Finding Hope in Service
Esther Nyamekye celebrates the joys of teaching neighbourhood kids, following school closures
Attending school in Ghana’s capital, Accra, allowed me run a small business on campus to cater for myself and also provide financial support to my single mother and younger siblings back home in Gomoa Ankamu, a town in the Central Region with few opportunities and a low standard of living. So when the pandemic struck, forcing the government to shut down schools, my source of income was jeopardised.
Each time my mum went to the market, I worried about what would happen to our family if she caught the virus
I arrived home one week after the president’s directives, using what was left of my savings to purchase a fridge so that I could start selling sachet water to my neighbours. I had hoped that the profit from sales would be enough to help my mum so she wouldn’t need to go to the market to sell fashion accessories at the risk contracting this strange, deadly virus. Unfortunately, the money I earned was like a drop of water in an ocean. Each time my mum went to the market, I worried about what would happen to our family if she caught the virus. My constant fretting affected me psychologically.
For the next few days, I experienced headaches, chills and heart burns and endured crying spells in my room. I knew I needed medical attention when I started hallucinating. One morning I called Dr. Paul, whom I had worked with on a medical outreach project, telling him that I had contracted coronavirus. After a few questions, he said I was overreacting while advising that I self-isolate for a couple of days.
I am glad I found a way to impact my community at a time uncertainties hindered many from operating at their full capacity
Days later, I got better and in an attempt to preserve my sanity, I took a break from social media. To keep busy, I started teaching my brother and neighbourhood kids English, math and science. As the days progressed, more children joined the class, making it difficult to observe social distancing, which scared me. I was contemplating ending the classes when a church in the vicinity offered their building as a solution to the crowding problem. The news excited the children and encouraged me to give them my all. I committed two hours to teaching them. Meanwhile, parents supported us with chalk, sanitisers and soap. One neighbor even donated face masks for kids who could not afford them.
While the pandemic has been a challenging time for all, I am grateful for the beautiful diversion lockdown created by giving me ample time to teach children in my neighbourhood. I am glad I found a way to impact my community at a time uncertainties hindered many from operating at their full capacity. Taking the bold step to teach presented an avenue to liaise with a child with special needs, a propitious meeting that has made me more patient and a better listener.