Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Teacher training started on Monday, and I have a great group of teachers that are working for us this year. They vary in age and experience, but I am trusting that they will be hardworking! It has been interesting to be in the role of teaching teachers. I often feel overwhelmed at the idea of leading our little brigade of 6 teachers this upcoming year. What I learned in 4 years of college and a year and a half in my credentialing program, plus years of teaching and subbing in the American education system, I am trying to teach them in just 1 week. Differentiation, learning styles, ELD strategies, classroom management, positive discipline systems, the writing process, phonics instruction, lesson planning, and much much more have been my focus this week. Needless to say, my throat is sore from talking so much, the teachers get this overwhelmed look on their faces by about an hour into training, but I'm feeling like more and more, they are feeling capable of doing what I have asked them to do.
I am looking forward to being a support role for the staff this year as I lead the school. I want to be able to pull small groups for instruction, support the teachers where they are lacking (and a couple of them look like this might be a big leap for them), and be able to be in the classrooms as much as possible.
When I was in the States, I got asked quite a bit what was one of the hardest things about living in Ghana and ultimately, it came down to working with people who had a different definition for integrity than I did. This year, the standards have been raised. I have the opportunity to really challenge people in holding fast to their integrity, to do something great for themselves and for the children of Ghana...and I'm really hoping that with the ability to take the time to do this and not have to teach my own class as well, that the level of integrity and the amount of work that will actually happen at Faith Roots will skyrocket.
But, let's just say that there is still a lot of work to be done...and it will continue throughout the year (and year) to come. Our school is roofed, but we have yet to plaster, put in windows and doors, bring our furniture in...we have a lot to do still! And school starts in a week. But, with the way that things work around here...we'll see how much happens in a week! I think that even I will be surprised!
So, starting a school in Ghana is not easy, but it is POSSIBLE! And that's pretty miraculous to me!
Friday, August 26, 2011
It has been my goal to be able to welcome EVERY student into Faith Roots this upcoming year. I want to be able to support every learner. I know that this year, it will be difficult, as we are working with a staff that has not taught this kind of curriculum and has not taught in this manner. And yet, today, I had the opportunity to show some love to a little girl with Down Syndrome in the form of offering her an education.
Pamela came, all dressed up, to register for school, but when we told her of the school fees, her mother, a single women who sells things to make money, was worried that she wouldn't have enough to make ends meet. She was concerned about her daughter, telling us that she still hasn't started to speak (at 5 years old) and that she is very stubborn at times. I could tell that the mother was desperate to believe that her daughter would be alright. She just wanted her to be given normal opportunities.
Pamela's mother asked a friend to help her pay her school fees and the man was quick to accept, wanting to give Pamela opportunities that wouldn't be offered to her in other places or other schools.
I asked Pamela to come and she ran to me, bright and cheery with a quick smile on her face. She came and chatted with me, making sounds that weren't familiar to me. I am looking forward to the joys and the challenges of the year ahead as we teach this little one how to communicate, learn, and grow! She will be joining our preschool class this year and I'm excited to see what God does in and through her!
Pamela needs a partial sponsor. If you would like to help us sponsor her, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday morning, we were supposed to meet at 8:00 am with the chiefs here in Doryum to discuss the orphan sponsorships (we are offering 8 full school sponsorships each year). Since there are 8 clans in Doryumu, we had to wait for the 8 chiefs to arrive. And, as Stacy says, TIA (This Is Africa), so the chiefs finally all arrived by 10 am and we were able to start our meeting. We chatted with them about selecting one orphaned child that we can sponsor from each of their clans. We will give them a full sponsorship to attend our school, including the uniform, school fees, book fees, and lunch fees. After talking through the details of the orphan sponsorships, we agreed to take the chiefs out to our Children's Village Site. So, John piled the oldest chiefs into the car and the rest of us climbed into a trotro (a word for a very old van) which the assemblyman was driving. Tom, Stacy, and I squished in next to Daddy Joe and we definitely felt Ghanaian for the moment.
Stacy has this saying. Every now and then, she will say, "T.I.A.". For awhile, I wasn't sure what she was saying, but now I know it to mean, "This Is Africa!". And that trotro ride was one of those things where all you can say is, "This is Africa!".
First of all, we were totally squished in there, almost lapping one another, chiefs and all. Then, the assemblyman almost missed the turnoff into our land, and we had to screech on our breaks and begin reversing toward our turn. Well, if you know anything about Ghana's roads, you'd realize that the shoulder on the road isn't the safest place to drive. We began reversing only to have one tire drop (quite a drop) off the side of the road. Needless to say, besides the slight worry that we might topple over and the loud scraping that was required to pull the trotro off the side of the road, we made it! After that adventure, we began driving to the site and wouldn't you know it, the military trainees were out practicing...WITH THEIR GUNS! Next thing you know, we had a group of trainees pointing their rifles at us. Tom, Stacy, and I all kinda ducked down a bit. I just kept watching this one young girl trainee who was having a hard time loading her gun...I kept thinking how unsteady she looked...oh goodness, I was glad to get out of there!
We finally made it to the site and took the chiefs around. They were impressed with the progress and took a picture out there to commemorate the day.
Since then, we've been busy! They assigned a young man from the village, Titi, to work with us. Tuesday and Wednesday, Francis, Stacy, and I went around from house to house to do orphan investigations. Thursday and Friday, we have been registering children for our school. By the end of the day today, we had (including our own CORM kids) over 40 50 children enrolled in the school. Halfway there! It's been fun getting to meet the children and I am praying that they will be committed to paying their own fees, bringing their children, and participating in all that we have planned. We will see!
Tuesday night was one of the most fun nights that I have had in Ghana. After the kids went to bed, the basketball boys (a couple of guys from Hoops International Cape Coast), Tom, Christy, Stacy, Nosa, and I all sat around the table outside and told stories and laughed and laughed and laughed. Nosa was the one who was entertaining us the most! I laughed so hard that I cried...and I cried so hard I thought I was going to wake up the next day with swollen eyes! Nosa is just so funny!
So, altogether, life has been busy...but it's been good! It's almost as if I have not been gone at all. There is so much to do and we're just always so busy! Ghana is good!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
I was so excited to get to meet with Jenn Sinclair, a friend from college who was flying in on Delta from Atlanta at the same time as me. Unfortunately, when I got in to JFK yesterday (was that just yesterday??--no, I guess that was the day before...Friday), there was a storm brewing and Jenn's plane was delayed because it couldn't land in New York. So, I waited and waited and the rain began to pour down and the sky turned black and thunder and lightening started up...and Jenn never came. They wouldn't let planes land and they wouldn't let planes take off.
Finally, the storm started quieting down a little bit and we started boarding our flight to Ghana. We were all settled and boarding when they told us that they were going to do a drink service because we were going to be on the ground for awhile. Yeah, AWHILE turned out to be 3 hours. We sat on the runway for almost 3 solid hours. We were supposed to leave at 9:30 pm and we didn't end up leaving until after midnight...and we just had to sit in the plane. The poor guy sitting next to me was going stir crazy!
But, I made it home. It was fun to have John, Christy, Tom, and Nosa greet me at the airport. Such familiar faces and having Christy here is just a little piece of my NorCal home, so that has been fun too.
When we made it back to the house, the kids came running from everywhere to see me and it's been so fun to hang out with all the kids again! Edwin came and sat on my lap for the majority of the night, and he sure did give me lots of kisses. Portia and Malvin have barely left my side and Justice has been extraordinarily huggy! The kids are wonderful!
And I have had the awesome opportunity to meet Dora and Mary. They are so cute! Poor Mary has measles though, so now she is being treated in the hospital since it is so contagious. Dora seems like she goes through crying periods like Abby once did, but that girl loves to dance. She got right into worship this morning. I think it's going to be awhile before they feel completely at home, but they are doing very well so far.
Loving being back and already see the craziness that is ahead of me.
School is starting up soon and there is still SO MUCH to do...praying for all of it to be ready before the big day--September 7th is the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!
Friday, August 19, 2011
And here I am in Denver International with both of my bags on their way through (both at 52 pounds--why did I even need to worry?!) and a carry-on bag that I'm going to gate check (it's 71 pounds...don't feel the need to bench press that into the overhead bin this morning). Almost everything that I wanted to bring back with me is with me. Wow!
I loved my trip home. It was so fun and relaxing and I think I was able to work out and talk out a lot of things while I have been here. But, I am ready to get home to Ghana. I miss my kids. I'm excited to meet our new girls, Dora and Mary, who were rescued while I was away. I'm looking forward to seeing Tom and Christy, two friends who are volunteering there right now. I'm just excited! It's time.
So, by 12:30 pm (Ghana time) on Saturday, I'll be arriving back in Accra. Feet on the ground...ready to go. Rested, revitalized, and renewed...
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
And at the same time, there is this pull...hearing about how Dora and Mary were rescued from Lalonya while I've been away...hearing about Victor's trip...knowing that there is so much work to be done when I return as well.
Today, I sat out under a tree overlooking Crawford resevoir, the clouds forming shadows over the mountains creating some of the most beautiful places in creation. As I sat there, I just processed the fact that I'm leaving again. Not that I'm not looking forward to returning home to Ghana (I miss everyone like crazy!), it's just...it's been so sweet being here.
So, while I'm looking forward to returning "home"...I feel the bittersweet that is leaving "home".
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
So, pretty much, my time in NorCal was amazing. I'm sad about leaving them behind for another 6 months. But, it was sweet time together! So blessed to have such awesome people living life out with with. This life can be so rich!