My NSS teacher tales will not be complete if I don’t tell you about allawa (slang for monthly allowance for National service personnel). I must add that it is only persons like me, who work for government-owned organizations, who relate to the issues. Hehe….
First and foremost, it is required of us to fill and submit an allowance form every month. The form contains details like attendance, conduct, performance etc. How it’s a big deal erh (hmm, you have no idea); no mistakes, no correction fluids or else it will be rejected and that means no allowance for that month.
In my district, one has to send it in person because you have to sign against your name in some other form at the premises. So over this service period, my two colleagues and I had to leave school work and troop to the district office at Dodowa every month. It is such a pain in the neck looking at the distance we have to travel in order to get there. We drive past two major towns and through many other villages. It’s really costly and we are not even able to go back to class because, by the time we’re back, the school may have closed.
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Now, payment of our allowance is made through E-zwich cards.
The first time my colleagues and I wanted to withdraw our allawa was just interesting. After almost two months of working, we were informed via our WhatsApp platform our monies had been duly paid. With so much expectancy and excitement, we set off the next morning to cash out.
We started off with one rural bank and we couldn’t withdraw. They said they did not have enough funds loaded unto the E-zwich device. Then we continued to the GCB Bank in Akuse. Well, we got a big surprise there. Their E-zwich thing was spoilt! GCB!
That should have been the last straw to break the camel’s back but we didn’t want to give up just yet. We moved on and the more we did, the farther we got from town. Shortly, we were at another rural bank at the Volta River Authority (VRA), Akuse basic school premises. There too, we could not get our money.
We decided to make the whole journey to the next major town. Hmm, travelling just to cash out money; it was even funny and we could not believe it was happening. Soon, we were running along the street in front of VRA trying to catch a vehicle. Most of them were full before they got to where we were standing. But thankfully a car heading our way came along.
SHAI OSUDOKU DISTRICT-STORY OF OUR LIVES!
The driver helped us all the way to Somanya, to another GCB Bank. There too, their network was down. Fortunately, there was Opportunity Bank right across the street from GCB. They had all we needed—a working E-zwich device, with lots of cash, loaded unto it.
But it came along with a long queue. Soon, we found out why. Most NSS personnel in Shai Osudoku district did not have banks with E-zwich service in the villages posted to. So we were not the only ones who had travelled to cash out money. We actually received a welcome to the club guys!
Finally, after all that goose chase, we got to cash out our monies. Since we were in town, we went ahead to do some shopping before heading back home.
The good thing though is that subsequently, allawa dropped in the same week we were supposed to submit our next form. This made our allawa travels a once in a month thing; cash out allawa and submit our forms (using one stone to kill two birds).
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The joys of Allawa… Hear it from a colleague NSS Teacher
So I woke up as early as 6 am one bright Monday morning. When I stepped out of my apartment, all I could think about was my monthly allowance popularly known among we service personnel as allawa. I made my way to school, signed my name and asked permission from the headmistress and left for Somanya.
I must say the journey from my end to Somanya is a very hectic one, but at this time of the month, I really have no choice but to do it. Forget about all the hustle and bustle from the trotros and bikes.
In fact, just when I thought I have seen it all, I have to deal with boats (and probably crocodiles) now. The issue with this boat ordeal is a very scary one for me since I have no idea how to swim. I mean “what if the boat sinks”. To make matters worse, just about three days into this our new means of transportation, a crocodile was found and killed. That really scared me. Yet I had I had to cash out allawa by hook or crook so I set off.
Okay, so the boat ride wasn’t as bad as I imagined, every passenger on board was made to wear life jackets, it was so cool and yes, I looked out for crocodiles the whole time. Finally, I got off the boat and unto a bus to the bank. Whiles at the bank, all I was waiting for was “next” and it did come. I placed my finger on the E-zwich machine, waited for like a second and the receipt came out with figures that always make me smile.
At this time, all I could think about was how I was going to spend my very much anticipated allawa.
Our last submission day was different though. I know I told you I could not wait to go on the weekend, but things changed. I was at the National service district office instead. For a games event and KENKEY PARTY!!!
Being the last time we got to be together again as a district, I guess our executives thought it will be good if we did something memorable.
We played games-football, and all the typically Ghanaian indoor games you can think of in teams against each other. Teachers against health workers, sanitation workers against district assembly workers. Yeah, teams like that. Because these are the areas you get to be posted to in this district. It was really fun! And for the records my team won-teachers! How we teased our opponents. They claimed they had been training for a month when all that while we were in class and had no such training.
Allawa trips end with some buzz
This time, I did the trip back home with some colleague NSS teachers I was meeting for the first time. We talked at length about our anxiety from the beginning, our experiences in the classroom and probably our NSS teacher accomplishments. Hehe. I think there was even a tinge of pride in our voices. It was a good feeling. The thought of rubbing shoulders with real teachers for a whole academic year.
And about the boat bit. I think my host town has more surprises up their sleeves than the layers of leave wraps on a fante kenkey made in Cape Coast! But it’s all we have got now, since our bridge is broken down. I had my doubts about it too, I mean my expectations on the safety measures were low. But hey I was wrong this time. Life jackets and things. Charlie, E no be easy! If you are a good photographer like I am you could say you are cruising at Sajuna and get away with it. I enjoy it actually. It’s all quiet on the water, and the breeze is amazing when the boat is moving.
My colleagues and I had a nice time on it too. We took some photos while on our 5-mins cruise, you know to immortalize the moments.
So I guess it is just appropriate to say the annoying monthly trips ended on a great note. Isn’t it?
NSS Teacher Allawa Story By Margaret Blankson
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