December 20th, 2009
I feel like I am related to everyone in the world. – Drew, 8 years old
What can we all relate to in the world? Games. Everyday, all across the globe, in schoolyards and fields, on streets and in homes, games are played. Childhood is filled with games that bring us together to play. In a steamy schoolroom at EP Primary Ho-Bankoe, students learned 4 Square, Rock, Paper, Scissors, Hacky sack and others. On a crisp cool day in Summit Charter School in Cashiers, North Carolina, students bundled in jackets to play Pilolo, Jack Where are You, Hopscotch and Ampe. They laughed and ran, making some of their own adaptations- and learning to play together. They have a few more questions about Ampe! It is a beautiful thing to watch children teach other something that will continue to bring such joy for so long. How many kids will learn these games since Ms. Leslie Rosenberg’s class sent personalized hand made game books and the same was returned by Mrs. Susan’s class? It is fun to ponder.
The third graders worked together to put the pinwheels together sent by their friends in Mrs. Anita’s classroom at EP Primary Ho-Bankoe. Drew commented after watching the video of their Peace Pinwheels in the P4 Classroom in Ghana, “I feel like I am related to everyone in the world.” They discovered a new way to make them spin, by twirling around in the classroom, or on their way to the carpool line. From the North Carolina to Ghana, and back again. We will take another turn of the wheel, and teach you this again soon in Ghana! To all our relations, may the games continue…
December 18th, 2009
“For somehow, not only at Christmas, but all the long year through, the joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you.” -John Greenleaf Whittie
Joy… giggles in a room, simple paperclips covered in colored paper and paper with colored images. Dr. Painter’s 3rd graders at CT Walker Magnet School in Augusta, Georgia passed these simple things on to the classes at RC Girls School in Ho, and they just received it back. As is usually the case when we give from our hearts, it comes back tenfold. Not only were they excited about receiving the letters and necklaces, they were filled with pride for bringing happiness to others.
The same was true in Mrs. Kilbreth’s 4th grade class, a class with many connected for sometime to their friends at Prince of Peace School. They shared a book of their favorite things, and received this back from their friends. As one of the Ghana students stated in her letter, connecting with the kids in America was one of the greatest parts of school.
Colorful cards with flags, a globe and hands were shared. Immediately the students in Mrs. Lockamy’s 2nd grade at Stevens Creek Elementary School compared their hands, to those of their friends in Ghana, also at Prince of Peace School. Some hands were smaller, some were larger, but all giving and outreaching from all these miles away. A couple of the letters even had pictures in them, a true prized possession for Ghana children whom usually do not have many photos of their childhood. To share this is heartfelt, and this brought much joy to the lucky kids that received those extra special cards. May the generosity of the joy given by these children inspire you to also share- all the seasons year round.
December 15th, 2009
To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart. ~Phyllis Theroux
During the last couple of weeks we have hand delivered letters written at RC Mixed Primary Ho-Bankoe onto nearly 300 middle school students in Savannah at Oglethorpe Charter School and Riverside Middle School in Augusta, Georgia.
What is being delivered is far more than a letter, just ask the students and teachers on the receiving end! A quiet descends over the room, with a focus and excitement not often found on these faces for a school project. Like in Ghana, many of the students ran around, sharing their favorite parts with their friends, commenting on the beautiful handwriting, or how good you all draw. Like in Ghana, many of them began writing their friends back… as if nothing else was more important than an immediate response.
Mr. Butler shared that he thought about framing the letter he received from Mr. Nuvey, the Headmaster at RC Mixed Primary whom shared “It is our hope that the link between us still continues.” Charlie, a 6th grader at Riverside Middle commented, “They are rich in kindness.” His classmate Evans shared, “This was a really cool experience. It makes me feel warm that they were so happy to read our letters.” Many commented on how “cool” this was, or “awesome!” And for several, smiles on faces with comments about how much they have in common with their friends in West Africa.
They have shared very simple things and connected to a new way of understanding of the basic bonds that tie us all, whether we live our days out in the southeastern part of the US or the southeastern part of Ghana. Africa is no longer just a large continent with safari animals, it is place where they have friends. Without going anywhere, these 600 students over 6,000 miles away found a place where there is hope that our world of interconnection can inspire us. We share your thoughts on how cool and awesome this is!
November 26th, 2009
“Good cheer is something more than faith in the future, it is gratitude for the past and joy in the present.”
Our week began with many hugs and a reconnection with the 3rd grade at St. Andrew’s School in Savannah, Georgia. Peace puzzles from Beauty’s P3 class at EP Primary were shared and played. They even loved the most difficult ones, enjoying the challenge and working together. We were invited to see their choral rehearsal, and to attend Grandparent’s Day Assembly on Tuesday. They were excited to share that one of the songs is entitled “In Africa.” Mrs. Stubbs and Dr. Connor shared with us that many parents reported that the students played the puzzles with their brothers and sisters, sharing the good cheer. At the end of the beautiful song sung in front of a large gathering of proud parents and grandparents, the choral students dedicated it to their friends in Ghana from Children Inspiring Hope and Ms. Amy Gaylor for making their connection possible. We can’t think of a more heartfelt way to receive gratitude as we move toward Thanksgiving! Akpe, akpe, akpe!
“Its the brightest of days to write you this letter” began one of the letters from the EP Primary Leaders Group now in the hands of the 7th and 8th graders at St. Andrew’s School in Mrs. Knight’s classroom. Jemima wrote to Abigail, “My sweet best friend. I love you so much. I will not forget you in my life.” It was the same joy present in the American classroom, as we observed in Ghana. Everyone excited to read their letters, and sharing with their friends the highlights and drawings. Pop-up cards from Elizabeth’s P4 class circulated the room of smiles while comments could be heard about how special the drawings and letters were. Special indeed you all are!
We give thanks this week for the good cheer, gratitude and joy that has been shared. We have faith that these connections among thousands of children will continue to grow with the continued support from our volunteers, teachers, administrators and donors. We give thanks to all of you who are a part of connecting children globally, making a world of difference!
November 20th, 2009
Wow, wow, wow! These were the comments from Mrs. Audra’s Thompson’s 2nd graders at HIES after seeing their friends in Mrs. Dzidefo’s P2 classroom at EP Primary Ho-Bankoe in Ghana. There was nearly speechless joy, for the power of seeing their sweet creations so joyfully received by the children in Ghana. While it was a grey and rainy day outside, their smiles brightened the room, clearing any gloom as each child received their own special necklaces made with recycled and hand painted beads from Ghana. They were already expressing excitement and sharing ideas about reconnecting next spring. Thank you Mrs. Debbie Reams for helping us capture the joy.
If you are happy and you know it… sang the students in Mrs. Dimenstein’s 3rd grade class with their new friends in Ghana. Joyful cheering continued for nearly our entire visit- from seeing their mural hanging in a class in Ghana, watching the songs, and learning some new Ewe. The students joyfully ran up to see and touch their peace mural made by Ms. Aurelia’s P3 class at EP Primary Ho-Bankoe. Students made messages they held before the camera stating, “You Rock” and “I love Ghana.” Thank you to parents Mr. Charles Schoen and Mrs. Lori Ainsworth for joining us for this special occasion.
Akpe kaka to all the HIES students, teachers and parents whom made our first reconnection in America so special! We are happy and we know, and our faces surely show it, we are happy and we know it …
November 16th, 2009
Nava kaba. You hear this as you are leaving for the day, or for the long journey home. It is much like, go with the flow and we will see you later. Depending on the flow of the river, you may return quickly, or slowly, but either way- you have come at the right time. It is fine, as our Ghanaian friends remind us. Fine.
We have spent the final days gathering all of the projects, using a coal burning box iron for Mrs. Dimenstein’s HIES 3rd grade class mural, collecting bags from seamstresses for fundraising, and preparing for when we return in March. There was tremendous pride seen in the eyes of the teachers and children as they passed on their completed projects for their friends in America.
Our Ghanaian community has a tremendous spirit that we have been honored to be a part of for that last month. The gracious collaboration and goodwill has been a blessing we will keep with us as we journey back to America. Akpe kaka to Ghana volunteer Delali Kelvin Abba for your thoughtful and untiring service to the children and mission of Children Inspiring Hope.
Our very final hours were spent celebrating and reflecting- among friends, volunteers, and schools. Two closing assemblies were held to mark our departure, full of borborbor dancing and singing in celebration of a job edze agbagba (well done) and celebration of the connection between these three cultures. These are the parting words from one of EP Primary students that are a true reflection of what we have felt. Rejoice wrote, “Dear Sis Amy, We thank you for coming and making us happy. We love you and we hope to see you soon. “
November 11th, 2009
While driving to EP Sokode Bagble, we heard a woman on the radio stating, “Life is like a book; each day is a new page waiting to be written.” We continued the tradition of story telling of two cultures today beginning with the amazing story of how the drum came to the Wasauking Nation- through the vision of a child. We heard the stories behind many of the Ghana drumming songs. In Ghana, many stories are told through music, and even a talking drum. We read Fly, Eagle, Fly – A Ghanaian Fable- to the P1 kids at EP Primary Ho-Bankoe, all eyes glued to the colorful pages. Afterwards, a couple of kids came up us told us some of their stories.
We completed the final chapter, for this trip, with our EP Leaders. We shared the award winning DVD of Playing for Change last week, as part of our discussion on change making. We were going to cut it after a few songs, as the sound was not great. (We could use a donation of some excellent speakers that plug into a mac and can be heard in large classrooms!) The children quickly responded that they wanted to hear more, and we happily granted their wishes. Many of them could be heard singing familiar lyrics to One Love- one love, one heart. We took a vote as to which song we should share at the closing ceremony with the entire school. The candidates were Stand By Me, One Love, and War/No More Trouble. It then was another vote between One Love and “No More Trouble”, as they said. No More Trouble was the clear winner. This is a new song to them, but while listening, at the end, you could hear many of them…. No more trouble, no more trouble. Rocky Duwani from Ghana is in this video, so that may have tipped the vote!
Children Inspiring Hope is a beautiful story of connection, compassion and community. Each day a rich chorus sings to what is possible when their voices are heard, they are able to unite with new friends across the globe, and envision a peaceful and sustainable future for us all. Our time is drawing near and end for this chapter in Ghana, and we will soon be reconnecting with classrooms in the US next week.
We invite you to be a part of this story.
November 6th, 2009
Tuesday was a special morning; for it was the first time we connected Canada to a school in Ghana. Students from the entire Wasauking Kinomaugewgamiy School, which means shining place of knowledge, created their mural sacredly on International Day of Peace and illuminated for us all the power of tradition in sending healing and unity prayers throughout our world. We invite you to back track in the blog to read of their special way of uniting. We played the beautiful songs sung by the spirit singers, as the students quietly and with reverence soaked in your messages of peace. The spirit of dancing children was palpable in the room. They then got their drums and began singing songs for you all. Meegwetch students of Wasausking Kinomaugewgamiy!
Wednesday was just as spectacular as the lower primary students were already jubilantly singing and dancing when we arrived for their morning service. What an outstanding way to begin a day! Vida, the Head of EP Primary in Ho-Bankoe, later informed me that the first Wednesday of every month the teachers fast until noon. She shared, “We do this so our spirit remains strong for all the children here-many of which have difficulties at home- so that darkness can not creep in.” They break the fast together, in prayer for the over 600 students that they care for. This is quite a testament to their solidarity and a true reflection of their commitment to these children. We honor their strength!
The week was filled with sharing of favorites for Holy Innocents’ 5th grade project, and many other schools. Love for art, music, family, sports, food, friends, games, and each other. We passed a former EP Leader, now at JSS across the street, and she was wearing the necklace from Holy Innocents’ 2nd grade. Her younger sister had shared this with her, the name of the HIES student still in masking tape in that back. Cliff Valley School reconnected with EP Sokode Bagble, and a new room is now adorned with all your beautiful creations. The RC Mixed Primary P5 class exhibited the most variety of independent responses in our opening circles. Akpe kaka, to Gertrude and Martha for a job well done with your students. The P6 students joyfully worked on their bags and portraits for Oglethorpe Charter School, truly enjoying the beads with letters on them and creating their return messages. Thank you, Meegwetch, and Akpe kaka to all of you for another outstanding week!
November 2nd, 2009
I am H-A-P-P-Y
I am H-A-P-P-Y
I know I am
I am sure I am
I am H-A-P-P-Y
What a tone to be set for the beginning of our third week! This song, sung by the sweet voices of the KG children at Ziavi-Bamefedo says it all. We spent Sunday night, and all day Monday in this remote rural village. “Color, color, color, color” the children called out excitedly. We shared color today- crayons, colored pencils and brightly colored peace pinwheels created by Mrs. Knight’s students at St. Andrew’s School in Savannah, Georgia.
As we moved back and forth between the hut classrooms, center block open-air rooms, and playing chase meandering through a tree-covered schoolyard- we laughed and smiled our way through this day. Eryonam, the P6 teacher shared, “There will be peace throughout this village today and in the future with these pinwheels.” She further shared, “The children for a long time after your last visit wore their color pouches-created by St. Andrew’s 2nd & 3rd graders- everywhere they went.”
We overheard Promise, a JSS student, share with some of the children while playing ball last night- “They are here working on unity. To connect us with children in the U.S. and spread hope.“ We only share a few days a year with these special children, but as Promise and Eyronam remind us, it is lasting! They are happy. We are happy. May this happiness fill all your hearts back in the U.S., for you have created this magical connection.