​The morning started off with hoeing again, and this time was even worse than yesterday. With the eggplants, all we had to do was kill the weeds. Today, we were working around the corn, and we had to kill the weeds and move them/some dirt around the base of each corn stalk to help keep the moisture in and protect the plants. There are so many plants because they’re only about a foot apart, and the progress was incredibly slow. At least Clarina and Anna were there with me because it would have been a million times worse by myself. All I can say is, no one is going to complain about sowing again after this.

The whole school in one classroom for worship. I’m still not sure that you can see from this picture how crazy packed the room is.

School was a little different today because it was the parent teacher meeting (during school hours, of course). Avy and I helped in P3 for part of the morning because their teacher was at the meeting (along with all of the other teachers as well, but we can’t teach 8 classes), and I eventually went to sit in at the meeting. Even though every meeting I’ve been to here has been exhausting, I think it’s important for us to have at least one person representing the group at them. Then it’s more like we’re trying to be a part of the community rather than just existing alongside it.

The parent teacher meeting was no exception; it was long and exhausting. The difference with this one was that it was in Ewe, so I didn’t understand anything. The headmaster sat next to me and translated a little bit, but it was more like people would talk for 10 minutes and he would turn to me and say, “now they’re talking about PTA dues”. Ten minutes later, “they’re still talking about PTA dues”. Ten minutes later, “now they’re telling the parents that they should make sure their kids have all the school supplies they need.” So even with that, I still didn’t really know what was happening.

Our workshop

I stayed for about 2 hours until lunchtime when I was happy to have an excuse to duck out. At that point, they were just electing PTA officials (aka probably nominating people for jobs they didn’t want), so I didn’t feel bad leaving. All in all though, I felt like it was a productive meeting. There were maybe 80 parents there… they told us to expect 30, so I thought that was pretty good! The parents also mostly seemed attentive and engaged (though I don’t know what they were saying so I could be wrong). I left feeling encouraged!

Trying to stabilize the desks and chairs but actually just bending nails.

Avy, Clarina, Anna, Yara, and I went back after school ended to get started on our desk repair project. I think I mentioned this before, but the desks at the school aren’t in very good condition. Many of them are missing pieces and have random nails sticking out, and all of them wobble. We bought some nails last week to see what we could do with those, and if we need to buy some wood in the long run, we’ll do that later.

We had only been working for maybe 20 minutes when some guy randomly came and started helping us. After about an hour, we were out of nails, and Avy went on a quest for more. Our biggest shortage was of hammers, so when she saw a couple of guys carrying shovels, she asked them if they had hammers (because apparently having one tool means that you must have them all). They said yes and that they would bring them to the school. Better yet, they brought their hammers and stayed to help! The one guy was actually a carpenter, so he was awesome and we learned a lot from him.

Some of our unexpected coworkers

The only thing that stopped us was the fact that got dark around 6PM. We weren’t originally planning to stay that long, but when you have 4 local volunteers helping and there’s a lot being accomplished, you don’t stop until you have to. We fixed all of the desks in the P2 room, plus the ones from the rest of the school that were in really bad shape. Some of them are definitely in need of additional wood. We’ll take an inventory of the pieces that are missing or broken and see how much it will cost to replace them. The nails went a long way though, so we’ll call it a successful day! It was nice to do something helpful that wasn’t expensive, and it was even better because we had some people from the community working with us.

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