Angelina comes running up after school yelling ‘Sister Johanna, Sister Johanna!’. I smile and can’t help laugh as she looks up at me in her faded school dress. She smiles the biggest smile you’ve ever seen and grabs a stack of nets to carry on her head to help. We’re in the middle of a net distribution as part of Ghana Health Service’s ‘Roll Out Campaign’.
As we distribute and hang net in every household, one per married couple and one for every two children, Angelina runs back and forth from where we store the nets, making the process go a little quicker. She’s one of my most favorite people in my village but her name can be deceiving. Asking for a coin to buy a water sachet because she’s thirsty, she comes back smacking on a piece of bubble gum. My counterpart George Atoanan and I try to scold her but end up laughing instead! Even though she’s devious, she our little helper for the day and puts a smile on our face.
I’ve visited with her family since the campaign and see that the treated mosquito nets are still hung and I can rest assured she’s sleeping safe every night. Because she’s healthy and malaria-free, she can continue to smile her mischievous smile every day.
As a librarian, I was particularly tickled to hear about Peace Corps Volunteer Karri Stout’s endeavor to establish a library at a school in a small African village in Tanzania. Education and access to information are important developmental tools everywhere in the world.
Of course, this young lady wasn’t just thinking of a standard library, but a bilingual library that would serve students as well as adults living in the village of Utelewe. For the 2013 school year, the school has 342 students enrolled; a library serving this many children will improve literacy rates, and can have a far-reaching impact on their lives.
Celia Jackson, 26, is a self-professed “volunteer junkie.” The UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Master’s International student has just received her Peace Corps assignment to Ghana and could not be more excited and pleased.
If you know me in the slightest bit you know I love working with kids. I’ve been a nanny and a summer camp counselor for most of my life and absolutely love the feeling of getting to act like a child again and be ridiculously silly. For the past month, I’ve been working at an elementary school teaching 3rd and 4th graders English, and will be doing so throughout the rest of my service here in China.
The thing I’m loving the most about teaching these kids, besides getting to do the hokey pokey, sing songs, and do arts and crafts, is that they bring me a sense of familiarity. Here in China it’s hard to find many similarities between home (America) and my now, home away from home (Nan’Shan). But these little kids are the one thing that is similar and it’s refreshing. They love to ask questions, they love to help me with my Chinese, they love to dance and giggle and run around, they’re still so innocent and without a care in the world. Being around them brings me so much joy and I can’t wait to continue working with them, to play with them, and watch them grow.