So when Jason told me that our job would be to make some semblance of order out of UTTER chaos, I didn’t really believe him. Or maybe I believed him, but I had no idea what UTTER chaos truly looks like. Here’s a picture:
Yes that is a horde of happy children swarmed around a couple bicycles. No they weren’t so much friendly as demanding and curious.
Which brings us to this two-week update: as of last Monday, we’ve started cadbury’s distributions. What this means is that we’ve got 5000 bikes to give to around 200 schools over the next 9 months. Every single one needs to be assembled, each child needs to go through a training, at least ten percent of the kids (most of the girls) have to learn how to ride, and every single bottom bracket needs to be taken apart and greased. That’s 5000 shitty bottom brackets that need to be opened, greased, packed, and reassembled. My role in all this: I get to figure out a system for teaching 500 girls to ride bicycles. Sometimes I lend a hand with the bottom brackets. Mostly I run around teaching kids how to pedal. You’d be surprised how difficult it is to learn! As it turns out, riding a bike isn’t as easy as it’s cracked up to be, at least not at first.
Essentially, I’ve become a roving PE teacher. And I love it. Even on the days when I come home with minor sunstroke and can’t move for exhaustion and I smell like an 8th grade locker room, (minus the ax) it’s a pretty sweet gig. I know my sun-conscious father is having a minor heart attack at the words “sun stroke,” but don’t worry Dad, I’m wearing plenty of sunscreen and a hat:
Ghanaian school kids live in a world of pretty strict gender norms, so I tend to throw them for a loop. Women in pants are an oddity in the bush, women in pants and a polo shirt are almost unheard of, and bossy white women in pants and polo shirts are a spectacle to behold. I’d change my bush uniform, but there’s no way I’m going to run around in a long skirt to teach PE. Besides which, I’d still be white and bossy and a woman, and therefore a bit of a spectacle. I’d wear shorts, but lets face it, people in shorts get no respect. For now, I’ll settle for suffering in the heat and getting called “sir.”
Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:
Clearly life is busy in Awutu Senya province. Miss you all, and all the delicious things you guys get to eat (like goat cheese arugula salad from Le Petit Couchon)!