Sunday, 31 August 2008


August 28th

Today is one of those days which seems humdrum and wasted; then suddenly takes a new turn.

I’m a bit fed up in the morning because I’ve tried to arrange inspections for today with no less than 5 schools, and every one has either not replied at all to my text (how rude – it only costs 5p to send me a reply, even if it’s to tell me to get lost), or put me off. The range of excuses grows daily. Here’s this week’s batch so far:
You can’t come because I’m involved in a Gacaca case
You can’t come because my children are seriously ill
You can’t come because we’re doing a preparation run for the P6 exams
You can’t come because it’s inconvenient
Can you come sometime next week…… and so on!
I’m especially fed up because I’m making a special effort to be business like this term. I’m acutely aware that I’ve only got until the middle of October to do my visits – after that date it’s end of year revision, exams etc and there’ll be no more inspections till January. Also, I’ve got Soraya with me and I’m trying to get her up to speed as fast as I can. The only way you learn how to do school inspections is by getting out there and starting, and each time you do one you do it slightly better.

So I’m miffed I’m not on the road, but at least I can say it’s not my fault (this time). I go in to the office and go through the Remera and Mushubati reports with Soraya. She finds several silly mistakes which I’ve overlooked (like putting the wrong school’s name on a graph – how’s that for calculated to rub them up the wrong way!).

We try to print out a top copy of each report for Claude, but the office printer is out of toner, and the whole District Office is out of replacement toner, so things’ll have to wait. After all, I can give Claude an electronic copy of everything except the lesson observation sheets.

By lunchtime we’ve done all we can. Soraya is going down to Mushubi tomorrow to finally collect all her furniture from the school house. Tiga’s coming to stay with her on Saturday night. They’re meeting Els in Kigali. I’ve told Soraya to invite Els to Gitarama Saturday night so that she and I can sort out our training presentation to the VSO new arrivals in ten days’ time. See what I mean about things beginning to get busy once you’ve been here most of a year…..? I can’t imagine how I managed to fill my time during the lazy days of July….

After lunch I have an appointment to meet Karen and another bunch of primary teachers in the “Hotel Splendide”. This is Gitarama’s newest hotel and does its best to live up to its name. It’s brand new, the dining room staff are immaculately dressed, everything works, (well, nearly. The gent’s loo has a picture of a lady on the door, honest, and instead of a washbasin to do your hands afterwards they’ve put in a full scale shower. Whoever has a shower after doing a pee?)

At the Hotel I meet Christine who is the head teacher of Kabgayi “B” school, and Marie who is head of Kabgayi “A”. There is huge confusion at District office because our documentation there has Christine as head of both Kabgayi primary schools and also Remera school, which I visited last Tuesday. Now Christine is a large and formidable lady, but even she can’t run three schools, about three miles apart up Rwanda’s hills! The woman in front of me is definitely Christine. So who the hell was I inspecting on Tuesday? – it certainly wasn’t Christine and whoever it was, she was far too embarrassed and diplomatic to put the muzungu right over names…..

In ten minutes I’ve got all my inspections sorted out for the next week – Monday at Kibanda in Muhanga’s hill country (Upton family reading this – I’ll be going out on the road with the Chinese engineers!) Tuesday morning with Marie at Kabgayi A. Wednesday at Mbare next to Shyogwe, bumping along that dirt road, Teresa! Friday with Christine in Kabgayi B, which is one of the giant schools with 1700+ pupils. Thursday will be writing up reports.

Things get better. Claude is at the meeting with Karen. I remind him that he and I are supposed to be meeting tomorrow morning. He immediately looks sheepish and I know without him saying that he’s double booked himself. Turns out he’s going up country to Rongi to the formal opening of Ntarama primary school. “That’s not a problem” I chirp up, “I can come with you if there’s room in the car and we can talk on the way”. Claude thinks this is a great idea. So tomorrow I’ve wangled myself a day out, and an official invitation to the formal opening of a school. Ntarama school is just a few yards down the hill from Rongi Presbytery where I spent a night with the alcoholic priests last term. They’ll be there for sure (It’s a church school), and the only shame is that I won’t be able to take Soraya on this jolly with us. Never mind. I’ll take my camera for sure. Watch this space.

After lunch I manage to do a few minutes’ blogging while the power lasts, then back to the flat for a rest. I feel I’m on a real high because suddenly everything has worked out right. Little things please little minds.

Karen says Claude’s been telling her he’s very pleased with me and that I’m an “homme impeccable”. Not quite sure how that translates but I think it’s a compliment.

So now I feel I’ve already done a good day’s work and it’s only four in the afternoon. So I decide to take the rest of the day off and catch up on a week’s blogging.

When Tom comes in we’re both too tired to do much cooking, even though Janine has bought us bags of fruit and veg and meat. They can wait till tomorrow. We’ve both eaten well at lunchtime, so our evening meal is fried cheese sandwiches and fruit salad. The guard gets reheated cooked rice and beans and a handful of grated cheese. Midway through doing all this the power goes off. You can tell the rainy season is arriving by the frequency of power cuts. The power seems as if it’s going to be out a long time; the entire town is in darkness except for car headlights and the odd business which can afford an emergency generator.

So by half past eight we decide to call it a day and go to bed. There’s nothing else to do!

Best thing about today – isn’t it nice when everything falls into place. And I notice it’s often when Karen’s involved that things work out smoothly.

No comments: