|We asked the children to show us how their merry-go-round worked!|
Have you ever felt like a Rock Star! Well, on Thursday morning Greg and I went to visit an Elementary and Secondary School out in the “bush”. We traveled about 2 hours from Accra toward a city called Koforidua. A man working for Empower Playgrounds, Isaac Mensah, agreed to take us to one of the schools that are using the Merry-Go-Round generator system to help light the school. Also, the children can take home the lanterns to study at night. The lanterns can be used for adult classes in the evening too. It gets dark here every day at 6:00. So the opportunities for the adults after work are very limited if there is no electricity. These playgrounds are so amazing and Greg and I were so impressed.
|Every school has a moto--they are all optimistic|
|Debi teahing a simple hand game, they loved it!|
Greg and I watched them play on the merry-go-round and Isaac explained how the generator worked and how the electricity produced went through a cable into the school house and charged the batteries of the lanterns. We were excited to see the lanterns and how well they light up the room. The program is very structured. First the school has to qualify for the program. The parents have to be very involved and the children have to sign a contract to take care of the lantern and bring it back to school.
We then went into the principal’s office and met with him and his teachers. They were all very grateful to have us come to the school and visit. As we asked them what their concerns were the principle said that his greatest wish is that they could have water for the children at the school. I almost started to cry. I asked how the children get water in the day. They are to bring their own but many cannot. They have a small barrel that they try to catch rain water but that was very insufficient. The teachers also said that they would love to have a couple of computers to teach the children how to use them. They do not have the power they would need. Isaac said that they are working on a program to get solar panels into the schools and maybe they will be able to power the computers.
You can imagine the feelings I had inside as I looked at these precious little ones and realized that many go all day in the heat without water. They are also supposed to bring their own food. But Water first, food later.
As we tried to leave the children sang to us and came all the way back to our car with us. We wished them a Merry Christmas and waved goodbye. My heart was so full of love for those beautiful little souls.
OK. I served for 11 years on the Utah State School Board. I know how to conduct a school visit. First you take a tour of the physical facitities. Here, that meant the classrooms and the campus. I have to admit, I never saw anything like this, except when I went out to the "Basin"or down to San Juan County and visited reservation schools. But here the children are so happy.
Next, we usually talked about curriculium. Here they teach reading, writing, arithmatic and science. Just with a little different teaching tools. Also they are not afraid to teach values from the Bible.
We ususally asked about the safety of the students. So I did here. The second school we visited is not accessable by a road. One can not drive to this school. It was like hiking back to a lake in the Unitias to fish, or a jungle hike on an island.
Finally, we always asked the principal and the facility what they needed to do their job better.
The first response was water. Then school supplies and finally computers.
These playgrounds are amazing. They generate power to charge these batteries that run lights that the students can take home. They also provide something for the students to play on.
At both schools we gave them a new soccor ball. It was not inflated, but you might have thought we had given the students an all expense paid trip to Disney World. They were so excited for one soccor ball. These balls were donated by friends of another missionary coupler.
All the kids wanted to touch Sister Haws' hands, but they also wanted to touch my hair. So I had all these little African hands touching my head. I tried not to think what else they might have been touching that day.
Sister Haws and I told the Principal that we would find him help for his water problem. A big poly-tank that could catch the rain water, fully installed will cost about $500 USD. What they really need is a bore hole well that would provide them fresh water. These cost closer to $5,000 USD. We understand that the complete package of the playground/generator/batteries cost around $10,000 USD.
We are going to start small with the water tanks, and then see if we can do anything to get bore holes, then how to get each student a fully functioning I-pad! (why not reach for the stars!)
The purpost of the trip was to traing the Priesthood leaders in this District. We were amazed that this is one of the oldest places in Ghana that the Church has been established in. A brother to one of the original Pioneers (Ghana pre-freeze and even pre-church people) established several branches up there in the early years. These are some of the earliest Church-built buildings in Ghana. They are trying very hard to become a Stake.
We are having such a variety of experiences on this mission. We never would have thought that we would be able to go and do so many different things. Each day, we say a prayer in the morning and ask our Father-in-Heaven what he wants us to do that day. Some days we need to focus on auditing matters, but on others we are amazed at what we are led to do.