This year the focus of my project initiatives was once again largely on Anyako and on Mr. Nutsugah in Dzelukope. I had intended to travel to Have Domefe to say hello and look at current projects but the Chief of the village – who is also the leader of the storytellers – asked Togbi Kumassah (my Ghana Storytelling projects partner) and me not to visit them this year, saying that they had some problems and would prefer to welcome us properly next year once the problems have been resolved. One of the things I have learned during the last few years is that one can never just ‘pop in’ for a quick ‘hello’ anywhere. All visits are dignified by a proper welcome and leave taking both in honour of the host and the guest and nowhere is our arrival more surrounded by ceremony than in Have where at the very moment our car draws up, a procession of singing, swaying storytellers/musicians arrives, ready to escort us to the Chief’s Palace.
So I quickly turned my attention to Mr. Nutsugah. My first duty (and pleasure) was to inspect his new room which I had commissioned upon my departure in 2010. In our terms, it is very basic and bare but it is light, airy and of an adequate size and he certainly seems very happy in it. It is the first time in his life – and he will be 89 in August – that he has ever had a room of his own let alone his own bed and mattress which I purchased prior to leaving Ghana last year.
He soon told me that he wasn’t feeling well and so I took him to the local hospital in order to see the doctor. After several hours’ waiting and a session with a Cuban doctor we came away with an armful of pills to treat malaria, dermatitis, a chest infection and inflammation of the joints. I was concerned about the array of tablets all needing different doses and times but I managed to explain the requirements to his niece who promised to supervise his medication. A few days later I took him to the eye clinic as I noticed that last year’s new lenses were badly scratched. It transpired that his sight had vastly deteriorated since his 2010 prescription so I bought new lenses plus a case this year, hoping that he might use this at night and eliminate some of the damage he does when he knocks the glasses onto the floor. He was so proud of his new case that he decided not to wear the glasses but to keep them in the case which he then put in his breast pocket in such a way as to be very obvious to all who saw him! I wonder where they are now…..
Anyako has once again been the focus of fundraising since my visit in March 2010. The Primary school situated next to the KVIP (see 2010 entry on http://www.ghanastorytelling.com) is in such a sorry state that it has felt wrong to turn our back on it, having once begun to lift the morale of teachers, pupils and parents with the installation of the latrines and the new signboard funded by the pupils of Wroughton Primary school, Gorleston, Norfolk. Moreover, local politics have meant that the school lost its allocation of kindergarten pupils and felt unable to recruit any due to the total lack of classrooms to house them. However, Blackfriars Rotary Club of Norwich and my own fundraising, generously supported by a range of talks, concerts and exhibitions, allowed me to send the necessary monies to build the two rooms, one for Kindergarten 1(KG 1) and the other for Kindergarten 2 (KG 2) at the end of December 2010.. I had hoped that the buildings would be completed before my return to England on April 7th but unexpected heavy rain in early February held proceedings up for 2-3 weeks so I had to be content with seeing the walls half built. At least, the children will have their own rooms at the beginning of the next school year in September.
Shortly before I left for Ghana this year, the Chiron Ensemble very kindly put on a concert of music and words at St. Lawrence’s Centre for the Arts, South Walsham. All the proceeds from that concert were for the KG classrooms and so when I was in Accra (capital of Ghana) I went to a quality toy shop and spent several hours choosing a selection of equipment and toys. These are now in the room I use at Togbi’s house and will be transferred to Anyako once both the classrooms and the newly commissioned store room are complete and watertight.
There are currently 40+ pupils in KG1, temporarily housed in the adjacent church. In September it is anticipated that a similar number will be recruited into the new KG1 and then all these pupils will eventually graduate to Primary 1and so on through the classes until it is time to move up to Senior school.. As the Headmaster said to me; “Now we are happy. We have a future.”
Below are all the little ones in KG1 and, as you can see, the ages range from barely three up to six or even seven years as all pupils have to pass through KG before moving up to the Primary section. It is in KG that the children first learn English which is the medium for all their future education. For the older ones pictured here, just as for the younger ones, it means that this is their first taste of school and so these new rooms are giving them the chance to receive an education. For whatever reasons, their parents had clearly turned their back on education until now.
I would like to pass on not only my thanks but also those of the children, the parents, teachers and Head Teacher of SS Peter and Paul RC Primary School, Anyako to all of you who have made all this possible by your generous support of Ghana Storytelling. (www.ghanastorytelling.com)
It was very gratifying and exciting to see the wonderful new science classrooms at Afiadenyigba Senior High School as these have been funded by the pupils at Acle High School, Norfolk. They are currently being used as ordinary classrooms because (a) the school has an overcrowding problem and (b) they have no science equipment as yet. Once they acquire some essential equipment the rooms will become dedicated science labs. Only two years ago there was nothing but the shell of a building here so many, many thanks to the pupils of Acle High School and to the Head Teacher, Tim Phillips for setting up the school involvement. There was a real buzz around these rooms you see below
The link between Wicklewood Primary and Keta Basic Schools continues to thrive, with an excellent selection of letters and drawings making the journey in both directions. The teaching staff at Ketasco has expressed an interest in getting to know their Wicklewood counterparts so maybe that is a new possibility for the future
I have come back with letters of introduction from pupils at Agbozume Anglican School and shall shortly take these to Acle Primary School. The letters are full of interest and reveal a real desire to get to know pupils in the UK.
Once again, I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to all those who continue to make these links work so well.