Monday, June 28, 2010

The Rumors in this Town

By Isaac Akwabeng (GHEI Community Health Worker) - Humjibre, Ghana - The Humjibre community still needs help. I am talking about masons, carpenters, and electricians. Everyone in this town has said that GHEI is doing well. They have a library which is the best in the Western region. GHEI’s library has everything, but these workers want to study in this library but they do not have technical books. If GHEI can supply some technical books they will be very happy.

I went out into the community without any particular people in mind to ask about GHEI,  and still all of them said GHEI is doing well. They like everything from GHEI.

Thank you very much,

Brother Isaac

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Poor Boy: A True Story

By Isaac Akwabeng (GHEI Community Health Worker) - Humjibre, Ghana - Kofi was born from a poor family. He is very intelligent, but Kofi came from a poor family. Kofi started his education in Humjibre primary school. When Kofi started his education he lost his father; what a sad story. Kofi’s mother was incredibly sad when her husband died. Kofi came close to his mother and he said, “stop crying, everything will be alright. Mommy I will fight for you while I am alive.” Kofi told his mother, “I am going to live in a big city.” Kofi’s mother was sad. She said, “you are just a little boy. I don’t want you to suffer.” Kofi’s said to his mother, “I am a little boy but I can fight for you so don’t worry.” Kofi said, “Mommy, I will be leaving tomorrow morning.” And Kofi’s mother said, “Kofi Goodbye, may God take you there.

Now Kofi is in a big city. He saw a rich man. The man asked him what his problem was now. And he told him to go home. Kofi said that he was am okay, but that he did have a problem. He told the man that he was a very intelligent guy, but at the time he started his education, he lost my father. He spoke of how his my mother is a poor woman, so she cannot afford his school fees and books, so he decided to come to a big city to find a job. The man said, “Kofi I will help you. I have everything so I will help you.” Kofi said, “Thank you very much, I am grateful. I will do everything that you ask me to do.” The man told Kofi that from now on he was going to start his education. Kofi completed Junior High School. He continued to Senior Hight School. Now Kofi is in university. He has become a surgeon doctor. He has succeeded. He can now return to look after his mother. Kofi took his mother to visit the good man, the good Samaritan. Kofi’s mother said, “Papa I thank you very much. You saved my life and my son’s life”.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fufu Films

By Laconia Koerner - Humjibre, Ghana - Fufu symbolizes West Africa. Food is a communal activity here. When you “take” your fufu you are always taking it with someone. For me it is symbolic of a collective effort and experience. Pounding the fufu takes a lot of hard work. You cannot do it alone. Fufu Films proudly produced “United Against Malaria” in March 2010.

Films are still incredibly novel here; they really attract people from Humjibre and beyond. When we want to gather people, we show a movie, and try to intersperse it with programs. While movies are often used as hooks, they are truly a wonderful teaching tool. Films, along with the Community Health Worker’s live theatre and radio dramas, really get the Humjibre community tuned in. The performances have now traveled to other communities as well.

“United Against Malaria” is an instructional narrative. It is a progression of our outreaches; more than the direct education with lectures, posters, and flip-books. The culture here is more responsive to story telling than just the telling, so we, the community of Humjibre, have collaboratively produced a film for education and outreach against the deadliest disease in Western Ghana, malaria.

Chicka-Chang: Theatre and Film in Humjibre

By Laconia Koerner and Logan Krochalis

In February and March playwright Laconia Koerner taught drama classes to junior high school Form 1 and Form 2 students (roughly ages 12-16). Each form met for two hours once a week. During the first weeks students learned several trust exercises and theatre games designed to encourage them to interact using their bodies and voices in a structured yet spontaneous and playful way. Class favorites were Zip Zap Zop, the Circle Dance, and what came to be called “Chicka-Chang,” a game where students rapidly pass a sound and movements and/or gestures to each other in a circle. By March it was not uncommon for Laconia to hear her students cry “chicka-chang!” from the street as she walked to market.

Before leaving the U.S. for Humjibre, Laconia adapted a selection of fables written by Arnold Lobel for the stage. The students worked with three of the fables before it was decided that,“The Mouse at the Seashore” would be most appropriate to focus on for a performance, as it was reminiscent of the students’ recent trip to the beach in Accra. The students quickly memorized a simplified text of the play, a process that was conducted during class time where emphasis was put on correct English pronunciation and the meanings of several unfamiliar words. On Sunday, March 28, six groups performed versions of “The Mouse at the Seashore” for their families and friends, as well as GHEI staff at the Humjibre Community Center. A celebration followed complete with rounds of the Circle Dance and the infamous “Chicka-Chang.”

In addition to her work with the Form 1 and 2 students, Laconia wrote and directed a half-hour-long narrative film called United Against Malaria. The film stars, and is to be used by, the current Community Health Workers (CHW) of Humjibre as a teaching tool about the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of malaria. Originally written in English, the CHW’s worked tirelessly (in tandem with bed net distribution) to translate the film into Twi, as it is the most widely understood local language and will allow the film to be used in villages outside of Humjibre.
“It's powerful to see your everyday type life in the context of a staged performance. There gives a meaning to your life. And if other people see it becomes a common experience. Its hard for me to articulate the benefit of it, but even the simplest thing….something personal becomes universal when you and your peers act it out on stage.” - Laconia Koerner

“The kids have so much work to do, labor, studying, and so on. This is a playful outlet that is also challenging them to use what they are supposed to be learning. Theatre gives kids a voice, not that to answer a teacher or give a correct response; it literally gives them a voice. Kids don’t know who they are yet, and performing allows kids, and adults, to play with who they are.” - Laconia Koerner

“The kids in Humjibre grow up by the age of five, they are so mature. I don’t know if they ever get to experience the emotional psychic experience of children elsewhere. Theatre is spontaneous and structured. Its playful. With rules. Nothing here is all work or all play.” - Laconia Koerner