Happy first day of school! Today at the farm, we did something new! A few weeks ago, Nico brought up the point that it would be good for the eggplants if we trimmed off the leaves that are damaged or close to the ground or aren’t really capturing any sunlight. Apparently then the plant can put more energy into growing bigger eggplants rather than wasting it on growing leaves that aren’t contributing anything. 

One of the eggplants after Nico attacked it with scissors

This morning, he showed Amber and me which leaves we should be cutting, and we went through one whole eggplant field. I’m just hoping I didn’t kill any of the plants… When in doubt, I left more leaves (and then Nico trailed behind me saying, “why did you leave this one? It’s worthless!” and cutting off all the additional ones he thought should go).

After breakfast, we headed over to EP, the primary school where we held summer school, to have a meeting with the principal and see the kids cleaning. The meeting was mostly just a formality. Joe introduced us to the principal, who we’d mostly already met because of summer school, and he welcomed us to the school. That’s basically it. Meanwhile, the kids were all sweeping and moving desks and getting the classrooms ready. Everyone went to their rooms from last year, and the principal went one classroom at a time to relocate the kids who were moving up a grade. It might seem like that’s weird and that all of the kids should just move, but there are quite a few who don’t advance each year for one reason or another.

A cool bug we found on one of the plants

To give you a better idea of the school situation here, there are three public primary schools in Frankadua (EP, Baptist, and Roman Catholic) and two public junior highs (Roman Catholic and I don’t know what the other one is called). We don’t work with Roman Catholic, so we’re just in the other two primary schools and junior high. There isn’t a senior high school in town. Any kids who go to high school have to travel to Juapong. I talked to one of the girls and she said she walks every day, it takes about two hours to get there, and you get caned if you’re late. It would be 1 GHC (a little more than 25 cents) each way to take a tro to school. Can you imagine having to wake up at 5AM to walk 2 hours to school, spend the whole day learning, walk 2 hours home, and do your homework before going to sleep and waking up the next day to do it all again?

There are a lot of things with the school system that blow my mind. At home, teachers usually have to go back at least a week early to get their rooms ready and have teacher meetings and such. Here, during the first week, the teachers may not have their classes assigned yet, the class schedules aren’t made, and most kids don’t show up because they know nothing is going on. At EP, they’re having the teacher meeting on Friday… during school… to finalize everything. So that means an entire week of school will have gone by, and all of the kids will be sitting in their classrooms with nothing to do on Friday during the meeting. Like what?

It’s crazy how clear the absence of one person in a big group can be. I guess I didn’t realize before how much our personalities all balanced one another, but something about the group dynamic has felt kind of off since Fernanda left. Besides that, I’m personally in a bit of a mental funk right now and I know it, but I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get me out of it. Hopefully we just need a couple days for things to balance back out, and my mood will follow.

The bed where we planted the eggplant seeds. We loosened the dirt, made little trenches with our fingers, sprinkled seeds inside, and covered them with a thin layer of dirt. After that, they get covered with palm branches to hopefully discourage the chickens from eating all of the seeds.

Otherwise, the day was good! We planted eggplant seeds at the farm and checked on the tomato plants that we planted in the bed a couple weeks ago. From afar, it looked like the chickens ate all of the seeds and that everything left in the bed was a weed, but after checking things out more closely, we found some tomato plants!! The stupid chickens definitely ate most of them, but HA! Take that, chickens! You may have won the battle, but we’re going to win the war!

Amber pulling the weeds around the tomato plants.

Sorry… phew… deep breath. The chickens really get me all riled up. They’re vicious! One time, I accidentally injured a frog when we were hoeing, and when I looked back at it 5 seconds later, it was gone. I thought maybe it had hopped away until that same day we saw a gang of them work together to kill a big frog. Another one snatched a cricket out of the air, mid-jump. We’re always throwing sticks at them and threatening them with machetes and hoes, and they move just enough to not get hit and then chicken laugh at us. Yeah, I didn’t know that chickens could laugh either, but just trust me on this. You can see it on their smug little faces.

Poop hole progress shot.

The rest of the day was chill because school doesn’t start until tomorrow. We spent some time digging the poop hole at the farm (a hole for the pig poop to be converted into fertilizer) and then played outside for the rest of the day. I also went back to the clinic to weigh myself again, and I haven’t lost any more weight! Well, that’s not completely true. It said I lost 2 more pounds, but I’m not worried about it like I was last time. That’s just 2 pounds in 2 weeks, unlike the 10 pounds in 2 weeks from before.

One of the plants from Nico’s seeds. It’s so big!

Tomorrow, real school starts, and I’m excited to see what it’s like! Apparently the first day is mostly cleaning and getting the school ready, but it will be interesting to see how it all works since my only school experience here has been summer school. Also, it looks like I’m going to be helping James with the PE classes, at least until another sports volunteer comes, because he said it’s hard to manage all of the kids, and generally the girls just don’t participate because the boys are ball hogs. Ha. Some things are the same no matter where you are. I said that I’m more than happy to help out and work with the girls. We’re going to have WAY more fun. Anyway, that won’t start until next week probably, so I have some time to mentally prepare. That’s good.