Today we went back to the school at Kpaachyili unannounced. It seems that the similarity of problems of schools across the world are even more the same than at first glance. Today, there was a teacher attendance problem. We arrived before the headmaster and several teachers did not show up. So, the headmaster took turns going into each of the 4 classrooms teaching the math and English lessons until substitute teachers arrived. I took some video of the lessons that I will share later but the children were ready to learn! While we were waiting for the teachers, Mrs. Fine reviewed some of the hygiene and hand washing practices, and the children did a good job remembering what to do when they sneezed and when to wash their hands. We also video taped a couple of children showing the Odyssey school the proper way to wash hands. They were very thorough and even paid attention to their nails! We hope to show this to our scholars because it is a great reminder that good hand washing keeps us all healthier.
Today I chose the caring profile attribute because there are many ways to care and to make a difference. The teacher attendance problem is because the teachers have a long commute from Tamale into the village with very little funding. The student attendance problem is due to the students going home for lunch and not returning. I have to admit, this morning I was angry for the hours of instruction lost to teachers not being present, even if I knew that the reasons are valid. My phone doesn’t work here so before someone suggest I should have done my regular job at home and called substitutes, alas, I could not. However, I would have if I could have!
The children would sometimes ask me to buy things for them. One boy looked at my shoes and asked for me to bring him some shoes. For a split second, I looked at my shoes and remembered how many times on the trip that I’ve complained in my head that my shoes were hot and bulky. While sitting with that guilt, I WANTED to say, “Yes, how about the ones on my feet.” Instead I said, “I’m sorry, I cannot.” True caring, I’ve discovered over the years, is often bigger than making the person feel better in the moment or giving something that lacks sustainability. With Love and Logic in mind, I asked the WATERisLIFE representative in Ghana to speak to the Chief and elders of the community (because this is the customary line of communication) and to suggest mothers taking turns cooking food at the school a few days a week so the children could stay at school for the whole day. In addition, perhaps left over materials from other village projects could be saved and used to make a staff quarters for overnight sleeping. I tried to sympathize with him, explaining the education priority differences between Arizona and other states in the US and how we must rely on our community for additional help. I bit my tongue and did not say, “You know, it takes a village.” Because well, that would just be too ironic to say, wouldn’t it?
I am thankful today for Odyssey, our parents, and our community who prioritizes their children’s education…….