Thursday, December 20, 2012

All Good Things Must End

With our shadow puppetry projects wrapped up in Bakpe and Bamefedo, we had a little more puppet love to spread around before leaving Ghana. We traveled to the town of Kpando; our friend Peta Hall had provided us with an introduction to Mama Essi who runs the Ryvanz-Mia Orphanage, and we spent a joy-filled afternoon with the 17 kids living there.

Susanne sits amongst the Kings and Queens of Kpando
As we’d done at the schools, we gave each kid a pencil kit of their own art supplies as well as a notebook. We spent some time drawing, and we all made crowns to wear; it felt like a party! We busted out our puppet supplies and set about that familiar routine of sewing on button eyes, making hair, and designing fabulous outfits for the kids’ hand puppets.

We stayed over at the orphanage that night. Before the kids went to bed, we presented Mama Essi and the children with a whole suitcase of art supplies and books. I wish we could have stayed for longer, I loved spending time with these sweet kids.

We returned to Ho to pack up and bid farewell to our friends at DIVOG and our hosts, who had been so kind to us. It was hard to say goodbye, but we were all so happy with how this pilot-puppet-program had turned out that we determined that this was not a “goodbye” but a “see you next time.”

We headed south to the coast see our friend Peta Hall and conduct our final workshop at the Atorkor Vocational Centre, where she works as Director. This gorgeous new facility was funded by people from Prince Edward County, where we live, and was designed by local architect Brian Clark, so we were thrilled to be able to visit it in person. The centre currently offers courses in IT, Dressmaking and Tailoring, and Batik and Fibre Art.

Susanne demonstrates some expert puppet-making techniques
We spent a few hours of our afternoon with a room of mostly female dressmaking students, making hand puppets.

Many of the women are single mothers, and the opportunity to have a fun and creative afternoon AND bring toys home to their children went over very well! There was a lot of laughter and smiles going around that day. 

...And that was it.

Almost a year’s worth of planning and now suddenly, the project was over. I think Susanne and I were both a little stunned as we rode in the taxi to our post-project chill-out spot down the road. It was time to reflect on everything we’d experienced, and dream about how Puppets Without Borders would carry on in the future.
Me and one of the awesome kids of Ryvanz-Mia
Susanne and I are giving a talk and slide show about Puppets Without Borders on January 22, 2013, at the Picton Library at 7 PM. All are welcome!

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