Preparing for Christmas
At 6 o’clock the strident chimes of the alarm rings out. We have already had the call to prayer somewhat earlier and the neigh of the neighbour’s goats (they have three and are fattening them up for Christmas). I am usually the first one up and it is always nice at this time: sort of cool and fresh without the intense heat – that will come later.
The guys then move and grunt rather than talk. We tend to have picked up a bit of Ghanian breakfast along with English and what you can get hold of. Essential start is a mug of tea, and powdered milk, which I now can take in my drinks. We like the bread as long it’s not sugar or butter-bread as that has a sweet taste and we have found cheese spread to put onto it. We also have fresh pineapple, bananas, paw paw or eggs ( you can buy these from road side sellers in trays for about £3 or 11 cedis) Another Ghanaian favourite is porridges of a variety of maize , corn and other delights. But in our house porridge makes few appearances.
By 7.30 we are on the move, a little guy called Shine usually comes with us ( he is the neighbour’s boy ) and we wander down our dusty , red dirt road with cries of ‘Ebrini’ (white person) from the little kids and ‘Good Morning’ from others as people are used to seeing us now. At the end of the road we wait in a shady spot for school buses , Phil and Tom get one going to the New Site while I wait with Shine and catch one going to the Primary site at the church centre.
Once there, Shine goes to his class and I start my programme of reading with various classes. Wednesday is usually with the younger ones; they love stories and I am rapidly reading through all the ones bought in our suitcases and hoping and praying that the boxes come soon so there will be hundreds to choose from and the Jolly Phonic programme to go through with the first few year groups (Yes the boxes STILL have not arrived: very frustrating). I am known as Aunty Heather or just plain Auntie while all the guys are Uncle.
The kids all are on a well organised reading scheme and every day their folders come back with books to change. They are meant to read a bit each night and most of them do, so you can imagine it is a big job to change all the books. A lady called Daniella does this and I will sometimes help if needed. The children always have two bits of homework each night but it can’t be anything needing the internet as many of them have not got access.
The morning whizzes past and the heat increases; I am forever swigging water and happy if there is even a slight breeze. Lunch time arrives where the kids line up and wash their hands in large bowls. Then off they go into the hall area with open sides where the TA’s and the teachers serve out lunch. This is hot food which nearly all but a few take, in the form of rice, spicy stews, bankou, fish, pasta, sausage, all in different combinations. It is very filling!!!!!
Wednesday pm for me is different as I take a bus up to the New Site and the children have an extra- curriculum programme. My brief is Netball along with girls football. They are building a covered area for sports but at the moment there is just a concrete base with nooooooooo shade. Essential cap wear and plenty of water but I still fry.
They are all enthusiastic and competitive though we need a lot more shooting practice. After that it’s a team-type teach with 6th form and 5th form games. Myself and Phil have the girls, some of them not so happy about doing any sport, in fact movement is an issue. Being so hot we have sympathy so inventing our own games of rounders/baseball, dodgeball, prisonball and strange football which helps the non-movers.
Come the end of the day we catch the late bus at 4 and get dropped off on the way back to the church site to fall in the door and in for a cold shower and to collapse in a heap.