Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot!

Trip Start Feb 04, 2007
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Trip End Mar 09, 2008


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Flag of Ghana  ,
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Howdy all.  I thought I should just write quickly to let you know that I am alive over here.  The title is more for Iain .. as I have learned just how cold he is :)

Sega is astounding.  I am living in a very small West African village.  The average daily temperature is mid to late 30s with 80% humidity.  November to March is the hottest time to visit Ghana, so I really chose well.  If you are unclear on just how hot and moist 80% humidity is, then picture this: you wake up and you are soaking wet, you bathe and dry yourself and within seconds you are wet again, in fact sitting at a table eating breakfast creates delicate beads of sweat to form on your forehead.  They slowly trickle down the side of your face only to be quickly mopped up by the mandatory hankerchief purchased solely as a Ghanaian sweat catcher.  Hmmmmm.  It is very hot over here.

I bathe every morning au naturale in the elements.  In a roofless, concrete showerstall using a small bucket of water which is collected for me by a young girl named Mabel who lives in the next room.  At night time this is extra exciting because I look up and see more stars than I have ever seen before in my life.

Rather than using the pit toilet (aka bug, lizard, frog and cockroach nirvana) behind my house, I generally just do what everyone else does and squat some place. [Iain - never complain about the Asian squat toilets again].  In fact, the school doesn't even have toilets.  No cushy staffroom for these teachers.  No 24 hour coffee and tea facilities, no biscuits or smoko breaks.  Not even a fan.  Just a few mutton grass mats for the floor or some seats for under the trees (it is all about shade over here) and when you need to go to the toilet... well I have been shown the best patch of bush to not be seen by too many students.  Yes, no toilets at the school....

The school encompasses nursery (pre-school) all the way through to the Australian equivalent of Year 8.  Nursery, which actually looks a little more like bantam weight boxing, consists of extremely small children beating each other senseless with twigs, rocks and any other rusty nails or blades they can find in the dirt.  Yes, there is no red cordial or jelly beans over here, this is just what little kids do apparently.  I think this is nicely captured by the fact that every morning a designated nursery student walks over to the library store room to take the giant first aid box back to the nursery classroom in advance of the inevitable happening.  Oh by the way, I wasn't joking about the blades.  They don't have many pencil sharpeners so all pencils are sharpened by very small children with straight razor blades.  This is another contributing factor for the heavy usage of the First Aid kit.

The primary school consists of Class 1 to 6 and is fairly similar to a conventional primary.  The Junior Secondary School (high school) consists of Form 1 and 2 (grade 7 and 8).  After graduation from JSS a Ghanaian student would need to change to a school in a nearby village if they planned to gain an education beyond this level. Subject to funding, the school plans to expand its JSS facilities.

I have spent the majority of my time at the primary school as I quickly became the class 6 teacher: "Good Morning Madame Claudine!  How are you today?  We are fine!".  This meant that I am teaching English Grammar, English Comprehension (don't laugh Iain), Maths, Integrated Science, Environmental Studies and Handwriting to my classroom of 20 students aged 11 to 26 years old. [The school is only 5 years old, so there are quite a few kids who have not been to school before.  This does lead to some quite dramatic ability and age gaps].  Basically the only subjects I do not teach are: Religion, PE, Dangme (the local language here in Sega) and Worship.

Wednesday morning is Worship.  This is where the whole school (yes all 280 students) cram into one classroom alongside 3 drummers (did I mention it was hot over here?) where religious songs are sung loudly and prayers for thankfulness take place.  Suprisingly, this was actually something I have enjoyed going to as the older kids would sing beautifully along with the teachers, the younger kids would sing a bunch of words that sort of rhymed with some of the words in the songs and the littlest kids would just dance around to the drum beats.  It is a nice memory of my time here in Sega.

  My first day in Sega I virtually spent all day pinching myself.  After a disastrous commute (flight delay which missed my connection resulting in an impromptu overnight stay in London and therefore a delightful dinner with Vanessa at the Crowne Plaza (thanks British Airways!) I finally made it to Ghana!  I did note the hilarity of the situation that in two consecutives nights I probably had my my affluent night on this whole trip (250 pound per night hotel room at the Plaza) and then my most spartan (concrete floor, no running water, pit toilet, bugs).  But you would be suprised how quickly you get used to things.

  Every single thing was weird and wild.  On my first day I took loads of photos of all the things that amazed me.  Here I am almost one month later with over 1000 photos and you can imagine this has been a pretty amazing place to visit.  I wandered past the God First Drinking Saloon (appropriately placed right next to the school), admired the millions of drying chili peppers laid out on mats in the sun and was actually excited about being called a Blerfono (white person) by every passing adult and child (usually their greeting also included Moyee - you are welcome).

To be continued....

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My camera is full of viruses called 'mysexy' and 'folderuser' so I am unable to share any photos at this point.  I think when I return to civilisation I should be able to sort it out.  Watch this space!
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Where I stayed
Crowne Plaza

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