Greetings family and friends! I apologize for the bit of delay in writing. Somehow, there always seems to be something happening here at SAGISS to keep me busy.
The rainy season is in swing and we finally have some beautiful green in the landscape! The once, brown, dead wisps of grass are nowhere to be seen. With the green comes life! It is mango season – delicious! However, along with the rain come more bugs and very big ones at that. I found one in my bathing pail one morning and another on its back – thank goodness – it could not move so I was able to sweep it out of the courtyard. It had to be 3 inches long. Luckily, our request for screen doors and a fix to our ceiling which was open to the rafters, were both fixed. It has helped tremendously! Many fewer wasps, mosquitos and bats flying around. And now the neighbor’s cat is unable to jump our internal gate to access our hallway – which is a relief as I am allergic to cats. So fewer cats, bats and bugs to deal with. Yea! However, somehow the lizards/geckos seem to continue to find their way in.
One morning, while at work, we had a scare. Someone saw smoke coming from the roof of our fourplex. I was told to come quickly, my house was on fire. I ran to the house, (well, it was more of a fast walk-run) which is about the equivalent of 2 city blocks from the office. I quickly unlocked our gate and the door to the kitchen, but it was fine. My next-door neighbor, Mary, had been out of town so we had to locate the student who had her keys (to feed her cats) to open her door. Sure enough, her kitchen was on fire! The Fire Department came from town – probably about 2-3 miles away, and put the fire out. They used a ladder in our hallway that had the opening to the rafters to be sure the fire was out and wouldn’t spread to other units. (This occurred before the aforementioned fixed ceiling.) My kitchen and bathroom ended up with some water, but nothing a good cleaning couldn’t solve. Some of the girls came and helped me empty the kitchen, remove the water, clean everything top to bottom before returning them to their proper places. Poor Mary still has no working outlets, though she has a new kitchen ceiling and bright new paint on the walls. She shares our fridge. It appears the fire started at the outlet to her fridge, probably over-night when we had a thunder/lightening storm. Her two-year Peace Corps assignment is up in August, when she will be returning to New Mexico. What a sending off gift.
Janice, the Director of Lay Mission Helpers, came to visit and before she left the students from my class sang for her. I am including a short bit for your enjoyment. They just love to sing and dance! So full of smiles!
One Sunday, a few weeks ago, the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, came to visit Damongo. He instituted a new region this year – The Savannah Region – of which Damongo was named the capitol city. Damongo is hoping this will bring jobs and increased economic stability. He showed up at Mass at the Cathedral and said a few words following Mass. He is a Christian, though not Catholic.
One day after school, while I was still working in the office, I saw some girls out in the yard swinging some big knife-like objects. They call them ‘cutlasses’. They were cutting the grass with them, as the mower had broken down. One girl was watching them with a clipboard, so I got the feeling maybe they were being disciplined. Watch the video – and listen closely - kinda humorous!
Last week was a bittersweet week. The Form 3 students completed their WASSCE (West African Secondary School Comprehensive Exams) on June 4. That means they have completed their formal Secondary School education. They don’t get a diploma and graduate as we do in the United States. They must wait for their grades to see if they have passed. If they do well, they are eligible to go on for tertiary education – such as a teachers’ college, nursing school or college/university. If they do not do well, they can take some private courses to study further and take the exams again. That evening we had a special event commemorating their achievements and to bid them farewell, as they would be leaving for home early the following day. Rather than a diploma, they were given a certificate from the school. The school’s student population went from 86 to 57 for the next two months. The Form 1 and Form 2 students will complete their 3rd trimester at the end of July. Summer vacation is the month of August. Students return early September for the new academic year; we are hoping for a large entering Form 1 class to boost our population.
Well, that is some of what I have been experiencing here at SAGISS. I continue to enjoy my time here. I hope you enjoy reading my story and seeing the pictures and videos.
The adventure continues…..