Tuesday 12/03/2013

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First day in the field. After a 1 hour motorbike ride (always appreciated by a former pony-express Vespa courier like me) we reached the village of Gundaa with the mission of establishing a reading scheme at the local school. Session 1 went quite smoothly: both kids and teacher seemed to be very supportive and interested in the project. Once again I was amazed by the degree of discipline and attention displayed by african pupils. No spoiled brats here for sure! I don’t know about the rest of Europe, but I can easily say that the main
concern of italian primary school teachers is to keep the kids relatively quiet (my teacher overcame the issue by implementing a regime of terror that made the khmer rouge look like a band of teddy bears in comparison). Nothing of the kind here: religious silence interrupted only by whispered answers to direct questions and big curious eyes all around you.
My main contribution to the day’s activity was a story-reading demonstration. I confess I had to struggle to keep reading rather than throw away the text and perform a vaudeville version of  “Little Red Riding Hood” featuring cancan dancing wolves, rambo-style woodsmen, half-digested grannies and so on.
But since all was about the importance of reading, I tried to kill the little natural-born italian comedian in me and did my best to stick to reading. The kids did not display any evident sign of boredom and that made me feel quite happy! In the afternoon I started my Dagbani lessons, but I think I have a psychological advantage over english native speakers here: when I speak english I don’t feel like I’m imposing my language, because after all the effort I make to speak is not different from the one locals make.
After work I’ll try to find a place where I can watch the champions league match Barcelona-AC Milan: even if I can define myself a hardcore football aficionado, tonight I’ll surely pay more attention to the local audience rather than to the game itself.

Sunday 09/03/2013

DSCN0019Reached Tamale after a confortable trip from Accra: today I’ll take it easy. First impressions are quite positive: Ghana looks like what I hope other african countries I visited will look like in 10-20 years from now. The only problem is the heat… snow was still melting down when I left Italy and now I need to carefully plan each and every movement of my body in advance to save some energy. I guess I will get used to it in a couple of days, but today i’ll mainly hang around at the Lively Minds headquarters, drinking huge quantities of cold mate and reading a book about the war between whites and reds in 1920 Siberia (they surely had no heat-related problems). I am also quite satisfied with the first night spent in Tamale: not a single mosquito bite, not a single mosquito in sight! For that, I have good allies: a mosquito net in wonderful conditions covering my bed, but most of all spiders and lizards strategically placed between the windows and the anti-mosquito grids (after a few trips in the Amazon region I learned to mistrust accomodations deprived of such friends). Tomorrow I’ll visit the office and start my training.
I am so happy I’m going to work for human minds, rather than for human bellies. In post-war Angola my job had to do with food-aid programs, a one-way ticket to a world of corruption, injustice, greed, frustration and impotence. When Alison told me ‘no need to bring pens and stuff, we don’t do handouts’ I thought that Skype should really consider adding a little “hug” button !