These are from last winter but I hadn’t gotten around to sharing them yet! I’ll be back soon with an update on all our progress this fall!!
Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you know that I added a new way to donate on the blog. The ‘subscribe’ button on the top left corner is a way to donate monthly through Paypal. You can choose how much you would like to give each month from the drop down menu on the button. The amount you choose will automatically be deducted from the account associated with your Paypal account. It is set up to deduct for one year and then you can choose to continue or not. I am so grateful to all of you who have supported me this past year. I wouldn’t be able to do this without you. Here is an update letter I sent out when I returned:
"If you want to plan for a year, you plant rice. If you want to plan for 10 years, plant trees, and if you want to plan for 100 years, you educate." - Shadrack Leminso, Headmaster of Intimigom Nursery and Primary School in Kenya
It’s been quite an amazing 7 months for me! Last time that I wrote I was preparing to leave the states to teach in Ghana for 3 months. Well 3 months turned in to 6 months, and now 6 months is turning into a lifetime! I made it back to the states at the end of June and am working hard to return by the first of October.
There were many times that I thought about coming home early. Many days I felt overwhelmed and ill prepared for the work I was trying to do. Each day I saw things that made my heart break and most days I wanted to throw my hands up in frustration. I saw children drinking water that I knew would make them sick. I had students with headaches because they couldn’t see. I held a baby as she died because her family had no money for a doctor. I saw so many things that seemed so unnecessary, things that should be so easy to fix, and yet I couldn’t. And just when I wanted to give in, pack up, and go home I would see Susie, a small girl who two or three times a week would find me, crawl up into my lap, and take a nap. Or Eli would come and ask me how to pronounce a word in the dictionary, his only book and so the one he studied every night. Or Wonder would bring me sugar cane to say thank you and apologize for being late once again. And it was in those moments that I knew I couldn’t leave because these children held my heart and you can’t leave your heart behind. And I knew that what I could do was continue to love them. And I knew that while I couldn’t change everything I could teach them and in teaching them I could give them the opportunity to change their world. And so I stayed.
The Amekor Foundation has made so much progress in the few months since we began. We have been able to provide the school with resources it was severely lacking such as pencils and paper. Through a generous donation the school now has access to 100+ National Geographic magazines which the students can’t get enough of! We’ve partnered with two colleges, Birmingham Southern College and Centre College, to bring over students to work in our school. But most importantly our presence in Bakpa-Avedo has shown our students that there is a world out there full of people they may never know, but who believe in them and want them to succeed in fulfilling all of their dreams. Even with all of our progress and success there is still much left to be done and that is why I must go back.
In October I plan on returning to Ghana to start the new school year. At that time we will begin implementing small group tutoring programs in order to slowly bring each student up to grade level proficiency in reading. In January we are hosting 20 students and four professors from Birmingham Southern College that are coming to work at our school in Bakpa-Avedo. And we hope to begin ground-breaking on our library which will serve the 16 schools in our district. The Foundation is still small in numbers but we are growing fast and there is much work to be done in order to ensure our continued success. The progress we have made would not have been possible without your generous support so far. So I am asking for your help once again. When I return I will be staying for one year. In order to do this I must raise $10,000. With your support I will be able to return to Ghana and do my best to make sure that each student is given the opportunity to learn more so that they may do more. I will return so that Wonder achieves his dream of becoming a lawyer, so that Holy becomes an astronomer, and so Eli can grow up to be a teacher of children just like himself.
Please send any donation to:
182 Candlewood Dr.
“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”
- George Washington Carver
We had just presented the school with 90+ National Geographic magazines that had been generously donated and to break up the daily routine I brought a stack into the JHS 1 class I was teaching. I thought the the magazines would hold their attention for 30 minutes max but 2 hours later the 32 students were still reading. Not only were they still reading, but they were asking questions, and sharing what they were reading about with their friends! It was amazing! They were sounding out words and asking me for definitions of ones they didn’t know. It led to impromptu lessons on sharks, volcanoes, igloos, and much more! I had to make them stop because it was time for their next lesson and they asked when they would get to read them next. They loved it! It has now become a part of our weekly lesson plan. One day a week they get two hours to read, ask questions, and see where it takes us.
I knew that a library would be a huge asset for the children at Bakpa Avedo and surrounding schools, but until giving them the National Geographics I had no idea how much they would enjoy it! I have no doubt that each of them will take full advantage of whatever resources we can make available to them.
Even the younger children who can’t read flock to the magazines when they are out and will spend hours looking at them. They will point to a picture and say the word for it in Ewe and I will say the word in English, we go back and forth several times until the student will repeat the word back to me in English. Yesterday the little girl to left learned that xevi is bird.
So thank you again for all of your support. We are making a difference and I know that the impact on the lives of these children will be bigger than we can even imagine! We couldn’t do it without you all and I hope that you will continue with us on this journey. I am very excited to see where it will take us!
This picture is from my first day in Ghana. They had just picked me up from the airport and we had driven to the Accra Mall. It feels like much longer ago than 2 1/2 months. I had no idea what I was in for! It’s been better than I ever could have expected and also harder than I could have ever imagined and I’ve loved it all.
John returned to the states 2 weeks ago and in so many ways it has felt like I’m just beginning all over again, but I’m adjusting. I’ve been traveling a bit and have managed to make my way to and through Accra (the capital) all by myself! I have to admit it feels quite satisfying knowing I can do it on my own.
Here’s some of what I’ve been doing lately:
Coaching the Backpa-Avedo soccer team (don’t worry, they didn’t really let me coach)
Exploring lovely old Forts by the ocean.
Sorry for the shortage of posts this first month. I always seem to have too many words or not near enough. It’s only been in the last two weeks that I have felt like I am finding my way as a teacher. I’ve been working mainly with JHS 1 and JHS 2, which is the equivalent of 7th and 8th grade, except that in I have students ranging in age from 13 to 22. One of the biggest challenges was just figuring out where to start. Do you focus on the students that are falling behind or those that are above the average? Or should you teach to the middle? We’ve tried it all! I am still not sure what is best way but i have started giving weekly reading comprehension and vocabulary tests. Not only does it help me see where the students are but it also is a good gauge for whether my teaching approach is effective or not.
Once a month the village has a baby weighing/immunization clinic under a big tree right beside the school. For those of you that know how I feel about babies you understand why this in a definite highlight of my days here! As if cute babies weren’t enough, they are weighed from a tree limb!
Oh, in case anyone was wondering, immersion therapy works. My fear of birds has greatly diminished due to the fact that chickens roam everywhere, all the time, and are not afraid to get close to people. Although as i write this a large peacock is getting very close to me and I am fighting the urge to run away!