Sunday, 18 May 2008

The Day I Flooded the Flat!

May 11th

Off to Butare for a planning session with all the other VSOs in the south province who teach English.

However, there’s an eventful start to the morning. We were so tired on Saturday night that we’d left all our washing up, and I got up early to do it all. Turned on the hot tap, but there was no water because we’d turned it off at the hot tank itself the previous night. But like an idiot I forgot to turn the tap off. Went and had a shower, after turning the hot water on (the tap’s in the bathroom), then got dressed, including my new Rwandan shirt. Came out of my bedroom to find half the flat under water where the sink couldn’t cope with the rush of water coming from the tap, and all the hot water used up so Tom would have to have a cold shower. Matey across the road had his sound system so loud that I couldn’t even hear the noise of cascading water in the room next door!

So instead of a nice early start to Butare I spent a good 30 minutes mopping up with cloth and rubber broom until the water was manageable. Even then, there must have been a small lake behind the fridge which I couldn’t get to.

Of course, we’re on the first floor and below us is the MTN office full of electrical equipment which wouldn’t improve at all if water dripped on it from above. So I had to make sure that as much of the water as possible was swept out of the front door.

By the time I eventually had to leave, Tom was still in bed. Made a mental note to text him in half an hour or so, but forgot until lunchtime. Meanwhile, when he eventually gets up he’s horrified, thinking the fridge/freezer has broken, and is trying to work out which of our frozen food we must eat immediately…..

The run to Butare is so slow (twenty minutes stuck at Ruhango waiting for passengers to materialise) that when we arrive I’m too late to go to the museum first, which had been my cunning plan.

At the Hotel Ibis for the meeting there are Cathie, Cathryn from Nyanza, Tiga, Soraya, Antonia, Anne-Miek and Berthe. Tiga’s had her hair braided and extensions put in and looks fabulous. Berthe’s being eaten alive by bed bugs; she has two mattresses, both of which are equally crawling, and no amount of beating the mattresses or spraying with disinfectant seems to be working. She’s itching continuously and in quite a state. Soraya’s pay cheque which should have gone in at the end of March hasn’t arrived for some reason, and she’s been caught out with no money and humiliated by her bank. Its sheer luck that this happened in Gikongoro where there are two other VSOs to come to her rescue. She’s tired, depressed and tearful. I’m going in to Kigali and the Programme Office on Tuesday, so I’m delegated to stamp my feet with the Managers there. And if I don’t get any joy on Tuesday, Tiga says she’s going to Kigali on Friday, and she’s also on the Committee...

The Hotel Ibis is slow, expensive and not very co-operative, so we adjourn across the road to the café in the Lebanese supermarket where we all know the manager. We take over the café part for virtually the entire morning and organise our training. We’re including one or two disabled people of Antonias, 9 from our Muhanga district and another 9 from Nyamagabe, four or five from Nyanza, and a couple from the Kigeme refugee camp. About two dozen all told. In particular, we’re going to be focusing on training the trainers – teachers who we’ve already got to know and who are competent so that when we all eventually leave we will hopefully have left something sustainable in place.

We’re going to do the training around the June 19th-22nd weekend, and it means Tiga and I will have to miss one day because we have a VSO Volunteer Committee meeting on the 21st. And it also means that Cathie and I will have to rearrange one of our half day training courses up in the wilds of Rongi secteur. But everyone’s got commitments each other weekend in June, so we don’t have much alternative. We spend a jolly couple of hours planning the programme; I’ve got to do some “Brain Gym” work one morning. I’ve got some materials on my laptop but I’ll need to do some research on line as well.

Mid meeting I suddenly realise I haven’t told Tom why the flat is wet and the water cold. I get a mightily relieved reply from him a few minutes later.

After lunch we break up for essential stuff like shopping, but I manage to agree with Soraya that she’ll come to stay with us on Thursday and Friday nights. She wants to go to Kibuye at the weekend with Caroline, so if I go with them I won’t be going to Épi’s in the east. Must ring Épi on Monday evening!

Discover that the National Museum is, after all, open on Sunday afternoons, so manage to nip in and buy a whole wodge of banana leaf cards (they’re half the price in the museum that they charge in Butare town), and my wooden pirogue that I’ve been promising myself for months now. I’m a happy bunny!

Try thumbing a lift home, but the only car that stops for me is full of policemen who aren’t impressed at a rich muzungu trying to hitch when he can well afford the matata fare….. So it’s back home on the bus. I’m not having much joy with lifts this weekend!

In the evening Karen once again organises us to eat out at “Tranquillité”; this time she’s got two profoundly deaf women with her so it’s an interesting lesson in communicating. There are seven of us – Marin is German, Tom, Karen and myself English, Christi and one of the deaf women are Americans and the other is Canadian. Just about every conversation is being translated into at least two languages……

Best thing about today – I really like my new shirt; we’ve planned our training and allocated around RwF700,000 for it; I’ve bought my pirogue and cards; I’ve made contact again with Soraya and Tiga looks stunning. Not at all a bad day!

Worst thing about today – don’t even mention plumbing or water…..

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