Katie had forewarned me that the children at the school would go crazy with excitement when they saw me, but I wasn’t prepared. Opening the car door, the children ran over to me and in seconds I was surrounded, which definitely put a smile on my face too. The children also greeted me with a handmade welcome sign; I felt like a celebrity and instantly warmed to the school and the environment Common Faith Academy has created.
Looking at the school building from the outside, I could see the kitchen equipment under a tree, a slide that was falling apart and holes in the ground used as toilets; you can see a million things that needed be done to the infrastructure, and that's even before walking into the classrooms.
Inside, the building is divided into different classrooms, 3.5 rooms. I say half a classroom because the older children are being taught in a small room, no bigger than a broom cupboard. One of the classrooms has been painted and has lots of donated books. The coloured desks and benches that were donated look really good, but looking past the cosmetics, you can see how the building structure is leaning to the side. Bricks have been added to hold up the wooden structure, but these look insecure. The other classrooms are still basic; no properly painted walls, just a chalkboard and some small desks. However, none of this seems to stop the children from laughing and smiling and shouting ‘Obroni’ (a friendly way of referring to a white person).
Today was also my first Parents’ and Teachers’ Association meeting at the school. It was great to be part of the meeting and listen to the Head Teacher, Obour and hear his passion for the school. We discussed with the parents the importance of education and attendance, as well as hygiene, and explained how Pen to Paper Ghana planned to help the school and work together with them in the future.
"Working together, I am confident we can create a safe, clean and loving environment where your children can thrive and learn, and begin their exciting journey of education." - Emma Pegler
After the meeting, Katie and I spent time in the nursery class. We taught them some nursery rhymes, helping them to count to five with “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, once I caught a fish alive”, and doing some drawing, which the children loved.
Once school had finished for the day, it was home time, and I experienced the school bus. Again, Katie had given me some insight into how the journey would be, but nothing could prepare me! The children piled on to the small bus, with about 5 to every 2 seats. They were standing in the aisle, sitting on top of each other and hanging from the seats. For many of the children, the school day soon caught up with them and they drifted off to sleep, regardless of whether they were sitting or not. Despite the overcrowding, I began to realise how difficult their journey would be if it wasn’t for the school bus. The children would have to travel long distances on foot. The dusty paths, barely roads, are full of pot holes and winds frequently blow in all directions. If transport was not provided, many of the children would not go to school at all, so the bus is essential for the successful running of the school.
I absolutely loved my day at Common Faith Academy, and can't wait to work with Katie and Richard, planning and putting into action how Pen to Paper Ghana can help the children, the teachers and the school.
I'm excited to be part of this and can't wait to return.
Till next time,