10.14.2018 Ashanti Region, Ghana
How is it October already? The time is flying way too fast. The new school year started here on September 11th, so most of my time has been spent working with the kids at the primary and junior high school and getting some programs started for the year. The schools in my community have been extremely welcoming to me, and it’s clear how committed they are to their students’ education and well-being. The kids are so sweet and fun to work with.
At the primary school, we are implementing the Grassroots Soccer (GRS) Skillz Boyz curriculum with the boys 12 and older, and starting a weekly Girl’s Club with all the girls in Upper Primary. My counterpart, Daniel, is a teacher at the school. He attended a training in July on how to conduct GRS, so he is taking the lead on the project. GRS is an adolescent health organization that leverages the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize youth to overcome their health challenges. The SKILLZ Guyz curriculum specifically tackles sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV prevention, substance abuse, peer pressure, and self-efficacy. The program uses soccer terminology and games, so not only do the kids learn about how to protect their health, they also have fun in the process. With the girls, I am hoping we will cover some similar topics, while also incorporating some hands on activities such as making sack gardens and learning about recycling by using water satchets to make things like soccer nets and purses. [A side note: In Ghana, water is sold in bottles, but it is also more commonly sold in small, sealed plastic bags called water satchets. These hold 500 ml and are sold for 20 pesewas (less than 5 cents in the US). As you might imagine, this leads to quite the big trash problem in some communities.]
At the junior high school, we are continuing with the biweekly girl’s club from last term. Our first lesson was about sex and gender, what they mean, and how gender roles play out in daily life. This past week we covered goal setting, and how we achieve our short and long term goals. The girls made vision boards where they wrote their goals and illustrated them with pictures from magazines. Research shows that if you write your goals down, you are more likely to achieve them. Well, I am pleased to say we have a class full of future teachers, nurses, doctors, soldiers, musicians, and newscasters. We also plan to cover healthy relationships, HIV, and malaria prevention this term. We are going to implement a school-wide GRS Malaria program in November to coincide with the national bed net distribution that is taking place.
I am also in the process of setting up two pen pal exchanges with one class at the primary school and one class at the junior high school. This is a great chance for the kids to practice writing in English. It was so fun to see how excited the primary students were filling out the paper about things they like and drawing their self-portraits. This month I have also started a Homework club. At the end of last term, one of the teachers mentioned to me that the kids often don’t have someone to help them with their homework at home. With that in mind, I decided to start staying after school with some of the students. We meet every day, except Friday, between 2-3pm. We are still working out the kinks, and there are some challenges because I don’t speak Twi well enough to communicate with some of the younger students. It makes me happy though to see how many kids want to come and do their homework with me, and how many older students are willing to stick around and help out their younger siblings and friends.
Finally, this month I have been working on a grant to help my school build a new classroom. We are more than halfway to our fundraising goal, and I am so thankful for the support and words of encouragement we have received for this project so far. The school needs this new classroom because currently the creche students, which is similar to daycare or pre-K in the United States, have their class in a small office space. There are many of them, which makes it very chaotic and difficult to learn, and also makes it easy to spread germs. We’d like to give them a physical space that supports learning, as well as some materials and toys since the classroom looks a little barren at the moment. If we are successful, then we hope to partner with an organization to turn the office space into a library for use by the primary and junior high school students. The community is contributing all of the labor and many of the supplies needed. They have already broke ground and started building, so it is imperative that we get funded soon so that they can continue on schedule. We hope to have the classroom built to begin using in January. If you are interested in donating or learning more, please check out the fundraising page. Please reach out if you have any questions.
Working in the schools has been a real joy of my service so far, and I am so glad to be in a community where the teachers and students are open-minded and receptive to new ideas. It isn’t always easy, but I know we’re all committed to the same goal – giving the students the knowledge and tools to be successful leaders in the future.