A Day of “Lasts”

​Warning! This post is long, but there’s a lot to cover! I’m going to split today into two parts because otherwise there’s too much.

Today marked the beginning of Lara’s Last Weekend of Fun. It’s tradition (unofficial) that when someone is leaving, they get to make the plans for their last weekend. Often, it’s a trip they didn’t get to take yet and want to fit in before going home, but Kumasi was that for me. For my last weekend, I just wanted to stay in town, hang out with everyone, and finish my Ghana Bucket List.

Here’s my list:

  • Walk across the Atimpoku bridge (did this last weekend!)
  • Go canoeing on the Volta River
  • Take a picture with a goat
  • Catch a chicken
  • Carry water on my head with no hands
  • Finish the poop hole (I know, I know… but I had to mention it because it’s on my list)
  • Climb the mountain by the clinic
  • Stargaze in the soccer field
  • Watch the fireflies (yay for that awesome night with the million fireflies!)
  • Watch the sunset one last time (did this on a run yesterday)
  • Go to the Akosombo Dam
  • Eat s’mores
  • Ride a motor bike home from Juapong (did this last week!)
  • Have another lip sync battle

And here’s the weekend schedule:

FRIDAY

  • Last day at the farm
  • Last day of school
  • Go to the Akosombo Dam
  • Lip sync battle

And: picture with a goat, catch a chicken

SATURDAY

  • Hike the mountain that we hiked before (by the farm)
  • Hike the mountain by the clinic
  • Lunch
  • Go canoeing on the Volta
  • Bonfire and eat s’mores
  • Stargaze

And: carry water on my head

SUNDAY

  • Pack
  • Don’t cry
  • Picture with everyone on the porch

Action packed weekend! BUT if everything goes according to plan, I’ll do everything on my bucket list before I leave. I know better than to think that’s realistic, but it’s worth a try, right?

The beginnings of a beautiful pig house

The farm this morning was bittersweet. Will I miss waking up at 5AM? Probably not. Will I miss feeling accomplished at breakfast, having that extra time to spend with everyone each morning, and chopping things with a machete like that’s totally a normal part of life? Yeah, I think I will. Yara made the effort to come today because of the occasion, and it was nice to have one more day with just Nick, Anna, Yara, and me (Ricardo wasn’t there because they already left for Cape Coast). We started digging the foundations for the pig house expansion. I’m a little bummed that I won’t get to work on that, but at least I got to do some construction work on the clinic. When it was time to go, I said goodbye to the guys, the piggies, and the corn, and I kicked a chicken (not really, but I wanted to). And that was the end.

We walked back to the house, I ate my last pancake, and I got ready for my last day of school.  I’ve concluded that my coping mechanism is avoidance (only in dealing with things like this though) because I’ve been doing an incredible job of pretending that none of this is real, just like when I was coming here and managed to convince myself that I wasn’t, even up to the point where I was at the airport about to get on the plane to Ghana.

The P2 kids yesterday after they made their drawings

Me losing it

Everlasting, me, and Avy with P2 after I kind of pulled it together

Honestly, I didn’t want to go to school because I knew it would just make me sad, but I forced myself because I knew it would be worse if I didn’t. I went to Everlasting’s class, helped him grade homework, and just laid low in the back of the classroom until it was time for us to go home for lunch. Nick and Avy came in to pick me up, and before we left, Everlasting asked if I wanted to say anything to the kids. I said no because I knew that I would cry immediately, but I did want a picture with the kids. He made me come up to the front of the room, told the kids that it was my last day, and turned to me and said that they had something for me and I should just accept it.

One of the girls stood up and gave me a stack of drawings they had made for me, all with notes saying “thank you” and “safe journey” and “ayko” (good work). It was hopeless… I was barely holding back my tears before, and as soon as she stood up, I lost it. Then, before I had a chance to pull myself back together, one of the boys stood up and gave me another stack from the boys in the class. I was a complete mess. I still am… just thinking about it is making me cry again. After I choked out a “thank you” and kind of stopped crying, all the kids came up and we took a picture (they say “say kenkey!” here instead of “say cheese”. It’s one of their classic foods made from ground corn) while I was crying and smiling and, of course, sweating. It’s a pretty gross combination, so I’m sure those pictures turned out beautifully.

P3 yesterday with their drawings

Me, Avy, and P3

Everlasting making everyone laugh

Emotionally, I couldn’t stay any longer, so I said goodbye to the kids and Avy asked if I wanted to pop in to say goodbye to P3. I said sure, but just for a second. As soon as I got inside the classroom, all the girls came up and handed me drawings they made, and I was a crying disaster all over again. We group hugged and then the boys came up and the whole drawings/crying/group hug cycle repeated. As annoyed as I’ve gotten at all those kids throughout my time here, it doesn’t matter anymore. This is what I’m going to remember. One girl in particular, Mavis, kept saying, “Miss Lara, don’t go. I’m going to miss you.” What am I supposed to do in response to that besides just cry more? I tried not to get too close to any of the kids because it can’t be good for them to keep getting attached to volunteers and having them leave over and over again, but there’s only so much you can do.

Me, Avy, and the teachers. The ones I always talk about are standing around me: Mavis on the far left, Mike waving in the back, and Everlasting on my other side

At this point, I just wanted to go home. That wasn’t the end though. Mike, the headmaster, made us all go into his office, and he called all the teachers in as well. We sat down, he told everyone that it was my last day, and he thanked me and said that I’ll be missed. Mavis got up and presented me with a certificate they made to say thank you, anddd cue tears again. You may be thinking that it’s physically impossible for one person to cry so much in the span of about 20 minutes. I probably would think that as well if it didn’t just happen to me, but believe me, I wouldn’t make this up. I should probably drink some rehydration salts because it can’t be healthy for me to be losing so much water. We took a group picture, I cried and shook everyone’s hands, and Avy and Nick escorted me, the snotty, sweaty, crying mess, home.

*to be continued*

See Ya, James

​I guess Ghana decided that it needed to give me a parting gift because I felt HORRIBLE all day yesterday. I woke up at 5AM and my stomach felt like a washing machine. I was hoping that as the day went on and things got out of my system I would start to feel better, but no such luck. I had such big plans for the day, and instead I spent 80% of the day laying in my bed and the other 20% running to the bathroom. Wonderful. I think it was just something I ate though because I didn’t have a fever or anything, and by the time I woke up this morning, my stomach felt mostly okay again. Avy was totally not helpful and kept saying, “hmm maybe you have malaria. That’s kind of what it felt like. Ooo or you could have worms!” Yeah, or I could just have an upset stomach. Thanks for the encouragement, Avy.

That night, there was a big party at one of the bars in town to celebrate James’s last night. They rented these massive speakers (they were maybe 10’ tall x 6’ wide), and we could hear them playing music all the way from our house which is at least a 10 minute walk away. At one point, some people from the neighboring town came too, and I’m positive that it was because they could hear the music. I guess there’s no way for anyone to call in a noise complaint… if there was a way, it absolutely would have been done. I was just upset because everyone was dancing, and I really couldn’t dance because of my stomach situation. The ultimate sadness. I probably shouldn’t have gone at all, but I wanted to be there for James and hang out with everyone.

Before

After


When my alarm went off this morning for the farm, I felt about 85% better which was enough to get me out of bed. If this was any week besides my last week, I probably would have skipped the farm. That’s irrelevant though because it is my last week, and that meant I had to go. We did more machete work… it seems like that’s the new shucking in that we do it all the time and never seem to get any closer to being finished. Fine with me though because it’s the most fun. The only disappointment was that we did short weeds again today, so it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as Friday.
James told everyone at breakfast that he would still be around when we all got back from school to eat lunch, but I didn’t believe him for a second. Last time he was here, he said that he didn’t tell anyone when he was leaving because he didn’t want to have to say goodbye. If that’s how he felt last time, was there any chance that he wasn’t going to do the exact same thing again? No way. But we all went off to school anyway and figured we’d know soon enough if he was telling the truth.

The little piggies. There are only five remaining now, but these all look healthy so we’re optimistic.

I spent part of the morning helping Everlasting until Avy came into the classroom to get me because the one functional computer stopped working. You’re looking at the official IT support for all of Frankadua (and its probably 15 total computers). I went to the computer lab (if you can even call it that) to see what I could do and realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t a problem that could be solved in a couple minutes. I told the teacher that was trying to use the lab that I needed some time to fix it, and she said, “no problem, I can just teach it in my classroom.” I know I’ve talked about this before, but just imagine trying to teach a computer class without using a computer…
I spent about 2 hours working on the computer until it was in decent shape around lunchtime. Luckily, most of the issues were software related rather than hardware related, and though I don’t know too much about either, I’m way more comfortable trying to solve software problems. When I started working, the computer couldn’t even get past the startup screen. By the time I finished, it was completely functional but with some annoying notifications and things to deal with during startup. I’ll deal with those tomorrow. I also think that I need to replace the battery inside. It’s just one of those little 3V puck batteries, but I couldn’t even begin to tell you where I would buy one of those (besides probably Accra but we don’t have time for that). Hmm… I’ll have to do some research. Anyway, moral of the story is that it’s easy to be IT support in a town where barely anyone has a computer and you have access to google.

When we got back to the house for lunch, shocker, James was gone. He said, “it’s easier this way.” Well yeah, for him it’s much easier. For everyone else who thinks they’re going to have a chance to say goodbye and then doesn’t, it’s really crappy. I would be a lot more upset if I wasn’t going to see him again in 2 weeks. Oh yeah, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this… I planned on going to London for a week after Ghana, and now I’m going to visit James in York for a couple of days too. And Sosane is going to come to London to spend a day with me! So much to look forward to even after I leave!

Music Class

 

Look how tall it is!

This was the best machete day! My current favorite farm task is machete-ing weeds, and today John took us to work in a field that had some really tall weeds! We usually just do short grass. This was so much better! It was as satisfying as chopping down corn stalks. You smack them really hard with your machete and then just watch them fall. It was definitely much harder than clearing the short stuff, but it was also a million times cooler. Worth it.

The kids carrying rocks through the schoolyard

Nick, Avy, Anna, and I went to Baptist after breakfast and were met by a stream of kids with pans and buckets of rocks on their heads. Typical. There were some big piles of stones in the schoolyard, and the kids were helping to move them to someone’s house in the village who was probably going to use them for some construction work. I didn’t get the whole story, but it’s not really important. Even after being here for almost 3 months and seeing things like this happen all the time, I’m still impressed by the kids and what they’re capable of. They’re always carrying heavy things on their heads or going to get you a chair to sit on or offering to carry your bag or running errands for the school or chopping something with a machete. It’s really an awesome part of the culture here. Kids are taught to help from such a young age.
After the rocks were finally finished being moved, class started. I was planning to help Everlasting in P2, but Nick was teaching P4 because their teacher was out sick. I thought I would be more helpful if I went with him, so the two of us worked on teaching P4 math. They’re supposed to be learning about some more advanced things with operations, but after looking at the homework, we realized that they’re don’t even understand the basics. Due to that, we just taught them some foundational stuff about operations (for example, in addition, the order of the terms doesn’t matter, but in subtraction, it does). By the end, it seemed like they were getting it, but it’s hard to measure that without grading an exercise or a homework.

Music class!

Just before lunch, I joined Everlasting and Anna in P2 for creative arts class. This week’s topic – music! They were supposed to be learning about making their own instruments. Anna made some shakers last night using beans, jars, and toilet paper rolls, but we don’t have nearly enough resources for their whole class to be able to make one. Instead, we brought what we had, split the class into groups, and gave the shakers to one group at a time. The rest of the groups got a beat to make, and we did a couple rounds of making “music” with each group doing their beat. If I’m being honest, they all sounded horrible (probably because Anna and I didn’t plan beats ahead of time, so they didn’t mesh well together), but the kids had a great time so who cares?

Computer Class Without Computers

 

John sharpening a machete. He wets the blade, throws a little dirt on it, and moves the machete back and forth on the rock.

By the time I get home, I’m going to be a machete queen. It’s too bad that this training only started in the last couple of weeks because I think it’s going to be a very useful skill. Would it be weird if I brought a machete home with me? No, seriously… I’m strongly considering getting one, but what on earth would I do with it? Without it, I think I’ll feel lost. It’s like when I went to China and came back and wanted to use chopsticks all the time. Now I think I’m going to find a lot of opportunities to machete things. For example: hmm okay I’m having trouble coming up with an actual example, especially if I end up living in a city again. On a hike if plants are overgrown? In case I get into a fight with a bear? Chopping firewood (but only from very thin trees because otherwise it will take me way too long)? To scratch my back? If I had a fireplace, I would hang it on the wall above like a sword. Sorry, I’m getting sidetracked. Let me know if you have any ideas. I need to justify buying one. Anyway, in case you didn’t guess, we spent the morning machete-ing more weeds. I haven’t gotten sick of it yet.

Doesn’t it look like I know what I’m doing?

After breakfast, I headed to Baptist and bumped into Everlasting and the headmaster on the way there. They had to go to a kid’s house, and Everlasting said that his students were doing some reading practice on their own. When I got to the classroom, there were some kids sitting, some kids standing at the back of the room, and two kids at the front. The girl at the front was reading a list of words, pointing at each one with a piece of broken desk, and the boy was yelling at her anytime she got one wrong. The class was actually under control, so I took a seat in the back and let them keep going. I’m pretty sure that the boy was left in charge, the kids sitting had already read the list correctly, and the kids standing hadn’t. It only took about 20 minutes for things to start falling apart, so I took control (that makes it sound a lot more impressive than it was… I just made them all sit down) and wrote some math problems on the board for them to work on. I was impressed with how well-behaved they were once they had some work to do! It made my job very easy.

ICT class in the classroom. Everlasting has a keyboard that’s not connected to anything to show the kids where the keys are.

Everlasting got back after the first break, and I got to observe him teaching an ICT class (their computer/technology class). The interesting thing about ICT is that the school only has one working computer, so often, the teachers don’t even bother going to the “computer lab”. Today’s lesson was about the spacebar and backspace keys. I must say, I was impressed by his computer-less explanation.  To give you an example, for the spacebar, he explained the concept, had a couple kids come up and write sentences, and explained that those kids have spacebars in their minds so they put spaces between the words. He said that he doesn’t have a spacebar in his head and showed what those sentences would look like without spaces. It’s funny because the schools always say that it would be great if we helped with ICT class since we all know a decent amount about computers, but there’s no way I would be able to teach that class better than he did without having any resources.

Isn’t this crazy?? A class of 32 kids trying to look at one screen. The school has two computers, but only one works. We’re talking about trying to donate a projector to each school. That way, even though each kid won’t get a chance to actually use the computers, at least they’ll all be able to see the screen.

Then, I don’t even know how this came up, but during break, he gave me this long speech about how all of the people in the town are always keeping a close eye on the volunteers and how they’re behaving. He said that sometimes, the volunteers act in a way that the townspeople find appalling, such as drinking or smoking in front of the kids or dressing inappropriately. He said that people have an idea in their minds that “yevus” are completely different from them, and when we come to town and they see us trying to fit in, it helps to change their perception. People love it when we try to learn the language and carry things on our heads and go to work on the farm because those are all things that they do, and it makes us relatable. He said that people notice when the volunteers are making an effort to be a part of the community and that he’s heard people saying nice things about Avy and me specifically (probably just because we’ve been here the longest).

I was happy to hear someone affirm my attempts to fit into the community. That’s been one of my goals since the beginning of my time here. I want people (including me) to feel like I belong. Until he said all of this to me, one thing I didn’t realize was how much people pay attention to what we’re doing. I think that’s an important thing to remember any time when you’re clearly an outsider. People are watching to see how you behave, and from that, they form judgements about a group much bigger than just you. No pressure, but you represent a lot of people!

It was interesting to hear all of these things from his perspective, and it definitely gave me some things to consider. I have a feeling that the understanding he’s led me to will continue to help me throughout my journey this year (and beyond).

Weeds, P2, and More Poop

Check out those rows of little eggplants!

I basically forced Nick to come to the farm with me, so I have another farm friend! Yara also decided to rejoin the group which got us to four people going to the farm this morning. Talk about a farm party! It was a good day for Nick to start because we were clearing weeds out of the beds, and that’s definitely one of the more relaxing farm tasks. I also had more “realize how much I’ve learned” moments when I had almost no trouble identifying weeds vs. eggplants and had to check the work of the others (after John showed us what to do, he turned to me and said, “make sure your friends don’t kill all of the eggplants.” No pressure or anything…). I remember my first week when we were hoeing and couldn’t even tell the difference between weeds and fully grown eggplants. Now I can even identify them when they’re only a few inches tall! How exciting! I’m sure these eggplant spotting skills will serve me well for the rest of my life…

After breakfast, Avy and I went to Baptist to teach P2 because their teacher was at the doctor. In Math, they were learning about addition of single digit numbers. We tried to do an activity where we split the kids into groups and used rocks as counters, but it was a total disaster. Imagine any movie where kids have a substitute teacher and totally try to take advantage of that fact, and you’ll have something close to our classroom today. Even with the two of us, it was impossible to keep the kids in their seats and paying attention.

Poop hole “before” picture. You can see that there’s a lot of dirt that still needs to be moved to conceal the wall.

To give you an example, since we obviously don’t cane the kids to discipline them (which is still the method used by many of the teachers here, though we have found some who don’t approve of it), we need to have another method of punishment when they misbehave. After a warning or two, Avy has the kid stand at the front of the room facing the wall for about a minute (or longer if they don’t stand still). At one point, we had two kids standing about 3’ apart, and one was smacking the other on the head with an eraser while that kid tried to do what he was supposed to be doing and not move. I took the eraser and moved them farther apart, putting the hitter in front of the board. Next thing I knew, I looked back and the kid was wiping the math homework off of the board with his face. Seriously?? I’m not proud to admit it, but after that, I started losing patience and motivation and basically shut down. Major props to Avy who battled through it and kept teaching.

When we hit lunchtime, both of us were mentally and emotionally drained. We put some exercises on the board and told the kids we weren’t coming back after lunch because they were behaving so poorly. There was only one thing that could even begin to make us feel better, and that was Fan Ice (ice cream!), so we picked some up on the way home and tried to forget how much we felt like failures.

“After” picture for the day. I pushed the front wall out and added dirt in the front and finished the dirt hill and gutter on the side.

I didn’t feel too bad about not going back to school because I headed to the farm in the afternoon to do more work on the poop hole (aka the pig poop to farm fertilizer converter). After finishing the roof last week, I figured it would be a good idea to ride out that momentum and try to just finish it for good. The only thing left to do is basically the landscaping around the hole. I need to fill in dirt behind all of the walls, slope it away from the hole for rain drainage, and put in a gutter. Also, one of the walls started collapsing, so the most unpleasant task of the day was to get into the hole to add a new support for the wall. That was made infinitely more unpleasant by the fact that there’s already poop in the hole, and of course it was directly in front of the wall I needed to get to. If you had told me even one day ago that I would find myself calf-deep in pig poop, I would have laughed in your face. I’m not laughing anymore. It was disgusting. I probably set a breath-holding world record because I don’t remember inhaling a single time while I was in there.

Grossness aside, it was a very productive work session. I finished 1 ½ sides of the hole which means I have 2 ½ left, plus I’ll never have to get back into the actual poop again. If that’s not something to be celebrated, I don’t know what is!

Parent Teacher Meeting

​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.

Outdoor Classes

The P3 outdoor chalkboard. We’re really excited about the P3 teacher because he was so determined to not let the day go to waste. With this, they were able to have normal class, just with better ventilation.

Okay so I apparently know nothing about the size of our farm because when we got there this morning, guess what John handed us? Machetes. More sowing. I could tell that Anna was a little bummed that we were doing the same thing, but like I said, it’s just because this is her first week. I’d be happy to sow every day until I leave if you told me I’d never have to hoe again.

Mixing the sand and cement for the new floors.

This time, we went to another field that I didn’t even know existed. How have I been working on the farm for 2 months now without having any clue about how big it actually is? Crazy.

P3 classroom – “Before” shot. The light parts are where the floor still is and the dark parts are all of the holes.

The floor after they tore out the old one.


Starting to put the new floor in.


The finished product!


School today was kind of awesome. They’re redoing the floors in some of the classrooms because they’re in such terrible condition (I think I mentioned this before?), and the work started today on two of them. That obviously means that those classes (P2 and P3) couldn’t use their classrooms, so they moved all of the desks outside and they had class underneath the big trees in the schoolyard. The P3 teacher had a makeshift chalkboard, and Avy and I taught P2 using little whiteboards. One of the things I love about being here is that there’s a much smaller separation between the indoors and the outdoors. At home, we’re so cut off from nature. Here, it feels like the indoors and outdoors are less segregated… each one is like an extension of the other.

Avy doing song time during one of the breaks.

The P2 teacher, Everlasting, was overseeing the construction, so Avy and I took over his class for him. Avy did some reading stuff with them and I taught them about greater than, less than, and equal to in Math class. The difference in where the kids are skill-wise never ceases to amaze me. Some of the kids got it no problem when we gave them exercises, and others totally did not. I spent some extra time with one girl in particular who got all of them wrong. I wrote out all of the numbers from 1-100, and I pointed at them one by one while she said their names. We got to about 49 with no issues and then everything fell apart. No wonder she couldn’t do greater than and less than… she didn’t even know what the numbers were. We practiced that for a little while and then I moved on to the greater than/less than stuff. I can’t say that I think she understood it completely when we finished, but hopefully it was a bit better. The other thing you need to remember is that we have a language barrier, especially with the younger kids, so me explaining anything is a lot of hand motions and acting and pointing. Not ideal.

Me teaching about the greater than/less than fish who likes to eat the bigger number. This is actually still how I think about which way the symbol goes…

After lunch, Avy and I went back with Evans, one of the staff members from VCO (the org we’re here with), and checked out the drainage issue at the school. Evans has some architecture training, so the two of us tried to come up with an inexpensive but acceptable solution. Basically, the school is a U-shape and all of the water pools inside the U because of how the land slopes. There are two drain pipes at the bottom of the U, but they are way too small to handle all of the water. So the schoolyard floods and eventually overflows into the school building and the classrooms. Good, right? I mean, I look at the design of the school and where they decided to put it on the site and just shake my head. Anyone who took one second to think about it would have been able to tell you that there would be a problem. We came up with something, and hopefully they’ll get the funding to do it.

Seriously the best classroom… as long as it doesn’t rain.

We have another project planned for the school, so after we left, Avy, Clarina, and I went to Juapong (about 3 towns away) to buy some nails. Some of the desks at Baptist are in really horrible condition. Some are missing pieces, some are clearly falling apart, and ALL of them wobble. I can’t even imagine trying to learn while also trying to avoid getting stabbed by the nails sticking out of my desk. Anyway, we bought some nails and we’ll see how things go.