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A walk through town, photos and goodbyes

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The last few days of our trip we focused on capturing individual photographs of all the children in the school. Families pay for their students to attend the school, but the bulk of the operating costs of the school are covered by individual student sponsorships in the US and Canada.  We also met the twenty new adorable nursery students (age 3 and 4) who will be starting school in the fall and took their photos while their parents attended an orientation with Father Paul.

We continued our interviews of the older girls and interviewed Pius, the smartest boy in the 6th grade. Interestingly, he said that he didn’t like that girls were subjugated in Ghana. He said that in God’s eyes all men and women are equal and that men and women need each other.

We have noticed that almost every day, there are groups of people dressed in black and red head to toe kente cloth patterns walking along the main roads.These colors are a marker that there is a 2 to 3 day funeral celebration. From our limite…

Every girl. Everywhere. Period.

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One of our main goals of this trip was to share our own educational experiences to help empower girls to stay in school. The last thing we want is for them to be held back by something as basic as a period. It's common for girls to skip around 6 days of school due to a lack of resources for dealing with their periods. Those six days can ultimately turn into eight years of a woman's lifetime of missed school, work, church, or other activities. To address this struggle, we partnered with a global nonprofit, Days for Girls (DFG). Their mission is similar to ours: keep girls in school despite their periods. They do this by distributing hand-sewn kits that contain eight reusable flannel pads, a shield that snaps around underwear, soap, and a washcloth. The supplies are stored in cute, fun bags to promote pride in the girls' own bodies and periods.

We bought 50 of these kits that were sewn by a DFG micro-enterprise project in Ghana. A DFG representative from Uganda traveled app…

Dancing in Church and Hosting a BBQ

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We have had a successful weekend! We spent Saturday editing the videos while Liz and Amy went to Kumasi, the second biggest city in Ghana, to run errands in preparation for today's barbecue.

While yesterday was a productive and relaxing day for us, today, on the other hand, was jam packed. We went to church this morning wearing traditional Ghanaian bright green dresses that the seamstresses sewed for us, determining our measurements simply by observing us. Church was three hours long, but we enjoyed it so much because we all thought it was more joyful than church is in America. There was a lot of singing and drumming, which we really loved, and dancing that we made fools of ourselves trying to join into but we had a blast anyway! Everyone at church was really welcoming, and it was incredible to feel so immersed in the true Ghanaian culture and spirit.

After church, we came straight home and started cooking the second we got in the door, preparing chicken, cornbread, lemonade for o…

Polaroids, friendship bracelets, and Friday night dancing!

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Last night, we visited the Queen Mother in Bekwai.  She is a spirited character with a great sense of humor.  It was eye opening to see that royalty is based on lineage and does give status in the village, but it does not correlate with wealth.  We all tried pounding the fufu, a combination of cassava and boiled plantains which is the staple of the Ghanian diet... some of us were more successful than others!

It is our fourth day here in Awaso. We are starting to develop a bit of a routine and learning a lot of the children's names. We are up sometime around 7:30 am and have a beautiful breakfast of oatmeal, fresh bread, Nutella and fresh squeezed OJ.  Our delicious meals are prepared each day by Father Paul's niece, Lucy and his cook at the rectory, Gifty.   We are so lucky to have three beautiful freshly cooked meals every day.  We usually get to Awaso Academy around 9 am to begin our day's work. Today when we got to the school, we spent time with the younger kids. We br…

Introduction of rachel

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Today we started a bit later than previous days because Father Paul was running around attending to business before breakfast. His mornings are absolutely insane - he is up at 4:30am to prepare for a 5:30am Mass. Then he tends to business for the school such as going to a nearby village to pick up building materials for the junior high building that is currently being built or visiting sick parishioners. Yet he still manages to bring us a loaf of warm bread from a different nearby village for breakfast by 8am!

Because of our later start, we arrived at the school around 9:45am and started setting up the laptops to teach the seventh graders how to use the Rachel that we brought from California, along with 13 laptops. The Rachel is a small device with a router that is preloaded with educational content from the internet. The students were thrilled for their first experience using a laptop! Their teacher, whom we taught yesterday, taught them how to navigate the site and they all picked i…

Bruno Mars and Disney in Awaso

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Today, we visited classrooms one by one, and it was a much less chaotic experience that was extremely productive.  We did a couple of activities in each room including an "I Am" project, where the kids came up with adjectives to describe themselves. This project allowed the students to open up about themselves to us, and also added a colorful element to their classrooms. Their vocabulary was outstanding - they were using words such as empathetic, humble, obedient, and merciful.  We then sang them a song, I'm Yours, by Jason Mraz, which they loved!  We would look up from our music from time to time to see a room full of beaming faces with ear to ear grins!

In the last classroom we visited, the fourth grade, we had some extra time so we also sang Count on Me by Bruno Mars and taught the kids the chorus to sing along.  Originally, it was kind of a rushed, makeshift way to fill time, but it was extremely successful and a highlight of the trip so far.  The kids picked it up s…

Arriving in Awaso

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After a 31 hour journey from San Francisco to Awaso, we finally arrived at the home of Father Paul Mensah, the founder and director of Awaso academy International.  In addition to overseeing the school and running a daily and sometimes twice daily mass at his church, Father Paul is a taxi driver, ambulance driver, counselor, mentor, and problem solver for his community and parish.  His phone rings around the clock and he always answers it.

We loaded Father's Paul's car with all the 15 bags of supplies we brought, not knowing what to expect when we arrived at the school the next day.  We were greeted by a courtyard full of kids and a beautiful dance ritual accompanied by drums in which three of the odler girls danced for us then attempted to teach us, a hilarious sight to the kids who were watching  They roared with laughter.  We then unloaded all the supplies onto a table for a proper presentation of gifts.  The children were so excited!  We blew bubbles into the faces of the …