Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Experiencing Wa Outside of the School Walls

On Monday I was teaching my P4 class. We were learning about money. Here in Ghana they have the Cedi which is the bill and pesawas which are the coins. Each coin and bill is a different size which helps the visually impaired people distinguish between all of them (not like American bills).

I was asked the student what they normally get at the market. No one said anything. I asked what are some things you can find at the market. They said a few things but they were very hesitant. Then I asked the students to raise their hands if they had been to the market. Out of 12 students 1 raised his hand. One student had been outside of the school walls. One student had experienced how to walk through the streets of a market. One student experienced what it was like to buy food, to squeeze around people, to be free.

Well that was enough for me.

Right after the class I went to the Headmaster and asked if we could take a field trip to the market or even just to a little shop by the school. After a little explanation, he agreed it would be a good idea but I would first have to go and talk to the classroom (homeroom) teacher. I went to find her; now I knew it would take a little convincing to have her allow us to leave the school. I used my resources and, oh it just so happened that I was talking to a very energetic teacher while the classroom teacher walked by. I asked her and the energetic teacher thought it was a great idea and now the classroom teacher could not turn down the offer. But now I had to go and find a house mother to come with me. Due to the language barrier, it is wise to have a Ghanaian with you, especially when you have a group of visually impaired students. After finding a house mother to come with me I then had to go back to the headmaster and once again ask permission. Yes! The Headmaster encouraged me to find a shop and ask the owner permission to bring the students.

That night Anna and I went out looking for a cool place to bring my students. A wood shop. Ama was the owner’s name. I greeted him and explained who I was and what I was doing. I asked him if it would be ok if I brought my students here tomorrow to ask him question about what he does. He seemed ok with it and said he would be there tomorrow.

Ok the day has come and I am so excited. 6 at a time so I took two different groups. As we walked to the gate we thought of questions to ask Ama at the wood shop. They thought of great questions; what does he make, what materials he uses, how much is cost, what problems he has run into.

The student with small small (or a little) sight hold arms with the totally blind students as we walked through the streets. Good thing they have bright yellow shirts on; all the motos can see the kids.

It was awesome. They asked the questions and got great answers. Ama even allowed my students to use different tools. They sanded the wood four different ways and some student even got to use the saw.

On the walk back they were all smiles. It was a great experience. Once we were all in the classroom together they asked if we can do this again some day. I told them I sure hope so and will try my hardest to get permission.

Sure this is not the math curriculum but this is life. We talked about how much the products cost. It depends on three things Ama said; materials, hours, energy and profit. See really work math; it’s great.

*Anna has strep throat so if you can keep her in your prayer that would be great.
The school has paid for internet but due to the relaxed culture we may not get it until next week but once we do hopefully I can update more often. Thanks for following and for all the comments!

*As for the time question. I am 6hrs ahead of Chicago time. So if it is 2:30am in Chicago then here in Ghana it is 8:30am.


  1. Maddy, that is awesome!! It's very sad to hear that most of your students have never been "free." It's a good thing that you are great at talking people into things! Not always the best thing for others, but I'm seeing a definate benefit. I hope you continue to expose them to new things, how exciting that must be!

  2. Well Maddy Ann, that was quite a trip. I can't imagine 12 "blind" students! Theres a lot of your Mom in you. (not your G-Ma.) I bet the students are enjoying you as much as your enjoying them. By the way, our friends the Shoemakers-Sylvia and Dick, said to greet you and tell you how much their enjoying you postings.
    Stay safe-be careful-Hurry home.We love ya, Gma?G-pa

  3. Way to go, Maddie! I used to do this with my hearing impaired students. We would all hop in my VW van and go all over the place. I wouldn't be able to get away that now. Times have changed. I'm glad you took the initiative to give your students what they really need.

  4. Maddy!

    That was wonderful. You are so great at taking intiative and seeing what people really and truly need. These kids are probably so thankful for the opportunity to do something that most people do every day.

    Love you and miss you!

  5. Wow that was quite a task, but know the rewards are great it brings to your students and yourself. I look forward to your comments, kind of makes my day. See your making the students happy, plus a little old lady in Texas....a 2for1...proud of you keep up the great experiences for the students...nice to hear good things being done. Patsy

  6. Wonderful idea Maddy! I'm so glad you persisted and made the field trip to the market happen. I'm sure it was an experience your students will never forget!

  7. Maddy! I just found your blog an am having so much fun reading about your experiences. I'm so proud of you and your heart for the simple things that so many go without. Your persistance is admirable. At least the PB&J gives you your protein. Have a super day! :-) Regina

  8. I am so glad that all those years of shopping was a foundation to help a bunch of Wa blind kids - Love ya - Mom

  9. Go Maddy! Go Maddy! It sounds like you're doing a great job and I would expect nothing less. Keep up the good work and I'll be seeing you in about a month :)
    Katie VA