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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

All the way from Africa: Part 3

Written by Phoebe Copeland - GapBreak 2009, Ghana

I can happily say that school is absolutely fantastic. I have been teaching alone now for 3 weeks as the first week I just observed. Its scary to think I only have 3 weeks of teaching left. There are four classes Nursery/creche, KG1, KG2, class 1,2,3.

On the first day about 30 kids turned up so KG 2 and class 1 2 3 combined and the kids just swept, cleaned and played. (they would have been hacking grass with machetes like all the other schools had we had any grass- we have a little dirt patch for playing) By the end of the first week around 60 kids turned up. But now around 100-150 come. Wednesday is worship Wednesday were for the first half hour of school they praise the lord and sing very loudly while the teaches recite passages from the bible and scream AMEN. and Friday is games day where in the arvo they just play games.

The children wear a gorgeous red and blue uniform Monday and Tuesday. A checkered brown and white one Wednesday and Thursday and on friday its a brand new games day uniform which is a hidous canary yellow and blue basketball uniform haha.

I teach class 1, 2, 3 on the narrow veranda of the school as they only have three classrooms. A bed sheet is tied from one concrete pillar to the next for a wall and when the wind blows my kids dissappear under the sheet. Worse still when it rains i cant teach at all as the rain on the tin roof is so loud. When it rains class stops, school stops I'd go as far to say Ghana stops. Luckily the down pour generallly lasts all of 3 seconds.

The orignial teacher of my class Madam Victoria is around 20 years old and an absolutle crack up. She copies my 'highpitced' voice and always mimics me laughing. I'd say she has just as much of an idea about teaching as i do. She sleeps up the back on the veranda only to wake if i yell for the kids to sit down. She jumps up and threatens them all with the cane. She looks at me as if to say do they need a cane madam Phoebe? hahah i always say no next time but never do.
There is no syllabus for class 1 2 3 so up until now i have been basically improvising- writing lesson plans the day before school. Now in my third week though I have much more of a grasp of where each child is at and have discovered none of them can read. Finding the concept of sounding things out is impossible for them to understand. They copy everything- 99 percent of their learning is rote they aren't thinking for themselves - it is very frustrating. So i have began teaching phonetics with them everyday introducing new sounds.

Yesterday Georgie and I combined our classes (she is teaching KG2) and we taught them the the nutbush and macarena as a part of PE and gross motor. hhahah it was very entertaining. I stood on the veranda whilst they stared at me doing the nutbush to no music.

I teach 8:30-12:30 M-F, on Tuesday afternoon the group goes to the orphange, on Mon and Thursday arvo i go to the nursery for story time. On Wed arvo we have obruni meeting and Friday the group meets in Swedru at 1pm to leave for the weekend away for travel. Jam packed week.

Since i told you about our last weekend away in Winneba we have travelled to Cape Coast the biggest city in the Central Region, Kokrobite an obruni haven west of Accra on the beach, Green Turtle Lodge in southwest Ghana and last weekend to Kakum National Park 50 km north of Cape coast.

At Cape Coast we went to a western book shop, had panacakes and banana, saw pigs on the beach and had a guided tour of Cape coast castle (slave fort). Our beach resort where we stayed was literally on the beach-the waves were crashing 50 m away from our very cute old beach cabins. The cabins were shoddily put together i would know as i got locked inside the toilet for 1/2 an hour while an african man with a stick bashed me out. Meanwhile the rest of the group were outside the door singing and asking me for my last words.....

Then the following weekend the group ventured by a very bumby tro-tro ride to Kokrobite. It was a little deceiving whilst drivng through the very small poor village on a dirt road to when you arrive at this gorgoeus plam tree filled beach resort. The beach was fanatic as you could swim and it wasn't too dangerous. All the group stayed in a house like accommodation on mattresses next door to reception. On sat everyone went to Accra for the day except me Gaby and Brig. In accra they found a western mall and cinema where they saw wolverine. i however swam, napped and saw a little too much sun but had an overall very relaxing day. I didnt feel wolverine was intergral to my Ghanaian experience.

Green Turtle lodge was followed by Kokrobite. Which was a 5-6 hour drive towards Cote d'Ivoire. The extrememly remote resort was built by an English couple on a stretch of beach uninhabited by locals- so there were no people trying to sell you water, clothes, food, jewellery and no rubbish washed up alone the sand. The resort is completly self sustainable- all run on solar enegery with self composting toilets. For 4 cedi a night we stayed in tents on the sand of the beach - so incredible- you woke up at 5.30 with the sun and walked straight out of your tent into the ocean. The resort was around 30 mins form any major village and there was no reception which proved difficult in booking the acccom. We spent three nights at green turtle as the monday of this particular weekend was African Unity Day-public holdiay. Whilst at green turtle we did a day trip to Nzulezu -the village on stilts just 45mins drive form the boarder of Cote d'Ivoire. We endured a hellish tro-tro ride out to the reception (in the middle of nowhere) then had an hour canoe ride to the village. The stilt village is built over the lake around 500 years ago and has a popuation of 450 people. The popel who lived there were quite primal and different from other Ghanaians i am with and have met.
It was Max's bday this particular weekend thus we celebrated with a range of cocktails from the extenive cocktail list (6).

To the most recent trip away (last weekend) Kakum.
We stayed at Hans Cottage Botel a very nice hotel/resort style accom near Kakum National Park. Hans is known for is lake in which the restaurant extends over which is home to around 12 crocodiles, which only come out to be fed. ahah. On friday night we met a group of American musicians from a Bosten College- one of them told us that amoungst them was an Aussie who was none other then Jimmy Barnes son. (not david cambell) Sure enough he found us as we are a hugh group of Aussies- his accent was a breath of fresh air - we are all so used to each others voices that hearing another australian accent is very bizzare) Anyway His name was Jackie Barnes - google him- he tours with his dad and plays the drums. Hes 23 and went to school in sydey he evern knew some people from yass. YAY. Spent the night listening to him and his American friends play music we were all a little star struck haha.

Then on Saturday we walked on a dirt track for 7.5 km to visit Domama Rock Shrine- which os one large rock balance on 3 others which formed a cave inside. Once we arrived at the shrine there was the option to climb the near vertical rock face using a vine to hoist yourself up. Everyone manage to get up but i gladly know myself well enough not to attempt something which requires co-ordination - it was not that long ago i fell down a flight of stairs in my own home. But the rock shrine was truly amazing, tucked away in the forst.
After the 4 hours walk we got back and were all exhausted- had a swim and a hot shower yes there was a water heater - however it was neither piping hot or freezing cold.

On sunday we left bright and early to Kakum National Park where we did a guided tour up to the Canopy walk- what Ghana is well known for- tourist wise. The canopy walk consisted of seven bridges cnecting 6 huge trees 50-70m above the ground. The briges swang and rocked and made everyone feel quite unsafe despite the tour guide assuring us it can hold 8 tons. The bridge was made of rope and wooden plants built in 94-95 they were not made using cranes but rather bow and arrows...? yes i know. But it was absolutley incredible. You could see out over the canopy accross all of Kakum.
On our way home we visit Elmina Slave Castle the oldest and biggest in Ghana-- there were definately some spirits there....oooo actually i wasnt feeling well so i layed down in recption and talk to a worker who is convinced he is coimng to Australaia to visit me... uhuh yeah right.

This coming weekend we intend to hang arond Swedru and go to church again.

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