The video highlights of our trip are now available on the school Vimeo page.
Saturday morning, got a cheeky wee lie in. We showered, attempting to get rid of the left-over sand, got rid of the empty bottles and gave the rooms a good clean; the staff had been so good to us all week, we wanted to make their job of setting up for the next volunteers as easy as possible. We gathered all of the items we wanted to donate and separated them into different piles. Some of the staff noticed the donations while we were packing them and the smile on their faces are ones we can never forget. Ross had left over Scottish flags so we each signed a flag and wrote a personal message giving individual flags to every member of staff.
We quickly had lunch, knowing that we were about to have an emotional leaving ceremony with all of the kind staff and all of the loving and banterful children that we had met throughout the week. (Even although there was a language barrier with some-haha). Everyone gathered round the table as we were each presented with a certificate and a scarf saying – Rachel Naylor, TYSGI Volunteer, June 2017. Kirsty Louise Gibbons, TYSGI Volunteer, June 2017. The teachers were each presented with a special gift including one for the entire school. Noah and Siva gave heart-touching speeches which brought tears to many eyes. Followed by Ross – EVERYONE IS GETTING A TATTOO!! This meant it was time for photos both group and individual ones while the kids began to carry our cases to the bus which meant we knew it was sadly coming to an end.
As one of the girls from the community that I had bonded with clung to my arm and placed her head on my shoulder, we all trailed to the bus. As I turned round to have one last look at the rest of the children, I noticed that Kirsty couldn’t face saying goodbye to her two wee bros (A&W). They handed her a note which she couldn’t bring herself to read so she pulled them in and said her last goodbye. As she walked away, all she could see was their tear-filled eyes and hear their sniffles . We both got onto the bus as I watched A wave and W stare at me in sadness. I turned to see Rachel glaring out the side window in distraught as we waved to the children for the last time. As we drove away, the children became small spots in the distance. We have created friendships that we will treasure forever.
After the 3 hour bumpy, chaotic bus journey, we ate some fatty food and eventually made it to the airport. As we rapidly got out of the bus, we all grouped to say our final goodbyes to Noah, Paul, Livingstone and Ben. The most amazing and light-spirited guides that anyone could ask for.
As the buses began to drive away, Mr Casey shouted to Josh “WHERE IS THE DRUM?” (His present from TYSGI), Josh turned in panic “It’s on the bus!!” (The bus was driving away ) So, Miss Little ran after the bus but Ben managed to save the day and was already on the case. What a hero, don’t worry we got it back. Mr Casey = Not raging. Everything is going smoothly, we are ready to go until the screening for ebola… Jambo has malaria. Not really, lol. All is good . A plane journey later and we are almost back in the U.K, yet still covered in sand!!
We were emotionally, physically & mentally challenged throughout the week. Overwhelmed is an understatement. We are so blessed. Thank you Siva and the The Young Shall Grow International. In Ghana, we don’t say goodbye, we say see you soon.
The day began in the usual fashion, with us all being awoken by the roosters outside with the blistering African sun streaming through the windows.
Friday was a day that was heightened with excitement.
This was our final day in Woe. This meant some of the best activities were to be experienced. Our group, despite the casualties from sickness marched on to our final day of project work at Woe EP Basic School.
Some of the group began with some teaching and we were excited to teach the pupils subjects from basic multiplication to shapes. Teaching times tables from 1 to 12 went well, the kids were clamouring to write the answers on the board and appeared to enjoy it.
Once the lessons concluded, the whole group joined in on finishing off the perimeter wall for the school.
After this was completed the head teacher, Alan presented us with drumming, dancing, singing and beautiful bracelets in honour of the work we carried out.
A few hours passed and we were given the opportunity to visit the local lagoon. First we entered a bar on the lagoon which greeted us with some rather awful African pop tunes and many rich Ghanaians dancing. Once we passed through the bar, where some took a drink, we jumped into the wooden boats and zoomed across the water to a swampy island in the middle of the lagoon. This is where we collected shells and Scott (with a head start) raced Ben to the end of the island and with a shove to Ben, Scott emerged victorious.
On the bus back we broke out into a song, patriotically singing Flower of Scotland at the top of our lungs with our driver Paul pushing the horn as the beat.
Shorty after, we took part in a drumming lesson which Livingstone lead which was fun.
The night concluded with a bonfire which everyone crowded around, enjoying again some Ghanaian chart music. The bonfire raged on until late and with everyone tired, we went to our rooms, only Struan remained, again working on his private project.
At the end of the night, the preacher returned searching the compound for any life to rant about Jesus and Malta.
He found only Struan, who then rushed to our room to safety, with this Friday was complete.
The day started in the same fashion as all the rest, an early start with something interesting waiting for us at breakfast. The two groups went about their days work, either teaching or doing manual labour at the two local schools under the unrelenting Ghanaian sun.
The activity for the afternoon was a trip to experience the local market which comes to town every five days, and an experience it certainly was. The narrow streets of makeshift stalls selling mostly eye-catching fabrics and absolutely honking fish, the nearby open sewers contributing to the type of nasal assault that only an African market-place could give. The only stall really gaining from our visit was the one selling knock-off Black Stars football shirts. We were in groups to travel to the market as the bus can only carry 11 people plus Paul in the drivers seat. I was in the first group of Hamilton Grammar pupils to go and return, the second groups return was heard before it was seen as chants of “TATTOO” rang out as they made their approach, with Ross Murdoch leading the not so angry mob with his right arm raised in the air like he was leading a people’s revolution. He hurriedly made his way to Mr Casey, declaring proudly “Ah got a tattoo”. Mr Casey froze with shock, his face a picture of stunned disbelief. This quickly diffused into a wide grin and laughter when he saw that the tattoo was nothing more than “GHANA” stricken in biro down his forearm. Panic over.
After the afternoon activity I joined the local boys in the most exhausting and frantic game of football I have and will ever partake in; barely being able to run with the ball for a second without everyone piling into you in a blur of sand and flailing legs with the aim of getting the ball through the two exotic trees designated as goals.
The nights have gotten progressively quieter over our stay as the effects of fatigue set in, with most people being in bed-bound come half nine. With this one winding down in the same fashion with Straun having to be near dragged away from his own private project of the week.
Both groups – minus Miss Little and those who were feeling ill – spent an hour and a half at the Rhema project making bricks this morning. Luckily it was cool today and the work was done in the shade.
Then, we all got the bus to Woe EP for the interschool competition, an annual event which four local schools participate in. They were judged on many things such as dancing, singing, poetry and drama. We stayed there for two and a half hours before heading back to the volunteer house for lunch.
After lunch, we chose our fabrics and the local seamstress visited to take our measurement for our clothes. Most girls chose dresses or skirts, while most boys chose shorts. The seamstress will make the clothes over the next few days so we can get them before we leave.
Most of the group then went to the beach for the afternoon, while Scott, Struan, Kay, Mr Casey and I visited the local hospital to give them some donations we brought with us. We were shown round the hospital and spent a good while in the maternity ward talking to nurses and patients. It was a shock to us all to see the differences between hospitals at home and in Ghana, however we were soon told that the hospital was actually very advanced for the area and the country.
Before dinner, a local teacher visited the volunteer house to teach us about marriage in Ghana. Marriage and family is very important in Ghana. The teacher covered many different aspects of Ghanaian marriage including how it worked in the past with arranged marriages, how marriage and proposal works in Ghana today, what items are common as dowry and polygamous marriage – in Ghana men can marry many women and have as many children as they can afford.
Definitely looking forward to a good nights sleep before another day at the projects tomorrow.
Another early start (yet again). After a night of drama with the tunes on in the room and Julia’s bug bite camera log going great, we piled out for breakfast. Topped up the suncream then off to our first normal day at Rhema school. After turning up ready to teach them how to tell the time, Kate and I ended up doing the equivalent to Nat5 fractions work (pretty sure we were doing it wrong but oh well). Construction work in the 30+ degree sun was a challenge but 6 bags of cement and around 150 bricks later, we got to go for a well needed shower around half 2.
All clean and sparkly and ready for a chilled strole to the beach (or so we thought). 45 minute walk to the beach resulted in us all needing another shower. Although, Rachel, KG and I went for a paddle in the sea which turned into a near death experience and being soaked from head to toe…it definitely cooled us down. Just another hour walk until we reach the old homestead and dinner!!
CHIPS!!!!! Chips and tomato sauce for dinner after a 2 hour walk in the heat…what more could you want. Then just a chilled night went on with our best jokes getting thrown out there (Jambo’s Jesus joke was an absolute belter). After seconds of chips, we headed off to bed around half 10 ready for the 2nd well needed shower of the day. Our 10000 degree room and solid, mosquito net covered beds sounded like heaven after our tiring (but absolute class) day in the Ghanaian sun 🙂
Monday morning. As people at home roll out of bed dreading the first day of the working week, we awoke from our cosy sleep to the sound of pattering rain outside. Thankfully this delayed our breakfast of egg and leftover sardine sandwiches (believe it or not, this tasted better than it sounded) which gave us some extra time to tackle the issue of frizz! Following that (with suncream and bug spray well applied) we distributed ourselves between two schools: Rema and Woe E.P Basic school – this was where I went. Our team, led by Ben and Miss Little (the birthday girl – happy birthday Miss!!) made the sweaty walk to the school.
When we arrived we were sat in front of the pupils and teachers, and greeted with some drumming and dancing – which we are now pros at! It was a public holiday today so there were only a small fraction of the school who turned up. Therefore we spent the morning doing some construction (shovelling sand and mixing cement then using that to build a wall around the school) and playing with the children. Two teeny, adorable girls in particular became our best friends and just wanted to be cuddled. The children also loved doing handshakes, singing songs and doing arm-wrestles – they all made fun of our lack of muscle. We stopped for lunch which was the long awaited Red-Red and plantain, and it did not disappoint. Also the pineapple here is amazing!
After our day at the school we returned to the volunteer house, and to our clammy room – due to the fact that our ceiling-fan had broken (replaced with a very dodgy plug-in one) However the miracle who is Rebecca found the hidden switch behind our bed which made the fan work again, and saved us all! Wooo!
Now was time for the Ewe lesson, which was interesting and very funny. Even trying to sound out the alphabet was a challenge with all the different sounds. However after the teacher left, a little boy insisted on giving me a private lesson and spent a good hour going over the vocabulary and explaining everything over and over again. He was so sweet and patient, and now I am fluent in Ewe!
Dinner was rice and red stew which is so yummy -it’s kind of like spicy chilli. We were also treated to a mango smoothie drink. After this, Ben taught Struan and I how to play a very, very long Ghanaian game with pebbles. I lost by a long shot!
Soon after we snuggled down in our mosquito-netted beds for a good nights sleep…
Lots of love to everyone back home. Sending hugs and kisses from Ghana xxx