Jan 29 2012

January 16, 2012 – First Day Pep Talk for the kids at Demo Deaf

Published by at 7:43 am under Africa chronicles: What I saw and learned

The classroom we helped clean up.

It was the kid’s first day back at school so we got up early. We didn’t want to be late so we walked double time up the road. It was fun seeing them again. We met up with the headmistress who wore an American flag scarf in our honor. It was a very sweet gesture. I think she’s a good headmistress. Curry seems to think the same thing and he would know better than I.
The children and staff all lined up in the morning for their “first day” pep talk. We stood off to the side and watched their morning activities and then they introduced us to everyone. We all wanted to be on our best behavior. In Ghana it is an insult to use your left hand when interacting with people. It is considered your “dirty” hand. I was so afraid I’d make a mistake and wave or gesture with my left hand. I held on to the strap of my backpack so I would remember not to use it.
The headmistress introduced us to the staff and the children then sent us to work in the classrooms. I went with Carissa and Pablo to the special ed room. The classroom hadn’t been cleaned or set up since their break so we went to work. We swept with little brooms they’d made out of thick grass. There’s a lot of dust and dirt in the classrooms because they keep the windows open for ventilation. Most structures are left very open because of the heat and moisture. When we finished sweeping one of the kids brought in a bucket of water. We dumped it all over the floor and then used our brooms to sweep it back out the door. Then we cleaned the windows and unstacked the desks. It looked pretty good so I went into the next classroom with Ronai and Ellie. First we played games with the kids. After a time they started getting restless so I took a small group over to the corner to visit. My beautiful “U” girl was there and another little boy who loves to follow me around. He’s very possessive and gets mad when other kids have my attention. I’ve nicknamed him “mischief”. We learned the signs for table, sit down, how to count to 10 how to finger spell the alphabet and on and on. They are so eager to learn. After a great day in the classroom it was time to go, so we caught a taxi to mampong and went to get our hair braided. Rachel, Ronai, Ellie and I got in the first taxi. Curry told him where to go and we were off! When the driver stopped to let us out none of us could see a hair salon. We stood on the side of the road while the driver told Rachel how much the cab fare was. It was our first taxi ride on our own and Rachel was pretty sure this guy was trying to get more money from us than we owed. She stood her ground. Pretty soon a group of men had gathered around us but Rachel didn’t budge. She told them when our second taxi arrived our friend would straighten everything out. We waited for the other taxi but it didn’t come. We were getting frustrated and our driver was getting mad. After, what seemed like 10 minutes of haggling, Rachel finally just paid the man and he went off, leaving us on the side of the road with no hair salon in sight. I have to say, for those few minutes, I felt more than a little intimidated. I was proud of Ray.
No sooner had our taxi left when Curry pulled up in another taxi looking for us. We’d been dropped off too far and he’d come to find us. As we walked back toward the salon we had to pass what we decided was the town drunk. He kept yelling at us for money. Curry is really protective of our group and is always making sure everyone is safe. He told us to keep walking and got behind us so the man could not bother us. Perhaps it was the heat, but our little adventure became comical. We couldn’t stop laughing.
When we arrived at the salon we decided what kind of hair style we wanted. I didn’t want any extensions added to my hair so I was the first to go and was done pretty quickly. Aaron, Curry and I caught a taxi back to the courtyard while the others continued to get their hair done. We cleaned up, had a snack and headed to the wood carving district in Aburri. Our taxi was half full so I had to sit on Curry’s lap. Poor guy. The roads in Ghana are a never ending line of speed bumps and potholes and driving them with someone on your lap could not have been fun.
The wood district is a street lined with shops filled with wood carvings of elephants, African masks, naked women, families, you name it…they have it. And if they don’t have it they will make it for you. I asked Sammy (one of the woodworkers) to make me a mother with three boys. He told me he’d have it ready in a few days. We looked around a while longer and Curry taught me how to haggle. The 3 of us had a great time.
We went back to the Courtyard to find Ronai and Carissa still hadn’t come home from getting their hair done so we decided to go back to the school and play with the kids. They were getting ready for dinner so we didn’t get to stay long. While we were there we met a master carpenter who was deaf and who had been hired by the school to build some furntiure for Dora (a woman who works at Demo Deaf). His work was beautiful! He made 2 chairs and a large sofa. Each piece took him 1 day. He was so proud to show us his work. It was one of those small but good moments.
We went home to have our own dinner. Ronai and Carissa still weren’t there. Curry decided to go into town and make sure they were alright. The rest of us sat down to dinner (plantains, a vegetable sauce and sausage). I ate the plantain and vegetable sauce, but there was no way I was going to eat the sausage. They looked more like american hot dogs that had been left out for a while. After playing musical chairs with the sausage we had another night of good conversation. A few hours later our friends still hadn’t arrived. We were getting really nervous but we didn’t want Ellie to worry about her mom so we downplayed our own concerns and kept Ellie busy playing card games. Our hostess, Joyce left with Kofi (a gentleman who worked at the Courtyard) to go look for our friends. At 9:30 Carissa, Ronai and Curry finally came home. It took them 8 hours to get their hair done. They were cranky and hungry and no one could blame them. I crashed in Leah’s room.
By the way…we are still accepting donations. Please contribute to this incredible cause. It’s tax deductible. Here is the link.


2 responses so far

2 Responses to “January 16, 2012 – First Day Pep Talk for the kids at Demo Deaf”

  1. Karleeon 29 Jan 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I hope that was some awesome hair!

  2. Jenon 03 Feb 2012 at 11:50 am

    It was pretty awesome, but I’m still glad I didn’t do it. I have enough crazy hair to manage.

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