Friday, 28 November 2008

tree planting day

November 24th

Up early; I’m supposed to be doing a resource making training at Shyogwe but Emmanuelle has never got back to me to confirm the date or location, so it looks as if it isn’t going to happen. Last night Hayley said she’d been told by her boss that it was “National Tree Planting Day”, and that schools, District Offices etc would all be closed. Ho hum; we’re back to the last-minute public holiday routine again.

And Hayley turns out to be exactly right. When I get to the District Office (at seven o’clock in the morning) everyone’s either gone already, or going off to plant trees. Even Innocent, the sports secretary, is off to Rugendabari. For that matter, even Claude’s off but whether to plant trees of mind the baby or to official meetings – who knows!.

If I’d been told in advance I would have worn suitable clothes and brought my camera, and gone out and stuck some eucalyptus in the ground with the rest of them; tree planting is a pretty photogenic affair. But I’m smartly dressed for training teachers and I can’t be bothered to rush back to the flat and change. Besides, by the time I got back I’d miss any transport out to the wilds!

So at least my fears about Shyogwe training are answered, and I have a down day. Well, almost. Claude gives me the internet modem so I have a grand time getting caught up on all my computer business, including updating all my virus checkers. I get so bored I even mess around with Facebook – a sure sign of underemployment in any workplace around the world!

I get an email from Carmel, one of my fellow volunteers in Pakistan. She’s just been pulled from her original placement (giving health advice to sex workers in Khanewal city) because the set-up she is working for turns out to be totally corrupt – Almost no work is being done, but huge amounts of money pocketed by the directors! Another triumph for VSO vetting of placements before volunteers arrive!

Tina emails to say she is improving fast and it sounds as if she’ll be back in Africa well before Christmas, so that’s seriously good news.

I’m busy reading the “New Times” on line, and looking at the “up-country” section for local news, when I discover a long article about an education conference at Rongi, to set targets and raise aspirations in this remote secteur. And lo and behold the author is my mate Étienne, the secteur rep from Rongi and a real friend to me, Soraya and Cathie, too. Good for you, Étienne. This guy’s definitely going to go places! He knows how to publicise himself and he works so energetically for his little part of Muhanga.

Towards the end of the morning Soraya rolls up from Butare. She’s down at GS Butare for the MINEDUC teacher training programme in English (as one of the trainers). She’s come up this morning to meet Charlotte for a “progress check” visit. While we’re waiting for Charlotte we talk. Soraya’s getting paid (handsomely) for being one of the trainers on this course; it begins to look as if she’ll be the only VSO in Rwanda to make a tidy profit on the year (most of the rest of us are finding it really difficult to live on our budgets and are subsidising ourselves from private funds). And at GS Butare they have a brand new 25 metre swimming pool. The only problem is that nobody is allowed to use it yet because it hasn’t been officially opened. I’m not sure when it’s opening, or who is doing the opening. But it must be the biggest and best pool outside of Kigali and I wonder if the President will pay a visit….. I tell Soraya she’s got to try the pool out, even if it means midnight dips!

At the end of the afternoon I have my very first training session with the District Office staff. I am taking the “intermediates” – the people who think they have already got reasonable English and want conversation practise. There were originally 21 people on my list, and it’s gratifying to see that even on a “jour férié” I have no fewer than thirteen. The session goes very well, much better than I dared hope. The level of overall literacy is good, and their pronunciation is almost always better than that of most of the primary teachers I meet. Truly, the District Office staff are the crème de la crème!

I go home very happy, even if frustrated that I’ll have to reschedule Shyogwe in the spring term. But suddenly I’m a classroom teacher again, and I need to prepare material for the following morning. Tom and Luke, his brother, who has just arrived from England, end up preparing supper while I furiously type up listening exercises, vocabulary games and the like.

Best thing about today – succeeding in training adults. I’ve been quite anxious about it and it gives a nice feeling at the end of the day to know I can do it despite not being an English specialist.

Worst thing about today – at the moment I still haven’t started on my resource making trainings. Never mind; I start tomorrow…..

1 comment:

Blogger said...