arla, Judy, Billie, and Gary. That time would be 9:30 A.M., even though our flights would not depart until 9:55 P.M. for New York, and 11:00 P.M. for Amsterdam.

Our team went to the library for reading with the children. There seemed to be fewer children than normal. At 4:40 P.M., Billie, Arla, and Judy went in the first cab to the Volta Hotel. Daniel and Gary had to wait for the cab to return. We five enjoyed a beautiful setting on the patio at the Volta Hotel. We enjoyed the view of the Dam, even though it was cloudy. We were able to take some camera shots of the moon coming up. Our appetizers and drinks were great. Daniel ordered the Ghana version of McDonald’s chicken nuggets. We believe he ate too much as he wasn’t that hungry when we returned to the St. James Guest House for our dinner of Shepherd’s Pie and Minestrone soup.

Our evening waitress reminded four of us to take the Post-Service Program Evaluation forms back to our rooms to complete before departure on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quote of the day: You can’t always take from the world, you have to give back.

By:Lester Johanson

Journal by: Judy Johanson

Up early with the rooster’s call as usual. We had omelets for breakfast and then were off to school, everyone except Daniel who was on house arrest once again. Wednesday morning prayer service was in full swing when we arrived and with Judy’s help Class 4 won the weekly offering contest. You would have thought the kids had won a million dollars in the lottery. They were so excited that when we returned to the classroom, it took 30 minutes to settle down. They took a vote and decided their teacher would buy them biscuits with part of the offering.

The morning lessons proceeded as usual and recess was once again highlighted by frisbees, jump ropes and soccer balls. Arriving at the guest house for lunch, we were happy to find our favorite lunch of fried chicken, salad and French fries. After a brief rest we were off to the Senchi Ferry Library. Daniel wanted to join us so Billie and Judy with the help of Gary’s donation of a t-shirt fashioned a bandage to cover his leg rash. Our anticipated trip to the river was not to be. A sudden storm rose up and we returned to the guest house.

Dinner was chicken stew over rice. Amo spoke to the guest house management and acquired some warm water for our evening showers. Good Job, Amo!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quote of the day: Never do for a child what he can do for himself.

Journal By: Arla Lewis

After a fine breakfast we headed out to school after our three day weekend. Daniel was not permitted to attend as he overdid some work on Monday and needed a little R & R. Esther was very clear about the fact that he needed to rest. Others of us headed to school either by automobile or by walking.

Our students were waiting when we arrived. They greeted us warmly and we started in with lessons. It was very warm in the buildings so recess was nice especially since we had new jump ropes and the students are great jumpers. Gary even jumped into the preschool room and became a big hit with the children.

We left school at noon for our lunch and were greeted by the seamstress when we arrived at the guest house. Judy and Billie modeled their dresses and photographs were made with the seamstress. The finished products were gorgeous. We then left for the Arts and Crafts sale near Aburi. The mountains were lovely. In fact, the entire ride was very scenic. We each hunted our gifts for home and ended up with a carved walking stick, several sling-shots, greeting cards, bowls and wooden mementos.

We also visited the beautiful Botanical Gardens nearby. Returning home we had a flat tire and Ghana’s emergency service proved more than adequate as a new van was able to pick us up within 5 minutes.

A delicious spaghetti dinner was waiting for us when we arrived home. We visited with Amo and ended our day together with plans to walk to the river tomorrow after our afternoon at the library.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Quote of the day:

“Unless you give yourself to some great cause, you haven’t even begun to live.” – William P. Merrill

By: Billie Kennedy

Today was a holiday so there was no school. We all arrived at 7 AM A.F. (African time) for breakfast, with great enthusiasm to get back to work. After breakfast, Esther took the guys to the job site, and promised to return for the girls and help them buy pails before going to the job site. The pails were obtained thanks to Judy, and the girls went happily to the job site.

On arrival, we were introduced to Rita, the Water Lady. She, with a large bowl on her head, and us, with small pails in our hands, walked across the road to the water pump, a distance of 2-3 blocks. Rita, bowl on her head, was faster than us, pail in our hands. I think she made at least 6-7 trips to our 3-4 trips.

Soon the construction crew said enough, and we stopped and walked to the guest house and got cleaned up for lunch.

After lunch, we crowded into Esther’s car to go to the Continental Hotel where we planned to swim and take a boat ride. Esther went and got her children and a niece and nephew to accompany us on the boat ride, Isaac, Nana, Papa, and You. We all put on our life jackets and boarded the boat for a ride on the Volta River. Our ride was wonderful and we were all disappointed when our driver turned around and started back to the dock. Our plans for swimming were ruined when dark clouds turned into a quick, heavy rain. We returned to the guest house to rest and catch up on CNN news before dinner. Dinner was rice, chicken in curry sauce, and salad, and thanks to Judy, chocolate cake.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Quote of the day:

“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.” – Benjamin Mays

By: Gary Kennedy

We had to wake up without our local roosters. The Resort served a fabulous buffet breakfast, which was included with our stay. We paid our bills, loaded up around 9:00 A.M., then headed on our way to the Kakum National Park to spend a few hours north of Cape Coast.

We met with our tour guide at 10:30 A.M. He gave us some of the preliminaries as to what we would be doing on the Tour. He explained that the first part of the Tour would be more strenuous climb, and that a person could turn back if felt uncomfortable. Our team managed that part okay even though the humidity level was quite high. It had to be over 100%! Then our team was led to the seven suspended bridges held together with mesh sides and wood planked walkways. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been 15 years ago to build these bridges high up over the tree terrain. The guide told me they have to repair or replace the mesh every six months. I doubt if Global Volunteers will be asked to help with the repairs.

Well, we all survived the tour and agreed to stop at the fast service restaurant at the visitors’ center. All six of us ordered simple sandwiches. As we sat for 1 hour, we noticed that other patrons, coming to the restaurants, were receiving their food orders before ours. Many attempts of talking with the waiters provided no results. Even our tour guide tried to help us; again, no results. So we walked out with only Arla receiving her “to-go” sandwich.

We loaded up the Van and enjoyed the long drive back to our St. James castle. On the way we were able to stop at an ATM in Accra and then at the nearby mall for various supplies to get us through the next 1-2 weeks. Our driver was good to us on the way back by providing air-conditioning.

Our 2-day holiday venture was over, but like the good ole U.S.A. it was good to get to our Ghana home.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Quote of the day: “There is a proper balance between not asking enough of oneself and asking or expecting too much.” – May Sarton

Journal by: Gary Kennedy

Our adventurous team got up extra early (we thought before the rooster) to be ready for our 2 day venture to Elmina where we would be staying at the Coconut Grove Beach Resort.

Our plan was to meet our driver at 5:00 A.M. as Esther had told us the trip would be approximately five hours. Jim got very excited when he saw a Toyota Land Cruiser sitting in the courtyard. We all greeted the driver, gave him our backpacks and case of water. After loading, and boarding this beautiful shiny vehicle, we buckled up and thought we were on our way. All of a sudden the driver realized and figured out that we were not the group he was to pick up. We told him we were heading to Elmina (South) and he was to be heading north.

We reluctantly unloaded the vehicle and had to wait patiently for our ride. This driver showed up at 5:30 A.M. What a let-down on vehicles. But this vehicle served our needs; however, it was quite a step down from the first vehicle. Our trip to Elmina was 6 hours, without air-conditioning. We lost 1 hour getting through a heavy construction area at Accra. A major intersection project was underway.

We all got excited as we drove by Ocean Frontage, knowing that our destination was close by. We saw the Cape Coast Castle nearby, but decided to check into the Coconut Grove Beach Resort, have a nice lunch, then take the tour of the Castle in early afternoon. Our first priority when we checked into our rooms was to see if we had HOT WATER!!!

Our lunch atmosphere at ocean-side was fantastic. Daniel couldn’t resist the temptation of getting close to the ocean. He didn’t go swimming, but stood innocently on the beach minding his own business and the ocean snuck up on him. No volunteer would ever go against Esther’s word of staying out of the ocean. The same was true of our Activities Coordinator, Judy. We were later told by Esther that she would not “cane” either of them – what a relief!

We all enjoyed our tour of the Cape Coast Castle. What an eerie feeling as our tour guide explained the various areas of the Castle where the slaves spent their time prior to departure to the other countries. Many slaves, men and women, went through real “hell”; several died at the Castle. We learned that the Castle was the African Headquarters of the British slave trade for nearly 150 years was one of the most haunting symbols of the greatest forced migration in history until the legal trade was abolished in 1807. Countless men, women and children born in Africa were sold as slaves and carried on slave ships to many places.

Our team decided to return to our beautiful resort for the rest of the day. Several of us enjoyed the pool. We cleaned up, utilizing the HOT SHOWERS, and most of us enjoyed a wonderful buffet dinner. Daniel became well acquainted with the chef at the BBQ pit. The chef thought Daniel was getting food for the entire table of six.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Quote of the day:

He who says it cannot be done should get out of the way of the one that is doing it. ~Old Chinese Proverb

Journal by: Judy

The day began with our usual breakfast of eggs and toast and a discussion of our trip to the Cape Coast this weekend. Esther gave us some hints about what to see and do and hopes she won’t get a phone call that we were swept away by the rip tide. We all promised not to go near the water. Some walked, some rode and we went off to school. We were surprised to see all the children with machetes (never would have happened in the US) cutting the grass. Thankfully they managed to cut only the grass and not themselves. Then off to the classrooms they went to up-end the desks and sweep the classrooms. We were then informed the children would be given a reading test by the staff of JSC. The children waited under the mango tree in the yard to be called in to read a paragraph.

The results were not good. It seems as though at least a third of the students in each class cannot read. Upon completion of the tests the students were released for “Physical Education”. Organized Chaos began. There appeared to be a soccer game between class 4 and 5 while the rest of the students ran amuck.

In the mean time, Jim got to work with the French speaking student one on one. Daniel and Gary got a lot more concrete work done and were excited to have a delivery of more bags of cement. Our group had decided to fund the purchase of more bags of cement so work could continue. We left school and returned for another delicious lunch. The seamstress arrived at one o’clock. We chose the style we wanted and she measured us for the correct fit. After a brief rest it was back to the library for reading and working on puzzles.

We retired to our rooms in anticipation of a hot shower and once again settled for a cold one. After a delicious dinner and conversation with Amo we retired to our rooms to pack for our trip in order to leave at 5 a.m. We decided to wake up the rooster before we left as turn about is fair play.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Journal by: Jim Leslie

Our group of intrepid Global Volunteers had a good day on this our fifth full day in New Akrade. After two frustrating work sessions, Gary and Dan were able to get a fast start this morning and completed half of the second floor. Gary decision’s to purchase a wheelbarrow really speeded up completion of that second floor. By morning’s end, both Gary and Dan looked as if they had been in a mud bath.

For Billie, today was an opportunity to use her nursing skills as she worked in the health care clinic weighing close to fifty infants. This work gave Billie some important insights into the state of public health care in Ghana, insights that were shared with the rest of the group at the dinner table. Meanwhile Judy and Arla felt that the primary school kids behaved well enough to use the frisbees that they had brought, while Jim enjoyed his increased teaching opportunities at the junior high school.

Finally, no trip to West Africa would be complete without a visit to “na makit”, in this case the one in nearby Akosombo that we went to in the early afternoon. With Esther’s help, Judy, Arla, Billie, and Dan all bought fabrics in gorgeous West African colors and patterns that a seamstress will use to create some lovely clothes for them. Our full day ended with another delicious meal and some good natured kidding of Amo about his family of six brothers and no sisters. Their mother must have been a miracle worker to raise that many boys.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Journal by: By: Arla Lewis

Quote of the day: You must know the world before you can know your place in it.

We began our day with a great breakfast of omelets and toast and a good conversation with Esther. Gary and Daniel were dressed once again to work with concrete as yesterday their plans for concrete were not realized. We were eager to get to the work site as church was being held early with singing and drumming. We enjoyed the services while Gary and Daniel began shoveling rocks into a wheelbarrow to make cement. They actually told us later that they were on the hot roof with the concrete for over two hours. We saw evidence of this activity later at lunch when Daniel ate 5 bowls of chicken soup as he was so hungry.

After a brief break we were taken to the Senchi Ferry Library to work with students who liked to read. We were also entertained by Samuel and his preschool students who loved to chant back to their teacher when they knew the answer. The van then picked us up for a drive to the bead factory. It was quite a ride through the market areas to the beautiful grounds of the factory. The owner who had learned his craft early in his childhood was an expert with the glass beads. We all bought many bracelets and necklaces but perhaps the best gifts were large glass beads which were strung on a leather cord. We won’t say who bought these as it might ruin the gifts.

We arrived back at the guest house with a spaghetti dinner waiting. It was delicious and I think we had no leftovers. The day ended with a new computer recruit and a long lesson in Microsoft Word for a long-time Apple user. I think the second time will do the trick, thanks to Philip’s help.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Journal by: Billie Kennedy

Quote of the day: From “The Sun has Disappeared” – Desmond Tutu By: Jim

Once again we started our day with a great breakfast, before setting out for our assignments. Gary and Daniel went to the job site to work on a new building for the school which would add new classrooms and a library room. Judy, Arla, Jim and I went to our classrooms where we were able to participate in the classroom activities and recess. Unfortunately, Gary and Dan were disappointed with their lack of accomplishment. We returned to a delicious lunch of cowpeas, fried plantains and fruit. We then educated Esther on some of the social problems we deal with in the USA.

After a siesta, we were taxied to the library. We all continue to be amazed at the reading skills of the children. We were also taxed home, so missed our daily walk.

Dinner was excellent. We had rice, stew and salad. We are enjoying the African food. After dinner, we talked to Amo about our experiences and concerns, particularly in the classroom. We agreed that teachers are faced with challenges that USA teachers don’t have. However, we found the students receptive and wanting to learn.