Opposites – Ghana 05/2008

Tuesday May 13, 2008

Remember how last January I wanted to buy fabric and they only sell me 6 yards for the equivalent of $45? Well when Deb, Marco and I went to town, I had my eye out for that same fabric. I didn’t find it but we paid $2.50 per yard for the fabric we did like. That is $15 for 6 yards! I knew it! 😉

Today we woke up early, packed our bags and got in the tro-tro around 7AM.

In the tro-tro

Our meeting was at 10. On our way to Accra we bought folding hand fans since we were so hot. There is no air-conditioning in the tro-tro. Yes, we bought the fans from a man selling them in the street as we drove by.

We met in a room on the top floor of a church. Hot, humid and hotter! There are very few buildings with elevators. Most of the tall buildings have slatted windows that are always open so the rooms don’t get too stuffy. As I drank water I think it immediately poured out of my skin. The Ghanaians use handkerchiefs to wipe the beads of sweat. We use baby wipes.

The room began to fill up with people. Yesterday when Curry, Erin and Michelle spent the day in Accra in meetings, they discovered there was some confusing conversations. The Department of Special Education was frustrated that Signs of Hope had been running a program for four years in their schools with out the departments knowledge. The Department had never been notified or consulted. Curry and Erin had no idea that there was anyone other than the school headmasters who should approve their program and allow them in. (Good thing to discover, discuss and resolve BEFORE the meeting!)

The Peace Corps has two volunteers who are teaching at deaf schools in Tamale (Tom-Uh-Lee) These volunteers did not know ASL prior to their arrival at the deaf school and have learned all they know while in Ghana. Both of these teachers came to the meeting.

Headmasters from The Volta School for the Deaf, The Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Demo Deaf Mampong and many others were there. Some of the teachers attended the meeting as well. Representatives from GNAD (Ghanaian National Association of the Deaf) and VSO (Voluntary Service Oversees) were in attendance too.

I have never attended a meeting about deaf education that ran as easily and smoothly as this one! I am not kidding, I have been in IEP meetings that lasted hours with people in tears and nothing resolved and these were some of Leah’s IEPs. Anyway, the representatives from the Department of Special Education started by stating the problems:

The children are no identified as deaf until very late.

Once diagnosed they do not start school until a later age.

The children have no access to sign language until schooled.

The deaf children in school struggle with English.

Most deaf children’s parents have no way to communicate with their children.

——- Hmmmm the power just went out and I am writing this in bed———

(Scrawling almost illegibly)

They also brought up that there is a stigma about the deaf here. They would love having public service announcements that educate people that the deaf can learn and there are schools for them to attend.

Another problem brought up was that there is currently no way for teachers of the deaf to learn sign language. If they are a special education teacher who has attended University they have had the equivilent of 1 or 2 credit hours of sign.

—————————-

To be continued in daylight or when the power comes back on…