Tuesday, 3 March 2009

wet day at Gitarama - one of many!

February 26th

After all the excitement of yesterday, today turns out to be a damp squib – almost literally!

At the office I get press-ganged into printing out schemes of work for Mata secondary, and this takes so long that I’m almost too late to arrange a visit to a school. Mugabo is insistent that I’ve given him the wrong English syllabus. There’s one version for Anglophone schools, and another for Francophone schools. I’ve given him the Anglophone one and he’s demanding the other. So we go back to the NCDC website, only to find that there’s only one version on the official site and it’s the Anglophone one I’ve printed off for him. He goes stomping off muttering; whether it’s about the silly muzungu who can’t find his paperwork or whether it’s cursing MINEDUC for their inefficiency I can’t tell.

Then it starts raining and carries on raining all morning. I’d have got soaked if I’d tried to go anywhere far.

During the morning Étienne, Laurence and one of the new TC heads come in, all from up the “Great North Road”, with tales of how appalling a journey they’ve had trying to reach us in Gitarama. Some other people who had intended to come down are giving up and returning to their villages up in the north. So that’s it – no school visits for me today.

It’s first day for Soraya and I in our new “Bureau Bazungu”, and we cause great amusement to all the visitors who either timidly knock on the door, or come charging in, expecting to find Claude there. I, of course, am sitting in Claude’s chair. So you can just imagine all the ribald comments I’m getting from my friends like Étienne!

Some of the new Tronc Commun heads are getting to know me, and without exception they all pop their heads round the door for a chat. I have a spare copy of an R E syllabus for one, and for someone else I’m able to give them an electronic copy of all the syllabi.

I get a whole lot of stuff prepared for the two gap year girls who are staying in the FHI office. They want data about Cyeza secteur, so I find them the school census information and exam results and give it to them entire, so that they’ve got to do the analysis by themselves. I’m not doing their degree dissertation for them!

There’s no mail for us today, and at lunchtime I decide to come and work from home because I’m feeling at a bit of a loose end. At the flat I time myself as to how long it takes me to do one of my “instant” (well, sort of) homemade soups from scratch. Answer: 45 minutes from coming in the door to serving up. But, just as on Monday, its well worth the wait and this is one recipe I’ll be using over and over again.

I’m supposed to be giving an English lesson at the end of the afternoon, but John Robert never turns up and doesn’t contact me to explain why. I’m cross, because I’ve spent half an hour preparing some interesting tasks for him to do. At least they’ll keep till next week.

This morning Tom had a tummy bug, and as the afternoon goes on I realise I’ve got it too. The only food we’ve had in common is mélange at Orion last night. Hayley was the only other person to have mélange there. So I text her and sure enough she’s got the runs as well.

Meanwhile I’ve decided I’ve caught it from drinking unboiled but filtered water, so I hastily boil all the water in my filter. Now, of course, after talking to Hayley, I know that the water was perfectly OK and didn’t need boiling and I’ve wasted ten minutes worth of gas.

Janine has brought our washing back, but the weather’s been so awful that she hasn’t been able to get it properly dried. Good for Janine –she drapes my underpants all over the bed rail so I can see they’re still damp. As I’m working from home, and as its fine weather in the afternoon, I rush down and peg them on our drying line, much to the amusement of the guards. (I think they’ve decided that muzungus are such fragile creature that they don’t know how to peg out washing).

In all the fun and games of preparing English lessons I forget to soak my mosquito net in the anti malarial stuff – I’m cross because it would have dried by the end of the afternoon.

The only other piece of worthwhile work I do today is to go right through the new VSO volunteer handbook. I have a draft version, and I’m chairing the volunteer committee meeting which is going to dot the “Is” and cross the “Ts” at our next session.

We decide for our evening meal that we need to bung ourselves up, so to speak. So it’s a home made savoury rice – lots and lots of rice – and because we’re feeling sorry for ourselves I open my last remaining packet of jelly babies to sustain us through the evening.

I try ringing Nyarusange school to arrange a visit tomorrow, only to find out there’s some big meeting at Cyeza for all the new TC heads and all the new primary heads. I reckon Claude’s been stung by my criticism that these people haven’t had any INSET and he’s doing some last-minute stuff himself. I think I’ll try and come out with him. I want to know what he says to them, and it’ll also give me an opportunity to make appointments to visit a whole crowd of them next week.

So not a wasted day today – we’ve actually got quite a lot done, but one of those days when nothing has gone as you anticipated. That’s Africa for you!

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