Gone to Ghana

I’m baa-ack October 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — slrussell @ 6:41 pm

Phew, that was painful.  I have had almost two weeks exactly without email and I can’t tell you how frustrating it has been.  First my modem didn’t work, then Keke’s broke and so that was it for internet in Jirapa.  I made 2 visits to Wa during the week to get access, um, I mean, to do banking.  The first time the network was down and the second the power was out.  They also have not been able to fix either modem so that meant the nearest internet was in Tamale and getting here, that is another story.

On Saturday we began the trek to Tamale, only 400 km or so.  We had to take the bus from Jirapa to Wa and spend the night.  I fortunately had a friend of a friend who said I could stay at her house.  Unfortunately neither of us realized until i arrived that she would be getting up with me at 3:30 am to drive me to the bus.  Yes, that is a.m.  We got on the bus at four and…..waited.  The bus eventually pulled out of Wa at 6am on the nose.  The first couple of hours were fairly comfortable.  I mean, the three on my bench couldn’t all sit back at once without mashing shoulders, but at least we had a seat.  There were up to 15 people who were standing at one point, many of them for the whole ride.  We didn’t stop for food.  We didn’t stop for the bathroom, other than the time they had to adjust the luggage on the top of the bus and so a good 40 of us from the bus headed en mass into the bush.  And I’m thankful I went when I did because I have never been on such a bumpy ride, even worse than the road was two weeks ago.  Thanks to Don Mc for the recommendation to bring muscle relaxants! We pulled into the bus station here at 1:52 pm, just under 8 hours after having left Wa and 10 hours after we got on the bus.  And the good news is that I get to go back again on Wednesday! All of that just so I could get email (okay, and attend the semi-annual meeting of all volunteers).

So, lots of updates that I will try to get through quickly and when I get access again maybe I will be able to give you more details.

#1.  Yes, I am officially living at the convent for the rest of my stay.  But, I have learned that the Sisters actually stay in another building on the property and where I am is a guesthouse/restaurant/bar so it probably isn’t quite what you are picturing.  It is working out really well because I have the privacy of my own room, but there are always lots of people around to visit with and many of the girls who work there have become friends.  They are great about teaching me the language and showing me around the market etc.  And, there were two really cute doctors there! They head back to school this weekend but it has been so nice to have people you can talk to on a regular basis.  They are from the south and have found this place as different (okay, maybe not quite) as I have.

#2.  My job is going really well.  The first day I was there I managed to get the syllabus and textbooks the kids use and that has been hugely helpful.  The second and third days I went to observe workshops they were doing for untrained teachers.  I had not realized what the real issue is here until seeing this.  They have school buildings.  They have a very good curriculum.  They have plenty of eager students.  They don’t have teachers.  Most of the schools up north do not have trained teachers so people from the community who have graduated high school are hired and then given a one day workshop on how to write lessons, etc.  And, here is the kicker, most of them are given classes of over 100.  Yes, reread that.  Unbelievable.  Anyway, so since I have been here I have set up a schedule to do a number of 2-day workshops for primary 4-6 teachers and junior high math/science teachers.  I am really lucky that I have come across some great resources and seem to have full support from my district.  I’ll tell you more once I actually get started.

Other than that, I can’t think of where to start.  Thanks for all of the offers to send along treats…magazines are great too! Yes, Nadine I am so proud of you….I expect you to still be ahead when I get back so I can follow you for the rest of the year:)  I am fine, Kim, really doing better than I thought I would be to be honest.  I miss you too!  Kristen, yep, I’ve already thought through the butter and milk issue with the KD but I’m willing to do a little bit of improvising at this point.  I thought it was a long commute too but as you can see Jonathon is going to be living just down the street! Jonathon, first thing you need to know is there is no internet in Jirapa:) I’ll send you my number.  Judy and ladies, hope you had a blast and that Nadine passed along my virtual steam roll! Will post tomorrow…..maybe.  I’m starting to understand now that when Ghanaians say maybe tomorrow they really mean maybe:)

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