02 September 2013

Wusuta Royal Academy

Well I believe that I have finally received a break in this crazy busy summer of mine to sit down and start sharing some of my Ghana experiences, it has been long overdue! I have decided that the first experience I would like to write about is my volunteer experience at Wusuta Royal Academy, a private school in the village of Wusuta in the Kpando district of the Volta region in Ghana. I spent two weeks volunteering here after my group study finished. So here is the story of my amazing first volunteer abroad experience :)

The Adventure Begins.

Originally before embarking on this trip I had hoped to volunteer at an orphanage. I had even found an amazing place called Fathers House, which houses eight boys who were rescued from child slavery in Ghana's fishing industry. Unfortunately, my plans to volunteer there fell through and I had to find a new placement at the last minute. Thankfully, our professor Kodzo came through with accomodation and volunteer placements for Emily and Shauna, who were kind enough to take me in on their adventure to Kodzo's village, Wusuta!

Here is Kodzo and the driver forcing our bags into the back of the trotro with a rope,
We weren't sure if our bags would make it to our destination when we got in the back
of the cramped van but we stayed positive and excited for our next adventure.

The drive to Wusuta was an adventure but it was filled with many beautiful things to see and of course we made it to Wusuta safely. Upon arrival at Father Isaac's house we received a warm meal, an introduction and welcoming to the school's teachers, a preview of the school in the evening, and settled nicely into our lovely room. The next morning we walked to school and our first day on the job consisted of an introduction from the headmaster about the organization of books, classes and teachings. We had hoped that we might get a little prepared before we began teaching and that we would start off by sitting in on other teachers' classes but to our great surprise the very first thing we did was teach.... ALONE! They separated the three of us girls into three separate classes, gave us some English books and we had to improvise lessons on the spot basically as substitute teachers in front of rambunctious students! I tried my best but I was rather uncomfortable with this situation as I had never taught before and I much prefer to be sitting with the children helping them than in front of them teaching. 

Needless to say we were all overwhelmed by the experience alone, let alone how different the school system was compared to what we grew up with. We ended the first day early as I had some minor medical issues to deal with. So I had decided that I would be a much better help to Father Isaac and his school if I could focus on helping the other teachers, learning about the school, spending time with the students, and documenting my experience with notes and pictures so that I may form a better understanding to fundraise for the private school in the future. So that is how I spent the rest of my two weeks volunteering! Let's face it... I am a development practitioner, not a teacher and my skills are much better directed to raising funds for the school. So I suppose that's what this blog post is really about, sharing what I learned about Royal Academy in hopes that others may take interest and understand why I so badly wish to help this amazing school!

The road up to the school yard that everybody walks up to school each day.

A picture of the school's timetable for all 9 classes: KG1-2, P1-6 and JHS1-3. Subjects include: 
English, Math, Science, French, Ewe (local language), ICT (computers), Library (books), 
Citizenship, Social Studies, RME (religious moral education), Creative Arts and PE.   

Why the School Needs Some Help.

Royal Academy was started out of the kindness of Father Isaac's heart and his wish to help educate some children in his area who had been orphaned by AIDS. Soon he realized that all of Wusuta itself would benefit from a school. For more information on the story of how Royal Academy originated and for more exact information about need areas of the school, please visit my other blog post here

This is the first building of the school that Father Isaac established using the $2000 of fundraising through bottle drives. Structural proof that a little bit of fundraising here in Canada can go a long way!

The entire school complex with the original first building to the right. 

The beginning of the new three-floored building to increase number of classrooms in the school. 
A long-standing work in progress and proof that the school still needs a lot of financial assistance. 

Even though the building is not finished yet, two classes are still held within the first floor. 

The donated playground, which is nice to have in the school yard 
but it is rather out of date and infrequently used. 

The school's headmaster and a teacher showing off the water tank.

The inside of a kindergarden classroom. 

Experiencing Wusuta.

Volunteering in Wusuta obviously wasn't all work as we had many cool experiences and got to do a lot of lovely sight seeing in the area :) I absolutely loved the coastal regions of Ghana but I don't think anything can really compare to the tropical forests and mountains around Lake Volta.

Father Isaac in action at a Catholic church service. 

Us volunteers were lucky enough to have Father Isaac arrange for us to climb 
to the top of Mount Afadjato, one of the tallest mountains in Ghana. This is 
one of the amazing views from the top. 

Here is me in front of Lake Volta, which is the biggest man made lake in the world. 
Wusuta is just under an hour's walk to the incredible Lake Volta. 

Myself, Emily and Shauna with Father Isaac in his home where we stayed. 

This small mountain I'm standing on is right behind Father Isaac's house in Wusuta. 
My two German volunteer friends, Dominick and Ole, were kind enough to 
bring me to the top so I could see the sun set on Lake Volta! Another one of the 
amazing adventure opportunities when staying in Wusuta!

A better view of the sunset on Lake Volta.
The Happy People of Royal Academy. 

Here are some snap shots of the fun times we had being at the school everyday!

A morning assembly in the school football field. 

Shauna and Emily with a few of the teachers.

A group of the Kindergarden students, the craziest and cutest bunch of kids I've ever met.

Our dear friend Moses the teacher with his class. He was overly welcoming 
and generous to us, it is not often you find such a nice person so I am very 
fortunate to have met him and happy the school has found such a caring teacher.

Myself with cute little Faffali, I could carry her around all day!

Myself with some more of the KG kids. I spent a lot of time with them and their
shenanigans since most teachers avoid them because they're so crazy. I spent time
 listening to their many songs and dances, teaching them the macarena, chasing them 
around the field, spinning them around and breaking up their many fights.
Exhausting to say the least!

Headmaster Godknows at his desk.

My German friends Ole and Dominik, they spent a year teaching English and 
Math at Royal Academy and the school really wouldn't be the same without
all of their amazing help!

Reading with the girls from P4.

One of many Azonto dance competitions.

Where Do We Go From Here?

We quickly realized that the two weeks we spent at Royal Academy would never be nearly enough time to help the school in all of the ways we wanted. So we decided early on to brainstorm ways in which we could continue helping the school move forward in meeting their needs, even after we came home to Canada. One of the first ways we decided we could help is to fundraise by selling bags and other goods made out of reused water satchels. 

The beginning of an awesome fundraising project that Emily, Shauna and I are 
working on! These are the rubbers of the water drinking satchels that continuously
 go to waste. We decided to collect the rubbers and bring them home to sew into hand bags :) 
When we told the headmaster, he ordered the entire school to help collect rubbers for us. 
On our last day at Wusuta Academy we came to find this group of students organizing hundreds 
of these rubbers that the students brought for us, I felt amazed and blessed! And yes.. we had to 
bring that huge bag all the way back to Canada! I will keep you posted on how our work will be going. 

The headmaster and I helping out the students.

Please stay posted for a new blog post on all our plans to help the school! Coming Soon!

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