Alexis and Richard's adventures in Ghana travel blog

At the bar. From left to right - Elizabeth, Alexis, Grace (Elizabeth's...

At the bbq - Richard, Alexis, Elizabeth, Grace, Anita and daughter Odetta

On the balcony - Elizabeth, house owner Michael, husband Michael, Alexis

Drinks at the hotel

Interesting English

Our flatmates Stuart and Anne

Richard and Naomi, another VSO volunteer in Accra (check out the Ghanaian...

Dinner with Keith Hill MP

The playground

The priest who blessed the school and the bar

Richard's new Ghanaian name!

Playing a hand crafted xylophone on the street

Entrance to the disability compound

Uneven surface in the disability complex

The building for the deaf and blind

Outside the Deaf headquarters (one room)


Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

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Wise words said to us by our flatmate Stuart and how true it is! Apparently we have arrived in the ‘cool’ season and from now on it’s going to get hotter and hotter. We’ve started to notice it more over the past few days after we’ve dried ourselves after a shower and are already sweating before we get round to getting dressed. Unfortunately we don’t have the pleasure of air conditioning so try to stand under the fan to keep a slight breeze going.

Work is starting to pick up now at the Deaf Society and I (Alexis) have a few project proposals and fundraising reports to write. It is still as frustrating as ever sometimes though. I’ll give you a small snapshot into how quickly things happen in the workplace here. On Friday there was a meeting hosted by the Ghana Federation for the Disabled (GFD) for a review of their constitution with the organisations they represent (deaf, blind, physically and mentally disabled). I should have suspected that things might not go so well due to the fact that there were 25 people there to change one document and the fact that they had scheduled a meeting for the disabled in a room where attendees have to walk up 5 steps to get in. If the GFD isn’t considering access rights for its people then what hope do they have of convincing the rest of Ghana to change?! Anyway, the meeting was scheduled for 6 hours(!) and there were 7 agenda items. It took almost 2 hours before we started and then the first hour of the meeting was taken up with deciding whether we really needed to have the meeting because the constitution had already been reviewed last December. Eventually it was agreed that we would still have the meeting but then the next hour was spent on deciding whether the meeting title was correct and people had alternative meeting title suggestions to offer to ensure it was more accurate. Once this was resolved we finally started with the first agenda topic when yet another question was raised regarding whether we should stick to the printed agenda or create a new one. Arrggh! It was 2pm by this point and we hadn’t got anywhere! We stopped for lunch and much to my relief my boss took pity on me and he said I didn’t have to stay for the remaining agenda items.

On the social side we have been taken under the wing of Johnny’s friend Anita and her family who have been extremely kind to us. They invited us to a barbeque last Tuesday as it was a national holiday. Anita’s mother, Elizabeth, is the headmistress of the school Richard is teaching in and she and her husband, Michael, took us out for the day. We went to their friend’s new bar which is opening on Saturday (we are going to the opening!) and then to another friend’s house in Dome for goat kebabs which were nice but covered in curry powder so takes a bit of getting used to! Everyone has been very welcoming and we are very grateful for how kind they have been.

It has been an interesting week at school. I (Richard) have started teaching properly although my timetable appears to be very flexible. When teachers do not turn up I get called in. I was called into an ICT class the other day with 5 minutes notice. The class was between 11 and 13 years old. I had no computers and just a blackboard. Thinking on the spot I gave a quick lesson on the difference between hardware and software. That took about 30 minutes and I still had an hour left. I asked the class whether they used the IT room ever for ICT classes. They do but they have to do it in shifts because there are not enough computers. So I split the class giving some English exercises to one half and then took the other half into the ICT laboratory. The room was covered with dust because some of the window panes are broken. This is the only room in the school with glass in the windows but even when one pane is broken dust gets blown in. (I have subsequently put some cloth up to try and stop the dust coming in and they have said that they will fix it properly next week). So now I had the challenge of trying to teach some ICT with computers. What do I do? I decided to get them to build a simple web page. I told them to open Notepad and type

(less than)html(greater than)

Hello world

(/less than)html(greater than)

After they had completed this in Notepad they had to tell me where “Hello world” appears in Internet Explorer. (It’s in the blue title bar at the top for those unsure). Quite a simple exercise I thought and they all seemed really keen on building a web page. The first problem was that most of them didn’t know how to type <. They did not know about the shift key. After we got past that hurdle there was the problem of typing on a new line. Many of them did not know to press enter to get the new line. I now started realising that I had maybe set a hard exercise. I cannot think there would be many teenagers in the UK that don’t know how to use a keyboard properly. They all eventually finished although we did overrun and the half of the class doing the English assignment were a bit miffed they had not done any ICT.

The English lessons are going well and I am learning a lot. I had to mark some exams at the end of last week which I must admit I struggled on:

Which is correct? Richard’s and Peter’s mother or Richard and Peter’s mother

Luckily there is an internet café fairly close to our flat so I have spent a while down there brushing up on my grammar. (For those interested it is the second one because we share a single mother. If the object of the sentence is plural then it is the first statement. For example “Richard’s and Peter’s dressing rooms” is correct when there are two dressing rooms.)

All going is well though but I think teaching is starting to take over my life. I am waking up in the night thinking of examples and things I should say in lessons. Perhaps it will get easier when I get used to standing in front of a classroom of expectant children.

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