Marching into Ghana

One of the leaders of the Women's March in Accra on January 21st, 2017

One of the leaders of the Women's March in Accra on January 21st, 2017

Today I woke up to pictures and videos of Women’s Marches around the world. It was an absolutely beautiful thing to see how many people got up yesterday and marched with millions of other women to stand for equality and social justice for all. Although I was unable to attend the march here in Accra, I have been able to witness a powerful march of my own. I have seen the male leaders of the communities I am working with here in Ho: the headmasters, NGO directors, village elders, and other school teachers, all of whom have been working diligently to promote the fair access to education and materials for women and girls in this community. The societal norms where women are solely the head of the household, used only for cooking, cleaning, and having babies, is slowly starting to shift. This shift that I am seeing here is due to the influence of strong and compassionate men in the community. As the men push the girls to achieve more for themselves it seems to create a domino effect.  The girls then bring everyone around them up to fight for equality. It may be awhile before we stop seeing 16 and 17 year-old girls here having children and getting married,  but it is changing. A change, even a small one, is still a change. One step at a time.

K and W of the KWL Chart on Relationships (Unit 1)

K and W of the KWL Chart on Relationships (Unit 1)

Yesterday was a good day. It was a leisurely start, like most days are here in Ghana, and then the pace picked up. Stephen came to the VEG compound around 2 o’clock and we went to Madam Fo Ghana, the home for enslaved children. We had not realized it was a Game Day for Football here in Ghana, so it was a good thing we got there early. We rounded all the kids up and met in the auditorium room. Since Kofi was not there today and the first Unit for our Reproductive Health Unit is technically “Kofi’s Unit” I did not want to start it without him. I remembered back to my middle school social studies classes where we practiced KWL charts-Know, Want to Know, and Learned.  I thought we should make one for the Relationship Unit, so Kofi would have a baseline for next class. It was hard to get the class talking at first, but Stephen (thankfully!) was able to get them excited and comfortable sharing.  The list was not too long, so I guess we will be learning a lot about relationships next week! It was interesting, because the majority of the responses had to do with “How do you maintain a healthy ‘boy/girl’ relationship?” The students seem conscientious about cultural norms for unhealthy relationships and are eager to learn about what a healthy relationship looks like in these modern times.

Giving out R.O.C. stickers (only half the room pictured, boys got them too!!)

Giving out R.O.C. stickers (only half the room pictured, boys got them too!!)

Once we finished our KWL chart, we started to generate a list of questions for when we Skype with the R.O.C. kids in Vermont next week. This got everyone excited. The majority of students spoke up and asked questions, which was fantastic. A lot of questions in fact had to do with our new President Donald Trump, one girl straight up asked “Will President Trump ban homosexuals?” I didn’t know if I should be alarmed and worried but I had not expected a question like that. I try my best to stay out of politics and everyone at R.O.C. Inc. does the same, but I think it is astounding how the Presidents we elect can completely reshape the identity of the United States to other nations. I told the girl that I certainly prayed that would not be even be an option, but that we could certainly discuss those types of issues.  After all the questions I gave all the students a R.O.C. sticker! They loved it. 

We left promptly at 4 o’clock so that all the kids could watch the game. Stephen wanted to watch it as well so we set off to find one of the local restaurants that had open seating and a television to watch the game. I sat in with all the local’s intent on watching the game and cheering right alongside them. The entire town shuts down for the 90-minute game as everyone scrambles to find a seat. I watched as Ghana won with a 1-0 victory against Mali. They play Egypt next.

Today was quiet, there was a huge thunderstorm so I stayed inside for most of the day. It was a nice change from the heat, everything cooled down finally. I was working on writing up notes from yesterdays class, reading, and working on French. When the rain had subsided, I went outside to eat dinner with the girls next store and listened to them sing in their native languages and cook their dinners over charcoal fires. We don’t have to talk for there to be a connection between us.

Tomorrow is another new week and I am excited to see what new adventures it will bring. :)

Natalie