HOME       VOLUNTEER OVERSEAS       BLOGS
Developing a just society based on equity and equal opportunities for all with respect for diversity.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Next Big Step

As our time in Ghana reaches its last weeks we've all been planning the final field trips and events for the projects. The field trip that myself and Jill have been organising though has been organising the first donations of donated clothes to two of the beneficiary schools in the Savelugu/Nanton areas, as part of the Students for Schooling project (uniform recycling). We have 8 donor schools and 8 beneficiary schools taking part in this project and this number will hopefully increase in the future when the project becomes fully established.

After getting the uniforms collected from the donor schools repaired and washed they were ready to go; It would have been simple just to drop off the uniforms in the 4x4 without much planning but we decided we wanted to add a more personal link between the donor and beneficiary schools. To do this we decided to take some of the children from the donor schools on the donation trip with us.

The sorting of the uniforms into ones that are good, ones that need repair and clothes that aren't uniform
So came the day, the next big step for the project; the field trip letters had been received by our chosen schools (Central Lyceum, Tamale International and Laurenda International), Jill and I had invested in snacks and drinks to keep the children happy and we were on our way. 

We started early, at around 7.30 to Savelugu in our slightly cramped bus and it was a surprisingly quiet journey! None of the children said a word for a good half an hour and I now realise that this was probably down to the fact that two Salamingas (white people) who they'd never met in their lives, were taking them down rough bumpy roads, to what must have seemed like the middle of nowhere. Clearly quite a daunting experience!

The students from the donor schools are all quite privileged, they have nice uniforms and classrooms with desks and seats; the beneficiary schools have to use whatever space they can to try and accommodate the children, often classes will be outside with the children sitting on the floor and the children themselves cannot all afford uniforms. The difference between the types of schools was amplified when one student asked Jill 'are we at an orphanage?' whilst approaching the first school.

Group photo of the donor & beneficiary school children, some in smart uniform and some in no uniform. 

This school was Zoonyili, it was here that both the children and we saw firsthand the impact that the uniform project would have. The donor schools chosen student representatives handed the uniforms over to the beneficiary school children and they were warmly received, the children were all clapping and the head master thanked all of us multiple times. It was a similar experience at Guno, one of the bigger beneficiary schools, where at least a quarter of the students were in non uniform.

A donor school student handing over some donated clothes to a beneficiary school child who currently has no uniform.

It was nice to see that although these children didn't have uniform they were still being allowed to go to school; in a lot of Ghanaian schools you aren't allowed to attend without the uniform. Having a uniform promotes equality and it makes it harder to be discriminated against through not having a uniform.

Taking the donor school children to the beneficiary schools is also a big part of the project because it helps to change their perceptions of the world and allow them to continue to aid their 'brothers and sisters' in the small ways that they are able.

Johanna.