Games, Songs & Poems
This is our last full day facilitating classes, making final fundraising purchases, and we are busy from sun up to sun down. As we arrive at RC Mixed, nearly the entire school is outside cleaning the rocky schoolyard, sweeping the dirt with a hand full of long dried grasses- always a fascinating process. The children settle back into their classrooms and RC P6 completes the letters for Oglethorpe School, including a lesson in Ampe- a favorite game amongst the girls here.
We move onto EP P3 for our final rehearsal of My Own Two Hands. Aurelia is out sick, so both P3 classes are jammed in the room which equals close to 100 students! Ann quickly gets out the guitar to garner interest and we cross our fingers that we can "edutain" this large group in the sweltering heat of mid-day. First accomplishment is going over the lyrics and making it thru one complete round of the song. The room swells with energy so by the end of our time, there is a small case of pandemonium we are orchestrating… yet we can’t help but smile at the beauty of it all that started from a class at home wanting to share this song. And a big thanks for Ben Harper and Jack Johnson!
Next we fuel up with our usual mid-day ice cold Coke, which we are now referring to as our "medicine" and head to RC Girls for one more round of With My Own Two Hands. They perform a short play for us and then enjoy several renditions of the song. They are the first group to add natural harmonies and are smiling the whole way through, beginning “from the top!” each round we sing. We discuss afterwards linking the messages we dialogued about after Planet Earth and the parallels to the song. After a little thought, and some minor hesitation, they share one-by-one “I can protect the animals with my own two hands.” “I can protect the environment, with my own two hands.” "I can protect the flowers with my own two hands." Flowers always seem to be a priority with this group, a natural for girls of this age in any country!
We have been on an escapade looking for a colored copy machine- day after day- to preserve some of the beautiful poems written by Mrs. Woodman and Mrs. Stiers 5th grade class at Barnwell Elementary in Alpharetta, Georgia. Since we were down to the wire, we had to settle for a scan, as the few color copiers that exist in town are all “spoiled” we are told. As we sit waiting, our clothes and skin slowly adhering to the plastic chairs, another favorite past time here in Ho, we run into a couple of the girls from RC coming into make additional copies of the song just after we've left them, a sure sign of enthusiasm and validation that the message of the song has reached their hears. The cost of making copies not a light decision. We pass them a few that remain in the folder for our visit to another class and they come back shyly just once asking for a few more to hand out to friends.
We head off to our afternoon session at EP to complete the animals in their environments and to begin reading and writing poems. We will have our final session with them tomorrow and then a closing celebration Thursday morning. They are eager to finish their projects and beam with pride as we slide them into plastic protector sheets in a new 3-ring binder that we will present back to the children in the U.S. They excitedly pass around the colorful poetry and pictures we've brought and eagerly read thru the poems at their desks in small groups. It is amazing how the colorful paintings on these projects from the U.S. almost create a glow in the classroom in contrast to the cinder block walls and sea of dark green school uniforms of the children. We introduce the poems we have learned that they may be familiar with ranging from "bah bah blacksheep..." and "rain, rain go away..." to poems that educate even the little ones on health and hygiene issues that they all face here in Ghana. I guess it's not unlike our own "stranger danger" and messages from Smoky the Bear. We hope to work more with them tomorrow on the freedom of creative expression that the U.S. children have demonstrated so beautifully. Like "Listen" written by Isaiah Shaw from Barnwell Elementary, Trees shake/as angels fly by/and drop their poems/on the face of the earth./God is telling us to listen.