Time flies… And so did we: Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg – by now the whole German team has returned to cold and snowy Germany. And even though we had to face one or the other obstacle on our way, we can proudly look back on what all of us have achieved.
Also, we can comfortably wait for what’s ahead of us, as we have found a great team and grown into a real Boa Nnipa-Family within the past seven months.
Nevertheless, not everything was and is easy… As Carla already mentioned in her last entry, especially the Ghanaian bureaucracy gave us a lot of headache. As you might know, we are (and were already) working with the permission of the Ghana Education Service to teach in each and every basic school all over Ghana, within the scope of our Sexual-Education program. And until then we’ve never been troubled for other documents, nor have we been told by authorities that we might need special documents, in order to continue with our project.
But the day came, that one headmistress wouldn’t allow us to teach in her cluster of schools, unless we were able to show her permissions of sub-departments of the Education Service, in charge of the area her school was located at.
For this matter it is important to know, that similar to the German system of “Bundes-, Landes-, Regional- and Kommunalebene”, the Ghanaian Education Service too, is divided into many sub-departments that work more or less independently.
So we had to learn the hard way how (and how slowly) this system works by going through each and every of these departments to receive a letter, supporting the one we got from the headquarters of the Ghana Education Service. If Ghana teaches you anything, it’s definitely to have patience and tolerance. This is why Sammy and I, but especially Sammy, spent hours and hours in offices, sweet-talking to officers and trying to convince them to issue a letter, allowing a program to operate that had already been allowed to operate on a national level. Despite the inconvenience this procedure meant for us and the time we lost in the process, we are now officially allowed to at least teach in every district of Accra. In future, in case our project expands, we would have to go through the whole process again in other regions – but then, that’s just the way it is. And apart from time and nerves it doesn’t cost us anything.
But enough of Ghanaian bureaucracy; let’s have a look at what we, or rather our team of teachers, have been doing until our date of departure.
Being responsible for the content and quality checks of the teachings, I can say that I am very pleased and really proud of the development that our teachers have undergone. Seeing them on their first days of teaching and seeing them now is just two different worlds. All of them are confident, not only with the content they are teaching, but also in their appearance. They have developed teaching methods and metaphors in a way we could’ve never done. They have authority, while still being like a brother, sister or friend to the students. And in each and every lesson we can see, that when Nelson Mandela said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.“, he was right on point. We see that the kids happily accept the opportunity to listen to their native language, to ask questions in their native language; the opportunity to understand – especially when it comes to such a personal topic as sexuality and sexual education. We can see that what we are doing has an impact. Maybe not on all of the 8000 kids we have reached out to so far, but definitely on some, probably on many. We see it in their faces while we teach and in the questions that they ask.
And then there are some individual stories, which make us happy and show us even more that we are on the right track, even though it’s a bumpy road sometimes.
There’s the seventeen-year old girl who got pregnant at age 15, dropped out of school due to the pregnancy (but also because of being ashamed) and lost her child after birth. She took part in our first seminar, because she wanted to educate her peers, so that they could learn from her story. But she also got to understand that she is not alone with her fate and that something similar could’ve happened to anyone, anywhere. She is now preparing to go back to school to continue her education and is still in regular contact with our team.
There’s a sixteen-year old boy, whom our team taught in school and who later told us, that because he was educated on his sexual rights, he decided for himself that, due to his religious beliefs, he wanted to stay virgin until he gets married, even though his peers were trying to pressure him into his first sex-adventure.
And then there’s the little girl that is being abused by the husband of her older sister, but never dared to tell anybody, because she didn’t want to destroy her sisters marriage. She turned to our teachers for help, who have now referred her to our co-op-partner, the Ark Foundation, which takes care of victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Of course, we will never know all the stories and if and in what way we influence the lives of the thousands of other kids that we’ve taught already and of those we will be teaching in future, but then even if it was just for the three of them, for me, it would’ve perfectly been worth all the time and effort.
If I look back now, I can say that we’ve achieved all that we wanted and more than I thought we would in this short time and that Carla, Jeff, Antonia, Nina and I can return to Germany with piece of mind, because we know that our project is safe in the hands of Sammy, Agyengo, Kamara, Mary, Nico, Augustina and our new intern Axel.