Sunday, 21 April 2013

Summer School, Painting and Redecoration and the Boti Falls

Summer school begins! So the school has vacated for their two week holidays, but for an extra three days I decided to set up a 'summer school' where the children can have a chance to do things they wouldn't normally. It also is for them to bring any things they struggle with so I can help them. This was our first activity...making their own collages! Of course, they had all memorised the definition of collage, but had they had chance to make one before? Nope! So I went out and bought a selection of newspapers and magazines for them to all cut out and stick in their books. I also asked them to draw a picture of themselves in the middle and use pictures and words of things that make them happy. At first it was a bit of a struggle because I hadn't bought enough newspapers for one each (there were 60 children) so they struggled to understand the concept of sharing. After repeating myself about 20 times they finally got it and got stuck into the task. They loved it! And they were all doing that thing when children get excited and want to show you what they'd done so they were all calling me saying 'madam look' 'madam, look at mine!' etc, so I was exhausted from praising them! I went round helping them find words to use and showing them where best to stick their photos, it was great fun! 

Very proud of his collage! 

Painting! So as you've seen the progression of the community health center...this is one of the final stages for us! We spent two days painting the building inside and out. The colour scheme involved a cream inside for a fresh feel, with green window frames and doors and a brown on the outsides walls. The idea behind the brown is to hide the dust, but to also match the colour of the nurses' uniform. The green colour is the colour of the buttons on the nurses' dresses. 

Half of the door completed! 

I think I managed to paint more of myself than the building....

At the weekend, a huge group of us took a day trip to the Boti Falls - a waterfall split into two parts. Teachers and students from Wisdom Academy came with us, along with the nurses we worked with. It was great fun! 

Paddling in the water!

I'm still continuing to write the blog posts for TANF and have also been busy marking more of the exams from before the vacation. Check out the TANF blog to read more details on my adventures! 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

After school has now developed into a sort of after-school club on these front steps and outside my house. Even children who I don't teach from other schools and small siblings of children I do teach turn up. It's always very crazy but we have so much fun! I always have to leave about an hour when I start telling them they have to go home because they never want to leave! We sing songs and I have my hair plaited and we take funny photos and play games and I tell stories. Even when I'm exhausted, I always have time for a round of 'wheels on the bus' or telling them the story of the three little pigs. 

These two photos show a new event that I helped TANF arrange; a parents' review meeting. Parents of the children that TANF has rescued need to be kept in contact with and need to feel involved. If parents don't feel involved then they will not support their kids and at their age; support is vital. This was the main reason of this event. Parents were spoken to about the work TANF does. I explained to them about the importance of education and their role as a parent; telling them that it is a three-way split responsibility. 1 part the child, 1 part TANF, 1 part parents. 

Over the week, we have taken two visits to the child labour camp where children are rescued. This camp is a stone quarry site, where rocks are collected, rolled down a hill, then hammered into small pieces for 11 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have spoken to all the workers here about their situation to gain an idea into what life is like for them. All of these people are struggling hugely and desperately trying to pay for their children's education. Some are in debt and their children are on the brink of being kicked out. It is a very worrying time. After seeing the work here, I don't think I can ever complain of hard-work again!

Exercise after learning 'there', 'their' and 'they're'. The students picked it up suprisingly well! 

Love balloons! What happy faces :)

Leading the fourth awareness talk for the older students on malaria. Shockingly people were very laid back about using their mosquito nets! The school had provided a net for each student, but when asked if they slept under it last night, many said no, for reasons like 'madam, it's too hot'. We forget that just because we give the people mosquito nets, it doesn't mean they will use them! Education is lacking on things such as why it is important to use.

As you know, I have been helping out with the community nurses; baby weigh ins and clearing out the building below. Thanks to the other volunteer's (Jana) parents, the paint and mosquito nets were bought. To try to speed up the process of completion, I also bought the lightbulbs for the center. 

This week has been busy teaching and the students have also been busy with exams. I have been marking these exam papers. It is very easy to tell the 'easier' subjects and the students who understand better. However, it is also worrying that the exams the students have been working on are very poorly written. There are typos and some questions don't make sense while other answers do not fit. Luckily I have now been asked to type some other work up, so I will do my very best to avoid all typos!
Read the TANF blog to read the full stories that I have been writing about the events going on. Of's been very busy! This time next week i'll be home, which is a very shocking thought...looking forward to a big fat bacon sandwich!!! 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Awareness Talk 3, Labour Camp, Nurses and Class 2 & 3

This was the third awareness talk I participate in. The awareness talk, this time, focused on malaria.  We delivered the talk to class 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Pupils seemed to have much more awareness of malaria than  they did of HIV, which was reassuring. Pupils used their books to answer some questions which I gathered meant they'd had a lesson on the topic. 

Recording the cause, symptoms and prevention of malaria. Particularly for the younger ones, to make it more interesting, I did some fun actions to help them remember the different symptoms to look out for. We did extreme shivering and acted vomiting which everyone found hilarious.
A short while after the talk, one of my students in Class 3 was lying down on the bench at her school desk. The previous two days she had been unwell but she had appeared to have taken a turn for the worse. I was very concerned; she had vomitted, was sweating, was very weak and disorientated. Possible malaria? I was very worried and as the teachers decided to send her home which was a long walk away I tried to insist I would take her home in a taxi. But as I am a guest here, I was put above her and I couldn't take her home 'because it would be too much for me and I would have to come back alone'. I was very frustrated as I watched an older boy begin the walk carrying her home. I kept pushing and pushing to let me take her home but I was fighting a losing battle. The whole of the rest of the day my mind was on little Rebecca, a very giggly and intelligent girl. One of the class teachers scared me even more when I was told she wouldn't go to hospital, but her mum 'would cook some herbs and let her drink that for medicine'. I planned to visit her in the evening, but was not able to. As soon as I woke up the next morning I wanted to find out how she was and luckily was told she had been taken to hospital afterall. I am now worriedly waiting for news and feel completely powerless. She is so small and wish I could do more! Out of all of the horrible things i've seen on my various travels and volunteering that have obviously been emotional, this, by far, has really pulled my heart strings. I was almost in tears (a rarity in anycase) at one point...i'm attached to my students for sure. 

This was my second time assisting the community nurses at the mother and baby clinic. It was absolutely incredible and so, so exhausting. These nurses really do amazing work.

At the clinic, I weighed 111 babies. There was such a difference between each child. Some were scarily small and some were very chunky! Weighing them using this technique is very difficult as the babies love to kick, which jogs the dial on the measuring device, making hard to make an accurate recording. 

Earlier in the week we visited the stone quarry site, where TANF rescues its children from labour and puts them into education. We went to interview some of those who work there to understand properly what life is like. We spoke to one man, Wonder, who was one of the loveliest men I have ever met. We spoke to him for a long time about how we are trying to help more and more people and he gave us an idea of his daily life. This consists of climbing a steep hill, breaking off chunks of rock, rolling it down the hill, then sitting under this 'shelter' on these stones and cracking them into tiny pieces...for 10/11 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Class 3! My lovelies...

Class 2...My other lovelies

Me, Jana (a volunteer from Germany) and 3 of the teachers at Wisdom Academy.

I'm still doing lots of marketing for TANF and continue to write up regular news stories of events that have TANF's blog to see full stories of everything I have been involved with :) 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Awareness Talk 2, P.E, Tour and Teaching

Second HIV awareness talk at Wisdom Academy. This time, the talk was delivered to the secondary aged children of the school. Despite being older, there was still an extreme lack of knowledge about basic facts of the disease, i.e. how it is spread. 

Listing the ways HIV/AIDS is spread. Following this, to demonstrate what HIV does to our bodies, I did a role play, where students acted as the white blood cells, an infection and the HIV virus. It showed how the HIV virus destroys our white blood cells. 

Teaching KG2 class 'Wind the Bobbin Up'...every time I walk past one of these students now, they immediately like singing it! I think it was a hit! :D

Fridays is P.E which means football! To start off, I did some fun exercises and stretches 'to get warmed up' this heat, there really is no warming that needs doing, but still I wanted to introduce some different games. I also did the hokey-cokey with 5 classes so it was a HUGEEE circle and lots of fun. 

Off on tour! We spent the weekend visiting some of the touristy sights in the country. This was our first stop: Kakum National Park. A huge rainforest with the only Canopy Walkway in Africa. Amazing views of the rainforest! Very scary but very amazing! :D The walkway was incredibly wobbly and definitely felt like I could topple over the rope at any point because it was quite low down!

View of the rainforest from one of the 7 platforms that the walkway leads onto.

Lunch at Cape Coast! Traditional food; Banku and egg and sausage stew, fried plantain, red-red(selection of beans) and chicken. Delicious! 

Cape Coast Castle! One of the biggest slave trading sites during the slave trade. Absolutely incredible and so so interesting! We went to the dungeons, the tower, the church, the governor's accommodation, the cells and the cannons. After the tour there was a museum with all artefacts, including chains used for the slaves. 

Through the 'Door of No Return'...horrible! This is where the slaves were bought to the ships ready to be taken to either their death or across the ocean. 

Manhyia Palace - home of two Ashanti Kings, including many different Ashanti tribe objects and artefacts. Very interesting and the tour included lots about the history of the Ashanti tribe. 

What I have come to find in my teaching is that students can understand the technical stuff very well i.e. they can do 'long subtraction'...but they can only do it in the one way they have been taught...when putting it into practice, they are completely stumped. So, for example, I have done 'Going to the Shops, Giving Change' with them...and they found this very confusing. Gradually they can pick it up but putting anything they have learnt into everyday life is a very new concept to them. Very interesting to see, but very difficult to then teach. Challenge Accepted! 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Easter Weekend and Back to School

So, of course, it was Easter over the weekend and as Ghana is a very Christian country, it was off to Church! The church was incredible - a roof over some plastic chairs with this material at the front for where people spoke (or shouted with great enthusiasm)...then when you look around...what a view! I kept getting distracted by the mountains behind us and the view of the community. It was gorgeous. And overall, the experience was definitely not like any church experience I've had in England - it was full of energy and shouting out and walking around and dancing and singing, not like the quiet, serious worship at home. 

Just a short walk from where I am staying - beautiful!

A trip to the beach on Easter Monday! Swimming in the warm sea and drinking Sprite...then being entertained by this fella, who probably had the most out of tune guitar I ever heard...but he had a lovely smile, so I let him off!

Possibly THE busiest beach I have ever literally could hardly move for people (and for the people constantly shouting and trying to grab hold of me). This is probably the only downside to travelling to some parts of the world - it would be nice to go somewhere to enjoy it without being constantly hassled, it gets very tiring and boring. (It was the same in India because it was very rural and we were probably the first white people they had seen and sometimes even in Italy I got stares with other workers when in the town centre when they heard us speaking English.) 

Drinking coconut milk on the beach, with a new volunteer Jana, from Germany. Yum!

Back to school...
The first part of the day at school was absolutely heartbreaking. Children came running into class very excited to learn, but then it was time to collect their exam fees. The teachers had been collecting this for the past week or so and this was their last chance. But of course, some children could still not afford to pay they got sent home! My class of 25 dwindled down to just 15, all because they could not pay the small fee. I felt awful.  

Today, with Class 2 I helped explain how 'timestables' work. I told them to run and collect 3 stones each. We piled them into groups of 3 etc and then counted how many there were according to the sum (1X3, one group of 3 stones) etc etc. Then I wrote out the sums and this description (group of..) of the 4 timestables for them to do themselves and told them they could come up and use the stones to help them if they needed...I wasn't sure if they would, but slowly, people drifted up to the table to work out a sum then rushed back to their seat to write it down. Here are some children in action working out their 4 timestables. And the result......

Every child in the class (21 children) got 10/10 apart from two...who got 9/10. Fabulous result and I was so proud of them :) 

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Easter Party!!

So today was the day for a big Easter party at Wisdom Academy! I had been told about this before I arrived in Ghana by the founder of TANF and was asked to bring any ideas along to make the event as fun as possible. So I made a few preps - went down to Poundland and bought some plastic eggs that come apart to put sweets in and some little chicks. The idea being - Easter Egg Hunt!

The children absolutely loved it. I had barely finished reading the instructions before they had run off searching. I had never seen a group of 40 people run so fast - especially because they knew a prize was in store!


We had also purchased a crate of eggs (they don't come in boxes here) so we could have an egg and spoon race! Different classes raced against each other, whilst myself, another volunteer who has arrived and Rev. Laud also raced against each other....luckily my class three cheered me on VERY loudly and I was winning, but saw Rev. Laud coming up behind me and got nervous and dropped the egg! I felt very bad for letting my lovely class 3 down but they still gave me lots of hugs after anyway!


After we had done our bit, it was time for Ghanaian culture! Some of the pupils performed a cultural dance in traditional wear, while a teacher and a couple of other students were drumming. It was loud and so entertaining as it was nothing I'd ever seen before...and of course, there was a part where I had to join in which got shrieks and laughter from everyone. Maybe I should now start making a career into Ghanain dancing...Success!

And here are a few pictures of my cuties from Class 3 - as you can probably tell, I am very attached and really missed them yesterday and it was only one day I was not with them - how I'm going to cope when I leave here for good I don't know! 
'Madame Josie, can you snap me?' - poser!

With the girlies of Class 3!

All together! <3