My Own Two Hands- By Ann McGinley

First, I’d like to say good afternoon from Ghana to all the classrooms in the U.S. I have yet to meet you but I hope to soon. You have impressed me with your creativity, vision, and the spirit you imbued in your projects for the students here!

Today I unzipped my guitar case that I carried all the way from Los Angeles, CA and tuned up my strings to play one of my favorite songs accompanied by my new friends Mr. Foster and his brother Theo, who are drummers, for the classrooms at E.P. and RC Girls schools.  Many of the students in the U.S. have also learned the song “My Own Two Hands” written by Ben Harper, and recorded by Ben Harper and Jack Johnson. The songs message is clear, we can affect change in the world with our own two hands. I decided to put it into action as a volunteer for Children Inspiring Hope this trip, my first to Ghana! What a special gift to close my first week in song with the children and teachers here who have filled my heart as they welcomed me into their classrooms.

Aurelia led the charge in her P3 class as Amy warmed them up by showing the 4th graders video from Holy Innocents’ singing and motioning with the song. As they took turns practicing the words to the song out loud, Aurelia affirmed how they each can make difference in the world with their own two hands. Her unbridled enthusiasm was contagious and instantly lifted the butterflies in my stomach. I’m an amateur player but being embraced by the students, teacher and the local musicians here lifted me to another level. I had them yell “from the top” each time as we practiced the song and they giggled and eventually mimicked my finger pointing in the air as I yelled it. I felt a strong connection as I sang and looked into the eyes of my audience, amazed at their quick ability to adapt to a song in their second language and express it’s meaning in their voices and movement.

The exhilarating energy of sharing music stayed with us as we made our way across the street and down the dirt road to RC Girls in the afternoon heat. The girls greeted us with shrieks of joy as only girls at that age know how to make. As over 70 girls crowded into the desks and hung from the open concrete windows, Amy showed them the video from this website and they heard Ben Harper and Jack Johnson’s version of the song. As I finished writing the lyrics on the board (we didn’t have enough hand out’s for the number of students present!) and picked up my guitar they all quieted to listen to me sing it thru once. At completion they broke into applause, what a great audience!

Again we yelled “from the top” each time we sang it though, first with quiet voices then with full-throttled emotion and the building drum beats. I noticed one girl in our last run slapping her hand down against her wooden desk with pride as if saying, “we nailed that!” We then exchanged the drawings from Brownie Troupe __. The girls were excited to color back their own messages of peace and friendship. Next week they will be sharing a play with us and I’m sure we’ll be singing again too.

We refreshed quickly with a cold beverage on the street then Amy set up the projector in the church at E.P. to show the whole school one video in “The Planet Earth” series. I snuck outside to play with the KG (Kindergartener’s), I couldn’t resist joining the boys soccer game as they stiffened their resolve to score a goal on the “yavuh”! They eagerly crowded around as we moved from soccer to skipping rope to ampe (a jumping and clapping game) to hand games and even the Tree pose from yoga!

Drenched in sweat but reinvigorated from playing I entered the church to help set up the “sound system” for the movie which consisted of items from Amy’s purse folded over one another to rest a mic from their P.A. system next to the computer’s speakers magically without the high squeal of feedback. The ingenuity you need to bring to Africa!

I was glad we didn’t disappoint! All of EP Primary poured into the church to see the Great Plains section of the Planet Earth series. Over 600 students piled in the pews, sweating from the heat, but joyous and mesmerized by the images of the animals. There were peaks of laughter and ohh’s and ahh’s as the new animals appeared, for the face off of the swans and fox, the elephants and lions, and the wolf chasing caribou. Going to the movies is one of my very favorite things to do, but I usually enjoy the cool theatre, luxurious seats and a bucket of popcorn. Today the luxury was the laughter of the children and their unwavering gazes on the small square of magical images of mother earth we projected on the church wall.