Machete Monday

(I know it’s Tuesday but let’s just pretend because Machete Tuesday isn’t catchy.)

WOOO!!! I survived my first day!! Both mentally AND physically (which are both things I was slightly concerned about). This morning was brutal though. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep for at least a week now, and the 5AM wake up call was not exactly what I needed. We had to be ready to go to the farm by 5:30, so I pulled my stuff together, attempted to wash my face using a bucket, and inhaled a granola bar before Joe and John, two of the Ghanaians that run the farm, came by to pick us up.

The walk to the farm! This is what 5:45AM looks like

Some brief background info on the farm – it was started when they realized that one of the nearby orphanages never got fresh food. Now, half of the food is donated directly to the orphanage, and the other half is sold to buy seeds and fertilizer and other things required to keep the farm running.

The walk there was nice and gave us some time to wake up. It’s probably 15 minutes from the volunteer house, and part of it involves walking through water about 8” deep. I was happy to have rain boots (aka gum boots) to keep my feet dry. I had no idea what we were going to be doing, so when we got there and they handed each of us a machete, I was pretty pumped. We got to help clear one of the old corn fields to get it ready for a new planting by chopping the dead corn stalks at the base with the machetes. Believe me when I say that there’s nothing more satisfying than whacking a stalk and seeing it fall without even putting up a fight. Yay manual labor!

I wish I had gotten a before picture, but this is the field after we wreaked havoc

I felt quite accomplished by the time we finished clearing the field, but I didn’t even think about what the work would do to my hands. Talk about blisters! It’s okay… a couple days of sucking it up, and I’ll have the calluses I need to support my natural machete skills.

Once we finished at the farm, we headed back to the house for breakfast and to do last minute preparation for class. My teacher partner, Nicolas, and I were basically winging it for the first day just to get a reference of where the kids are skill-wise. We have P3 and P4 levels, and I think the kids are about 9-12 years old, maybe a bit younger. In English class, we had each of them introduce their partner to the group. For the rest of the time, we picked different letters of the alphabet and each kid wrote a word on the board that started with that letter.

I felt much more at ease in Math class. I put up some addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division questions and we gave the kids time to work on their own before coming back together to go over them. The biggest struggle was times tables, so we’re going to try to help them memorize those by the time school starts.

Just to give you an idea of the landscape here, this is a view of one of the houses/yards near where we live

We had the rest of the day after that to prepare for school tomorrow and relax. I went for a [slow and painful] run with one of the other girls and made some plans for classes. I’m feeling really excited and encouraged by the kids and our experience today. They’re all so well behaved and eager to learn! It makes me happy to teach them.

I also survived my first bucket shower experience. It really wasn’t as big of a deal as I expected. I can totally do this for three months, no problem. I feel like I’m living so sustainably now. There’s no running water for anything, and I only used about 2-3 gallons for my shower.

Anyway, it’s very late (almost 11PM) and I have another very early morning tomorrow. Hopefully it’s not another machete day! My hands need a change of pace.

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