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Teachers: Citizenship: Globalisation Social

Last Updated: Monday January 31 2005 10:37 GMT

Worksheet: Opoku's story

Opoku, 13, from Ghana. (Photo: Nick David, Comic Relief)
Hi! I'm Opoku. I'm 13 and I live in Dantano, in Ghana.

My dad's a farmer and he grows cocoa. Dad used to sell his cocoa to Kuapa Kokoo, a Fairtrade cocoa farmers' co-operative, for a fair price so there was enough money to pay my school fees.

But three years ago a disease called black-pod attacked the trees. It almost wiped out the whole crop. Most of the trees died and we had to cut them down and use them for firewood. We lost everything. Luckily Kuapa Kokoo can

give Dad a loan to buy new seeds and give help and advice on how to best to stop black-pod in the future. It can take a long time for the trees to grow back so I hope won't have missed out on too much school by the time the cocoa is ready to sell. In the meantime, Kuapa are also going to help me apply for a scholarship from the government to help me get back to school, but there are not many of them.

Now I help my uncle who breeds rabbits to sell for food. Rabbit stew is very nourishing! I clean out the hutches and go looking for green leaves for their food. I have to be careful to find the right kind of leaves and to get rid of all the poisonous caterpillars first. I do this by spreading out the leaves in the sun - the caterpillars don't like the bright sunlight so they disappear quickly.

It's so easy to forget what you've learnt when you don't go to school. I get up early - around 4am - and try to read my books to help me remember. My friend Foster still goes to school regularly so I try to learn from him. Maths is our favourite subject.

I really want to be a bank manager - that's a good job with regular pay. It's not like being a farmer where you have no control over the weather or disease. If I can't be a bank manager - and I won't be able to unless I can go to school - then I'd like to work in a factory that makes chocolate from cocoa. I want to be the factory manager.

I'm the only boy in the family. I'm in the middle with two older sisters and two younger ones. They can be a real nuisance at times because they tease me a lot. My eldest sister went to school, but the next one had to drop out like me. The younger ones don't go either.

I love playing football - my dad reckons I should become a professional! I also like making things from balsa wood like model cars and sets of disco lights from wire and wood. My uncle taught me how to communicate using talking drums, and I can spell my name through drumbeats.

I try to keep busy. I don't want to become a thief and end up in prison, but if I can't go to school, I don't know what I will be able to do with my life.

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