Sunday, 27 July 2008

Nose to the grindstone in Gitarama

July 25th

I decide to get in to work as early as I can and look busy, even if there’s nothing much to do. It’s possible that Anne-Miek’s driver will turn up with rice sacks at eight o’clock and I daren’t be late if he’s coming. She’ll skin me alive!

When I arrive at the office I find Védaste looking for me; he tells me he’s been looking for me for days and I’m never in the office. That’s true, mate, I haven’t had anything to do so I’ve been off gadding about. Claude also asks me where I’ve been; he doesn’t actually tell me off but I get the message. It turns out that Claude wants to do the big presentation on census results on August 6th. That’s all very well, but it’s the middle of the time when Teresa and co are here, and on that day we’re all up in Gisenyi. I explain to Claude, very apologetically. I’m not ashamed; if he or Védaste really wanted to get hold of me they’ve both got my phone number and could have rung me any time during the past week. I’d have cancelled all my plans and come in to work. I suppose I should have booked my holiday dates in advance with Claude, but he’s never there to ask. Oh well, can’t be helped.

What complicates things further is that Claude wants me to go through all the maternelle census forms and have stuff ready for Monday, and then have a big meeting with him and Védaste on Monday. I have to say yes to that, even though I’ve already promised Marisa I’ll help her with a training session in Nyamata on Monday. I will have to drop her in it for Monday (she’ll probably be able to get Paula to come in from Gahini), and I’ll go to Nyamata on Monday night and do my thing on Tuesday. It’ll work.

So I spend all of today working flat out entering up statistics for the maternelles and analysing the results. I can’t get it all done by the end of the afternoon, and it’s going to take me most of the weekend to finish it. Also, we’ve a real problem in that most of the maternelles have left out any chunks of the census forms which they find difficult, so there’s precious little data I can analyse except for the actual numbers of children.

The next problem is that I find a considerable proportion of the census returns aren’t there in the cupboard where they’re supposed to be. I know there are maternelles not covered in these figures – I’ve been to the schools and seen the children in them! So while I’ve got about 6800 children officially accounted for, I reckon there’s anything up to another 500 lost somewhere within the system.

If I’m right, the grand total of children “in my care” in Muhanga is 72000 primary, 12000 secondary and 7000 maternelle. That’s 91000 children – a heck of a lot to keep tabs on!

By the time I get away at the end of the afternoon (I’m working on my own in the office all afternoon because everyone else has gone to the stadium for Friday afternoon games – makes me feel as though I’ve put myself in detention) it’s too late to go to the bank and I’m low on money. Also, there’s nothing in the fridge or larder and I need to do a fair old sweep round the market. And I’ve invited Tu Chi for lunch tomorrow at the end of umuganda and I want to impress her. I won’t be able to go to the bank now until Monday, or buy any food until Saturday afternoon. Fortunately the market stays open late on the eve of umuganda so I whiz round and get most of what I need. What isn’t there can be adjusted for.

Back at the flat Tom texts to say he’s staying in Kigali overnight and not returning till tomorrow afternoon. That makes catering easier. I discover that sardines, tomato salsa and peanut flour combine quite well to make a rich fishy sauce on vegetables. Just thought you’d like to know that. (I must stop writing down everything I eat – this blog’s almost turning into a “what I did on my holidays” format). One important thing I do remember is to put lentils to soak overnight – I’m not going to get caught out that way again!

I work through the evening writing up our Cyangugu trip so that when Tu Chi comes tomorrow I can not only give her the pictures but also the blogs.

Best thing about today – being hard at work. Within 24 hours I’ve gone from trying to fill in an empty diary to being hard at work and with every day accounted for in the foreseeable future. Everything now – maternelle census, Nyamata training, Teresa’s visit, autumn term school inspections – is end to end without a break. So, really, the best thing about today is when I’m lying in bed thinking about my three short breaks with three lovely girls: to Gisenyi with Épi; to Byumba with Kersti; to Cyangugu with Tu Chi. Not bad, when you come to think of it. And “all in the best possible taste” and everything done honourably, too.

Worst thing about today – nothing at all. This is how I like things.

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