Aburi Gardens

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here’s 29 thousand!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

-vc

Advertisements

14 April 2011 – Picworo Slave Camp Photos

Today I went back to the Picworo Slave Camp in Paga, Upper East Region, Ghana. Those of you who have followed this blog since the beginning will remember that about 2 years ago I went to Paga to the Pikworo Slave Camp with my sister-in-law Melanie Steward but for those who have started following later in my journey here is a link to the first Pikworo Slave Camp entry. The first time I went I didn’t bring my camera, I think I forgot it in Sandema, so I wanted to return to get some photos and share them with you.

Reception Area

 

At the reception hut we were given a price list – 7.00 GHC (Ghana Cedis) for non-Ghanaians , 3.50 GHC for Ghanaians,  .70 GHC for students and a 2.00 GHC fee for taking photos. I am not sure that charging Ghanaians a higher price is the way to encourage tourism but at least they were up front about it. We Peace Corps volunteers call it a Obruni tax.  However the Rofina and Portia were in bargaining mode and the four of us, the two girls, Dizzy and myself,  got in for 12.00 GHC including the photo fee.

There was a small grove of trees around the reception area. The guide told us that the captives were tied to these trees after they were sold and were waiting to be sent down to the bigger slave market in Salaga. Read the rest of this entry »

8 April 2011 – When will this term end?

During the first week of this term I received a schedule for the term. The schedule said that students would vacate on April 8th. Well, I have been in Ghana long enough to know that this is only a soft suggestion, ANYTHING could happen in the three months until then. So I didn’t start planning my trip to the Upper East yet.

Fast forward to March 22, to morning assembly where we were told that the exams that were supposed to start on Thursday were postponed. I had been wondering because we didn’t have paper nor toner to print the exams my German friends and I had typed for the past week. Students who hadn’t paid their school fees for the 2nd term were sent home to get them. I assumed so the school could have money to buy paper and toner.

Since the school was pretty much empty and those students who were there were working on the farm I decided to do something productive. I would travel to Cape Coast and visit New Life Orphanage for Peace Corps. When I told the headmaster my plan he said he thought that exams would start on Monday the 28th.

The urge to know when classes would end was because If I wanted to travel I must get a signed Volunteer Leave Request Form (VLRF) to Accra at least a week before I was to travel. I figured I could stop in Koforidua on my way back from New Life and send a form to Peace Corps then.

While traveling back I found out from Werner that we would not have exams the week of March 28 but students would work on the farm that week and then exams should start on April 4.

During the week there was no sign of toner nor paper to print the exams. They arrived around 11 pm on Friday night when Pastor Segie came to lead the all night prayer session. Most of the exams were printed over the weekend but we still wondered if exams would begin on Monday the 4 because the headmaster didn’t return to campus until late Sunday night.

Well exam did begin on Monday. Hip Hip hooray! I went to Koforidua on Tuesday planning to fill out the electronic form and send the signed one on to Accra via the Kumasi sub office. Much to my dismay when I opened the electronic form it was a PDF that could not be edited.

Knowing PC wanted notification of my travel a week ahead of time I sent an Email to my boss and to the head of security telling them of my travel plans. When I got back to BASCO, late that afternoon, PC called me. My boss, Mary, said they needed the form before I left. I explained my problem with the PDF. As I had a MOCK exam to proctor on Wednesday and my ICT exam on Thursday I told her I didn’t think I could get to Kof before Friday.

The next day, Wednesday, I went to collect my ICT exams only to discover that the printer had run out of toner and the ICT exams had not been printed. Just a little frustrating because fi anyone had told me on Wednesday morning or even Tuesday that my exams weren’t printed I would have gone to Kof and printed them myself. As it was it was too late to go.

Werner said we could try to print with a little shake, rattle and roll! So we went to the lab and turned on the batteries that can power the computers for an hour. The battery was beeping like crazy because other people had used them that day. It was very frustrating. We managed to get 7 pages printed then the batteries died. To me it was a mixed blessing. I think the beeping would have made me mad.

I managed to find an old VLRF and filled it out. The headmaster signed. Now when could I go fax this. Is there even a fax machine in Koforidua?

In the middle of this frustration the PC Security Officer called me and said I must not move (travel) until they received the form. I am afraid I snapped something like “You have been to my site. It’s not easy to get out of and I don’t have a PC car to take me to Kof and back in a jiffy.” He wondered why i didn’t have time if classes were over. I explained that although classes were over we were having end of term exams and I needed to be there to proctor and to mark my exams.

Later in the evening, when the generator was on, Werner printed the exams.

On Thursday morning I awoke ready to give my exam and had reluctantly decided to try to go to Kof after the exam. It meant paying for taxi fare (12 cedis) both ways to the junction because after 10 am it’s too hot to walk the 3km to the junction.

At 9:30 I walked to my class and saw the agriculture master writing on the board. He turned and told me my exam had been rescheduled to 12:30. No chance to go to Kof today. I just went back to my room. Took a beach book and read so I would blow my stack.

On this morning  I discovered that we should have our papers marked and the grades in the assessment books by the end of the day. So now the plan is to go to Kof on Saturday.

I like to plan ahead I am happy to comply with Peace Corps rules. I certainly don’t want to be sent home because I left site without notifying my APCD. As things changed and were unconfirmed at my school my stress level has risen.  I can say that I will really be ready to go  the Upper East and have a vacation.

10 April 2011

Yesterday I went to Kof. I had not hope that I would be lucky enough to find a fax machine without tramping all around Kof. First, I stopped at my favorite copy center but they did not have a fax nor a scanner. He directed me to another nearby business center. Yeah! they had a scanner. They would scan my form for 30 pesewa. Yes. Then I could email it.

I am packing this morning and planning on starting my trip tomorrow. But who knows that could change. I’ll let you know.

-vc

Some Photos from Elmina, Central Region, Ghana

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are a few photos from Elmina.

-vc

Top Peace Corps Journal Entries 2010

Check out this site and entry #35.

http://www.peacecorpsjournals.com/?Top2010

-vc

2 March 2011 – One Person Helping One Person

Sometimes the big picture is so impossible to change that I get frustrated but last week and today in the computer lab I was reminded of why I called my blog One Person.

Last week Eric and I took Form 2 into the computer lab. We were teaching them about dragging and dropping. Eric began to question the students. One student gave a wrong answer but (for the first time ever) Eric found something right in the answer. Told the student that he was getting there and then asked other students to help him with the answer. Since I have been here I have been modeling this behaviour in the classroom. It was very gratifying to see my Ghanaian counterpart using it.

Eric asked me to help him in the computer lab with his primary classes. They too would work on dragging and dropping. Class 5 was the second class of the morning. It was a small class so each student had their own computer. (Note Ghanaian teaching involves harsh words and sometimes the cane. Please remember that this is the model with which all Ghanaian teachers have themselves been taught.) Eric started belittling one girl, I’ll call her Beatrice, saying “This one never does anything. She knows nothing about the computer.” The boy next to Beatrice, I’ll call him Kofi, said “Madam, let her sit with me. She can’t do it.”

I told Kofi that Beatrice could do it and there was no need for her to sit with anyone.  Eric told the students to open the EPP computer skills program from the desktop. This is a very cool interactive program that Eric purchased here in Ghana. I like it because the examples and activities are related to Ghana so the kids don’t have a cultural divide to cross when also trying to bridge the information gap. After the lesson the students were to drag and drop names of ICT tools under the correct picture of the tool.

While walking around I saw that Beatrice was having trouble with the mouse. I went to her and explained dragging and dropping. Then demonstrated. Then I put her hand on the mouse and mine over her hand and guided her in moving the names for three tools. She then clicked the arrow to the next set of four pictures to identify and I walked away to a cry of “Madam!”

When I got back to her computer she had successfully identified the next four tools and moved to the final four. I patted her back and said “You have done well.”

The last part of the day was to make eight puzzles telling an Ananse story called Ananse and the Pot of Wisdom. This required very precise mouse skill to make the pieces interlock. Beatrice was struggling but she kept trying. I went to her a whispered “Don’t ever let anyone take the mouse from you again. You can do this!” Her smile made my day. Maybe even my week.

Ananse stories are traditional Ghanaian folk tales with a wily spider as the protagonist. Here’s the Ananse story from the puzzles.

Ananse and the Pot of Wisdom

Ananse is a very special spider, well known for his wit and wisdom. He lives like other spiders, in corners and on ceilings. The tricky thing about him is that he looks no different from other spiders. In fact, he may be the very next spider who comes your way.

Everybody know that Ananse was wise, for he boasted loud and clear. In his high-pitched voice he laughed at fools and spoke louder than everyone else.

One very sunny day, Sky God called Ananse up to the skies to have a chat.

“Without a doubt,” Ananse said, “of all the animals you created, there is none as wise as I.”

Sky God said in a quiet voice, “Could you do some work for me? Go about the earth and collect all the wisdom for me. When you have brought t up to me, I will name you the Sage of All Time.

Ananse hid a smile. “That’s easy, sir,” he said. “I will be back in three days with the wisdom of the world.”

Now, Ananse, as selfish as he was, had already traveled the length and breadth of the earth and collected every shred of wisdom. He kept it all in a giant pot in his secret hiding place.

He slid down to his home on a fine woven thread he took a rest in the shade and had a lazy day.

They next day he started out to take the pot full of wisdom to the Sky God way up in the skies.

It was a huge pot and very heavy. As Ananse tugged it behind him, he was more than filled with pride. When others asked to help, he would say in a stand-offish way, “This work it top secret for a very high official.”

To get up to the skies where Sky God lived, you had to climb a tall coconut tree that grew beyond the clouds right up to heaven. Ananse stopped to consider the best way to carry his load. He could not carry it on his head because he needed all his eight arms to creep up the tree. In the end he strapped the pot tightly to his back and made his way slowly up the tree.

From afar everyone saw his clumsy figure scaling up so slowly. They knew he was going to meet with Sky God himself. The people gathered under the tree to watch him make his way. And all the while they wondered what he had in the giant pot.

Inch by inch Ananse climbed. he was looking forward to the fame his great feat deserved. Meanwhile the sun moved slowly across the wide sky.

Just before sun set, he paused and carefully wove a web to keep himself secure.

He could hardly sleep at all that night. He was so exited!

A day break Ananse woke up and continued to climb. A greater crowd was gathered below, waving and cheering him on. He pressed on, never mind his aching muscles. He had a appointment in heaven, and he as going to make it there.

Higher and higher Ananse kept up the pace, until the light of the moon reminded him to take a rest.

That night he dreampt he wore a crown given him byt the Sky God himself. On it was written “The Sage of All Time.”

Another day passed and a very tired Ananse was near the end of his journey. Below, the crowd let out a cheer.

It was a great moment for Ananse and, as pride filled his chest, he raised all his arms in a victory wave.

It was a shocking moment when he plummeted down to earth. He hit the ground with a band and the pot broke in to a million pieces. Wisdom scattered right and left, to the very ends of the earth.

Ananse lay there in a heap, sobbing his heart out. Whet he had worked so hard to collect was now out of his grasp. Now everyone and every fool had a little bit of wisdom. He could not claim that all wisdom was his alone.

Then Sky God whispered in his ear, “I gave you eight arms, Ananse. If you really had all wisdom, you would not have waved them all.”

-vc

27 February 2011 – A day at Winneba Beach

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This morning I am as red as a lobster. I spent yesterday morning at Winneba Beach. Even with sunscreen and trying to stay in the shade as much as possible i could not beat the African sun.

After I ate breakfast I decided to walk to the beach. My plan was to check out the location of the beach today. Stay a short while then come back – so I didn’t bring my camera. (note to self ALWAYS bring your camera!) I put on my pink shorts and a purple tank top. It was a short 10 minute walk. About halfway to the beach I greeted two traders. One of the women said she wanted me to give her my top and shorts. I have always hoped that these demands for my clothing were only a way to say “I like your outfit” if I hadn’t treated it that way imagine how much more of me would be red now if I had complied with her request then and there!

At the beach I walked along the shore collecting shells. I noticed a line of people of all ages pulling on a rope. They were hauling in a fishing net. I decided to watch until the catch came in to see what they got.

I sat in the shade. As I watched I noticed a man in old white dress shirt with the sleeves cut off at the shoulders. He was also wearing an old pair dress pants cut off at the knees. He seemed to be the boss or fisherman because he was the one calling Yooo Yooo Yooo as people pulled. He also walked up and down the line giving a pat on the shoulder to one, stopping here or there to help pull in the net.

The people ranged in ages from primary to senior citizens. There were about 14 pulling the line and three or four women holding the end of the line and guiding it along the tree line. The people would plant their feet in the sand shoulder width apart. When the leader called out Yoooo they would bend their knees and lean back about 45 degrees. They would repeat this motion with a few yooos then take a step to the left. The women would then do their job of guiding and holding up the loose part of the rope.

I had been sitting there for about 20 minutes and they had moved down the beach about 100 yards. I got up and looked back in the opposite direction and saw the line stretched out another 100 yards. I followed it and saw it was tied to a palm tree trunk. I estimated they had been pulling for about 40 minutes. I wondered how much longer so looked out to the sea and saw the bobbins along the edge of the net floating on the sea. There were also two big orange bouys at opposite ends of the nets. I figured it would be at least another hour.

I continued to watch and learn. I noticed that the last man would then move up to the front of the line after a few pulls. They continued to rotate thus sharing the heavest work. As the net came closer a young man went into the water to assist the net from there.

I had many questions. Did one person own the net? Were these 14 people paid out of the catch? When did they put the net into the water? How long did it stay in the water?

They were now 200 yards down the beach form my place under the coconut palm. I rose to walk closer to them. The women at the back of the group called to me. They motioned for me to help them with the rope. I fully intended to grab the rope and help them but others began to talk to me and I got distracted. Then I saw a piece of wood in the shade and decided to go sit on that. It was about 11 and it was getting hot on the beach.

In the other direction I saw group of 13 people pulling a rope in. They were coming towards the group I had been watching. They were very close and with in minutes the two ropes came together and crossed one another. OH no I thought. The nets will get tangled.

There was a wrecked canoe and a group of people were sitting on it. Then canoes in Ghana are long boats. The are about twice as long and twice as wide as an typical American canoe.  One young woman was speaking English so I decided to sit beside her. Here was my chance, maybe she would answer some of my questions.

I sat down beside her and we exchanged the typical Ghanaian greetings. I learned her name, Gina, and that her grandfather started a village very near Trotor. Formalities out of the way I said “Sister, tell me about the fishing.”

“This is called surface fishing. They put the net in these boats and bring it out to the sea. al these people now are hauling it in. She indicated the two groups that had crossed each other.”

Ah I thought it doesn’t matter that they crossed it’s the same net. Oh but now there 25 plus people to share the catch!

“Does one person own the net?” I asked

She spoke in Twi to a young man standing near our canoe. “Yes” she pointed to the man in the white dress shirt who I thought was the leader.

She also affirmed that all the people pulling in the net get some of the catch.  She also said tehre were some market women hoping to buy some fish. She, herself, was hoping to get some fish as well.

While we waited for the catch to come in I asked her about herself. She is a student at the teacher training college in Winneba. She is studying Physical Education. She pointed out her son, about 10 years old, walking on the beach and told me she had a new 6 month old baby boy and a girl who was writing her BECE this April. Her husband was also a student studying art. He came to us with pockets full of shells. He was going to make beads from the ground shells.

As we talked much progress was being made on the net. The rope was all hauled in and now the two groups were pulling on a blue net. One person was still in the water.

“When did the net go into the water” I asked her. She again consulted our neighbor and told me they put it in about 6:00 am. I arrived at the beach around 9:00 and calculated that they had been working for about 40 minutes. That means they must leave the net in the water about 2 hours.

(To be continued…..)

-vc

4 February 2011 – Reading Club

Imagine a nine foot tall coconut palm with orange coconuts nestled in the crooks of the branches. It is 2:00 pm and the sun is coming down from its zenith. Its 80 plus degrees but with a small breeze.

A white lady of a certain age, sits on a backless bench with Ophelia, the picture book, open on her lap. Two grade school girls sit on the bench beside her. If you continue to watch the scene you will remember the magic of reading. Each turn of the page calls more children to the shade of the coconut tree and the story of the wonderful Ophelia. The first four crowd onto the bench with their madam. Three more children come, the older one directs the two younger kids to get another bench from the dining hall. When they return that bench is filled and the last few children start to sit on the ground or stand behind the benches. Their eyes are focused on the book as madam continues the adventures of Ophelia.

When I turn the page, because of course I am the madam of a certain age, and show Ophelia in her bikini they all laugh. I think some are embarrassed to see even a pig so scantily dressed! When we reach the page where Ophelia dances one or two twirl right along with her. Near the end of the book I ask “What is Ophelia’s favorite color?” and and you could hear them all shout “RED!

As you continue watching the group you will see Madam hand out sheets of paper. Madam then sings “Itsy Bitsy Spider” with the hand motions. When asked one little boy with a too big head and large wide eyes, that make him irresistibly adorable, quickly offers to read the poem. He reads sure and steady at times even getting into the rhythm of the verse. Two or three others take a turn to read aloud too. When a reader stumbles there are many helpful voices encouraging him with the correct word. The other children are trying to do the hand motions of the spider climbing up the spout – the trickiest part of the poem. The last reader, an older JHS boy, is struggling with the verse as he reads but when he reads the phrase “Itsy Bitsy Spider” perfectly the last time his smiles shows his accomplishment.

Then Madam takes another book, Dr. Seuss ABC. This is a joint effort between Madam and the children. You will hear a chorus each time the alphabet is read. Then the children quickly catch on to the pattern of Big A, Little A what begins with A and recite it with the appropriate letter.

The story is finished and one girl asks Madam to sing that rising song she sang in the class. So we do a few verses of “Rise and Shine”, the story of Noah’s Ark. They all stand for the last chorus. Since we are up I think it makes one of the children remember the “Hokey Pokey” so we also do the Hokey Pokey!” You will hear every laugh with Madam as she turns herself about.

When the Hokey pokey is finished Madam begs them to teach her a song. Two of the boys start a song “Joy joy joy”. Their voices are pure and melodious; they could sing with the Vienna Boys Choir.  Then everyone one sings.

Joy joy joy in my heart is singing

Joy joy joy Jesus set me free.

See what the Lord has done for me

He died just to set me free

Filled my heart with melody

Joy joy joy

I’m rejoicing

Repeat.

You then hear Madam encouraging them to go to the library and pick out a book to read. She says they can tell us about it at the next meeting of the reading club. Children carry the chairs and benches back to the dining hall and thus the first meeting of the BASCO reading club ends.

-vc

27 March 2010 – Joy of Teaching

Question 5

You are managing a typing pool in your office. There are enough computers for the employees but your boss insists that they continue to use the typewriters. You are going to talk to your boss about letting the typists use the computers. Give three reasons why a computer is better than a typewriter.

Answer given by Anyina B. Kennedy

St. Kennedy Company

Post Office Box 41

Chiana

To: Manager

St Kennedy Company

Chiana

Computer is better than typewriters, our concern

To my lovely boss of St. Kennedy Company. I will like to address the concern about how work is slowing down due to the fact that we don’t have access to the computer donated to us. Boss to let you an African get a vivid picture of how a computer can be good is that the computer help word to be faster than the typewriter we using. Because the computer is powered by the electricity unlike the typewriter where human being have to use he/her hands to get words in which slows down work. Also the productivity of works high due to the compuer use and also bucaues of the computer business contact are easily transferred from on place to another with out fear. In addition to that, the computer help us to communicate to the outside world through internet which will help us get business contract else where.

Due to the numerous reasons above I would like to have the computer for as to be usng rather than the typewriter.

Yours Faithfully

Anyina Kennedy

Senior Typewriter

What I love about this is that Kennedy used his imagination and creativity to put himself in the place of the senior typewriter. And he has grasped several concepts about using the computer, i.e. connecting to the outside world, it increases productivity and can expand their business opportunities. I also love that he could see what would make a boss let them use computers. He starts saying he is concerned that work is slowing down and ends saying a computer can increase their business. The problems with writing are cosmetic and can easily be fixed with some good English tutoring but with his intelligence, insight this boy will go far.
Answer given by Nabaare Isaac T.

Although the typewriter was considered as a scientific tool for processing data, the invention or use of computers in the offices and at workplaces prove taha the typewriter is no more of good use as compared to the computer.

The use of the computer is faster than the typewriter. Because of the fastest nature of the computer, time and energy is saved. For example, the typist cannot copy information on the typewriter so if he is entitle to writer 20 pieces of letters he will suffer the pain. But if it is a computer, you can copy text and print it out of a printer is attached to the computer.

Apart from the fastest nature of the computer, the document or text created on a computer has a good quality. After writing text on the computer you can format it to give it a nice appearance and add personality to it. Infact, with the compuer,you can design any type of document you want. Tables can be created using a spreadsheet program if you are dealing with business data that involves tables.

In addition, information or date created can be saved and stored on the computer for future reference. The information of a company can be  saved on the computer for future use. With the typewriter, you cannot save and store data on it. Infact, it is true that the use of the computer is far better than the typewriter.

Sometimes they just get it! Hurray!

20 March 2010 – Dust

Today when I woke up it was foggy out. I got my camera and took the following photos. Then I had to go teach my Master’s class. After class about 10 am it was still foggy. I mentioned it. Raymond said it was not fog but dust, that the harmattan was back. WOW!

-vc

« Older entries