Sunday, 27 April 2008

Rwandan care in the community - a crazy in our office

Apr 21st

No more emergencies during the night, so up and off to work, leaving George to spend a lazy morning exploring Gitarama. Only about one day’s work has come into the office during my week’s absence, so I get straight on to entering it on the census spreadsheets. It also means I don’t feel guilty about having a week away at last week’s training course. Mid morning Cathie and I get a chance to talk to Claude. He eventually agrees to our scaled-down plans for teacher training – he really doesn’t have much option. You’ve got to give it to Claude, he’s sharp and very quick to look for easy ways out which won’t cost him. “Why not do the training on Saturdays from 8-1; then you won’t have to pay for lunch for the teachers and we won’t disturb their classes?” Yes, Claude, but when you take out all the umuganda days there are only about half a dozen Saturdays left before Cathie goes. So no can do. So he eventually agrees to half days on Thursdays and Fridays; if the schools are willing to put some of their own money , then we can stay all day. We hastily reschedule our work. Then one of our secteur rep friends breezes in and tells us that next month’s “head’s jolly” (AKA mass inspections), will be up in Rongi secteur (in the far north) on a Wednesday. Good – we’ll do our training there the next day. We might even arrange to stay in the priest’s house overnight.

We also briefly talk about my plans and he agrees to them – statistics all this week, plus visit to Shyogwe to talk to them about this big grant from VSO Holland. Then school visits locally until the end of the rainy season, when I’ll go on tour for a week or so up to Nyabinoni in the extreme north of Muhanga. That will be a real adventure, but impossible until the roads are reliable and before it all gets too hot! Tomorrow I must ring up schools and tell them the good news that I’m about to descend on them!

At mid-day I scoot off back home to sort out George and Épi. She’s been travelling from Gishanda; crazy, really – Épi’s given herself almost the longest journey you can make in Rwanda! We all meet up in the middle of town; neither has had anything to eat so I take them to Tranquillity. Shock, horror – it’s put its prices up during the week I’ve been away. (Inflation is starting to take off in Rwanda; everyone’s trying to get rich quick by putting their prices up. There’s going to be heartache for all the poorest people and a hard landing eventually for the middle classes who are trying to live Western lifestyles on African incomes). The “jus de fraise” is good, but not as good as our “fruit cocktails” in Butare.

Eventually I put them onto a matata for Gikongoro; it’ll take them all afternoon to get there and on to Gasarenda on a second bus, but they’ve got the front two seats by the driver, and it’s such a pretty journey. And they won’t be able to do any discussing with Han until tomorrow. They’ll stay with Han and Mans and she’ll spoil them with her cooking…..

Back to the office where another disturbed, deranged person is shouting the odds at Innocent and Venantie. He’s demanding something, producing loads of crumpled bits of official looking paper. Then he sits on the office floor and refuses to move. Claude disappears, fast; he’s acutely embarrassed that we’re witnessing the display. (If only he had any idea of what was happening last night). This man can’t hold a conversation; he just shouts at everybody. It’s frightening to listen to him to even when we can’t understand anything he’s saying. He’s gabbling, repeating himself and waves his fists around to emphasise his grievances. He so angry with us all, and obviously with a system that’s shunting him round and round the bureaucratic circle without giving him anything. I’ve no idea what he wants. Eventually Innocent persuades him to leave the office, but he comes back twice more, just as angry and just as vocal. Finally we get him out of the office at quarter to four and hastily we all leave and lock up! It’s the first time we’ve ever all left en masse. And that’s two mentally disturbed people I’ve encountered within twenty four hours.

Back at the flat, Geert rings up and I go out for a drink with him and Ward. Tom joins us when he gets back from work, and we spot Cathie and Elson tramping home so they too join us for a quick beer. The local drinkers are bemused that their bar has suddenly been taken over my muzungus. It’s a bittersweet occasion because it’s probably the last time we’ll have Geert for a quiet chat – he flies back to Holland next Sunday.

And guess what – there yet another twist in the tail of the Boot Camp INSET story. Apparently the teachers are being asked to contribute to the huge costs of the exercise (at least a billion and a half francs) by having money deducted from their wages. So not only have they forfeited most of their Easter holidays to eat bad food, do forced runs and dancing, build houses for genocide victims and the rest, but now they’ve got to pay for it as well. What cheek! At first Geert and I are convinced that we’re having our leg pulled, but it really seems to be true.

Best thing about today – being able to sleep in my own bed after virtually a fortnight!
Worst thing – where’s my “Guardian Weekly”? Two letters for Tom today, but none for me. BOO!

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