On Tuesday morning all volunteers set off for their first day on project. Mrs Mackew headed up the team working at Rhema Abutia while Miss Bluett took the group working at Dedzidi, a short bus ride away in Anloga.
At Rhema Abutia the group were welcomed with a celebration of drumming, singing and dancing and the group again were soon up and dancing the agbadza alongside the children at their school. For the Dedzidi pupils the dancing had to wait until the end of their projects but the were welcomed by the headteacher and other staff members. At both schools the school children were excited to see our volunteers and there were lots of shouts of ‘Yevu’ (white person) and ‘Nko Wode?’ (what is your name?) ringing out across the playgrounds.
Both groups of builders got to work straight away, mixing concrete by hand and learning how much sand, water and cement was needed in each mix. They also took turns to fill and empty the brick moulds, being careful not to knock the brick and break it before it set. All soon learned to love their gloves and I think a few callouses were well formed by 2pm.
For the builders at Dedzidi, the morning began with some lesson observations. We were surprised to see classes with up to 50 students in, and 3 students to a desk in most cases. Pupils in one class were asked to get their counting objects out at which point lots of bottles full of shells, bottle caps and rocks appeared on desks. For a privately run school, we were surprised by the apparent lack of resources available. However, we were also impressed by the children’s knowledge and willingness to contribute to the lessons. They showed a real love of learning even when in one class an hours lesson comprised writing 5 words and drawing and colouring pictures to match (Miss Bluett was particularly surprised by the pace of the lesson but was reminded that in Ghana everyone runs on Africa time, i.e. much slower than England!).
Meanwhile over at Rhema, the teachers were thrown in at the deep end. After being told at the hostel they would be observing lessons on their first day they arrived at their project and asked to teach straight away. Mrs Mackew was very impressed by the team’s creativity, flexibility and energy straight away and the children in the classes really enjoyed all the singing the volunteers taught them.
At around 12pm the team had their lunch delivered to their projects and took the opportunity to reflect on their experiences in the morning so far. After a final hour on project they headed back to the hostel. After a short rest the team were challenged to a volleyball match at the hostel. They fought valiantly but unfortunately lost this first match to the more experienced Ghanaians. All requested a rematch for later in the trip!