Well, as you may have figured out, I made it to the Internet cafe in Kumasi today, Friday afternoon after an intense (in a good way) first week volunteering at ECSO. I’m staying in a small rural town called Esaase as I mentioned in an earlier post and I realized that I have yet to talk about the town itself. So many things happen within the school walls and I’m observing so many new things throughout the day that it’s tough to touch on everything! I’ll be brief and mention that the town of Esaase is about one city block long with one intersection, about 20 kiosks that sell random sundries (laundry soap, bath soap, tomato paste, white bread, soda, rice, flour, cell phone calling cards, yams, cassava, plantain, tomatoes, onions, peppers) and a few food stands that sell grilled corn, cured tilapia, and some other unknowns. The population tops off somewhere in the 100 range and the kids are mostly bussed in from surrounding places. I am so lucky that we get three yummy meals a day cooked for us because I seriously would not know what to do with the random food items that are sold in Esaase.
Yesterday was probably the slowest day of my travels to date. Time moves much slower here in general (they run on Ghana time which is the opposite of Chicago time) and coming from the land of everyone being in a hurry, it is quite a challenge to take myself out of overdrive and appreciate the mellow mood and speed at which things move here. We were supposed to spend the morning in the Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary (I had failed to realize that a huge wildlife preserve/rainforest was literally a half mile from our school) and Mr. Boateng asked Tabea and I to accompany the students on a field trip to plant trees because people are encroaching on the preserve and cutting down trees.
Mr. Boateng in action
All of the students in grades 4-6 were expected to participate so we gathered in front of the school, walked about a mile to the preserve only to arrive there and hear that the seedlings did not arrive. Since I mentioned Ghana time, it is worth noting that the process of finding out that there was nothing to plant took about 3 hours. I took some pictures as we waited for the forest rangers to finish chatting with Mr. Boateng…
After some long winded banter between Mr. Boateng and the rangers, we were told to come back tomorrow…
Walking back to school
We returned to school around 11:00 am and the electricity was off. I had read that at any given point in time, Ghana shuts off electricity to certain villages to conserve energy. One day without electricity is a quick way to learn just how much we take it for granted and how much we all depend on it to get through our day. Tabea and I made the best of it and hung out around the school yard, watched the kids as they played and realized that no electricity must also equal no learning because we did not see the students enter their classrooms at all during the day! I hesitated in asking why the students weren’t in school at all during the day and I’m going to assume it was because they were supposed to be in the forest preserve which still would have left two hours of school since they were supposed to be back at noon but everyone seemed to enjoy the time off!
I held another computer class in the evening and this time I went about things a bit differently allowing the girls into the lab first for 30 minutes followed by the boys. This system seemed to work much better than telling all the kids at the same time that the lab was open…
The older boys enjoying time in the lab
Today we made it to the forest preserve! We had a really great hike in and I finally saw some of the flora and fauna of this region up close. I also saw the source of Esaase’s water which was really cool. The students planted about 200 seedlings in the rainforest! Here are some pictures from today!!
The beginning of the water treatment process and source of electricity for the town
Heading into the rainforest
Me and my main man Dennis after an early rain shower
Overall, a lovely day! Rahman should be here at any moment. We are going to spend the evening in Kumasi, have some dinner and he will stay in a spare room at the school tonight. Then, tomorrow we are going to Lake Bosomtwi which is about an hour away for some swimming, paddling and hiking! Until next time…..