Saturday, 10 May 2008

Best day at work for months!

May 6th

A really, really good day today. In the office it’s very quiet and for a while I’m the only person there. So I have a root around and, lo and behold, I find all my census sheets stashed away in a corner next to Béatrice’s desk. There’s a young lad who they’ve employed to make the official data return to MINEDUC. This is called the “fiche de saisie” and the fact that this lad’s doing it means I won’t have to. I can concentrate on making my presentation useful to Claude and the local schools.

But things get better. When I go through the forms I find that every single school has now returned its census form. All my phone calls to the schools have paid off, and all the data is in.

So I spend a happy morning entering up stats and by the end of the day I’ve got all but Nyarusange district done.

Mid morning I’m visited by Charlotte from the VSO Programme Office in Kigali. She’s doing a tour of her southern district people on a “how’s it going?” mission. If she’d come yesterday she’d have missed me, and even if I’d been there I’d have been very negative about the work side of things. But today I’m upbeat ‘cos things can only get better!

At the end of our interview (we’ve pinched Claude’s office because he’s off somewhere) she asks if she can come and see Shyogwe primary school. Charlotte will be handling the Dutch money when it finally arrives in Rwanda, so it’s a good idea to show her what we’re up to. Also, it means she can drive me to Shyogwe and save a moto fare!

At Shyogwe its right at the hottest part of the day, and just before the school shuts for lunchtime. The silly driver won’t stay where I tell him and tries to drive down the little lane to the school. I show Charlotte where the problems are and introduce her to Stéphanie, the Directrice. We take a few snaps inside classrooms. Then its lunchtime and 2000 children are trying to squeeze part our car which is blocking the only access to the school. We have a hairy time trying to get out with dozens of little boys trying to climb on the tailboard and hitch a ride up the road. I can’t say anything to the driver without embarrassing Charlotte, but the driver mustn’t try to follow us like that again!

I have a lunchtime date with Nix at the JAM orphanage at Shyogwe. Nix is just back from home in Johannesberg, and without Geert around any longer she’s glad to have some company. Her domestique is a super cook, and we eat well: proper shepherd’s pie, and tea served from a teapot. Good Lord, this Shyogwe is a civilised place! She has a comfortable family bungalow to herself – 3 bedrooms – with a lovely view across the Shyogwe valley to the distant village. At one and the same time it’s part of the orphanage but separate and private; she’s close to the village but at a discreet distance from it. It’s a perfect set-up. We must have her round for a meal at our place soon!

After lunch I take a cycle taxi up to the primary school. Stéphanie’s done her homework. She’s very happy with the report I sent to Holland last weekend (I have to translate it into French for her), and she in turn has detailed estimates for the classroom block. The block of four rooms will take up all the 10,000 euros of the first slice of the bid. All her data is in Kinya-rwanda so she has to translate for me into French and then me into English. I’m trying to put it all straight onto an excel sheet, and I’ve barely finished by the time the computer battery gives out. But I’ve got enough to make a second report to Holland with the priority order and costings they need. As far as we’re concerned here, the building work can start as soon as we get the money. I’ll email the stuff to Holland first thing tomorrow morning when there’s a good connection in the Gitarama internet café.

In the afternoon I do some more work on the stats; I’m getting very close to finishing now, and I’m happy because I know that I’ll end up with a complete set of data.

Last thing in the afternoon I go to see Raymond in the admin office, and he’s in chatty mood again. While I sit and wait and we exchange wisecracks, he makes up my green card for me. It’s the most informal bureaucratic session you could ever imagine. People are constantly dropping in and out and I get introduced to all of them. Raymond’s about to go on leave, so there’s a party mood about the place.

So at the end of today I have all my census data, and my resident’s card. If I go round any of the national parks again I’ll have the reduced price for Rwandan residents. I’m as pleased as if I’ve been told I have Rwandan citizenship!

Best thing about today – everything. A really great day and nothing to spoil it.

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