Friday, 24 April 2009

Action stations; it's good to be busy again

April 23rd

Today I spend the entire day at home, entering census data into my laptop. It’s not difficult work but you need to keep checking everything because if I transcribe anything wrongly it will mess up the District data, and I know that Claude and everybody else will be relying on my figures being accurate. Its not helped by the fact that the primary heads seem to be using at least four different versions of the census form (every year they fiddle around with the layout and add or delete one or two questions; most of my schools are using photocopies of previous year’s forms so the new questions for this year aren’t addressed at all). Then there’s the forms with so many crossing out and typex alterations that they’re almost impossible to read. Then there’s the script these people use when they write numbers – 1 and 7 are difficult to distinguish at times, as are 2 and 9.

By the end of the day I have details of around 40,000 primary children and around 10,000 maternelle pupils. That’s about two thirds of the total, but there are various schools which haven’t sent their forms in and which I know will need weeks of chasing. By and large the secteur reps have done an excellent job, and for some secteurs I have all the census sheets, in alphabetical order, and a secteur summary as well.

Janine is working all day for FHI so she send her sister Rosine round to do our cleaning and bring back my massive pile of washing. I’ve never seen Rosine before; she doesn’t look anything like Janine at all. Janine is tall and slender; Rosine is much shorter and stockier. If she hadn’t introduced herself I would never have imagined who she was (just another young woman coming to my door…..). She does a very thorough job of the cleaning.

Tiga texts to say she’s back and that she’s brought some spices etc for Tom and I. Somehow I’ve got to get my bones to Butare and link up with her.

Kerry and Moira have invited us all to a party at their place on Friday (tomorrow); I’ve said I’ll make a bean salad and bring it with me. Good lord; that’s two parties in two days!

In the evening I do a quick whip round the market and cook for us. The American gospel singer who came with an FHI visiting team a month or so ago has sent Tom a clutch of her CDs, so in the evening I listen to one. The sound engineering is excellent, and it makes nice background music. The words are a bit too worthy and twee for my taste, but if this CD is anything to go by, then Christian music has come on a long way.

I was going to write a separate entry for yesterday (Wednesday), but I can’t be bothered and I’m too busy. More of the same – working mainly from home with visits to the office to see if anything’s happening. On the way home from the office, twice now this week, I’ve been picked up by the two Chinese road engineers who gave me a lift home from somewhere out on the Ngororero road last month. They are about the rebuild the main road inside Gitarama (hooray), and they seem to have adopted me as a local. When I can arrange it I’ll have them round one evening for a beer. They’re nice lads.

Charlotte and Hayley are safely back from South Africa; they brought me a big packet of roibosh tea as arranged, and for Tom a bar of Toblerone. The choc is still in the fridge after four days, which is something of a record for Tom!

Wednesday afternoon was mad here at the flat. First of all I have Delphine round for an English lesson. The, as soon as she’s gone, Soraya comes round to bring me some census papers that have come in during the day. Then, before she’s even left the building, Moira and Kerry come round to ask me if the MINEDUC training is on or not. It isn’t – we’ve had yet another message from Charlotte saying it’s been postponed. That could mean I have to drop out – knowing my luck they’ll re-schedule it during the period when Catherine is here staying with me.

Then as soon as Moira and Kerry leave, John-Robert arrives for his English lesson. For each of these visitors I have made cups of tea, and had one myself. I’m running to and from the bathroom all evening and half the night.

Final nice thing about Wednesday – Tom and I can’t be bothered to cook, so we eat out at the “Green garden” which is a nice new eatery half a kilometre up the main road towards Shyogwe. Very nice brochettes and ibirayi, beautifully served, prompt service and ice cold beer. Life is good, except that it turns into an amazingly cold night, with mist. Our breath is clouding in the air, and we’re sitting out in the garden to eat…. I wouldn’t mind betting it was hotter in Dorset on Wednesday night!

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