A New Year, A New Village by Bruce Neumann

DSC_0183A new year, a new village. Once again, I am leading art with my two Ghanaian Teachers, Auntie Yvonne and Uncle Collins, in the newest of Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope Reading Camps in Boate.

DSC_0190On Monday the children made friendship crowns to go with the poem, ‘Friends,” which says, “Friends, friends, 1, 2, 3; all my friends are here with me.” This wasn’t the first year I taught this craft, and I always have the children draw their friends in the middle of the band of the crown, keeping the round tops open for jewels.

dsc_0203.jpgThe class two teacher, Joanna Haslim, who helped to cut out the sixty crowns, drew the faces of friends on the round portion of the crown, the way it was supposed to be done. I had been having the children put jewels in the round sections. Now I realize I have been doing it wrong all these years! Even though they weren’t as intended, the children loved them! Some of the children took them home but others wanted to keep them at the school so they could wear them for the balance of reading camp.


On Tuesday morning most of the children had their crowns on when we arrived, ready for another day of discovery!

Tuesday’s book was The Three Little Pigs, and the children were to make a pig with a curly-q tail. During teacher training, Uncle Collins perfected twisting a pink pipe cleaner around a pencil and taught the children to make tails for their pigs.


In previous years I have taken spin-art machines to Ghana. This year, prior to leaving for Ghana, Becki+ and I discussed whether to take spin art machines again, or Spirograph Travel, and we decided to take several Spirographs as a new and exciting art project. Each child got to make several patterns, and the amazement on their faces was priceless.

Since I was done with art before lunch, I went to the library to help. Not knowing what to do, I was given alphabet / sound puzzle pieces. I sorted the letters from the sound pictures. I then called one of the children over to match them, by the time he got to the letter D, a half a dozen children came over to see what he was doing and joined him. I had to explain about pears and quarters, (Ps&Qs). By the time they left, I believe they had a better understanding of beginning letter sounds.

I come back to Ghana each year because I enjoy continuing to help the children develop their reading, art, and thinking skills. I have been a part of Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope since it began in 2005 because I believe they are making a difference in small remote villages.

The first village where GMH built a preschool, Akramaman, has grown from preschool, to primary, then Junior High. Now, 11 years later, the government is building a high school.


Because GMH runs reading camps the children know they are involved in something special, and that they are special. Children who are not part of the camp look on longingly. I know they are thinking, “I want some of that!”

One response to “A New Year, A New Village by Bruce Neumann”

  1. You go Dad!!!! Your love of kids has always inspired me and your patience in the midst of numerous frustrations is profound and enviable. I am so glad you got to return to Ghana this summer to serve.

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