Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Big Move

If you have ever been to Africa, done business within Africa, or even sent something to Africa, you know that things here take a long time. They say it will take a day but it takes a week, they tell you that you will be somewhere in 5 minutes and 30 minutes later, you still aren’t there. This is what we like to call African Time, or in Ghana, Ghana Time.

We were supposed to move the kids to Christ Orphanage’s new site on August 1st. This is part of the reason why I decided to come to Ghana at the end of the summer instead of the beginning of the summer this year. Unfortunately, even with planning my trip late in the summer, I will not see the move to the new site. A lot of progress has been made at the site and we have started decorating the classrooms but it still is not ready for the official move to occur. The workers are still painting, putting on doors, making steps, and putting in the electrical wires. The water tanks are not yet hooked up for the plumbing and the electrical poles that have been placed all along the road to the new site have not yet been wired. So basically, although a lot of progress has been made, there is still a lot to do. I just keep trying to remind myself, this is Ghana, this is the way things work here, this is normal for them, nothing happens on time here.

Although I will not be able to witness the move to the new site, I have been able to witness some of the older kid’s reactions when they have come to the site. The oldest class was invited to the site late last week for the first time to come and help us decorate the classrooms. They helped for awhile but their attention was mostly focused on the playground equipment which they had a blast playing on. After spending a lot of time at the site over the past few weeks, it was so nice to be working and hear children’s laughter, to hear them using the equipment and enjoying themselves. I wish that all of you who have supported The Ghana Project could have heard this laughter and seen the smiles on these children’s faces. Like always, I have done my best to document their beautiful smiles but I know that my photos and videos do not do them justice.

Even though some of the work that we have done at the site this past week has been tedious – cleaning the windows in all the classrooms and varnishing all the desks, I know that these things will make a difference in the way the new site operates. I know that these things will help to make the experiences at the new site even better and help to keep the new site operating efficiently and effectively for Christ Orphanage’s current children and many more children to come. I know that the decorations and learning materials that we have put up in the classrooms will put smiles on the children’s faces and help enhance their learning experiences. I am so happy that I have been able to be a part of it. I just can’t wait until the children are able to move to the new site and take advantage of all the new resources that we have provided for them.

It is also exciting to think about the way that the lives of 30 of our children will change when they move to the new site. These 30 children are the orphans and most underprivileged children at the orphanage and they will be living in the dormitory at the new site. Although I was a bit skeptical about taking these children out of their current homes, as they all live with extended family members or other people in the community, I know that they will greatly benefit from having their own beds, receiving three meals a day, and being forced to attend school on a daily basis. Currently, some of the children are not sent to school on a daily basis as their guardians keep them home to help cook, wash, farm, or sell. It is something that has been very difficult for us as these children then become behind in school and it affects the entire class. Although I understand that at a certain age, children become extremely important parts of the household and are able to help maintain the family, it saddens me that these guardians do not see the importance of school and do not recognize the opportunity that is being provided for their child. Many of them do not look at the bigger picture. They look at the present and do not realize that education is their child’s way out of poverty. Luckily we only have a few children who are kept home from school by their parents/ guardians for these reasons.

I know that within the next few weeks, the children will move to the new site. Although I would have loved to see the kids move to the new site, I know that the safety of the children is more important and at the current moment, the new site is not a safe place for them to be as a result of all the construction and work that is still going on. I know that next time I return to Ghana, I will be able to witness the changes that have occurred as a result of the new site, resources, teaching practices, and change of environment. I cannot wait for that day.

(I will post photos on Facebook within the next few days of the new site so you can all see the progress that has been made there).

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