Two of my friends and I ventured to Kissemah for our first day of volunteering. Kissemah is a very poor section of Accra. It is only a ten minute drive from the University campus, so in recent years, wealthier Ghanaians have started building mcmansions there as well. Consequently, it's a stark illustration of the two extremes here.
A lonely street in Kissemah.
Since I have yet to hear back from my other volunteer program, today, I tagged along to Mawuvio's Outreach Programme. Mawuivo's is a NGO established by a young American woman who participated in my study abroad program here three years ago. On Saturday night we celebrated this woman's 23rd birthday...
In partnership with a Ghanaian man, the two have created a school for those who cannot afford education. In Ghana, primary school costs about 30 cedi (roughly 20 U.S. Dollars) per student per semester.
The school currently has just over 60 students, ages 4-14. There are four classrooms, divided loosely based on grade level. However, since many of the children have never received any type of formal education their ages and grade levels do not necessarily correspond. The classrooms consist of benches and stand alone white boards under one of several canopies. Mawuvio's is currently constructing a six room school at Ayikuma village, about an hour away from Accra. The new school will feature two dormitories and several classrooms—classrooms with walls!
The kids were nothing less than incredible. Many of their bodies showed signs of difficult lives, but their smiles and laughter told a totally different story. I worked with one girl, Shalom, who started at the school just two weeks ago after moving from Togo knowing no English. Today, she was counting with me past thirty.
The school is short staffed, but they are very lucky because two of my friends are going to be incredible assests. Kelly is an elementary education major, so she is right at home. She has more energy and enthusiasm than all of the kids combined, one of those people who is honestly made of sunshine. I seem like a prickly cactus in comparison! One of my other friends, Katie, knows sign language and will be working with two brothers who are deaf. Both Kelly and Katie are brainstorming activities and lesson plans as we speak. I know it is going to be an extremely worthwhile and rewarding experience for all parties involved.
As for me, I just love the kids. I will help at the school when and where I can with whatever needs to be done. I'm still hoping to work at the other place as well, I plan on following up with them tomorrow...if I have any energy after my 7:30 AM class. That's right people, I need to leave my hostel by 7:00 AM. EEEEEEK. I'm not a morning person.... zZzZzzzzzzzzzzzzz.