By Barbara Allison I have been home from Ghana for several weeks now, and I am still processing all that has taken place in the past months as we inaugurated Semanhyiya American School and opened its doors to 111 Ghanaian children ages 4-6 years old. We are not taking the easy route of building a school for a village in a developing country, and then returning to the States and hoping for the best. This journey is personal because Senase is the home of our co founder Fredrick Benneh. Our goal as a foundation is to build, AND operate day to day our own school so that we can maintain the kind of control over how it is run to give it the best chance of successfully turning around the futures of these children. We knew we would face challenges, make mistakes, learn from them and make adjustments and improvements along the way. We have done all of these things, and are now more impassioned than ever. We know that our school building is important because it helps provide the environment we want for our students and staff, however the people inside that building who will teach these young minds are our most important resource and supporting them, teaching them and encouraging them is our top priority. The first two weeks were a bit crazy! Who could have anticipated that:

  1. Our bus driver would quit on the first day of school, before morning pick up.
  2. Our young and inexperienced teachers would have no idea how to put a simple puzzle together or even what to do with wooden building blocks.
  3. When parents were asked to send a small snack for break time, children would arrive with large pots, containers, and plastic bags of their traditional foods (noodles, rice, stew, etc.) with no names, and would spend their entire playtime eating.
  4. Introducing a positive reward system of discipline would be met with skepticism and some resistance, as caning (yes, hitting children with a wooden stick) is the standard method of discipline in Ghanaian schools.
  5. The night before I was to leave Ghana, we would learn that our Headmistress from the U.S. had decided that her expectations were not consistent with the challenges and realities we were facing, and she had decided to return home.

I can assure you that a solution was found to each of these challenges, and we feel more confident in our goal, purpose, and method for getting there than ever! Stay tuned to see how we met each challenge, and why we are better as a school, a foundation and community because we have learned, made improvements and are moving forward in a stronger more determined and enlightened manner.

Boys sleeping on bus, Senase, Ghana, Africa
kids lined up in schoolyard, Senase, Ghana
elementary classroom kids, Senase, Ghana, Africa
Kids walking to assembly, Senase, Ghana, Africa
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