Belinda’s School and More Market Experiences!

As usual, we woke up early to get breakfast by 7:30 and had a light breakfast before we started out for the Effiduasi Methodist School where Belinda Bukari, with whom Dr. Crowley has been working for several years, teaches students with intellectual disabilities. Through her hard work in establishing educational services for children with intellectual disabilities in Ghana, Belinda has helped to reduce the social stigma surrounding them. Dr. Crowley has supported this effort by providing classroom supplies and professional development sessions.

However, before we arrived at the school, George brought us once again for another market experience where he pointed out various typically Ghanaian fruits and vegetables, the Ghanaian version of a toothbrush (no toothpaste required!), and the first statue depicting a specific Ghanaian woman, Yaa Asantewaa, who led an Ashanti rebellion against the British.

We were all excited to see the school grounds for the first time, which we had seen before only in picture and videos. We met Belinda and her students, and as we walked into the classroom, we saw the work that Belinda had done over the years using various materials and supplies which Dr. Crowley, the SLP students, and supervisors from TC had brought in previous years. Once we had settled into the classroom, we began our professional development class session with Belinda’s class and eight other general education teachers from the same school with students from other classes looking on from outside. We introduced a calendar and weather chart to help teach the students to identify the date and weather, giant storybooks to engage the students, and a visual system to help teach the students counting. After the session, we went to a local market with some of the students so they could use the AAC cards with pictures of items and the amount, in pesewas or cedis, to buy goods as depicted by their cards.

When we returned to the school, we began to say our goodbyes which turned into having fun with the students instead. We’re not entirely sure how it happened, but the students imitating one of the SLP students led to more students joining in, which eventually led to everyone forming a large circle of students playing, dancing, and singing. The experience was spontaneous and unexpected, yet totally unforgettable. We were sad to go, but we were touched by all of the students waving to us as we left.

After visiting the school, George began to tell us about some Ghanaian naming customs as we went to a kente cloth weaving shop equipped with skills to bargain and with what would become our favorite Twi phrase for the day, “ɛyɛ meda ase” or “It’s good, (but no) thank you.” We were warned that the merchants would be rather aggressive, and they lived up to (and perhaps surpassed) our expectations. Regardless, we were able to buy some beautiful kente cloth items, and some of us were even able to try to weave the kente cloth. From the kente cloth area, we moved on to another place where they were selling a different type of kente cloth on which patterns were stamped rather than weaved in. Here, we learned about the completely natural dye-making process and the meanings behind the symbols on the cloth. After that, we went to our final market stop where people were selling wooden statues that they had carved. Just as before, the merchants were quite aggressive. It was quite an experience indeed.

When we got back to the hotel, we ate dinner, then we met with Belinda who had traveled to our hotel to tell us a little bit about how she became involved in the extraordinary work that she has been doing and the difficulties she has had to overcome in order to get to where they are today. Following that, we all went to the parking lot in front of the restaurant across the street from our hotel, where an amazing Ghanaian marching band which George had hired were playing. We danced for over an hour, and some neighborhood children even came to join us to show us their awesome moves.

All in all, we had a wonderful experience with Belinda and her students, the band, and our shopping experience.

Until next time! Ma adwo!