In January, I sat in the headmaster’s office at the Akatim Basic R/C School. It was a warm, overcast day and my skin had taken on a bit of an orange tint from the dry dirt road on our motorbike ride to school. My TSP companions and I were chatting with the headmaster, who very patiently answered each of our many questions, when it was announced that we had a visitor. One of the village elders had come to bring us a cherished gift—a chicken. He carried it into the office and presented it to us, and though we could not communicate with each other in the same language, in his eyes we could see joy, pride, and honor. An elderly man, he stood tall and strong, and I was humbled by his heartfelt offering. I knew this gift was a sacrifice to us from his family, but I also knew it would rude to refuse, as taking care of each other is an integral part of their community.
This feeling of genuine respect, generosity, and unity is one that is customary in all of Ghana, but especially in Akatim. People there care deeply about one another’s happiness and well-being. They work together to achieve goals of all kinds. As a teacher myself, I often notice students and teachers working in isolation from the surrounding community, but it is not so in Akatim; there, families come together to support the school children and their teachers. The mutual respect among teachers and parents is to be admired. The encouragement of the students by their families has led to higher attendance and graduation rates, and a more positive perspective on education in general. As we fast forward from January to July, I realize that it is this support that makes the end of the school year an accomplishment for everyone in Akatim. And to celebrate this accomplishment, our Akatim friends did what they do best—came together in unity over jollof rice, chicken, and beverages, lovingly prepared by the hands of teachers and parents.
Yet another school year has come and gone in Akatim. The days were long, and it most certainly took a village to ensure a successful year. Students and teachers are setting out on a much-deserved academic break, but mornings will still come early and the work will not stop. As the village elder showed us in January, life in Ghana is about family, community, and serving others—with words, deeds, and sometimes even a chicken.
Grant & Brittany
The Senase Project