The photos say it all

The students are finishing the books with borrowing cards and envelopes and all are on the shelves by subject and each has a sticker with the subject. They have been stellar in their consistent desire to get it right and finish. So, the payoff is that we play lots of learning games which I have to make up on the spot most times. We ran out of cards and envelopes and got creative in making more. They are engaged and at the end of the day we sing and play instruments. They want to perform in the ceremony for the opening of the library.
A very nice woman from Canada whom I have never met, sent all of the books on sex ed. I am so grateful to have this section in the library.

We had fun today

I have been working with the same 5 students since Tuesday. They are amazing. Rashida,Theresa,Augustina, Stephan and Mumuni . He is the clown of the group and the first one to jump to use the dictionary if he doesn’t know a word.
Today we learned they learned to use a dictionary, thesaurus and Encyclopedia. It is a process but they are all really intelligent and catch on quickly. We are getting the identifier stickers onto the books and stamping them with the Yua Library logo.

Yesterday, Mumuni just hummed a beat, I followed him and then the others followed with their own sounds and the same beat. It was magic. Today they asked to do it again. We were making music. I brought some toy instruments and the sound was pure joy.

The library is coming together even though lots of the shelves are empty. Ayamdooh keeps reminding me that they will get filled in the coming years.
Julius is a kind man who cares about the students succeeding. He is going to run the library with his velvet hammer.
We stopped at a school on the way to see what they had created for washing their hands. It is very clever and simple. So, when we got to Yua, I asked that two students make one of them so children could wash before entering the library. A stick is the “pedal” and the jug holds the water.
A hole is in the jug and when it tips, the water comes out.

Imposia cooks for the students who work with me. She is showing off her new necklace.
So now, the children eat and drink water from a borehole near our building. In years past, the same cup was used by every student and dipped into a plastic container. Also, in the past, the kids were so hungry at the end of school that it was hard for them to concentrate as much as they wanted to. Now, I was exhausted and when I asked if they were tired, they stood up and all cheered, “NO!”
It was a great day.

All is not lost

Today was my second day of working at the library. Yesterday was a bit of a nightmare for me though. Some boxes of books got wet and grew black mold. Two of my bags got stolen and I am missing the spout to the water container. Unfortunately, after going through all of my bags, I am also missing the metal shelf subject plates too.
We thought the chordless drill was in the stolen bags, but found it today so I can drill screws into the thick concrete walls to hang plaques, posters and signs.

Julius, is the man who will run the library. I met him several years ago while teaching in the school. He embraced this new teaching and was noticed by another organization for his unique skills. He has since been asked by them to speak to other teachers and share his methods.

A man showed up who I thought was Akonyure, a villager who I asked to be “keeper of the animals” in 2001 on my first trip. He had never gone to school and we spoke only through our shared love of animals. I was so impressed that he knew what I was saying when I told him where to put the books as we were categorizing them. After about 20 minutes, I said, “wow, when did your english get so good?” Ayamdooh said from the other room, “Jan, that is Julius.” Oh, I was so embarrassed and gave him a big hug. He is so kind, that he just kept letting me guide him when he needed no guidance at all.

This morning I woke up knowing what to expect and letting go of the sadness of losing so many books and the fiasco that was yesterday.
Our task today was to finish putting all of the books in categories. We actually finished that today and got some books on the shelves. We are creating a children’s corner and the primary school teacher came to visit and loved the idea. Kids will sit on the floor in a circle and discuss what was read to them.

Julius, the man who will run the library got 5 students to come help. One of the girls was amazing. She ended up organizing the others so that they could help each other figure out categories.
It was really exciting to see the reference section glow with encyclopedias and dictionaries. It will even be more exciting when they learn to use them.

My hope is that we get all the books labeled and the library finished with some time left to listen to some music and teach the kids how to use the library. I am sure that each day I don’t have to smell or look at mold will be better and better.

Ayamdooh’s work

Hi all, With things in the states heating up because of the debates, things in Ghana keep moving along. Ayamdooh has given his heart and soul to animals and children of Ghana. I want to share this story with you about his work in a village the government sent him to be a veterinarian. He is away from his family for 5 days a week and is working in a village the size of Yua. It is rural and lacks resources but 20 minutes away Ayamdooh visits a local waterfall and a lake.

Waterfall near village where Ayamdooh now works

Waterfall near village where Ayamdooh now works


River in rural village
Rural village Ayamdooh now works
Dear Jan, the day has been a hard and tiring day. This nice horse had hydrocele and swelling of testis. I had to spent a lot of time to operate. The owner could not afford full cost and I could not leave it to be suffering like that. Thanks for the local anaesthesia you gave me. I had to sedate it and use local anaesthesia as well to reduce the pain. I will continue to do my best for the needee. Hugs
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Ayamdooh operating on a horse

Ayamdooh operating on a horse

Saying Goodbye

“Goodbying” was fun, difficult,etc. But, the person who had the hardest time with it was Clementina. She was weeping and trying to control that on top of having some malaria symptoms.
The school bought a volleyball net and ball and were playing when I arrived today. So, of course you know the first thing I did. Played with the girls and then luckily the boys came out. They were really good whereas the girls were “girly.” Excuse the expression but I think you know what I mean. I tried to help them but some were afraid of the ball and others just didn’t know how to move. I talked to the coach of the boys and asked him to coach the girls. He said he would try but they often don’t come out.
Saying goodbye
Then as I was driving away, many of the students came running out of the classrooms and in unison waved goodbye and mimicked my “happy dance” that I do in classes when someone does something really great. Very funny and bittersweet as always.
Ayamdooh and I talked about this being the best trip because I got everything done that I wanted. Nothing was left to do “tomorrow.” I didn’t get sick at all and the students really seemed to pick up on the teachings.

The teachers this time weren’t as enthusiastic as other times to come to classes. Apparently they expected me to provide food and pay their gas. So, I said forget it and taught the students which is always more fun anyway.
With Clementina teaching now, i am happy they will be getting more of the learning they need
My beautiful Yua children. I love them all.
walking in Yua

Yua woman in her new shirt from the U.S.

Yua woman in her new shirt from the U.S.


Yua woman wearing one of my many hats

Yua woman wearing one of my many hats

The women made shea butter again from bags of shea nuts I bought them. All of the containers but 4 are for the women and one for the medical clinic. They now use the butter regularly for skin irritations and for cooking of course.

There is enough shea butter for all the women who made it and the clinic.

There is enough shea butter for all the women who made it and the clinic.


So, that is it for this trip. So much has happened and I didn’t write about all of it. The adventures and the growth are never ending and I am most grateful to Akunz for first introducing me to these beautiful people and their village. It is with a heavy heart that I have left. On the other hand, I am glad to know I will be going back and seeing more progress with the animals and the students. students up close
Until next time…Hugs, Jan

School people

Joshua is a dedicated, sweet man who wants all of his students to succeed.  He is rare in that he cares about them so much.  I really love working with him.  Plus, he corrected my spelling and my grammar when I was teaching.

Joshua is a dedicated, sweet man who wants all of his students to succeed. He is rare in that he cares about them so much. I really love working with him. Plus, he corrected my spelling and my grammar when I was teaching.


Clementina is modeling her new skirt. She was a trooper. She hung out with me all morning while I played volleyball and said goodbye to the kids. She finally told me she was having malaria symptoms. We took her home.
Clementina modeling her new skirt from the U.S.

Clementina modeling her new skirt from the U.S.

Girls showing funeral pockets
Clementina shows the girls how to sew funeral pockets that she sewed in my class 5 years ago when I first taught them.
The girls tend to get pregnant at funerals so this pocket they put inside their dress, holds a condom. They loved making them.
Sewing funeral pockets to hold condoms
Pok teaching sex ed to the boys and handing out condoms.
Pok teaching sex ed
A volleyball in Yua? I was so excited, I had to play with the girls…and the boys.
Volleyball in YuaPlaying volleyball
The students were drinking out of that green container on the floor. One cup, not cleaned between people drinking from it and put back in the water. Ugh!!!
We talked about hygeine in sex ed and I found these buckets with a spout. I suggested each student bring their own cup or calabash. The students said they were really happy to have these. Old habits die hard though, so I will see next time if they use these. Fingers crossed.
New Water containers for school
Julius and me 2015

I told Ayamdooh and Pok that I really didn’t want to go home without seeing Julius. Finally, my last day, Julius drove up to the truck on his motorcycle. We hugged and I felt in that moment, my trip was complete.
He told me that he had been teaching awhile ago when a few women walked into his class. They were from a very large NGO, Afrikids. They asked where he learned to teach “like that.” He said from, “Madame Jan from the U.S.A.” They then asked him to come to a meeting where other teachers and other head masters would attend. He will be talking about these new teaching methods and how they have changed the way his students learn. I know he would take it with him. I feel really grateful that I met him and had the opportunity to work with him.
The Reading Group this year was much bigger than in previous years. We still accomplished the goals of learning to project, have eye contact and speak with expression. We had a great time.

More photos

Akonyure's new bicycle seat (brought from the U.S.)

Akonyure’s new bicycle seat (brought from the U.S.)


condoms at clinic
Condoms to clinic

Condoms to clinic


3500 condoms to Yua clinic

3500 condoms to Yua clinic


Crutches to clinic

Crutches to clinic

Resevoir in Bolga (where I sleep)

Resevoir in Bolga (where I sleep)

Liily pads in Bolga

Liily pads in Bolga

Girl in Yua

Girl in Yua

Amazing

Walking in Yua

Walking in Yua

Reading group

Reading group

Reading group in Yua church

Reading group in Yua church

A friend of mine, Chaya made a DVD of you tube videos of animals. We used it for Gentle Handling classes as a way to teach that animals can learn, use their brains and have loving relationships with each other and their humans. It also showed how animals react to negative reinforcement versus being loved and treated well.
One video was of a chicken pecking at the picture of a chicken amongst other animal pictures.
Once the students saw I was handing out pens for trying to answer, getting the correct answer and explaining how, why or the meaning, almost everyone was raising their hand. In contrast to other days to when barely a hand goes up. At least now they know not to say “yes” in unison if they don’t really understand something. They risk being called on to tell me what they understood. Saying, “no, I don’t understand” gets them another explanation and possibly a pen.
When I asked the class what they understood about the chicken, one boy, Paul answered, “The chicken is identifying itself.” I almost fell to the floor. This was such an advanced answer especially since I had not said it and it was more than “chicken.” Which was the common answer. He got 2 pens and a writing notebook for that one.
Since I can see many of the students struggling to find more than just one or two word answers. It is really hard because they are speaking in English and being asked to think rather than just repeat.
Enter: Clementina. She explains things for them in english but with an accent they recognize.
I can’t wait to see Paul in 5 years and find out where his life has taken him.

Ayamdooh is published

Ayamdooh spent two years writing up a study that just got approval for publication in “Pan American Medical Journal.” “Mapping as a tool for predicting the risk of Anthrax outbreaks in Northern Region of Ghana” is the title.
I have always felt lucky to be working with him and to know him as the great person he is. His integrity and willingness to help others whether it is convenient for him or not, are some of the reasons I respect him.
Congratulations Ayamdooh!!

Ayamdooh, me and Pok

Ayamdooh, me and Pok

Ayamdooh modeling his new shirt

Ayamdooh modeling his new shirt

Clementina is a teacher

Do you remember Clementina? The blog is called “Clementina wants to be a doctor.” Now she is a teacher in Primary classes. When she surprised me with her presence in Yua, I asked if she wanted to help me teach. She jumped at the chance and was full speed ahead going to the classes even before I arrived for the day in Yua. She is loving teaching english and reading to them.

Clementina is a teacher

Clementina is a teacher


One boy today waved goodbye to her and said, “Tomorrow.” They really like her. Too many of the teachers don’t even show up for work. They get paid low salaries and are not well trained. Unfortunately many of them are more interested in the paycheck than the students. Not so with Clementina. She wasn’t working before she visited and even though she isn’t getting paid, she feels useful and wishes she had a teacher like herself when she was in Primary. Clementina teaching
So, I feel really great having someone take the reins after I leave. It will be fantastic to see how much better these kids do in JSS when I come back because of her. I really hope she sticks with it. She is truly beautiful, inside and out.
Clementina