Thursday, 11 September 2008

The day Soraya became a happy bunny....

September 8th

A bit of a lie in this morning, because Soraya and I are inspecting the second school at Kabgayi and she’s coming to the flat because it’s on our way. We walk through the cool of the morning, choking on lorry fumes as we tramp the main road to Kabgayi. The basilica roof is now almost completely stripped of tiles; the huge statue of Mary out at the front is rising from a plinth of mucky tiles and rotten, nail-studded rafters!

Finding the school is not a problem; we can hear the little ones chanting their answers from fifty yards away. It’s almost a carbon copy of the other Kabgayi institution – arched gateway, enclosed courtyard, brick walls with high ceilings and glazed windows. It desperately needs redecorating but most of the structure is sound – just a few ominous cracks floor to ceiling in a couple of rooms.

Christine, the head, is experienced and pleasant and nobody’s fool. We go on a tour of the buildings. This is a school of 1700, so water and latrines are relatively sorted or there’d be an epidemic! There’s a lovely maternelle with around 150 children in two rooms; they have their own little enclosed playground and a section with a slide and other play equipment. The walls are festooned with the children’s artwork on recycled computer paper, and the whole set up is the closest I’ve come here in Rwanda to the sort of maternelle we’d expect back home.

We each watch a couple of lessons in the primary school; they’re safe but not exciting. Both teachers have been well prepared for us, and their lesson planners for today would pass any inspection under the sun. However, it still doesn’t mean they’re willing to try anything different such as groupwork, or paired work, or anything where the teacher is not out at the front in absolute control.

We leave the school and I take Soraya back home the scenic route via the brickworks valley. It’s seriously hot and by the time we reach the town centre we’re wilting fast. We eat at “Tranquillé” but what we both really need is a couple of buckets of water.

In the afternoon Soraya goes to see the YWCA manager because her house is supposed to be ready to move in to. I go back to the flat and do my report. Now that we’ve run out of official lesson observation sheets this takes even longer because I’ve got to write up the lesson observations from scratch.

I’m still none the wiser as to how the two Kabgayi schools relate to each other, and I’ll need to talk to Claude before I can send a copy of the report to either school. Come to think of it, I now have about eleven reports done but not sent to schools. Claude has an electronic copy, but neither the Mayor nor the schools have seen anything yet. That’ll make a nice little job on a future “down day”!

In late afternoon it’s the usual shopping and cooking routine; Tom arrives but we’re both pretty tired. Despite that we manage to get our act together and our evening meal is really excellent. Tomato base with German sausage, loads of veg and a beer to wash it all down. Then banana smoothie with some concentrated strawberry juice to beef it up a bit. We’re groaning by the time we finish, and all we can do in the evening is watch a video each.

While we’re eating we get an excited text from Soraya; not only is her house ready but Jackie at YWCA has found her a truck and some boys to move all her heavy furniture into it. At last, after months of being nomadic, she’s got not only a house but apparently a lovely one. It’s only a matter of a couple of hundred metres from Tom and I, so we’ve both got our own personal space but are close enough to reach each other quickly if there’s any sort of emergency.

Best thing about today – beyond any question, its Soraya’s news. I’m so happy for her. I’m sure she’s enjoying the work we’re doing, and now her domestic life is coming good she can at last relax and now have to worry about where she might be next week!

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