A friend of mine, Chaya made a DVD of you tube videos of animals. We used it for Gentle Handling classes as a way to teach that animals can learn, use their brains and have loving relationships with each other and their humans. It also showed how animals react to negative reinforcement versus being loved and treated well.
One video was of a chicken pecking at the picture of a chicken amongst other animal pictures.
Once the students saw I was handing out pens for trying to answer, getting the correct answer and explaining how, why or the meaning, almost everyone was raising their hand. In contrast to other days to when barely a hand goes up. At least now they know not to say “yes” in unison if they don’t really understand something. They risk being called on to tell me what they understood. Saying, “no, I don’t understand” gets them another explanation and possibly a pen.
When I asked the class what they understood about the chicken, one boy, Paul answered, “The chicken is identifying itself.” I almost fell to the floor. This was such an advanced answer especially since I had not said it and it was more than “chicken.” Which was the common answer. He got 2 pens and a writing notebook for that one.
Since I can see many of the students struggling to find more than just one or two word answers. It is really hard because they are speaking in English and being asked to think rather than just repeat.
Enter: Clementina. She explains things for them in english but with an accent they recognize.
I can’t wait to see Paul in 5 years and find out where his life has taken him.
Ayamdooh spent two years writing up a study that just got approval for publication in “Pan American Medical Journal.” “Mapping as a tool for predicting the risk of Anthrax outbreaks in Northern Region of Ghana” is the title.
I have always felt lucky to be working with him and to know him as the great person he is. His integrity and willingness to help others whether it is convenient for him or not, are some of the reasons I respect him.
Do you remember Clementina? The blog is called “Clementina wants to be a doctor.” Now she is a teacher in Primary classes. When she surprised me with her presence in Yua, I asked if she wanted to help me teach. She jumped at the chance and was full speed ahead going to the classes even before I arrived for the day in Yua. She is loving teaching english and reading to them.
One boy today waved goodbye to her and said, “Tomorrow.” They really like her. Too many of the teachers don’t even show up for work. They get paid low salaries and are not well trained. Unfortunately many of them are more interested in the paycheck than the students. Not so with Clementina. She wasn’t working before she visited and even though she isn’t getting paid, she feels useful and wishes she had a teacher like herself when she was in Primary.
So, I feel really great having someone take the reins after I leave. It will be fantastic to see how much better these kids do in JSS when I come back because of her. I really hope she sticks with it. She is truly beautiful, inside and out.
The Poultry Program is going strong. Women are still giving an egg a day to a child, whether their own or someone else’s. As a result, they say the children are not getting as sick as they were before this program. It is time for me to buy more chickens for these beautiful women.
I gave each woman a gift of earrings or a necklace. The rest of the clothes and earrings will be given to the other women by Imposia. They were so happy to “feel more beautiful than before,” one woman said to me.
Imposia told me that the people of Yua are stopping the travellers from Burkina Faso when whipping their animals. “We will not let you come to Yua for vaccinations next time if you continue the beatings.” Fantastic!!!!
They thanked me for helping their children in school and said they will continue to teach them to be kind to animals.
Legs tied together
Sitting in his lap
On a motorbike
Bike stops working
Puts goat on the ground
She bangs her head
Trying to get up
I want someone
To do something
I stroke her neck
She calms and quiets
A big man pets her
He unties her
Another man takes her home.
She will be slaughtered today
But why shouldn’t she
Have her last hours be kind
I cried for her
Knowing I had done
What I could
I am staying in the same room I have stayed in for years. It is looking very tired these days but it feels like “my room.” The geckos are still walking along my walls and every night they chirp to each other. Thank goodness they are hungry which keeps the insects out of my bed. Yay!
The a/c isn’t working like it used to which used to create a blizzard while I bundled up in small blankets (brought from home of course) and winter pajamas. This year, it has grown old and blows like a summer breeze. That still allows for a cooler than outside,less sweaty night than the oven this room becomes with no a/c.
I always bring hydrogen peroxide and sponges. Everything that I might touch, I sanitized and cleaned several times. Bringing my own sheet bag is of the utmost importance as this time even though my sheets are pearly white, there is a long yellow stain that belies their clean appearance. I don’t even want to know!!!
Peace still cooks my meals and I stay healthy with all of the ginger and garlic. Her house is still hotter than the air outside but I manage.
The reading classes after school go really well but it is hard for many of the students because they haven’t eaten all day and are hungry. They come anyway.
It is these things that even though they are not as easy as being home, they keep me coming back.
Some of the teachers were already in my classes 2 years ago. I don’t have lesson plans,usually finding a need and using that to teach. One morning someone spotted a sentence with a few mistakes on the board: “Janes had ____ his pepsi.” There were several words on the board to choose to fill in the blank. One was “drunk.” There was my lesson plan for most of the morning class. We broke that down to its 4 mistakes and worked on correcting them. The next day, we spotted a lesson on the board that included the teacher purposefully making a mistake and asking the students to correct it. It is so much fun when the teaching works.
In the afternoon, I got a total surprise. Clementina showed up unexpectedly. We immediately hugged and we were both in tears from the joy of seeing each other. She said she will go to nursing school next year.
Clementina and I went to the Primary grades and read books and taught phonics to the kids. It is always a surprise how far behind us they are in their learning. We stepped it up a few notches and the kids were keeping up.
The older students get to watch movies on my computer while I am doing other things. I bring science and animal DVDs. They love them and are hearing english while watching.
In Ghana, I find myself being the kind of teacher that suits my personality. I am like a busy bee pollinating each class with some basic skills of how to learn more effectively. I go back and forth teaching different things in each room. That kind of flitting around suits me. My math is terrible but I can teach them how to use flash cards to help their math skills. I teach basic computer skills by having the students do all of the steps on my computer while putting in a DVD to putting it back into the holder.
Next week we will teach “Gentle Handling of Animals”and sex ed.
My goal is that these students get better results on their exams than the last two years. Now, we know that all of the kids can pass the test and the teachers are excited to challenge their students to the next level. I will be keeping my fingers crossed.
We visited the outlying schools the first day. I had never been. Mostly primary schools and one Jr. high. I have been saying how important it is to build a strong foundation of education in the primary grades and yet I haven’t taught in them. So, this trip is going to focus on them.
Visiting Wisdom’s house was bittersweet. His father was frail in contrast to his strength in the past. He used to jump up from his chair and say, “Ohhh…ohhh…oooh” joyfully when I would arrive. Now he is blind and has testicular cancer. This time he struggled to get out of his chair. His hands are still rough from picking peanuts from their stems, even now. Wisdom, his son loves animals as much as his father. He never beats them. The bull and donkey I bought them look strong and healthy while willingly following their family into their compound.
Wisdom is still teaching villagers and the people coming in from Burkino Faso (Yua shares their border) that beating their animals can cause open wounds which can get infected. If any of you remember, his own bull died when people threw rocks at him and the wound got infected. We couldn’t save him. Wisdom went on a mission to show people other ways of keeping the animals from eating crops which is why they threw rocks. Unfortunately it means tying them up through the harvest season,but better than beatings. Fences aren’t a reality here.