Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sister Nicole

Greetings from Ghana!

You may now refer to me as 'Sister Nicole.' Yes, that is the name I was given at my placement at Christ Orphanage here in Hohoe and how all the children and staff address me. Today was my first day there and although it was a little overwhelming, I loved it! When our van pulled up to the orphanage, the children ran outside and greeting us, hugging us, jumping on us, and asking our names. I am one of four volunteers currently working at the orphanage. There are four classes at the orphanage so we each got to pick which class we wanted to work in. Their preference was that the volunteers who are staying in Ghana for the longest work with the older children. Out of the four of us at this orphanage, I am staying the longest so I am working with the oldest kindergarten class. They are still pretty young 5-6-7 years old). And my class has 25 children and only three benched on which the children sit. The youngest class has a total of 53 children...and yes, they are all in one room! The yard is, well, I don't think it would be appropriate to call it a yard. It is a small, yet open space where the children are able to run around and play. Remember though that there are no toys or balls or jump ropes for them to plan with. It was so difficult trying to get them to play ring around the rosie for all the children only wanted to hold my hand and it is pretty difficult to make a circle that way. The yard is all dirt and because it rained today that meant that the yard was really just mud.

While it was heartwarming to see how happy the children were to have us there to hold them, love them, play with them, and teach them, it was also very heartbreaking at the same time. It is amazing that they are able to teach the children in such an environment and incredible to see how they make due with what they have.

When I entered the classroom that I would be working in for the next eight weeks, all the children rose and said "you are welcome, mada'am." They then proceeded to sing me two songs. It was very cute. The teacher then asked me if it would be okay if he left me with the class to teach them. Although I have worked with children before, I had never been in a situation like this before. I told him that I would rather that he taught the first lesson so I could observe and see how advanced the class was. He taught for awhile and then left me alone with twenty five children who immediately went crazy. The teachers here in Ghana use corporal punishment and the students therefore know that the teacher is the authority figure. Some white girl comes in to teach their class and they know that I would not use it so I need to figure out an alternative way to gain and maintain their attention.

The man teaching the class was Alex who is the brother of Raymond, the head and founder of the school. Alex is on summer break from university and helping out with teaching. There is supposed to be a new teacher coming on Thursday but seriously, who knows? I have prepared some activities for the children to do tomorrow. I am excited yet a little nervous to be teaching the class!

I returned to the orphanage this evening with a large group of volunteers to go back to Christ Orphanage. Many of the volunteers who are at other placements came too. We took all the children (about 100 children) outside to an open area outside a church where we played with balls that we brought. We also played games such as duck duck goose and just held the children. The children loved taking pictures with our cameras and it was great to see them again.

Anyways, we are leaving the internet cafe so I will try to come back soon and write more

Sending lots of love!
Nicole

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