Whenever I speak to people about Fulani I always refer to it as ‘my school’. Of course it is not mine in any possessive sense and my contribution to it, in it’s first year, has been rather meager when compared to that made but others, but I hope that my reference provides a glimpse into the way that this place has permeated my heart.
My early start means that to my surprise and despite a stop to grab a messy sausage on a stick breakfast, I have accomplished the long journey from Accra on the pre-dawn deserted roads in record time. I arrive at the school before the children and their current voluntary teachers.
Kwabe and I carry the heavy bags laden with donated clothing across the field. Before too long we are spotted by Karim, as he emerges from his humble traditional dwelling. He smiles as he shouts out “Jack” and rushes towards me and we embrace in a hug. All my worries about whether I’d be remembered dissolve as we are wrapped up in each other’s arms.
The building has changed since my last time here only two months ago, further fund raising by Anna has enabled the gable walls at each end of the school to be raised to roof height and proper permanent blackboards have been installed at each end of the building. They still bear the chalk sums from the previous days maths class and I am impressed by the algebra on display. The current volunteers: Sarah, Stephanie and Fred, who arrive shortly after me, seem from all available evidence to be committed and taking their responsibilities seriously. They are accompanied by local volunteer co-ordinator, Dom.
But where are the children? As 9am comes and goes there is no sign of them. A further half an hour passes and I decide to head back with Kwabe to the car to grab some water. By the time I make my way back towards the classroom I hear the unmistakable voices of the children carrying across the field. I approach the building and lean over it, from the outside low level wall, facing in at the class and say hello. I am immediately recognised by the children, the momentary shock on their faces tell me that. I don’t suppose that they ever expected to see me again and certainly not quite this soon. But this look of shock soon gives way to surprised shouts of “Jack!” as they rush out to greet me and we exchange high-fives, handshakes and hugs!
I’m going to let the photos do the talking from here on in, as the clothing donated by Dan and Christina soon found its new owners:
If you happen to be a browsing Huddersfield Town fan, there’s a corner of Ghana, a muddy patch with two makeshift goalposts that will forever be Leeds Road.