Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Scheming at Shyogwe

October 1st

Today I find it difficult to get motivated.

I decide I need to draw out more money from the bank. That’s no problem, but I also need a new chequebook. In the Rwandan system you have to fill a form attached to your old cheque book when you are given it. Nobody’s explained this to me, and I’m not sure whether I’ve still got eh form at home or whether I’ve chucked it. Back from the bank there’s a nervous few minutes while I ransack my papers – fortunately I still have the piece of paper. I’ll take it in to the bank later. By sheer chance I’m glad I’m going home for a fortnight – it’ll give Rwandan bureaucracy time to send the new chequebook to Gitarama. I can’t imagine it’ll get there quicker than a fortnight!

Then off to Shyogwe to break the news to Stéphanie that work on the building will have to stop. On impulse, I call in at Michael’s house in the village, and find him in. It’s his very first morning on the job in Shyogwe. He’s looking a bit shell-shocked. So he trots off with me down to the primary school and I can introduce him to everyone. Introductions are very important in Rwandan culture – if you’re not introduced formally to everyone, you’ve made a faux pas. His French is good, too, and he and Stéphanie can communicate easily. That’s a relief. I take more pictures of the new building; all the brickwork is done except where the ventilation holes are going to go. Also, I see that they’ve decided to put in little windows high up on the rear wall. I’m happy with that – it’s a nice compromise. It’ll let in light, but the children won’t be distracted by looking out, and thieves will have to climb up about eight feet to try to break in that way.

While Stéphanie and I are talking we have a brainwave. We think there ought to be some sort of contingency fund in the Diocesan budget, and we decide to ask the Bishop to lend us enough cash to finish the building and pay him back when we get the rest of the Randstad money. There’s a slight risk there; if Randstad’s profits are taking a hammering in the global recession then they might not be able to give us the full amount, but we think it’s a risk worth taking. Stéphanie agrees to see the Bish when he’s next around. (He’s off to Europe again some time soon. These senior clergy don’t half get around….).

Michael tells me there’s a very young English girl spending some time working at Shyogwe; I think she’s doing some sort of youth work. Nobody’s told me about her, and I feel guilty if she’s been all on her own out here getting lonely when we could have absorbed her into our muzungu network in the town. So Michael’s going to bring her with him when he comes for the weekly meal on Sunday.

As I leave Shyogwe I see that work has re-started on the school’s admin block. Marchwood School must have raised them some more money. Good for you, Marchwood, because we need to get that building done. It’s really nice to see two separate lots of building work going on in a primary school at the same time – makes you feel that things are beginning to gather pace and improve out here!

I have another load of photos now to blog, and I spend the afternoon writing email messages to various people. Finally I set to preparing geology notes for Kersti’s earth science class at the American School. Their textbook is really good – all embracing, but I think it’s at university first year level rather than “A” level. So I tell Kersti, for example, not to get too involved in mineralogy. If you don’t have mineral samples in front of you it’s pretty pointless. Stick to the rocks and earthquakes and volcanoes which Rwanda does so well!

Tom comes in and we cook up a storm – we make a huge tomato base which will last us two days, and a kind of potato and cheese cake with lots of onions and other veg in it. Very solid and filling; very good for us.

Best thing about today – I’m glad I’ve made time to go out to Shyogwe and at least let them know the money isn’t coming any day soon. If the Bishop can lend us money it’s a win-win situation: the school will have new classrooms ready for the spring term, and the church will get its money back when Randstad delivers the goods!

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