Saturday, 5 September 2009

Meeting the new volunteers

September 2nd

This morning I persuade Soraya come with me to the Mass. Three times I’ve been to church in four days! It’s a much cloudier, murkier start to the morning. The sky is grey and eventually goes the gunmetal colour you see when a storm is coming. For all the talk of going up to Nyabinoni next week, we might well find that the rains get there before us!

Father Bernard joins us for breakfast. During yesterday I realise that because the secondary school at Ntarabana is brand new, it doesn’t appear on any of my check lists and I don’t have its census details. A quick plea to Bernard and he nips down and makes me a photocopy between Angelus and Mass. Now that’s what I call service!

Joseph, my moto driver, arrives very early and we feed him while he’s waiting for me. He must have left Gitarama before dawn to get here so soon. Jean de Dieu comes for Soraya on the battered old red moto; she is off to Murehe and Nyabugombe today and leaves just before me. Next time we go up country we decide we need to bring a cushion each.

The ride home from one of these jaunts always feels quicker than the outward run, even though it’s still a good two and a half hours. That’s enough for anyone to take in one sitting on a moto. I have time to quickly freshen up and drop off some dirty clothes, and them I’m straight off to Kigali for another hour on public transport. My spine is aching and I’m covered in dust, But whereas Rongi out in the wilds has water to spare, here in my modern flat the taps are dry and I must make do with a quick lick from the jerry can before setting off again.

In Kigali I manage to get money changed; the rate has gone up to 900 francs to the pound as opposed to 860 a fortnight ago and 800 at its lowest point. I get a really ancient matata out to Kicukiro and the Amani guesthouse, where I manage to crash in on the new volunteers at the end of their lunch. There’s food left, so I have my first mid day meal in three days.

Léonie, the volunteer coming to Gitarama to work with Becky, immediately recognises me from the blog pictures. It appears that just about all of them have been following my blog (for better or worse). So I quickly meet all the new people including those coming to Git; names you’re going to hear frequently on these pages. Karen, the Irish girl who’ll be at Shyogwe with Michael. April the Australian Audiologist, who will be living with Becky. Libby, who will be brightening Joe’s days at Nyamasheke. Anna who will be with Tina out at Kibungo. And so on.

The afternoon training session is a relaxed affair; several of the little group I talk to have either been volunteers before, or have lived in the tropics in other developing countries and they know in broad terms what they’re letting themselves in for. Léonie will come out with me on a couple of visits to get her feet under the table, just as we’ll pair Irish Karen up with Soraya or Becky.

The training done, I come clattering back post haste to Gitarama. There’s no food in the flat; I’m dog tired, and can’t be bothered to do the market after dark, so I eat out at “Green Garden” and Becky comes to hear how we got on and Soraya comes round for a fanta. I have all sorts of plans to start getting stuff written up but they last no more than a few minutes, then it’s into my own nice big comfortable bed and oblivion here we come!

Best thing about today – meeting all the new volunteers. They really seem a lovely bunch of people and I’m looking forward to getting to know them better and working with all of them.

Worst thing – nothing at all. I’ve inspected four schools and got back home and there are still two days and two schools left this week!

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