Dizzy’s Day

I wrote this for Safiya’s first grade class to tell them something about a child’s life in Ghana. You will find the photos on my flickr site.

( Close Up Picture of Dizzy with hands around her face)
Dizzy wakes up about 6:00 a.m. She listens to her father calling the guinea fowl for their breakfast.  Dizzy gets up and wanders out to find her father.  Then Madua has to track her down for her bath.  They go to the bathing room with a bucket of water, soap and a sponge It is Hamattan time. The  morning is cold. The unheated water makes Dizzy shiver and complain. Her arms get goose bumps and she tries to rush Madua along. Madua tries to wash her quickly and then to wrap her in a fuzzy towel.

After the bath Madua combs Dizzy’s hair. It is not much work because school children have their heads shaved. (Picture of Master’s children) It is cooler and easier wash and comb. Since it is Hamattan and very dry, Madua and Dizzy rub pomade all over Dizzy’s body. This keeps her skin from getting too dry and cracking. Then Dizzy gets to put powder on her belly and legs. Madua does her back.

Finally Dizzy gets to put on her pink school uniform. ( insert picture of Dizzy in the uniform)
During the Hamattan she will also put on a pullover. Dizzy wears shoes and white anklets to school. She has a back pack just like you do. Today she put her letter sounds homework in her backpack. She took a toffee and a flask of milk for a snack.

Madua is the ‘small girl’ at Dizzy’s home. Madua is a teenager. She helps Dizzy’s mom with cooking, cleaning, the store, the bakery and caring for Dizzy. Many girls and boys as young as 8 or 9 go to another village to work for a family. Madua has been with Dizzy’s family so long she calls Dizzy her sister and Dizzy’s parents mom and dad.

Dizzy is 5 years old. On 11 March she will be 6. She is in K2 which is like Kindergarten in America. Dizzy went to K1 before she went to K2. K1 is like 4 year old nursery school. When I met her this summer she already knew how to count to 100 and her ABC’s. Dizzy has one brother who is at university. There are two dogs at Dizzy’s house. Vito and Vanity. There is also a cat, Shadow. Dizzy’s father raises guinea fowl, poultry and goats. He grows corn and ground nuts.  Dizzy’s father is the Senior House master at my school. He is in charge of all the buildings on campus. He also teaches economics. Dizzy’s mom is a baker and a shop keeper.

Dizzy eats breakfast. She brushes her teeth outside in the shade near the house.

Sometims her mom takes her to school. They ride a moto the three miles into the school. Dizzy sits in front of her mom. Her mom’s arms circle Dizzy. Dizzy leans back against her mom and off they go. I think she imagines she is driving. When she rides with her dad she sits behind him and hugs tight against his back. Other times she rides the school bus. Picture of school bus.

At school Dizzy learns English, maths, reading and other subjects. Dizzy knows the ABC song and loves to sing it with me.
During recess and meals she plays ampe or clapping games with her friends. Dizzy eats a lunch at school. Usual some rice or rice balls and a soup. Her parents pay 8 GH Ced’s a term for her lunches.

When Dizzy comes home from school she takes off her uniform. Dizzy’s play clothes are very much like yours. She may wear a dress or a skirt and top or shorts and a top. She even has jeans. If her mom catches her before she runs from the yard to play with her friends she will have to do her homework first. So she changes quickly and gets on her bike fast!

Sometimes if she is not on her bike I will see her on the dirt road in front of my house. She is running running running and rolling a bike tire with a stick. Her friends trail behind waiting for their turn.  Some afternoons Dizzy comes to my house alone. I make her a glass of milk. Because it is so hot the milk is powdered and must be mixed with water. Dizzy loves milk. It’s even better if I have a biscuit to go with it.

If I go to the bore hole to fetch water Dizzy will come along ( kids carrying small). She takes my small container. When we get to the bore hole she will pump and fill my bucket and her small container. She folds and rolls a napkin and puts it on her head. She then says “Carry me.” so I help her put the container on the napkin on her head.

At dark, Dizzy gets sent home by her friends’ moms.  At night she will try to get her mom, dad or brother to bath her. Yes she has to take two baths a day! When I visit Dizzy she comes out in her towel. I can see her waist beads. Little girls in Ghana wear small small beads around their waists.  About 7:00 p.m. after the bath she has her supper. Her favorite is rice balls and groundnut soup. She gets to eat with her hands but only her right hand. In Ghana it is wrong to eat with your left hand. After she eats her mom pours water from a pitcher and Dizzy washes her hands.

Like most kids Dizzy does not want to go to bed. Her dad sometimes holds her before bed and sings to her. On school nights Dizzy goes to bed about 8:00 pm. She sleeps in her parent’s bed.

Ampe  – A child’s game in Ghana. The children clap and hop three times then kick out one leg. If you each kick out the same leg on person gets the point if you kick out the opposite leg the other person gets the points. Before the game starts you call same or opposite.
Biscuit – Cookie. Ghana was an English colony so they speak British English.
Ground nuts – Peanuts
Hamattan – The dry season in Northern Ghana. There is no rain and warm breezes or winds everyday.
Moto – Motorcycle. The main form of personal transportation here. Bikes are the other but families usually have a moto instead of a bicycle.
Napkin – Dish towel
Pomade – Body lotion
Poultry – Chickens
Pullover – usually a sweater or sweatshirt but a pullover can be almost any long sleeved shirt with out buttons or a zipper.
Small girl or boy – A child that is not a member of the family but lives with them. This child helps with household chores.
Toffee – Any candy.

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