Under a Mango Tree


Working in a typical African village is always an adventure. As we clear the grass tunnel which opens at Ziavi-Bamefedo, we see droves of parents sitting under mango trees. Officials are in from Ho speaking on the importance of improving scores and education for these rural children. This event was slated for last week, but the rains postponed them. We are excited to see such a large turn out and parental involvement. The flip side is, however, that there are no teachers in the classrooms. We are on our own today, left to our own devices just like the students who roam the school grounds freely.


The kids are absolutely mesmerized by the projects from the Red Sandstone Elementary students in Vail. We are sharing watercolor books and mini-doll self-portraits. As is always the case, with kids being kids, the little ones not only lay in the doorways in wonderment of the projects, but they run through the rooms without the teachers’ presence. We weave amongst several classrooms, aiding in translation and helping them communicate – in English or their own language. The importance of the school meeting, running its course in the shade of a tree, is obvious. We do our best, as that is all any of us can do.


Laughter fills the open-air classrooms when school dismisses. The children form circles, spinning at first, and then begin a more focused game of call and response.  “Bombom bombalica, bombom bombalica” is called as one child spins in the middle of a circle and then stops, pointing at someone along the outside; both parties proceed to … shake, shake, shake your body. Erin is a favorite choice, and is called to shake her body many times. Parents are onlookers now, and smiles cross the field. We close by connecting, and continuing our laughter with some of the village chiefs. More is shared in cross-cultural teachings, blessings and rituals in calling forth peace ad blessings and warding off troubles.