Friday, 20 February 2009

teething troubles

February 18th

My broken tooth is starting to give me trouble and I think I’ll have to go to a dentist. There are only about 4 or 5 Western style dentists in the country and I think they’re all in Kigali, so it’s not going to be as easy an operation as seeing a dentist at home. My tongue is sore and swollen where it is rubbing against a jagged remnant of tooth and I’m having some difficulty in swallowing……

However, I’ve got to get the dentist details from Christi, who has also been to a dentist during her time here and had a good experience with the one she saw, and I can’t contact her by phone at the moment. (Text messages are very arbitrary at the moment; sometimes they go through in seconds, while at other times they can take hours and hours to arrive).

In the District Office I explain to Claude and the others that I can’t finish the analysis he wants for secondary results by gender because two schools’ data has gone missing. We search and search the office, but we can’t find the missing sheets. We think the two schools must have each taken both copies of the figures. I ask Valerian to ring the schools to see if they can help us, but I’m not sure if he ever gets round to it.

Meanwhile Claude is anxious for the primary results by gender. This means going through all 5000+ names of the candidates and deciding whether they are male or female. About two thirds are easy, but the remainder are real problems for me. And, on top of everything else, a small proportion of Rwandan children are never given a “western” style Christian name – they only have one name and in some cases it’s an androgynous one so that nobody can tell what their gender is.

Claude wants the results a.s.a.p., and I need to get help. Fortunately Védaste drops by to nick the internet modem, so I suddenly have a brainwave. In his office there is usually a group of students hoping he’s going to employ them to help him with his degree research projects in coffee plantations. Right at the moment there’s a tremendous tropical storm going on outside, with rain so heavy that everyone is marooned inside the building. We can press gang these students to help me.

So I get Védaste to get all the students organised to go through the data sheets and annotate the genders. That means up to eight people all slogging through sheets of names. We manage to get through the lot in two hours, which is pretty good going.

Meanwhile, Védaste wants to get on to the NCDC (Rwandan School Curriculum) site on his computer. It’s not an easy site to find, and the quickest way I find is through a link on my blog page. So Védaste sees my blog, and immediately wants to set up his own website. I tell him that to set up a website from scratch isn’t easy and needs special software (“Pagemaker etc”), but that a blog is the easier and quicker alternative. So at the same time as the students are going through the lists of names, Védaste is getting me to show him how to set up a blog. Sure enough, by the time the rain stops and the lists of names are done, he has a blog in operation and a grin from ear to ear!

At lunchtime it is still raining (a second storm is passing by), so I stay in the office and press on until I’ve finished the analysis for Claude. By now it’s about three o’clock and too late to go to “Tranquillité” for lunch, so I go home and make something for myself. Then I do a sweep through the market and buy half a ton of vegetables – we’re right out of everything.

The big storm in the morning has flooded half way across the living room floor, and within an inch of the spare mattress. Before I can do anything else I have to get the floor mop and sweep gallons of water back under the gap in the French windows and out onto the balcony. What a stupid design to have a two centimetre gap at the bottom of a door!

By the time I’ve done all this I’m feeling so tired I actually doze off in an armchair for half an hour, which is unusual for me. I’m fed up with crunching numbers, and I’m determined not to do any more work on the computer today.

Tom’s somewhere in Kigali and will be pretty late coming home, so I cook for us and by the time he gets in, so tired he can hardly eat, there’s a three course meal sorted.

I’ve got a whole stack of weekly newspapers that are either unopened or partly read, so I spend the evening going through them, doing crosswords…..

In the evening Teresa rings to sort out details about replacement credit cards for the ones which were stolen last weekend, so tomorrow’s going to be a day of phoning England and going to the dentist. Christi finally gets through to me with the dentist details in Kigali

Best thing about today – getting a difficult job finished in record time for Claude.
Worst thing – sore mouth. I really wanted to get out to another school today, but even if I had, I would have been either drowned in the storms or marooned for hours up country, so in hindsight it was precisely the right day to be working in the office.

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