Today was a good, productive day… we did vision screening for 45 kids and not a one of them failed. Failure rate is around 20% and we were far below that. I’m guessing that when we get into the older grades, we will see more failures, but so far, this is very good news!
The kids school uniforms are all different and very tattered, which I’m guessing is because they are the cast offs from a variety of other schools. Although there may be large holes in them or gaping fronts due to all but one of the buttons missing, the sleeves still are ironed with a crease and they all seemed to be clean. Oh what I could have done with a needle and thread today! One of the girls was literally holding her skirt up as she was having her height and weight checked because about 1/3 of the seam that connected the skirt to the bodice was ripped. The boys shirts are always tucked in and their shorts belted, most with belts that look like they could wrap around their small bodies twice. All are in shoes that are quite worn, mostly sandals and 2, a boy and a girl, were in slippers. One little boy was barefoot. Even though their uniforms are quite worn and ill-fitting, there still seems to be a lot of pride taken in the children’s appearances.
Because I was doing the height and weights today, I had a lot more time with the kids while they waited to have their vision screened. Most are quite small, the average weight being around 20 kilograms for the girls (or around 40 pounds), which is considered underweight for girls their age, making the age guessing quite difficult. One very small girl that I guessed to be no more than 6, was 10. Assumptions of their age due to the grade they are in are also not accurate as the grade one class had an age range from 6 to 10. It simply depends on the age the parents start sending their children to school. Most of the children knew how old they were, but very few could tell us their birthday, so I’m guessing it’s not a day that is widely celebrated.
I’m still absolutely amazed by their discipline and respect these children show, as they waited in line, single file for quiet some time this morning. The teacher wasn’t even present, yet they still kept their hands to themselves. I’ve heard from several Ghanaians that family values are a top priority in Ghana and it sure is reflected in their children. I noticed that when I gave the girls a post it note with their name and birthdate on it to be given to the vision screeners, they alway did a small curtesy when they accepted it from me. I didn’t see this with the boys, but without fail, every girl genuflected when she accepted the piece of paper from me. It was sweet.
Along with the more traditional names such as John, Andy, Jennifer and Esther, I enjoyed seeing multiple Princesses, a Courage, 2 Godsways and an Elvis. Of course their pronunciations, quite different than mine, only added to the interest. I learned many body parts from the girls while they waited in line and as I’d pronounce the word back to them for nose, or ear or eyes in Awe, seriously thinking I was mimicking their sounds perfectly, they would glance over at one another and cover their mouths, trying to hide their giggles. The only word I can remember and seem to be spot on with my pronunciation, is “baba”, or “sorry” so I apologize a lot to them. I need to find some more words. I do know that when you add “cacacaca” to a word, it means “very much”… so the more ca’s the better. I like that.
Our drive into the school is 30 minutes in a rickety old van on rutted dirt roads and we all feel pretty exhausted once we get home. Today, after lunch, we drove two more hours, but this time to Wle Waterfall, hours, about half and half on paved roads and dirt roads. It’s the tallest waterfall in Ghana and the 2nd tallest in Western Africa. It was incredible and the hour and a half or so of hiking to get to it felt good, even though it was quite a brow mopper with the humidity today. Temps, however, have come down a bit, thankfully.
Goats and chickens seem to be the cats and dogs of Ghana. They are everywhere. The goats are quite small (Pygmy?) and run around like dogs, although I’ve only seen one dog since I arrived and 2 kittens. The goats have the run of the place. They don’t seem to be raised for their milk as this seems to be pretty much a dairy-free area (oh coffee-free also it appears…just instant and it’s bad, so my 2 a day, with milk, has been replaced by a one a day with tea. Sigh.). I’ve not seen a meat I couldn’t identify at mealtime, so don’t think we’re eating the goats either. I’m good with just looking at them. They sure are cute.
That’s it for now.
Eza ne Nyo (goodnight)