Monday, July 26, 2010


the last few days were good. fun. exciting. (more in the "private" blog. coming soon)
last weekend i stayed in the village to do some creative stuff on he school performance and rehearse with the pupils that wanted extra time with me, and not to go to accra to a wedding i was invited to.
i made a wonderful. chime-like multi-hanger out of lime tree and rosewood branches, suspended on a another branch, all wrapped in colored paper. The idea was to hang and display the pretty dresses one of the pupils' mom made in the school exhibition. To present the work of women more. Inspire the young girls to do the same.
I hang the dresses and went to the house of the women who made them to show the whole thing to her.
She wasn't at the house, but a bunch of other villagers, mostly men and boys were around.
They all liked it a lot and helped me hang it. We took photos which I will post later.
I was excited.
I asked the boys if it was safe to leave it her for the tailor-ess to see.
They said it was.
The next day (this morning) when i went beck for it, I found the dresses in a pile, thrown and wrinkled.
The remains of the hanger were lying on the ground, ribbons thorn to pieces and the shiny blue ribbon that bound them together ripped and taken off.
I was hurt.
I picked it up and headed towards my room.
On the way I ran into one of the boys that were there the day before and asked what happened and why.
Then I ran into the lady and asked her the same thing.
Neither explained the turn of events, just apologized.
I was hurt.

When I was back in my room, the dress lady came and knocked on my door.
She apologized like crazy. She said it wouldn't happen again and then she started to kneel down.
I asked her to please please do not kneel. She was my friend. I did it for her because I liked her and cared for her. She didn't owe me anything. We were equals. We were friends. I just didn't understanding why nobody would they take one moment to put the damn thing away safely.
When I realized - she never even saw the entire piece.
It had either fell down and noone bother to pick up it up, or (please, let it not be that), the boys, or one of them, for whatever reason destroyed it on purpose.
Envied the pretty gift for his friend. Or sister.
She said, fighting tears, "they want to destroy and take away what i have." she then quickly changed the subject realizing it was a sin to speak like that.
"Please smile", she said,' if they see that you are crying they are going to blame me"
I was hurt.
But more then that, I was said. And disappointed.
I care about you all people, but I cannot teach you to care for each other.
I remembered Kobbi telling me how people here wish each other bad.
I didn't believe him.
Should I?

I want to go home...

Friday, July 23, 2010

things picking up

the kids' exams are over and my computer lab (Give to Grow computer lab) is crowded with children again.
We are composing, producing and rehearsing about a dozen pieces with the Garage Band accompaniment.
These will be performed on Wednesday, July 28th, at an interdisciplinary performance, along with about ten other pieces (excerpts from plays, poetry, songs, drum and dance numbers).
Along with that we'll have an official Give to Grow computer lab launch to which the Director of Education of Ketu district will come (if he is to be believed. he sent me official letter confirming his presence). This weekend I'll be preparing an installation which will run on six G2G laptops simultaneously.
Kofi will assist me.
We'll also have an art exhibition.
Kids are drawing, and you, my dear supporters and donors will get some of these drawings as our thank you gift.
I bought some material in the hardware store today to make signs and to re-organize and decorate the computer lab and the exhibition room.
Kopeyia artists will exhibit their work too, alongside with the students.
Women will show their dress designs. Kobbi will show his puppets and masks.
So I am finally in my element, busy and a little bitchy.
I stick to my rehearsal schedule like crazy and send student that are late back.
Send teachers out if they are interrupting.
Shhhh the "master" is he's talking during the recording.
so what?
What are they going to do, fire me?


looking forward to the rest.
when i come back I'll fill in this blog with the details, including the ones that will be open by special request only.
For close friends.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a week to go...

it was hard getting online - my appologies to anyone that waited.
the internet cafe has been having problem with their provider.
for a month.
bob said - "you are here to practice patience,"
he was right. i have been practicing it.
but i don't think i have gotten good at it.
i think practicing patience had made me become more eager.
the truth is - i am missing new york.
i made a mistake, or a few on this trip, this time around.
one of them was not to have budgeted for my drumming lessons.
big mistake. big. huge.
also - the laptops I have brought created a sense of competition and greed among them. all of a sudden, they are fighting over who will own them.
all opf you, i keep telling them.
it is for the school. for the community. for all of you to share.
they now want their own.
even though they don't even know how to use them.
they think they want it. they think they will become sothign if they own a material thing. a tool.
it is not the "goal", it is "means".
but we are a long way of understanding this around here.
and it is hardly my place to teach them that. I mean, I am trying, but perhaps that's where I've been wrong.
who am i?
a white lady with laptops?
strangers come to me in the dirt raods, saying, please, i need some money.
my collegue teacher, says to me the other day - oh, i am so sad, i have no money.
that sucks - i told her.
btw, it is the same one who didn't show up to work the last week, on the final day before the final exam of her students (the very exam that for some will determine whether the kid would score high enough to continue with the school or not, so she didn't come to work because she wanted to go to benin for fun, but in the end she didn't even go there, just took a fucking day off, to sit at home. now she asks me for money. yeah, right. what is she teaching????
the headmaster (btw, everyone calls him "master"!!!) doea NOTHING all day but sits on his chair with one leg up on another chair's arm rest, which is a discussting image, btw, and "calls" for students to do thinks for him.
get him food.
charge his phone.
and all he's been telling me all month is - madam milika, we need more dollars. more american dollars...
so do i my friend. so do i.

i am preparing a show with the kids and this gives me pleasure.
so does working with students - they will learn things form me that will improve their lives if so they choose.
and so does playing with the children in the village in the afternoon. and talking to a few adults that i consider friends.
but what i learned this time around about the majority of mostly the adult ones is not happy news.
more details when i get back.
there have been some priceless moments, of course.
and the successes of G2G mission is indubitable.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

back online, with Kofi ;-)

painfully slow but working.
kofi, at the other corner of the interent cafe, learning about the www. just set him up with a gmail account so we can stay in touch!
i'll make him as account with the owner - and he will, along with emmanuel zagbede be my point person - partner for G2G.

needles to say, as soon as i left him by himself to work and 4 older boys came in, they started giving him hard time.
Then i stood up.
"what's up?"
"ooooh, i'm sorry" one of they said...
I forgot about that. I need to make sure someone watches over him when he comes here by himself.

Yesterday was a bit depressing. Continuous rain helped.
When i came back to the center after the session in the cafe and just rested my head on the dinning room table, Kofi came over. He said: You are tired.
A little bit - I said.
Ten minutes later he came back with a "bingo" look on him face:
"Let's get a coconut for you!"
We got three!
I was not tired.
Or depressed.

Today Pricsilla, her mom and I prepared Kasawa dough together.
And it's a bright sunny day!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

problems with internet

not sure if i'll be able to be blogging this time. this is my first attempt yo get online in about a week and it took about an hour to even get connected.
in short - everything is fine. but, although i may be just imagining this, things have gotten worse here.
this kids look even poorer, their clothes dirtier and more ripped, their bodies skinnier.
The young adults aged.
The ones that are better off look the same or better.
Emma lost weight to look better.
Kofi lost weight because he grew a lot, or because he's not eating enough.
Mesnah aged ages - he had an bike accident a few months ago and had lost a tooth.
Here - if you loose a tooth - you've lost it. You will not get it replaced. The few ones might, but you, the regular, everyday you, even if you are a teacher in both KBSchool and the Dagbe center - you won't.
Nevertheless - Mensah was lucky to have stayed alive - Rueben found him, Emma took him to Aflao hospital. Him, and the other guy - it was a clash!
Blood everywhere. At the hospital - the doctors didn't want to start anything (surgery was needed on both kids) until someone paid. So Emma did.
Today, they are both alive, although noone showed up to visit the other kid in the hospital, so his recovery took longer...

The brightest, happiest ones around are the youngest ones. And this time - I am realizing very clearly, they are to be my focus.
Laptops are installed, and working properly. I did not have any problems getting them in - noone asked me anything.
Once I got to Kopeyia - the problems began.
Emma told me he needed to pay about $15 to the education office in Ketu to write a letter that will ensure I get through the customs without problems.
They considered writing such letter to be favor to Emma, then me, so they asked for money.
Once again - I am stunned as to who is doing a favor to whom in this chain. And that is only the beginning.
Did you bring anything else - the headmaster asked once i arrived to the school.
NO sir, I did not.
Anything nice for me?
no comment...
The next day he suggested that we both go to the education office, where they have written that costly letter, to "express our gratitude to the director".
I said it was a great idea (thinking - great, I'll shake hands, take photos and "officialise" the whole thing. The we would invite the office the come to Kopeyia for the official opening of the new computer lab.
Even better. The Give to Grow computer lab launch. A little presentation.
Kofi is already on it. He's been on one of the laptops 24/7 so far. So much so that I had to tell him to stop and go spend time with his family!!!
Then the headmaster said the director wanted to know if I brought any "similar items" for his office!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Allright -
he works for the government.
the government supports the school.
He - through the help of the government supports my supporting the school.
Therefore - I should support him - the government back.
Is that the logic?
Are we partners here?
I'm lost...
What are you seeing in me exactly?
I cannot wait to meet the guy and hear him ask me that question.
But then again - if i answer rudely - who's going to write the letter next time?


on a bright side -
the kids are AMAZING!
They are learning so quickly and are so excited about the gear.
As a side activity - I am working with the KG kids (preschool) on reciting English and EWE poems and nursery rhymes.
Their smiles light up the dim hazy air of the rainy-season colored Kopeyia.
With Mensah - I'm developing a G2G Line - this afternoon, we will work some T - shirts designs, which he'll batic and I'll take to NY to sell and fund raise as well as help him earn a little bit.
Next time - we do the kids line!!!

OK, so the three hour block of internet for the day is near expiring, and I still have some 200 emails go through. (the first hour and a half was just me and the owner trying to get me online...)
Will look for a better way - and to blog again soon...
but in the meantime, please bear with these not being edited.
Absolutely no time for that rt now.
There is work to be done.
I need to go hug a few more kids today!!!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

off today

and nervous. i have 2 suitcases, 2 carry-ons, 2 cameras, Ipods, sound recorders three phones and an iPad (I am keeping that one ;-)
the suitcases are heavy as hell and with all my ny friends, there;'s noone ton help me down the stairs with them.
ok, maybe i never asked... but why do i have to?
i just hope i don't get charged (much) for the overweight language - money is tight this time (when is it not?)
too bad ghana lost - it would be great to watch the next game in kopeyia.
reminder to self, for next year - needed to go to my bank and notify them of my travels. otherwise, they would call me at a time of my attempt to withdraw money in ghana and then cancel my card if i didn't answer.
arriving to accra tomorrow evening, staying over in a hotel, Bob Dawuni (Rocky Dawuni's brother) is picking me up.
The next day I'm taking the bus to Kopeyia.