Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Back from Nyabinoni to "civilisation"

September 11th

Up and off to early mass again. We’ve had a text from Claude to say that after all, he isn’t going to be able to come and pick us up in a car, so we have to arrange our own transport back to Gitarama. We decide that it will be cheaper if we can get the two moto drivers from Kibangu to take us down to the tarmac road at Rugandabari, and then get a taxi bus back to town. The system works well in the end, but we’re desperately squashed in the matata. At one point there are five people in every row except ours, and six (plus a baby) in one of them. That’s approaching Tanzanian standards of overcrowding!

On the way back Soraya wants to stop at Shaki primary to pick up some rice sacks she left for them to copy when she did a training there on Wednesday. Now Michael has been to Shaki and warned me how awful the place was, but when I arrive there I’m really shocked. The staff are hard working, but the buildings are just appalling. The whole site is treeless, bleak, unloved. The school was built around forty years ago and seems to have had no maintenance ever since. The walls are crumbling for want of plaster; even the grounds look unloved and uncared for. We go into the staffroom to find the floor lined with washing up bowls of water, where the teachers are trying to wash the everlasting mud brick dust out of their white coats.

The road down to Rugendabari seems to take forever. It’s extremely hot and sultry, and by the time we reach the tarmac I’m getting seriously dehydrated. Fortunately we don’t have very long to wait for a bus, and we shelter from the sun under somebody’s porch.

Back in Gitarama, the place seems hellishly loud and uncouth and frantic after the pleasant quiet of Nyabinoni. If anybody tells us “bet you’re glad to be back”, we’ll say that “no, really, we both feel more at home up in the wilds”.

It’s been a tremendous week. Eight schools visited, every single one of them new ones. We feel we’ve well and truly earned our spurs as volunteers, and also that we’ve finally earned some acceptance by the head teachers because we’ve demonstrated we’re prepared to go to any part of the district to do our job

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