Then & Now- Reflections from Kathee
Monday afternoon, when we arrived at EP Ho-Bankoe, the classroom shutters were closed and the Head Teacher’s wooden office door was padlocked shut! The schoolyard was empty and quiet. We had heard some talk at EP Sokode-Bagble about a teachers’ strike; this is confirmation it is underway. A not so subtle message that CIH projects are now in a holding pattern. This has happened before, and Amy and Kelvin joked that they would drive around with a megaphone, a present day Ghanaian way of sharing news, declaring “Amy and Kelvin are still teaching. Come to school.” We are certain that would have worked- then and now. So, we spent the day organizing, preparing for the remaining classes, cleaning around the house and doing some shopping. Kathee has been reflecting on changes since her first visit in October of 2010. African women are known for their brilliant and colorful traditional clothing- a fitted top and long skirt in wild patterns, sometimes accompanied by large wraps on their heads. These are worn to school, church, celebrations, while traveling- and even on the recent waterfall excursion. Walking down streets, many more modern looking shorter dress styles are seen. Perhaps the more modern world creeping into one steeped in tradition. Not sure how we feel about that? There is still a lot of litter, everywhere, but trash cans have been spotted, in classrooms as well as on a downtown street. In 2010, most of the children and adults ate their lunches from plastic bags, which were knotted closed and when it was time to eat, a corner was bitten off and the food sucked out. On this trip many students, and most teachers, are eating from re-useable plastic containers; small insulated double level lunch pails that can be washed and used again and again. We often joke about G.M.T. – Ghana Maybe Time- which is a humorous way to cope with significant differences in the cultural interpretations of time. Clocks are rare to see- anywhere-and if they are seen, they often are paused, marking a recent “lights out” or dead batteries. Therefore, it seemed like progress to see a working clock in a classroom. Some of the classrooms at EP Primary Ho-Bankoe have whiteboards, as well as wash basins and soap. While some of the schools have nothing on theirs walls, as Leslie has noted, there remains CIH artwork in many of the classrooms on EP campuses. The artwork is a little dustier, faded, and worn by harsh elements, but hanging on by threads none-the-less as reminders of ties to joyful times and friends across the globe. We breath a little lighter seeing fewer children using double-edged razor blades to sharpen their pencils, although we did see one student using a machete! Outside schoolyards, there are still many unfinished buildings, but growth is seen in the Accra skyline with a working crane. Locally, there is a new hotel being built. There are also many new homes in the Sokode-Lokoe hillside, our home away from home. Additionally, they are putting in new cement gutters along the dirt street to aid in the gully washing rains that leave the roads in treacherous conditions for any hopeful lifespan of tires.
Yet, many things remain the same. It is still hot, hot, hot, due to the intensity of the sun. While the Vernal Equinox noted the sun’s walk across the equator today, it is never that far from that path here. Best of all, the Ghanaians are still such gracious, friendly and generous people; and the children so fun, and curious, and full of joy! Our after-school-gaggle-of-kids-coloring-brigade (photo above) is always a highlight. We hope that never changes.