EP Primary Sokode
We had our first visit to EP Primary Sokode-Bagble today. When we arrived, the children and teachers were gathered in assembly outside under the trees. Sokode does not have a church on the school premises—and they don’t have gymnasiums like we do in the U.S.—so all of their gatherings are outside in the dirt courtyard. After the children finished receiving their morning instructions, a highlight of the day for us started. The children lined up in rows class by class, the drums started beating, and all the children of the school began singing the same song. Then one by one, starting with the youngest kids, they started vigorously swinging their arms and marching in unison into their classrooms. Their singing is so beautiful, especially accompanied by the drumming. Our appreciation and their welcoming had everyone smiling ear to ear.
Our first classroom was Class 5. It was a combination of A and B, 39 students total. They crammed into the desks with 2-3 children sitting at each desk and one long table in the back. They were very cozy. Their friends in the U.S. sent them pictures and descriptions of their favorite holidays. Some were on large sheets of paper but most were on scratch paper, a black paper that when you scratch the surface reveals gold or silver underneath. We had some challenges getting started with the scratch paper. The wooden sticks accompanying the scratch paper could not make a dent in the black surface—maybe because of the high humidity here. Thankfully, the children had a great idea. Someone had donated really nice compasses to the school. And as you likely remember, a compass has a sharp metal tip on one end. Woohoo! We were back in business. The kids easily got the hang of how to create a cool drawing on the scratch paper. In fact, they had so much fun that our project was running into recess time. We had to encourage them to stop drawing and focus on writing description on the back. When they were finished, they were very excited that we gave them all an additional piece of the scratch art paper to take home and create another drawing.
Our next classroom was Class 6, again A and B classes came together so we had over thirty kids cozy in their shared desks. Their friends in the U.S. sent them a beautiful mural depicting images and symbols from many U.S. holidays. They decided to create a similar one. We gave them a piece of paper to draft their images and most of them were quickly clamoring for a space around the mural to bring their image to life with colorful markers, pastels and pencils. There was not enough room for everyone to draw at the same time so they had to take turns at the mural paper. It was like a dance of kids working together around the mural, then moving slightly away to make room for others but always staying close to the energy of the mural creation. The mural paper was the place to be for this project. It was great fun and slightly chaotic at the same time. The end result was a proud group of children holding a colorful mural covered with images of Ghanaian holidays and celebrations for their class photo.
These two classrooms really emphasized for us the limited school supplies available at most of the schools we work with in Ghana. We thought of paper clips as an option when the wooden sticks would not work on the scratch paper. But there was not a paperclip to be found. And there were not many other alternatives either. Until the kids thought of the compasses that were in their individual pencil boxes, we thought we might have to resort to using rocks! In the second classroom, when we went to hang the mural, there were no tacks and finding a few bits of masking tape was a challenge. Luckily, in both classrooms, the teachers were especially present and helpful with our mini challenges and with helping the children started with their images and in translating their descriptions into English. We look forward to another adventure at Sokode next week.