Dec 13, 2011

Day Four in Kissemah, Monday 12/12

Monday we had school, the children are taking exams all this week for their 1st term; as of Friday they are out of school for 2 or 3 weeks and then begin next term. The children started arriving at the school office as early as 6:30am for a class start time of 8:30am. Usually they sit outside the school office quietly and read books, at some point when most of them are here a large bread basket comes out and the children have bread before they go into the compound to take their seats. At 8:30 they are escorted into the compound by one of the teachers and they all take their places in the groups they are in, they are divided into three levels, Primary 1, 2, 3. They have benches that they set up in the courtyard and on Cece's porch, and they have school outside. All areas are covered, so they can have school if it rains.
Yesterday they took exams, so the ones that got done first, were able to come back to the office porch area and hang out. Then there was an official break where they all played and sang and waited for lunch. Lunch is served at their school benches, they all get a huge bowl of rice (made many different ways) by Cece. They all have to wait until all the bowls are distributed to all the children, then there is prayer by Kwame and then the children eat. Oh yes I forgot, they all get in line by class to wash their hands before lunch and after lunch, because they scoop the rice with their fingers. I am going to lobby to get spoons. If I can find a place close by today I will go get them. I hope that will be OK. When they ate the Fried Rice on Saturday from the kiosk across the street, they all got a spoon wrapped in a napkin and they all used their spoons. Two of the older girls help collect the empty bowls and bring them back to Cece's kitchen, laundry area and they wash them for the next day.
After lunch they had another test, again the same routine. The children were escorted back to the porch and patio area of the compound, they took their test and the school day was over. They have test this week for English, Math, Science, Environmental Studies, and Religious and Moral Education. Two student volunteers from the University of Ghana, going to Missouri State back home, came in the afternoon to help out. They taught the children a new song and practiced all their holiday songs for the school function on Saturday.
I was in the school office most of the day helping Renee type up the exams for Wed and Thursday, which have to be taken to a place close by to be copied. And so much went on outside on the office porch. My heart at times filled with so much emotion I had to hold back the tears. Their rendition of Gingle Bells was the most alive rendition I have ever heard. This is new to them and they love it. I will record the song during the school function. When I first came to the office, ALL THE CHILDREN, GREETED ME WITH GOOD MORNING MADAM or MOTHER. In Ghana it is a custom to call people close to you Mother and Father. For example, many of the boys in the program sometimes call Kwame, Father. One little boy immediately got up and asked if he could read me a book to show me that he could read the entire story. It was about a rat and a hat and a cat and bat, not sure of the title, he did very well reading. Imagine that for some a year ago they have never held a book in their hands.
As the children started to gather a tiny tiny little one, Alice, came into the office crying, stating someone had hit her in the eye. Her left eye was a little red, she did not look like she was feeling good at all. Imagine the saddest look on the face of a child that does not feel well, and that was Alice. I kept her in the office until Renee came and she told me that Alice had pink eye. Here they call it Apollo, not sure why. So Alice sat quietly in the office until it was time for school. At lunch, she was feeling so bad, she refused her lunch, broke my heart. I tried to encourage her to eat, to no avail. And the sad, long, withdrawn face continued and her eye was watery and red. In the afternoon break when all the children were singing, I went out on the school porch and Alice was slumped in one of the chairs, sick. I grabbed her out of the chair, held her in my arms and tried as best as I could to make her feel OK. I brought her in the office where we have fans, a couch, and laid her down with her head on my lap so I could tell her all would be OK. At this point Alice was running a fever. This was the time the Gingle Bells was being practiced outside, so here I was, with a child that all she wanted was to be cared for, to be held, to be healthy, juxtaposed with the loud and vivid and happy singing the children outside. I wanted to cry but did not. I wanted to hold onto Alice for a long period of time to tell her that all would be OK, but I refrained some, because I have no idea what happens when Alice gets home. I wanted to run to my room and get my Cipro and give to her in tiny amounts, I wanted to tell her that all would be OK, instead I gently told her that if she sat quietly she would feel better, I held her while she laid on the couch and I prayed in my head for her fever to cool down.
We were in the office for about 20 or 25 minutes and I think she was a tiny bit better when we went back to the school patio setting for the backpacks.
That is another whole story so I will post separately. Imagine that for $30 a month, for the cost of a pedicure or a bottle of wine, you can sponsor a little girl like Alice.

------ Short and sweet from my iPad ---------