It is hard to believe that we have been here almost 6 months now…my, my how the time does fly by when you are busy. We had a chance earlier last month to visit with the two boys from Pitiku who we sponsor at the School For the Blind. I must admit it was a bitter/sweet visit. The school was preparing for an open house event and the students there were busy. Some were painting the risers on the stairs…remember, this is the school for the blind…some were policing the grounds locating and picking up trash. And some were playing ball…the ball had a bell inside of it so it could be located.
There were young people walking together…literally the blind leading the blind. Those with more confidence were helping the new students to adjust to their surroundings. Our taxi parked in a place where there isn't normally a car and he got in a little trouble when some students walked into it…"what's a car doing here", they asked? They knew they were not lost therefore they knew that whoever parked the car there was not a regular visitor to their school and was not informed about where cars are parked.
Our two young wards 5 & 6 years old live in separate dorms so we first picked up Nana
Kwame. We then went to find his younger brother Xorseko. When they heard each other's voice they hugged and laughed. They seemed to be well adjusted and remembered us, which made us feel good. Ewe is their first language but at the school Twi and English are mostly spoken and to our surprise and delight they were both learning the other languages…kids are like sponges, they absorb everything you put in front of them. Again we felt so proud of our boys.
We met the head mistress of the school and she was concerned about the number of students there, about 350. She told us that many were just dropped off and are virtual orphans, abandoned at the school. She wondered how they would be able to keep up with the demands on their tight budget. I'm sure that this was a plea to YEKO ANIM for funding but we just can't take on any more projects. Our funding too is limited with the work we are doing here in Kwahu Tafo.
Our Tertiary Scholarship funds are tapped out…we now sponsor over 35 young people attending university and that's about all we can do until someone matriculates or drops out. This being the case, I was asked to help the high school students research how to use the internet to find scholarship opportunities. Yep, you heard that right ME asked to sort of teach IT. I panicked but friends Stefi and Basti, two young volunteers from Germany stepped in and are giving me a hand.
We now give a lesson every Tuesday 4:00 - 6:00pm for 10 students at a time. We are working on a print out so the initial learning will be easier. Thank God for the young people…hip, hip, hurray. Now I am working on a short presentation that I will present to the whole of the senior body of the Kwahu Tafo Senior High School. If it is successful I will go to neighboring towns and do the same presentation.
BL has been busy with the Adult Literacy Program, which I will leave to her to explain. But I must say my part by thanking Engage Now Africa, www.engagenowafrica.org for coming to our small town and giving of their time and expertise in introducing this wonderful program to our community.
ADULT LITERACY PROJECT UPDATE
As Dutch just mentioned we had a wonderful and fruitful visit last month with both the Literacy Director, Cecilia Amankwah and Education Director, Francis Ansah from Engage Now Africa. Engage Now Africa is an American NGO who work in many African countries doing projects ranging from adult literacy and educational assistance programs to building projects including drilling new bore holes and major clean well-water projects. Their most recent capital achievement is construction of a university specifically for the training of public health workers.
Engage Now Africa are strong believers in teaching self- reliance, helping people build stronger families, businesses and communities. We are so thankful that they were willing to take us under their wing by teaching us how to get an adult literacy program underway. It is an enormous task when you think that close to 50% of the people in Kwahu Tafo cannot read, write or do simple numeracy. What we are learning from Engage Now Africa is to first help people understand what they do know. They know how to grow food and do it well! They know how to keep themselves clean even when it is a long walk for a bucket of water. They know where to find goods for their small trading endeavors. But what they don't know how to do is create a written record of what they have done. Simply said, to express themselves.
Cecilia stayed with us for three days. She presented workshops to nearly 50 people. Some came to see if they might become a facilitator. Others came because they know that by learning to read and write a little English, which is the official language of Ghana and by being able to keep a simple record of their trading, they can get ahead. They have the desire.
We stand now a crossroads. It will take money for us to fund this project and right now YEKO ANIM does not have enough to start this project.We estimate a running cost of about $7,000. a year. If any of you have a circle of close friends, work associates or perhaps even a book group, who would be willing to come together and help us launch this project, it will it become the foundation of sustainable development.
AND NOW TO CHRISTMAS
The Christmas season is upon us. If we were in America we would hear all the advertisement of so many more shopping days till Christmas, not so much here. When we do our bimonthly shopping in Nkawkaw we wouldn't even know Christmas was approaching until we go to Melcom's to buy our household cleaning supplies. There they've attempted a moderate westernized version of Christmas. A couple of 2' fake Christmas trees with minimum decorations…it is just not celebrated here in the same commercial way. Christmas is a Christian high day to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
I don't miss the hoopla of shopping and decorating but I do miss the setting of our dining room table with Christmas plates and a beautiful centerpiece. I miss the dinner parties and camaraderie of having all our friends drop in for Christmas cheer…of having family around to catch up on yearly news. I would say I miss the snow but I'd be lying.
We did get a little Christmas gift for ourselves, two small paintings by Ghanaian artist Christopher Charway. A very busy street scene of Accra that reminds me of the paintings one sees in Jamaica and a beach scene of fishermen hauling in a net. Our main room is very small and they livened it up somewhat.
As we approach the Christmas season I hope that you keep YEKO ANIM in mind when you think of holiday giving. The gift of love is the strongest gift one can give. I wish you all a wonderful, happy, blessed Christmas season and may all of you get the gift you wished for.
You can learn more about Yeko Anim and how to donate on their website at http://www.yekoanim.org