Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Mad Monday

October 26th

In to work this morning not quite knowing what to expect. On the way to work I stop off at Ahazaza school; Raina had been left out of Friday’s District meeting (yet again), and she wants to see her school’s test results. So I’ve arranged to be at the school before seven. Unfortunately Raina’s not there; I expect she’s been called away by some other emergency. Her deputy is in the building (the one I helped appoint), so I talk to him and put the results onto her computer before moving on to the office.

Claude’s there in the District Office, so I’m able to spend the first hour finalising the English test summaries and give him the final power point. Unfortunately we seem to have lost the marked papers for one entire school. I know I’ve marked them; they’re lost somewhere between the various people who have been tabulating the results. I go right through every single one of the remaining papers, but the missing school’s aren’t present. Oh well, let’s wait and see what happens. They’ll be somewhere in the building, either in someone’s briefcase or more likely buried under other papers.

I spend another half hour on the internet, but the power keeps cutting off, and the internet connection is very slow. Somebody in the building must be downloading music or videos. In fact, the internet only becomes fast enough to be useful when the power goes off and it’s just my laptop on its battery power using the web, so I assume that whoever else is on line must be using one of the big desktop machines. Ha!; there are advantages to using a laptop!

Meanwhile both the Dean of the College of Education at Kavumu, and also Moira, have called to ask me whether I can get going on finding placements for their students. The answer is yes, because at long last the mayor has signed the authorisation papers. So I moto over to the College just as it comes on a long and heavy thunderstorm. The Dean has done most of the schools already, and there are only seven left for me. Unfortunately we’re stranded in the college for an hour while we wait for the rain to ease off. Even by mid-day it’s still raining, as opposed to pouring, and there’s no way I can sally out into the mountains. So I have an early lunch at “Tranquillité”, and get the best mélange I’ve ever had there. Beautiful fresh salads and half an avocado. They must be missing me….

Next I have to return to the flat and get some money for motos to visit these schools. Suddenly its panic stations because the College wants to have all the places confirmed by Wednesday. That means they need my information by Tuesday mid-day. It’s a tall order.

I go across town to Nyabisindu school, and immediately run out of luck. Neither Jeanne, the head, nor Florent, the adjoint, are in the building. It’s the day before the big concours exams and all headteachers are running round like headless chickens making final arrangements. Jeanne is supposed to be in a meeting at my office, so I rush back only to find the meeting has finished a few minutes ago and everyone has dispersed.

Now I try ringing everyone. Prudence from Nyarusange is the only one still in town; he comes to the office and we sort out his school. At the same time he gives me his estimates for Nyarusange’s water cistern. I tell him he’ll have to hold on for the money until I get back from Zanzibar.

Three of the schools put me off until tomorrow; they don’t really want to see me tomorrow either because of the exams, but two of them I can do early in the morning before the tests get started. Two schools have their phones switched off and I simply can’t raise them at all.

I spend some time writing some thoughts for Claude on the matter of job descriptions for heads and deputy heads arising from the problems aired at Friday’s big meeting; Claude has long since gone to meetings elsewhere. Also, I print out my year’s report for Claude and leave it on his desk. It’s not perfect but it’ll do.

Back to trying to contact schools again. Alphonse at Mushishiro answers; he’s in a meeting at Nsanga but the meeting is just finishing so we agree to meet at Mushishiro. I go back into town, get a moto, and after a false start to a garage without petrol we eventually get cracking into the mountains. There’s still some drizzle falling, and grey clouds all around, and I hope I’m not going to get soaked. As we turn off into Mushishiro market, with dozens of people gawping at me, we’re stopped by Alphonse himself who is on his way back to his school. With him is Edouard, the head at Kirwa. Within seconds we’re surrounded by children and some adults; squashing in so close to see what we’re doing and to look at what’s on my sheets of paper that at one point I actually get jostled and the two head teachers have to shout at people to give us some room. There’s nothing I need from Alphonse that I can’t ask him out on the street, and because the entire conversation is in English there’s little problem about our onlookers being able to understand anything we say.

Even better, Alphone takes a sheet to give to Étienne at Cyicaro; if I can get through to him on the phone this evening or tomorrow it’s save me a second long ride out to the mountains to his school.

I’ve feeling very much more “lifted” when we drive home. The sun has come out, and I really enjoy an unexpected final fling through the mountain passes and down to Mata and the outskirts of Gitarama.

Back at the flat all is busy; I’m booking Joseph to drive me around tomorrow, and try once more to contact Jeanne at Nyabisindu. I wish these people wouldn’t switch their phones off when it’s me who’s trying to contact them. Eventually I get through to Étiernne at Cyicaro and we do all his business over the phone. Hooray; that’s three schools down, three for tomorrow and just Jeanne who won’t answer her phone.

At the flat I discover we have a problem. There’s a wet patch on the outside wall where water is coming through the brickwork, and the bath tap won’t turn off. We can reduce it to a fraction of its full flow, but at one point it threatens to run faster than the bath outlet will let the water escape. And, when Tom arrives, we discover we don’t know where the main water stop cock is if we need to shut off the water completely. Tom knows the plumber they use at FHI so we ring him. He can come on Wednesday, so I think I’ll have to work at home on Wednesday to make sure someone’s in when the tradesman arrives.

I watch “Casino Royale” with Daniel Craig starring as Bond; some African sequences at the start including one scene supposed to be in Mbale, Uganda. Well, I’ve been to Mbale and the place in the film looked more like West Africa – Sierra Leone or Ghana!

A cool evening; fleece weather even indoors.

Best thing about today – getting started on the Teacher placement visits. Finishing my annual report for Claude.

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