Paint-job for primary school – part 1

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This is old news – but gives an impression of what we’ve been doing.
From 10th-27th July 2006 three French and Swiss university students came on a summer trip to experience life and work in Ghana. Part of the trip was some practical outreach, for which we decided to paint a local school building. Painting a school is not just about making it look nice – it’s also about preserving it and protecting it from the weather. And of course a good building always helps the learning environment for children. The primary school in Yagingu (serving both Yagingu itself and the adjacent Kpigi) consists of two blocks, one of which was built a few years ago, but never painted. As our philosophy, we want the full participation of the communities and since it was even a bit too large for our small team to paint, we decided to apply Project Share’s participatory approach and involve the village communities to join us with the painting. A meeting was held with the two communities, the teachers and the community leaders and all agreed that this was a good thing to do and people would come to help. When the day arrived – the District Education Services had given the Friday off, to make sure we had enough time to finish it over the weekend – the place was full of people. The men were eager to get on with the painting (even though most of them had never done it before), the women were fetching water and the children came to see what was going to happen. We divided into groups with each of the visitors heading up a group of painters. After some basic instruction on how to paint without spilling too much everyone set to work eagerly. It was the middle of the rainy season, but the weather was perfect – no rain, but not too hot either. Actually, the season made the villagers all the more eager to work hard, since they were all keen to get back to their farms. So much so that the summer team got hardly any painting done themselves and by mid-afternoon all was finished! The Director of Education Services came the next day to see how things were progressing (we had originally planned two days for the painting), only to find the job completely done already. Apart from painting the outside, we were able to paint the inside and the doors, put in a few new doors and renew the blackboards. On Sunday we held a ceremony to dedicate the building, as is customary here. It offered us the perfect opportunity to explain the importance of education, but also our motivation for initiating such a project. We were also able to explain God’s love for them by telling the children the story of the Good Shepherd. Because the community itself had put in their own time and effort, they were able to grasp that they were now the ones responsible for the maintenance of the building, as well as allowing their children to go to school. The visitors had also brought along notebooks, pens and pencils for the children and the younger children got a balloon and a toffee each. This painting project was an excellent start to the work of Project Share. There are still more things that can be done to improve the school. The other block needs repairs to the floor and roof and the teaching quarters are completely dilapidated. We hope to be able to continue the work in Yagingu and Kpigi within the coming year. For now, at least, it has provided us with an excellent opening into the community to come back and share more with them.