Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Constant changes of plan

November 17th

This morning I feel tired and it’s an effort to get ready and out of the flat by half past six. Claude’s in the office but just about to leave for Kigali, so I’m able to congratulate him on his fatherhood. But then Claude takes his computer modem with him so I’m stuck without internet all day.

Evalde comes in to the office and I’m able to at least positively confirm my Rugengabari training on December 1st. Nyarusange is also definitely on for November 26th, but Muhanga must be rescheduled. There’s a massive computer training course going on at the moment. All very well, but I can’t see how this fits into a district where hardly a single primary school has a computer in it. Do the secteurs know something I don’t? Is Kigali about to shower us all with solar panels and laptops? If it is, you can bet your bottom dollar they won’t be German products….. (see below)

I work hard at finding things to do with my District Office English classes; I’ve got John Robert, my journalism student, coming round to the flat this afternoon for a lesson and I’ll try out some of the District material on him!

I make up some posters and put them up round the Office; Soraya won’t be able to do any of her language classes this term because next Monday she goes away for a whole month on the MINEDUC training for Rwandan teachers. I think she might be the only VSO involved. She’s a brave girl. So I’m flying the flag for language lesson on my own.

During the morning I manage to get access to a computer with a working printer so I can print out my teaching materials, and lo and behold there’s a photocopier working in one of the other offices in the building, so I can get multiple copies done of the necessary sheets. I turn on all my charm and manage to get everything I need done. I have brought in duplicating paper in case they refuse to use their own stocks, but the guy waves my paper away and just gets on with the job. Hooray – I’m all set up for my District Office training next Monday!

By now its late morning and I’m running out of useful things to do. At this point Kersti rings to tell me not to come to Kigali this evening. Tomorrow (Wednesday) there are going to be huge demonstrations about the Rose Kabuye arrest all over Kigali, and the Americans are warning every muzungu to stay off the streets. The Rwandans don’t know how to identify Germans from other Westerners and we don’t want any of us to be caught out by mistake. I hear that in the last demonstrations some Europeans or Americans took part to show solidarity with the Rwandan government, but were beaten up by other people in the course of the affair.

This demonstration is a nuisance – will my day of moto training be able to take place? I text Charlotte in the Programme Office and ask for instructions. It appears I’ve caught them by surprise; she eventually says she thinks it will be OK and I’m to come in first thing in the morning.

Innocent asks me to help him sort out some cartons of French text books that need parcelling up and delivering out to the secteurs; the books are in Gitarama Primary School and we charge off there in a hired pick up truck. The “some cartons” turns out to be an entire classroom stacked with boxes of books – French, Maths, Social Studies, Civics (teacher guides only) and some English reading books. Also there are some newspapers sponsored by one of the local banks giving primary children a basic financial awareness. Of course, the cartons have been dumped in this classroom in any old order; there are boxes of Maths books mixed in with boxes of Social Studies; there are teacher guides mixed in with pupil books; there are year 1 boxes cheek by jowl with the other year groups.

We decide we need to first sort everything out by subject and year group; only then can we start dividing the stuff up by secteur. It takes us a good 40 minutes – and that’s Innocent giving the orders and four of us sweating with heavy boxes – before we have done the sorting. It takes us another hour and a half to sort out the allocations for five secteurs, and load them into pick up trucks ready for delivery.

Meanwhile it is looking increasingly stormy outside, and not all the trucks seem to have any sort of tarpaulin to cover these books. Lord knows what will happen if it comes on a deluge during the journey out to the secteurs.

Several secteur reps are here – Gaston from Nyarusange, and our friend Sylvère from Nyabinoni. I tell him to say hello from us to everyone in Nyabinoni and especially to Jean-Damascène.

It’s half past one before we ride back to the Office, four of us clinging on for dear life in the rear of a pick up truck. I’m absolutely starving, and Soraya (who I’ve left guarding all our stuff) is rattling too.

In the afternoon I get first a text from VSO saying the demonstrations tomorrow are going to be really big, and advising us not to come into town, and advising those living in Kigali to stay indoors all day. Them, as I’m walking home, there’s a phone call specifically cancelling our moto training. That’s a real blow. I’ve been banking on tomorrow as an intensive driving day if I’m to have any chance whatsoever of passing the exam. I’ll have been an entire week without setting foot on a moto – I stand absolutely no chance!

John Robert is three quarters of an hour late arriving for his lesson; the power has gone off and by the time we finish it’s almost dark. I won’t be able to see him again before the New Year because I’ll be out in the secteurs next week, so I wish him a Happy Christmas. It seems funny to be doing that before the end of November.

Outside its thundering and raining hard; it’s almost dark, and there’s mot a lot of food in the flat. I had assumed I would be off to Kersti’s in Kigali tonight, so neither Tom nor I have been out to get fresh veg. Fortunately when Tom comes in we find we have enough from the stash of goodies his recent visitors brought him to make another unconventional but very tasty meal. And pud is half a Mars bar each – how degenerate is that!

Tom’s been out with Christi on the FHI moto; he’s given her some practise riding on dirt roads with him on the pillion. Christi’s managed very well, but still she’s dumped Tom twice off the back of the bike. He’s tired and bruised tonight.

Best thing about today – finally getting something definite in train about the District Office English classes.

Worst thing about today – no moto training tomorrow. And it really feels as if everything – motos, the Geology field trip, my resources training, the District Office English lessons – is going to be crammed into a period of about eight days. I’ll be so tired at the end of it I’ll barely be able to pack my bags to go home!

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