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"On the ground" with Stephen

With the end to the summer break and the start of the new school term officially underway, I am so excited to get back to school and start this terms program!

Last term taught me a lot about the programs, ways of working in the Ghana’s education system and taught me a lot about myself and how I work as a Program Associate. Last term was a lot of trial and error, particularly in understanding how to apply my experiences from teaching in the UK to a Ghanaian context. This term I am excited to go into the schools with a tried and tested set of skills and experience – that's not to say it's going to be a smooth ride, it's Ghana after all, anything is possible. Nonetheless, my program last term was a huge success (Woo!) with nearly all my students showing improvements in both English and Math.

One of my favourite memories from last term (as well as seeing all my kids do so well) has to be the baby which belonged to the woman I would buy my class supplies from. I would visit her every week, and almost instantaneously the baby would burst into hysterical fits of crying upon seeing me. The mother explained that it was because he had never seen a white person before, and of course I didn't enjoy it (although it became a running joke between myself and his mother), but anecdotally, I think I probably impacted that child just as much, if not more, than I did the students I worked with - poor kid!

At the time of writing I have just finished testing both prospective tutors and JSS students, and I am now in the process of marking 40+ test sheets. Once all the marking is done I will officially be able to start the program in Asakore Mampong JSS next week. Reading through some of the prospective tutors essays' is a real eye operner and proves just how significant a contribution our programs can be on a persons life. I want to finish by quoting some of the answers the students gave in their essays, 'Identify the challenges faced in your community, and suggest solutions to those challenges':

“There are so many problems in my community but the most dangerous one is the outbreak from diseases like cholera, malaria and others. These diseases are killing so many people in my community: about fifty people in the community have died so far, both men and women, young and old.

I have observed that most of the causes of these diseases are cuased by the poor sanitation in the community. The people in the community do not have a proper place to store or dispose of refuse and so this causes conditions for disease to spread. Even the current places where they store refuse is not appropriate, and affects those who live close to it. “ – Collins Marfo. Aged 17

“I live in Offinso-Newtown, Kumasi which has a population of six hundred people. There are many problems facing my community, such as disease and bad infrastrucutre. There is no place to dispose of refuse and so many people dump the waste is uncompleted buildings which serves as a breeding ground for all types of diseases.” – Erica Sackey. Aged 16

Stephen Hunt is one of our program associates and hails from Brighton, England. This is his second term on the ground and he is also working on a GIS mapping project that we wrote about two weeks ago.

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