Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 is a day I will remember the rest of my life. I anticipated this day, I dreamed about this day, I envisioned "the proper" school, since 2011.
Yesterday when I walked in the building, I witnessed children in the classrooms, books, shelves, dormitories, showers, toilets, a kitchen, an office, a library, a summer hut. We even have a 2nd story ready to be finished one day in the future.
My first visit in 2011, we had a piece of land, we had concrete blocks outlining the perimeter of the building and lots of fill dirt.
Over the years, little by little, with all the challenges and opportunities you can imagine, the building took shape. The school officially opened for the 2014/2015 academic school year, the children are in Term 2 now. Mawuvio's follows the Ghana Education Services school calendar.
Yesterday as we drove to the school from Kissemah, I could feel the anxious nervous energy in my heart. We were scheduled to leave Kissemah at 10am, we left at 1:30pm, otherwise known as GMT, Ghana Maybe Time.
We arrived in Aiykumah Township close to 2:30pm, the children were in their closing assembly formation. I walked in the door and lining the big hallway that leads to all the "spacious" classrooms, the children stood, and in full fervor they were reciting the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father, who art in heaven".
I stood quietly before them and wept. They've seen my cry before. I was overcome with a sense of joy that I cannot describe. I was overwhelmed, I had sensory overload trying to take in all the colors on the walls, the faces of each child I know by name, the faces of the new children from Aiykumah, the teachers. It was incredible !
My heart and mind were in full record mode, I wanted to gulp, swallow, inhale, taste and breathe the goodness of life that was happening right before me.
The dream of Kwame and Renee became a reality because of many people have helped and continue to support the organization. Mawuvio's can never say thank you enough times - thanks to every single person and organization and volunteer who has helped past and present. Many many people in the Goose Lake area in Iowa helped build this school, I don't know all their names, Mawuvio's certainly appreciates each and everyone of them. To the school sponsors present and past, to those who've sponsored a child for 2, 3, 4, 5 years now, thanks thanks thanks. To the organizations that have helped out, over the years. To all the people in Austria that have helped because of Florian's involvement with the school. To the friends in Atlanta. A special thanks to the Kraft-Edmunds Foundation for all their support to get the school finished. And a giant thanks to Renee's parents, Steve and Barbara Farwell for supporting the dream of their daughter Renee and her friend and Ghana, brother, Eric Kwame Agoe.
So many people have contributed to make this dream possible. There is truth, there is fact, there is knowledge, Mawuvio's is running a "proper school". It will take me a few days to stop being overwhelmed. Each child that Mawuvio's is supporting is being impacted SIGNIFICANTLY. Their lives, their health and well-being, their education, their futures. Everyone at Mawuvio's is extremely appreciative and grateful.
The school is painted in bright colors. When you walk in there is a big WELCOME on the wall in the main hallway. as you exit, you see GO OUT AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE on the opposite wall. Barbara designed murals and bright colors in all the classrooms, each one a different theme. The main hallway is painted in blue and the walls are decorated with a school of tropical fish, each one painted by the boarding students, the teachers and volunteers. It is lively, tropical, refreshing. And oh so much fun. I will photograph the fish and post a few.
We have an office, a library, a separate small building serves as the kitchen. And we have summer hut, a stand alone building, open-air. The children take their meals there and also gather there during their break time. There is a schedule, the children help out with washing, keeping their dormitories and classrooms clean and the general outside area of the school.
The children look different. It's like a tiny sun has invaded their bodies and they're radiating happiness and a spirit in their voices that I'd not heard in the past. All of them told me they love the school, that they are very happy here. They all said they like the new teachers and Mama Vivian's cooking.
I will be here until next Friday or Saturday, 10 or 11 days. I will observe all the classrooms, get to know the new teachers and complete a few projects. I brought supplies and uniforms for the school, so whatever needs to be distributed to the children we will do sometime next week. And I brought 12 new movies, the children get to watch a movie on Saturday. They are looking forward to the new selections.
Aiykumah is a small town, rural. There are large mango plantations in this area. We are about 5 minutes from the center area of Aiykumah were the market is, the post office, the police station, etc.
Dodowa which is about 10 minutes away is much larger and is the main district capital of the Lower Somanya Region. All government branches are represented in Dodowa. There is a small hospital, police station, fire station, post office, 1 bank. Many schools, churches and two large hotels, the Marina and the Dodowa Forest Hotel.
Last night around 7:30pm, we had LIGHTS OFF and it was pitch black. Dark everywhere. The school has a generator and once it was up and running it is connected to several lights inside and out to keep the children safe.
It is now 9am on Thursday and we are still in LIGHTS OUT. One sure thing about Ghana, there is always something going on. One of the teachers told me there is a power rationing in place right now, and that the power outages are known and expected.
The school has a cat, Dice. Dice hangs out in the kitchen area with Mama Vivian and Jennifer. I am sure Dice helps with critters. I will take a photo of Dice and share. He is a kitten, gray and white, a female cat.
I am staying in the main school building. The library is a large room. I want to be close to the children and experience the overall routine so they brought the bed into the library and I set up my temporary housing. I also have access to the showers and bathroom facilities. The volunteer quarters are nice, they are about 100 yards away from the school in a separate building that faces away from the school and I did not want to be so far from the kids.
Mama Vivian has taken very good care of me. Kwame told her what Ceci has been cooking for me. I had rice and pork last night, it was very tasty. Today, 1 egg for breakfast and fruit for lunch. I am drinking tons and tons of water. Aiykumah is a tiny bit cooler than Kissemah and there is a gentle breeze most of the time.
Today I will observe the classes and then Kwame and I will go to Dodowa to post this update at an Internet cafe. The school does not have internet, we are working on getting a "proper connection".