I was asked some questions about a few things and I figured if one person has these questions, I am sure others do as well. Just a little more details so you better understand life in Wa, Ghana.
Animals: Ghana is like a farm. There are sheep, goats, dogs and chickens running all around. The way to tell a sheep from a goat is by looking at its tail; goat tails go up and sheep tail is down. There are also pigs and cows. The only place you can find elephants, monkeys or crocodiles is in Mole, which is Ghana’s National State Park.
Money: The currency here is called Cedi, it is said as CD. When you go to the market or a shop food is always a stable price, you pay them what they say. Sometimes if you buy in bulk, meaning 5 oranges in stead of the three they sell together they will give you a deal but really only if you are having a party or if you are an American do you buy in bulk. You usually only buy things to prepare supper for that day and get more the next day. If you are buying fabric, bags, clothes, shoes, sunglasses you can bargin to get the price down.
Uniform: Each school has a uniform the students have to wear. The students wear the uniform so that if something happens to them on the way to or from school they know what school the kids belongs to. At the School for the Blind the students wear yellow and blue. The girls have yellow dresses with blue trim, while the boys wear yellow shirts, blue collars and tan shorts. Some students have a blue uniform as well. They can wear it if their yellow one gets dirty but more often than not, they only have one uniform.
Classes: The school day starts at 6:40am and goes until 1:30pm, that is considered morning classes. The students have a certain schedule and have each subject only three times a week. At 1:30pm they have lunch and take a siesta until 3pm. At 3pm they have afternoon classes, this means they have time to work on assignments given by teachers. Sometimes teacher will come and help the class with homework or finish up a lesson. I always go to afternoon classes, either to help with homework, play a game, or have bible study. If the students do not have an assignment they often play sports. At 5pm they shower and 6pm in dinner. After dinner, 7pm, they have evening classes. They again can finish any assignments or study but also during this time clubs meet; like reading club or a social clubs. I have only been to reading club, I often do not go to evening classes because I prepare for the next day and write emails to send to people the next day too, plus I have been at the school teaching all day long and with the heat I am dead tired by 7 and 9pm I shower and go to bed.
Resources: A computer lab and recording studio was donated to the school last year. They have about 15 computers and currently have them hooked up to the internet but struggle to pay for the fees. The recoding studio is there to record books on tape for the students to listen to. It is hard to find good readers to read the books and because the whole program is so new, not many books have been recorded, but Timothy, the teacher that works in the lab, is very good and is really working hard on getting things done. After they record the book they can put it on CD and have special CD players for the student to use. As for the computers they have software that reads what is on the screen for them. They currently have a computer class to teach them how to use the resources they have.
Music: The students love music! They are great singers too. I wish I could record them singing and make a CD to listen to. I will miss their songs.
Religions: There are three main religions in Upper West Ghana; Muslim, Christianity, and Tribal. At the school one third of the students are Muslim and about one fourth is Christian. The school is a Methodist (Christian) school so, all the students have religious class and learn about Jesus or Esa (that is Jesus’ name in the Koran or Muslim’s Bible). They are taught about how Jesus died for our sins so we can go to Heaven. Students know verses and are taught bible stories. Muslim, Christian or not they all know about our Savior and are very open to other religions. Every day you can see the Christians come together and worship and the Muslims get down and pray 5 times a day. It is wonderful how they all get along.
Weather: Yes, it is HOT! There are three seasons here; dry, hot and rainy but all are hot. We are ending the dry season and entering the hot season. Dry season was nice because you do not sweat because it evaporates really fast. During hot season you do not stop sweating. Everything is outside here but nothing is directly in the sun. There is shade all around; I thought I would come home with a great tan but that is not so much the case. I have a little color but it is just too hot to stay in the sun for a long time. We are right next to the equator, so close to the sun, so very hot.
Blindness: These kids are amazing. On campus, if you did not know it was a school for the blind, it would probably take you a few hours to realize the kids are blind. They walk all around like they can see; they know the campus so well. As for fear in bumping into things, well it happens pretty often if a bench is in the pathway; or a bicycle or chair. They just hit it, then move and keep walking, really does not faze them at all. During our field trips the students are a little more apprehensive about things but still determined.
Education Fees: Most school, including the Wa School for the Blind, are public schools. This means that the teachers are paid through the government. At the School for the Blind the students live there and the money to pay for the facility, food, books and materials are all donated to the school. The families only pay for the transportation for the students to go there as well as the uniform, extra clothes, a spoon and cup, soap and other toiletries. I know it is hard to think that parents are struggling to even pay for those things for their children but it is true. The Methodist church here in Wa gives out a few scholarships but still there are students that have not reported to school this term because of lack of money. There are private schools here and they cost about 64 Ghana Cedis, which is about $50 a term (three months) but then there is transportation fees of 25 Ghana Cedis.
School Stats: There are always more boys than girls that go to school, due to the belief that girls do not have to be educated to cook and clean. This belief is slowly disappearing but is still evident in most villages. I can not tell you the exact boy to girl ratio at the School for the Blind but I do know that there are much more boys than girls. As for average education a person has, well it has gone up. Most people have at least gone through junior high. You start school at 4 years old and go to kindergarten until 6 years old. Then you are in lower primary 1-3, upper primary 4-6 and then junior high school for three years and secondary school for 3 years. After secondary school they pick either trade school for 3 years or university for 4 years.
Now days more and more students are going to secondary school and even to college but as for the older adult are lucky if they went to upper primary. There is a lot of street smarts here in Ghana but the street smarts here is different than in America; which should be the case because it is a whole different culture.