orphanage of Nalerigu: a person’s a person no matter how small, Dr. Seuss

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war,

we shall have to begin with the children”

Ghandi

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We are on our way to the orphanage a half an hour walk across town. It is stinkin hot. The kids don’t care for the walk at all but I tell them we’re working on our tan in October. We are silky sweaty when we finally arrive at the lean-to behind the Nalerigu Assembly of God Church.

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Elizabeth helps to run the orphanage–an afterschool program–for kids that do not have parents, but do have somewhere to live, with their auntie or grandma or relative.

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For an hour Tuesdays to Fridays, and three hours on Saturdays, the forty kids play card games, woola woola, and other wide games in the blasting sun.

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Here the kids play “China Wall”. Funny to hear them playing China Wall in Africa, but hey, I think they’ve played it in Canada too.

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Some kids play with their toys instead. A tire will suffice. I have seen many kids play with these, both here and in Kenya.

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Many of the kids ask me to “snap me”. And I will oblige, because this is my opportunity for photos. It is frowned upon to photograph without consent. They get a real kick out of seeing themselves on camera.

There are many kids everywhere we go. The littlest ones yell from the security of their huts, “hello”. Since we’re the only English speaking folks that understand that word, we know that we’re the ones they’re calling. Occasionally they come to greet us…thrilled that they’ve shaken the hand of the westerner.

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Surprisingly, we are cool and comfortable underneath this shelter. The kids had a horribly yellowed and moist UNO game–they deal just four cards. As I put the 2+ card on the pile, it ripped, so I found them a newer version on the compound. And a bunch of other card games. They are especially fond of “Wooly wooly”…a game I recall being explained was southeast Asian. Twelve little holes dug out of the ground, four smooth stones inserted into each one and each person gets to choose a hole of rocks to move around the rectangular “game board”. A game out of natural sources–always resourceful.

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I brought my book from home that shows pictures of where we live and answered questions about Canada. So many interesting discussions that came from this book. With this crowd, snow was a constant question, as no one is familiar. Imagine me, boasting about snow. Soon, we will relish in its grandeur as we land in Canada…flip flops here, winter jackets waiting in the airport parking lot.

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What game is this, you ask? Why, duck duck goose, of course. Playing with forty kids, taking turns, sliding into terracotta dust with our sweaty bodies–why that’s a mother’s dream game. It was awfully fun watching my thirteen year old daughter play it again. May childhood never end.

These Ghanian kids are truly beautiful. So open to share, connect and welcoming us to be with them.

When a few hours sitting under this simple shelter, we had nothing else to do, they asked if I would show them math problems. So on the plastic table, I used a piece of chalk to explain place value from the Math-u-See curriculum. Here in an African orphanage, Place Value Street has been taught. Teaching math in Africa–them there’s something I never thought I’d do.

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For six months, these German girls, Teresa and Charlotte, have been staying in a local woman’s home assisting the orphanage. Brave girls.

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“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven”. Henry Ward Beecher

 

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