Action Steps Toward Earth Stewardship

This day begins with a lot of juggling and scrambling, trying to get the equipment to work in order to show one of the Planet Earth DVD’s with RC Mixed Primary and RC Girls School. After purchasing some paper to make a screen, changing venues, finding new electrical cords for the ones that blew, and shedding lots of sweat we were able to go on with the show for over 400 students packed into a long upper-floor classroom. For the students, this was a treat in the middle of a day to gather for a movie. For us, their unwavering gazes on the animals which inhabit landscapes they’ve never seen before was a joy to share. I facilitate a discussion after the movie about caring for the environment, which begins as a small pep rally of sorts. “Do we need to protect the trees?” I call out, a resounding “YES” from the crowd. “Do we need to protect the water?” I yell, an even louder “YES” in response. As we move to discussion, I ask why we need flowers and what use they have. “To show love and beauty” and “as medicines” are among the first answers.

We are back with the EP afternoon group to discuss our environmental project and focus on animals and their adaptation in the environment. We ask Vida, the Headmistress of the school, to join us in this facilitation. So much of education here is done in a rote learning style using lots of repetition and call back of single word answers.  But today we are all impressed with the level of participation, ingenuity in responses, and deeper understanding expressed about the environmental challenges we face and the inter-connections of all living beings. We discuss the length of time the black polyurethane bags that litter the streets here take to disintegrate (200 years!), and engage the children in a dialogue about other bag options, reducing the usage of the plastic bags and recycling.

The wide eyes of the boarding students at Prince of Peace at the close of our day, express their joy in reconnecting while viewing the entertaining and educational video created by their friends at Summit Charter School. A simple walk through the woods, and trash pick-up in the forest captured in the video, inspires our discussion as we identify a small area surrounding their school where they could do the same. Next we display the recycled art we’ve brought from their friends in America. I was apprehensive this past winter when I returned to Summit Charter School with the projects from these students. With limited supplies in Ghana, the boarding school children ingeniously recycled the artwork that was sent from the U.S. to create art to send back. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this was received, and the excitement the U.S. students shared about some of the materials being recycled. The 7th and 8th graders at Summit Charter School mirrored the ingenuity and chose to expand this theme by turning recycled materials from their environment into art, a new way of expressing environmental-consciousness to their new friends in Ghana. I watched as the little ones scanned the table of finger puppets and dolls made from recycled cloth scraps, jewelry from old keyboards, and key chains from soda cans, assessing which art piece they would chose to be their valued reminder of their friends in America and caring for the Earth. Grace was filled with enthusiasm first wanting to share her talents in dress making with recycled material, but since we were without a needle, she shared her vision in a drawing, gluing small pieces of cloth as added touches.

We walk past the garbage strewn entrance of the school, imagining the raw beauty that will reveal itself if next visit we find it cleaned and cared for by the students. We hope the powerful images of the videos we’ve shown today from the multi-million dollar production Planet Earth to the simple “home movie” style from the classrooms of N.C. will plant the seeds that we will continue to nurture in the students whose lives we touch, towards actions to better home for us all.