Sunday, 7 December 2008

my end of year report

December 3rd

I’m pretty sure that there will be no training at Kiyumba today, and I’ve made a list of jobs to do to occupy my day. It’ll mean a tidier end to the term.

As I’m leaving the flat to go to the Office I meet Hayley. She’s also on her way to the Office to get her green residency card issued. Her mother is coming out in January and the two of them want to see the gorillas, so Hayley needs her green card to get in at the cheaper rate. At the District Office I introduce her to Raymond, the fonctionnaire in charge of residency. She needs a couple of photocopies of pages from her passport. But there’s no power in the main office at the moment….. I scoot round to my building and find that by some miracle the power is still on in our block, and I just happen to know that upstairs there’s a store room used by the land survey department which contains a small photocopier. Some pleading in my best French and hey presto, in a couple of minutes Hayley has all the documents she needs and exits all smiles. She’ll come back to collect her finished green card on Monday. That’s a lovely example of how you have to think laterally to get things done here!

I sit in the Office and write an end of term report for Claude. It’s a summary of which schools I’ve inspected, which trainings I’ve done, and my provisional plans for next year. I want to see Claude to wish him a Happy Christmas, but he has also gone on Christmas leave. So it’ll be a case of a New Year card in January!

Emmanuelle is in the office, and I tell her I have a wrap of hers which was accidentally put in my bag at her sister’s wedding. She insists I call in at her place on Friday morning to say goodbye before I leave. I could do without the extra complication, but I like Emmanuelle and she’s been a good friend to me so I must make sure I do it. Provided I get there – and leave – early enough, it won’t interrupt my other arrangements, but it means I’d be better going to Kigali on Thursday to sort out business with the VSO office and to perhaps see Kersti before I leave.

Once again there’s no post for any of us at the Post Office. At the bank I change yet another cheque; I seem to be getting through cash like water at the moment but it’s a combination of buying new gas cylinder, more electricity credit, paying Janine’s wages, and buying lots of souvenirs for Christmas presents.

Then to the internet café where I manage to download and print my coach ticket from Heathrow to Dorchester. It really seems amazingly cheap - £15.75 return. Let’s just hope the plane is on time and I’m not delayed at Heathrow!

Tinks has texted to say she’s on her way to Kigali; she’s going to confirm her flight and mine which saves me a phone call to Ethiopian Airways.

It’s turning into a good day already. I decide to have a final mélange lunch at Tranquillité, and then walk back through the town to COPARWA (the craft shop) to buy some baskets. Unfortunately the place is closed and there’s nobody in the office building to ask to open up for me. Oh well, you can’t win them all and there’s always tomorrow. I take a moto out to Shyogwe, because another job I need to do is take a final batch of photos of the building project to send to Holland. The school is deserted – it feels quite eerie without its 2000 children!

The admin block is still not finished, but the roof is on and all that’s needing doing is cementing the bricks which will make up the floor, and installing doors and windows. It’s a nice little building and I’m glad it’s almost finished.

The classroom block is less complete; all the roof timbers are in place and most of the “roseaux” (stalks of elephant grass – like thin bamboo poles) which the roof tiles will eventually rest on. The recent rains have caused a flush of grass to start growing on the earth floors inside the classrooms; it looks quite peculiar. Oh if only there had been enough money to get this job finished in one go – what a difference it would have made.

Geert seems to be definitely coming back next summer; I think the formal opening and commissioning of the building ought to be left till his arrival and then I can withdraw gracefully from the scene and it can be a proper Dutch occasion with Geert and the Bishop doing the honours. We’ll see.

On a whim I stop by at Michael’s cottage in Shyogwe, and find him in. We natter over a cup of tea (he’s almost fully packed ready to go home tomorrow) and I decide it would be fun for me to walk home rather than take a cycle taxi. It’ll mean I’ve walked about ten miles all in all today. We go together through the trees up to Kinini (the “village centre” part of Shyogwe), and there part company. I walk up the hill and through Mbare School, then descend through the fields and brick pits, past an orphanage surrounded by beautiful pine trees, and across a little valley with delightful stream winding its way through the middle. Its very hot now and I’m cursing myself for not bringing a bottle of water with me, but it really is a lovely walk and a beautiful way to end the year here. When I first arrived in Rwanda I was scared stiff by all the strangeness and newness of everything; by the stares and constant attention; by worries about safety and illness. Now here I am, a year later, out for an afternoon stroll without a care in the world. What a difference a year makes!

Back home we prepare the evening meal; Christi is dining with us because we have masses of food to finish up. I’m off on Friday, and Tom’s off to Butare for a couple of nights. I won’t see him after tomorrow morning until 2009! The meal is a great success – a second batch of Chilli, and the rest of our big fruit salad. Christi and I are both in demob mode at the moment. She listens to some of my Congolese music and decides she likes it, so I burn her a CD to take home with her.

Best things about today – pretty well the lot except no post. It’s a lovely way to end the year. Monday’s super training day at Nsanga, and today’s walk through the Shyogwe countryside mean I’m leaving this country on a high!

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