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Village Scene

Mankoadze is a village of 3,000 people of all ages. It is situated an hour and a half by car from the Ghanaian capital Accra. Before the new coast road was built, with Japanese aid, it used to take three and a half hours to drive to the village.

Turning left off the main coast highway the tarmac road finishes after a mile and a half, turning into a dark red dirt track. Water and electricity are supplied to the village but the cost is out of reach for most of the villagers. There are a number of street lights where at night villagers gather, set out their tables and sell a variety of things such as second-hand shoes, small plastic bags filled with rice or peeled fruit. Now and then the power fails and the village falls into darkness - and when it's dark in the village, it's really dark!

The village is spread along the white, sandy beach with palm trees and lovely warm water. It is a fishing village. When, on his first visit, Roger watched the fishermen pull in their catch the fish were over a foot long. The men are catching smaller fish now, and this, of course, is affecting their livelihood.

There are two families who are being enterprising by selling tickets to watch the only two television sets in the village. There is a bar, if you can call it that, named 'The Love Inn' and one tiny shop six foot square.

The community of Mankoadze is very religious, with many denominations represented. Church services last for three hours on Sunday mornings, which are very noisy, with African drumming and beautiful singing.

Village School
Village School

The primary schools TEABAG supports in the villages of Mankoadze, Onyadze and Abrekum are typical of the image westerners imagine an African school to be.

The main building in Mankoadze is 45 metres long with 5 classrooms. Each room has a door and a shuttered window leading out on both sides to a verandah which runs the length of the building. Each class has the old type wooden tables for each child and a table and chair for the teacher. A large blackboard occupies most of one of the end walls and there are few or no posters at all on the classroom walls. In the older student classrooms there is some teaching material on the wall provided by some British teachers who made a trip with TEABAG last year. Teaching text books are in short supply. The children learn their lessons parrot fashion. Most of the teachers still use a stick to 'encourage' their lazy students. On this visit TEABAG paid for the school to buy 4 exercise books and a pencil for each pupil. It has now been sponsoring students in Ghana for six years.

We were very fortunate to be in the village when our first group of GSS (GCSE) students passed their exams (shown left) and found out their results. I am very proud that these 21 students got high enough marks to be offered places at college. All students are asked to name the top three colleges they would like to attend. However the selection process is done by computer at the Ghanaian Education Department and most of our students have been given places many kilometers from Mankoadze. Many of the colleges in Ghana are residential and the fees are too high for our average villager.

The local college to Mankoadze is in Apalm, around 35 minutes drive from the village. This journey is not feasible for the three students who have been offered places, they will be unable to attend unless they are able to board. The annual educational fee for Apalm College is £350, way out of the reach of our villagers.

TEABAG's quandary for the future then is whether we should continue to offer help to our 21 academic students and find funding for them to attend the college of their choice, or to help the less able students, who at present have no future. TEABAG will definitely be carrying on with their individual sponsorship of pupils in the three village schools. The fact that the levels of education have risen in the school by 300% in the last two years shows that the input from TEABAG IS WORKING.

Vocational Skills Center
Vocational Skills Center

Tom Yendell always sees the possibilities of less able students and has now taken up the challenge to provide vocational skills for these students. The village Elders have made available a site situated on the outskirts of the village. There is a breezeblock building with a tin roof at the front of the plot, which for very little money will be transformed into an Vocational Skills Centre (VSC). It is envisaged that we shall start small, offering three subjects only and when the project is up and running we will add more to our syllabus.

It is a very exciting project, as right from the start we will be able to get all the village involved. From the moment we clear the land surrounding our building to when we are up and running this facility is going to make such a difference to the community of Mankoadze. As far as possible villagers will be used for the work. There will obviously be some trades that are not represented in the village and we will have to bring these tradesman in from outside.

We have been asked by the community to concentrate on three main objectives. Firstly we will transform the building into a main area, with a tiled floor, which will be used for a multitude of purposes. It will be the first community space in the village. During the daytime it will provide space for our first vocational skill, textiles, while in the evening the space will provide a community theatre, where we will be able to show, films and educational documentaries.