Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Buying up crafts in Butare

October 2nd

Up early because today’s suddenly become busy. By half past seven I’ve got Amy and Hayley in the lounge; Hayley’s brought Amy round so we can talk about school visits. I give Amy some advice and a lot of computer documents to try and help her hit the ground running down in Kigeme. She won’t be doing school inspections like me, but she’ll certainly be visiting lots of schools. Like Michael at Shyogwe, she’s working for the Anglican diocese and the problem is that most of the information about schools is held in District Offices and not by the diocesan authorities. We talk about how to get round the problem – in her case by working closely with Mans.

Then I waltz down to the internet café – I’ve got blogs and pictures to post and a whole handful of emails to send concerning re-arrangements because of my going home for a fortnight. The emails go off fine; the blog texts too, but the connection’s painfully slow and I can’t send any of the pictures. No matter, they can wait till tomorrow when I go to VSO office in Kigali.

I stride off up to the post office and there is mail for us, including the first ever letter for the little internet business Tom has created to sell his artefacts online. I collect my crash helmet from the District Office – I don’t mind leaving it in the cupboard overnight, but if it’s seen to be lurking there for a fortnight I’m sure that somebody will decide it’s up for grabs and that they are poorer than me and more in need of it (to sell) than me. Everywhere I go with the helmet I get moto drivers pulling up beside me. Word seems to have got round that the big muzungu’s been doing a lot of travelling lately, and they all want to milk this cash cow while it’s around. Sorry chaps, I’m definitely on foot today.

Then I’m off to Butare on a desperately slow matata to the museum; I buy nearly 250 hand made cards from the craft shop there. Nobody seems to mind me buying in such bulk; to me it’s a win-win-win situation. They get my money and my patronage for the card makers (troubled young people who they are trying to get back into constructive society); I get some hand made, beautiful cards, most of which we’ll sell on back in England; and one or another lucky school will get the British profits from the card sales ploughed back into water tanks.

I also buy basketry souvenirs and the biggest diameter drum that will fit in my suitcase. Little Dylan’s going to get a drum for Christmas this year; his mother will either bless me or curse me; I’m not sure which!

By now it’s well into the afternoon and I’m pecking. I’ve done all my business for the day so I can relax. I stroll into Butare town centre and have lunch at the Lebanese supermarket. They do a really excellent tuna salad for only RwF1000 (£1). After that I get the comfy bus back to Gitarama. By the time I’m back, Mans has already invited Amy to meet him to discuss school data for her schools, and Mans has invited Els to replace me at the work planning meeting on 13th – both things I’ve suggested in texts or emails earlier in the day. Man, that feels really satisfying to think things are running like well oiled wheels.

The water in our flat, which has been on-off for two days now (despite the rainy season) decides to go more or less off again; just as Amy asks if she can come round and have a hot shower. The answer, of course, is yes, but the water might only be a trickle. While she’s showering I’m trying to make lists of what I need to take home. Almost no clothes, because I’ve got tons at home. Loads of souvenirs, and my laptop definitely.

The rainy season is worrying yet again. It should be in full swing now, with thunderstorms every afternoon and really heavy downpours to replenish the water table. What we’re getting is the occasional light shower and a few flashes of lightning, but nothing like the heavy rainstorms we had in the spring. If we don’t get a lot more rain than this there’s going to be trouble for the farmers – and that means about 85% of the population here!

Then within five minutes I’ve got Soraya coming round to collect drinking water (their tap’s gone completely dry), and also some teaching materials for her training days next week, and Tom arriving tired out from work. Soraya and Amy stagger back to their house laden down with stuff. They’ve left Hayley cooking dinner for them.

Soraya’s made a real hit with the secteur reps, and Agnès from Cyeza is so pleased with Soraya’s training proposal that within 24 hours she’s contacted all Cyeza schools and told them there’s training this coming Monday and to be there or else. Now, of course, Soraya’s biting her nails to the quick and hoping she’ll be able to carry off the training. I feel rotten that I won’t be there to support her, especially on her first try. Oh well, Soraya’s just as experienced a volunteer now as I am.

Best thing about today – getting down to Butare and buying up loads of things to bring home. At least I feel as if I’ve achieved something today!

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