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September 1, 2012 begins the second year of my Peace Corps service in Ghana. Teaching mathematics and computer skills at a rural Junior High School has been a work which has required a full commitment. The 2012-13 academic year begins September 4th and I am anticipating my return to the class room to use what skills God has provided to inspire my students to continue their education.
During my first academic year in Ghana, the Headmaster approved my request to take broken student furniture out of the classrooms, attempt to repair and return the pieces back to be used by students. In this school district the students must provide their desk and chair. When the Headmaster asked if I knew what I was doing, my response was, "no, but I don't think I could make them any worse." So after almost one year, you see in the picture the desk that is the first product of my efforts. I started with no tools except a handy "multi-tool" given to me as a going away gift. I quickly discovered that every piece of furniture had many attempts to repair by adding nails and then more, bigger nails. With limited tools to take the pieces apart, repair any broken parts, clue back, and use screws to strengthen, the process was a difficult and slow task without doing more damage. In time I located some hand tools in the local market as there is no electricity in my work room. Glue was easy, but almost gave up on finding some material to fill in the many nails holes and other assorted gouges and holes.
The young boy in the picture lives in the same house as I do, goes to the primary school adjacent to the Junior High where I teach, and spends some of his time watching my struggles. He loves to use the hammer and wants to constantly practice as I work to remove the many nails in the furniture. He goes by the name Yao, not his real name but the name given to males born on Thursday. The group of people known as the Akan are numerically the largest group in Ghana and regard a person's soul being linked to the day of the week they were born. Most Ghanians I have met know the day they were born and many use that designation: Sunday-Kawasi, Monday-Kojo, Tuesday-Kwabena, Wednesday- Kwaku, Thursday-Yao, Friday-Kofi and Saturday Kwame. There is also a set of names for the females. I have been frequently asked my day of birth.
I am pleased to have the company of Mr. Yao (Thursday born)while I work to get the furniture back in useable condition. He is curious, sees most of the tools as toys, but is eager to watch my slow progress. I am sure the Headmaster is still wondering if I know what I am doing and if he will ever see a finished piece. But the project is improving, I now have an Apprentice.