Friday, 20 February 2009

a day spent dialling 0800.....

February 19th

A short blog today because nothing much is happening. Today I have two priorities; one is to activate my new credit card, and the other is to get to a dentist.

The Dentist Christi recommends can’t see me till Monday morning. That’s four more days. I text Piet at Kabgayi hospital to see if there’s a dental specialist there, but he never replies to me. With Soraya we try the VSO office to see if they know of anyone who is good and might see me on Friday, but to no avail – the best they can do is get me an earlier appointment on Monday. Oh well, it’s going to be a quiet weekend this time!

I fare even less well with the credit cards. I must have tried more than twenty times to ring the number, and every single time I get the recorded message saying the number is not available at the moment, and to try later. I try using Claude’s land line but discover it’s a pay-as-you-go system and he’s already hundreds of francs over his credit limit. So the machine won’t let me place the call. I’ve decided to go into Kigali tomorrow and try to use the VSO office phone. They’re always having to contact London so at least there should be a good connection. If we can’t get any sense from the Kigali office we’ll have to try a bit of subterfuge to solve this particular problem!

In terms of productive work for the District, I do almost nothing. I daren’t make an appointment to visit a school in case someone finds a dentist available to see me at short notice. It pours with rain again, so it’s just as well I’m not out up-country. A couple of census forms have just arrived at the office (I didn’t even know they’d been sent out yet), so I can enter up the data. Valerian didn’t get round yesterday to phoning the two secondary schools whose results data have gone missing from the office, so I make him do it this morning. One school promises to bring a copy of the results a.s.a.p. (i.e. sometime in the next ten days); the other denies any knowledge of their whereabouts. So we’ll have to do our planning with incomplete data.

Claude’s out of circulation once again; he’s got a meeting with some of the new tronc commun heads. They seem to be getting no in-service training for the job.

I get very bored at one point (we’ve been banished into Claude’s office because he needs our big office to talk to all these heads, so Valerian, Soraya, Beatrice and Innocent and myself are all displaced and not really able to get on with our jobs for a couple of hours). I rifle through a load of papers I’m not supposed to see and load n behold I find a sheet with about half of the new head teachers’ contact details, and also a detailed list of which schools are scheduled to have tronc commun sections in them. Since Claude wants me to keep an eye on the bloody things, wouldn’t it have been a good idea to let me have a copy for myself……… Fume, fume!

In the afternoon Nicole comes in to the office to do some printing, and I manage to hold back some tronc commun subject schemes of work for the two VSOs working in the teacher training college. Thus I meet Kelly, who’s Australian, only just arrived, and is the tenth VSO based in and around Gitarama this year.

It’s a typical muddly African sort of day. The weather is cold, grey and damp. The Mayor has declared an afternoon umuganda at about two hours’ notice, so all the shops are shut in town. (Soraya and co have got caught out with nothing to eat in the house, and I’m just lucky that I did a big shop-up yesterday). There’s supposed to be a big meeting in the stadium with the mayor addressing the assembled throng. Innocent asks me if I’m coming, but I tell him that as it will all be in Kinyarwanda, there’s not much point.

Back home I have some time to prepare and do a good English lesson with John-Robert – probably the most effective thing I’ve done all day. Tom comes in before I’ve finished the lesson, and we decide to have a second try at our ill-fated marrow and cheese bake for supper. Due to part boiling the vegetables this time, it’s a triumph and really seriously tasty. Definitely a winner, and especially so because it’s completely vegetarian and therefore ideal if we’re entertaining the girls at any time in the future.

So a much less stressful day than it might otherwise have been, but my two major targets not achieved.

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