My daughter arrived. It had already been like hell to get her to me, but she had finally arrived to Ghana. My mother was not approving of “this African” who was making me move to Africa. Little did she know that I was the one who wanted to move and moving abroad completely had always been in my vision.
My daughter arrived and I could not place how I was going to make it work with us now living in such a small village. No tennis nor Chinese lessons, sometimes no lights and questionable internet. The dark ages to us. I couldn’t place what she would do in order to continue pursuing the path she was already on educationally. A part of my brilliant idea and response to this was to stop homeschooling and to have her join the other children at the local school.
The best local school in the area was Christian lead and USA affiliated. I was skeptical on both counts. I went to visit the school. There was not much to it. It seemed to share a campus with some adult nurse schools and sat with 3 buildings on it’s immediate campus. Emmanuel and I were given a tour of the school and the Assistant Headmaster was thrilled to have us there. Our daughters lagged behind us pretending they were not interested in the children who were looking at us curiously.
The school building where the youngest would be was simple and open. The chalkboard looked worn and tired from the weather and years of usage. There were no lights on in any of the buildings. The school building where the oldest would be was simple and open. Not much to talk of in the way of decorations. There were none. The students’ chairs with desks were the highlight of the room along with the weary looking chalkboard. We sat down to talk about the fees while in the office of the assistant Headmaster. He mentioned the rate and I calculated the Ghana cedis in to U.S. dollars: the equivalent of about $40 for the semester. I was not excited I was worried about the cheapness of the price and what that would entail to them learning. Also, supposedly, this was the best school in the area.
I paid the money in full for the 2 girls for the semester. I noticed the fee for a computer lab, but could not recall seeing such a room or building. It was explained that the building was yet to built. I wondered how they would have computers running if there was no electricity. I later learned the fee had been tacked on for a few years now with no computer lab building in sight.
The girls would receive their books once they attended in full uniform. We set off to get measurements for their school uniforms. These were ugly uniforms – a lime green long skirt and a white shirt. The uniforms were easy to attract the wafting dirt from the roads so then the uniforms would look permanently dirty. The seamstress agreed to the price which was equivalent to $30 for making 2 uniforms for each of the girls. Emmanuel warned me to only pay half now. If I paid all of the money upfront I may not get the uniforms in a timely manner if at all. So to avoid me coming back later to have an argument at this seamstress’ shop, I paid half of the money upfront.
The girls seemed to be in the honeymoon phase with their schooling. His daughter had never attended this so called “best” school in this area. She had only attended the public school which was closer to her grandmother’s home, but she knew many of the children from her area. She did not seem to be doing well in her class and I had to step in to evaluate where she was in her learning. It seemed she was very far behind. Her English reading was very low in speaking and comprehension, however, she could read the words on the page. I could feel the stubborn nature clench down as I tried to help her with her comprehension. I concluded that she needed to be taken back at least 2 grades for comprehending what she was reading, otherwise, she would just be passed along without knowing what she is reading in order to matriculate. I continued to work with Manuela and hoped that she would catch on. Each Saturday morning she would come to the house and we would proceed to simply chat in English and the book became secondary to these tutoring sessions.
I think that my daughter was using the school for social hours. I read and reviewed her work from her notebooks and it was standard textbook items. One day she came home and announced: “They don’t do anything.” I smiled and was proud because she realized it on her own. She continued to share that most of the day the class is talking and the teacher is on her phone. In between that the teacher tells them to stop talking, they eat, go for recess, then finish their day sitting in the class. Other times the teacher would say some notes from a book, but otherwise, there was no schedule. She decided to change from learning Nzema because they mostly spoke English in the class. She changed to French and learned that there too mostly they were speaking in the pidgin English. I left her in the school to give her a lesson in non-productivity. It worked because she would come home and do the homeschooled assignments with zest.
When we lived in the USA I was always heading a homeschool cooperative or involved in something for the after school programs. Here in Kikam I decided to get involved. It would seem easy enough because no parents were involved. They were all busy tending their farms or thought that the school was there as the authority so therefore they did not have to get involved. Since I was seeing the cracks in the system I visited the school to see what I could do to assist.
I wanted to put in to place a garden. The children could tend to it and learn some
hands on science and it would beautify the school grounds. It was suggested that I pay for this improvement. I chuckled at yet another time that I should pay for it and work to make it better by myself. This was not the first time this was suggested. Since I was being asked to share my money, naturally I wanted to get down to the budget of the school. Why are there no funds for beautification? Was it necessary for there to be a fee increase in order to sustain this?
Me and my American ways. At this small school the money came in, but many times did not make it to where it needed to be. I followed the online trail to the school’s USA affiliate, NGO, and sponsor. The online look boasted supporting a school where the children were smiling and just happy to be alive. I even recognized one of the girls from the school in the photos, so this was recent photography. The NGO was proud to record the amount of money being sent to the school. They even had a photo of the new projector that was gifted to the school – why gift it if there are no lights, I thought.
I pointed this out to Emmanuel and he advised to leave it alone. He shared that that is how they are making a living by getting funds to use for their own cars, homes, and education elsewhere for their own children. If I got involved they would probably find a way to get rid of me or to put roots and voodoo on me in the name of Jesus.
One of the more laid back posts, but now you are getting a jist of the background to the book, Wanted: Green Card.