A little on Ghanaian signs and African literature

Due to generous donations from family and friends we have been able to set up a support fund for Edwenase's most needy students. From the outset we did not want it to appear as a charitable donation from white to black, from west to south, from the 'abled' to the 'disabled'. Some of the students here are so hardworking but also have som many obstacles facing them that the rest of us can scale with ease or just never have to face. Whether you are good shoemaker or dressmaker can mean little if society, having labelled you as deaf, blind, a cripple, dumb, or mad will offer you little or no chances to offer your skills and services to them. What happens if your family has rejected you as a witch, a label unfairly thrown as you due to their own lack of prosperity or run of bad fortune.

2 girls at Edwenase have been cast as witches by their families, one of them was put in a spiritual helaing camp prior to her arrival here. This is where evil spirits, madness, etc. is supposedly banished from you through the power of prayer. In reality it is a prison subjecting human beings to bullshit incantations, exorcisms by self-proclaimed prophets, pastors, healers and priests.
So one can easily understand the difficulties they face in learning new skills when they have had no chance to even process and get over the harsh experiences they have been subjected to by society, schools, their families and these so-called prayer camps.

After long consulatations with management and staff, Dorota and I spent a lot of time yesterday having a look for sets of tools for some shoemaking students, comparing prices at various hardware stores. We are looking for 4 finishing machines (a grinder for smoothing shoe/sandal material) which will cost about 80 cedi or 45 Euro each. In addition to this the shoemakers will need folding hammers, punch pliers, scissors, knife, glue, lasting pliers, pincers, wooden/plastic/iron foot moulds for shaping their footwear produce. We have an additional 70 cedi or 40 Euro for each student to get their tools. So hopefully by next week we will have them stockpiled and ready for distribution.

We will of course get management and staff to inform and present the materials to the students on behalf of the Edwenase Support Fund, of which the white volunteers are a part of. It is not in volunteer's interests, we believe, to exhibit themselves as givers or donors of material goods or money to students. We have worked hard for the students to respect us as educators and don't want them to think they are getting handouts from comparatively rich people. They are being awarded these tools due to the difficulties they face but also, and most importantly, because they have proved they are willing to work hard to better themselves. And this will be the primary reason why they have received the resources.

From the period that the school has ended until it opens again, they will be able to produce their own shoes and sandals and generate their own income, be independent of aid in the future and not be looked upon as burden by family or society. After having mastered their trade at school, they will have hopefully sustained their tools to sufficient quality that they will not have to worry about getting an expensive apprenticeship or a loan to get equipment but will have a headstart in providing a much-needed service for their community and reaping the benefits of their hard work.


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