Monday, 18 January 2016

Good morning-o! (Ghanaians like to put an 'o' at the end of greetings).

Liz and I have been back in Abenta for a week now. This is our second three months (we leave on 6th April) and things have changed: we're in the heart of the dry season, the grass has turned yellow and there has been no rain for about 6 weeks. The rainy season doesn't fully get going until April, although rains may come sporadically from mid-February onwards. So, we've run out of water in our polytank. We do have another polytank by the school where we are collecting water from but we are having to ration it. So this means half-buckets for showers and reusing water for washing up. Now I appreciate rain. I will never complain about it again in the UK! As for drinking water, this is always in plentiful supply because sachet water purified and distributed in abundance from Tema (I think?) which is the main industrial city in Ghana, West of Accra. One sachet costs either 10 peswes or 20 peswes (about 1-3 pence) and you will see it on sale anywhere in a town or by the roadside.

The harmattan is still here. The harmattan are trade winds blown south from the Sahara desert which make the air dusty and dry. There is no humidity in the air and the visibility is poor as the harmattan looks like a heavy fog. This makes the temperature hotter during the day but cooler at nights. In the past week, we've had two tornadoes pass through the village. They've been tiny but still a very impressive sight - probably standing at 15 meters in height. Nature is fascinating. I should have paid more attention in Mr Berry's Geography lessons, but then again oxbo lakes weren't my thing back then. The harmattan will disappear with the first rains of this year, the rains couldn't come soon enough!

In the last week Liz and I delivered our first teacher training course in Phonics and Assessment for Learning (teacher jargon!). It was a two day course delivered to Village By Village's original home, Gboloo Kofi. Teachers in government run schools don't get the input they deserve. There's not much funding for state-run education, hence low-pay, lack of resources and low teacher morale. Teacher training opportunities do come about, but sporadically. So, in the last three months we put together a two-day training programme on phonics (and some other stuff), using the resources and ideas put together by Phonics Ghana www.phonicsghana.net. We are now rolling out the course, with the expertise of Miracule Gavor, who heads up Novan Education, in various schools over the next three months. Our first training session went well and with a few tweaks will be good to go next month when we take it to a town called Atimpoku, which is towards the Volta Region.

This weekend the Village By Village team and the two new volunteers - Aoife and Brandon - took a trip to Shai Hills in Greater Accra, which is a nature reserve on the outskirts of the capital city. It felt like being on safari and the landscape was more reminiscent of the savannahs of Eastern and Southern Africa.

Here are some photos:

My most inspired Christmas present made it all the way to Ghana. This stuff has transformed breakfast. Thanks Tom, Jodi, Franz and Beatrix.

A morning walk up one of the hills surrounding Abenta. From left: Emmanuel, Brandon, Aoife, Aikins and you know the rest.
The view from the top. 

 Teachers of the world unite! Our first phonics training course. Miracule, from Novan education is 4th from the left. 
 Liz being welcomed into Shai Hills by the alpha female. No other baboons are allowed to take food from us when she's around. A few minutes later the alpha male showed up and she had to hang back out of respect to him (the baboon that is, not Liz).
 Village By Village day trip to Shai Hills. From left: Liz, me, Kwabena (Aikins' borther), Kobby, Aikins, Bra John, Emmanuel, Brandon, Aiofe
Ostriches, which are going to be bred at Shai Hills. They were massive.
 Antelope, there were about 500 of these bad boys.
Ema climbing up an old sacred rock for the Shai tribe.
 The aforementioned alpha female with her baby.
 The daddy. Don't mess.
 Kobby (multilinguist and general great guy) and Liz doing their Cobra impression
 Brandon on top of the world
 panoramic view. Not bad for a compact camera.
 Liz has never been prouder of me in my Cambridge United shirt.
Rocks where women from the Shai tribe would have slept back in the day. 

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