The Lincoln Community School volunteers- part 1
Guest post by Terry Donohue
Our bus pulled into the parking area in front of the Adeiso Presbyterian JHS around 9:00 AM after the hour and a half ride up from Accra. Unlike the week before, when the school was a hub of activity upon our arrival, this time it was completely empty. Our group of 20 students and teachers from the Lincoln Community School (LCS), found shelter from the already blazing sun under the canopy of some small shops, while I walked over to the school to investigate. As usual, groups from LCS attract a lot of attention because our exotic multinational mix of people of all colors from all over the world, and today was no exception.
As I approached the Adeiso school, I could see a shadow moving inside the nearest classroom and hear the sounds of sweeping. Soon I could make out the familiar bent figure of someone sweeping with a traditional Ghanaian hand broom, a bundle of short sticks with no handle. They appeared at the doorway pushing out a huge pile of dirt, dust and plastic water sachets leftover from the day before. I looked inside the shuttered window, unobstructed by glass or screening, and saw that the desks inside were in total disarray to make way for the sweeping.
Within about ten minutes the classroom was back in order and students from the village, e-readers in hand, began to gather within the cool cave-like walls of the classroom. Myself, Joseph and the headmaster of the school began forming small reading groups of two to five people and spread them throughout three different classrooms and shaded areas around the small compound, giving each group a relatively quiet place to read aloud. This process was facilitated by eager students and teachers from both schools, and soon the air was filled with the pleasant audible drone of dozens of students reading books. Already, I could see that the Worldreader Program had done something that had never been done before – it had gotten books into the hands of these children. I couldn’t help but think of the potential this program has to level the educational playing field for all young people regardless of their existing social or economic conditions.
I walked throughout the classrooms and the shaded outdoor areas to make sure that everyone had e-readers, to answer any questions and to rearrange some of the seating positions as to create a better noise buffer between neighboring groups of readers. I noticed that many students had personalized their e-readers by writing things like “Joyce, a.k.a. Shining Lady” on the insides of the cases. As I crept from room to room, I overheard the reading that was taking place. Some students read fluently with little inflection and others read at a stacatto pace where each word was being sounded out one at a time.
It was time to form my own reading group. I spotted two girls in their early teens, both with e-readers in hand, who had not yet settled down to read. I called them over and they shyly sat down on either side of me at the edge of the porch. They then, as if knowing the drill, turned on their e-readers. One girl immediately started reading from her science book, just as a number of students had done the week before; when they had they immediately started reading from their chapter on “Natural Resources”.
“It’s Saturday girls”, I said, “So lets read something just for fun. How ‘bout a story?”
The girl who was reading stopped. The girl sitting on my other side also stopped all movement. I looked at them, and their eyes told me that I had asked them to do something out of the ordinary, like “fly to the moon.” I think it is important to note, that though Ghana has a rich oral tradition of storytelling, these girls had probably never had access to storybooks or novels. They had probably never read anything but textbooks. The idea of reading a novel for pleasure, or the sheer joy of reading, was something foreign to them, and it’s an idea that could likely take some time to instill.
Check out part 2 of Terry’s story…
Terry is CAS/ Community Outreach and Global Issues Coordinator at The Lincoln Community School, Accra, Ghana.