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CLOCKS

Yes, I know it isnt 2012 but I wanted to keep the clocks on the top of the page to help people work out what time it is in Rwanda when I am there.



------------------------ LIVERPOOL ------ RWANDA ------- NEW YORK -------------------------

oops

So I won't be able to update this blog for a while and I've fallen down on my daily posting-I'm sorry. So anyway I'm sitting in a room at King Faisal hospital in kigali. After two days of tests I've been diagnosed with a DVT (deep vein thrombosis-blood clot) that has no apparent cause. So they have admitted me for a few days to give me clot busting drugs. I feel absolutely fine, and apart from a swollen knee that is painful to walk on, I am absolutely ok. However, I'm flying home in 4weeks so I want to sort this all out before then. The part two days have been horrific and the only thing I can say about them right now is GOD BLESS THE NHS!!!


I'm writing this on my mobile so I can't give a full update, but rest assured I'll write properly and make you too bless the NHS as well. ;-)

More laters xoxo

Teaching

What can I say about teaching that hasn’t already been said before? And teaching here in Rwanda in some ways is no different from teaching in the UK; you teach to test and aim to hit the relevant targets at specific times. In other ways it is completely different; class sizes of upwards from 70, no resources and very dated teaching methodology. I am now coming to the end of my 3rd term, (only 3 weeks of school left; 1 revision week, 1 exam week and 1 report week – so no more actual teaching for me), and all I can say to that is HALLELUJAH!!!

I try to go to different countries with no preconceived notions, no expectations and little thought about what it will actually be like. That way it is all a pleasant surprise to me and there is nothing to let me down. However, having taught in Africa a number of times and worked with different African children I did come to Rwanda with some ideas in the back of my mind as to what teaching would be like here - I think this has been my biggest downfall!!! For starters I have always worked with children in the African Children’s Choir and these are lovely, well behaved, polite children who are grateful for everything that you do for them. I think I thought Rwanda would be something similar given its past history – I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Nearly every lesson has been a battle, sometimes a big, gory bloodbath with me coming off worse.

I had a realisation last week about why the years teaching has been so torturous for me…teaching is not a respected profession in Rwanda. The teachers are paid a pittance and a significant majority of teachers (in my school anyway) do nothing to dispel the myth. They bunk off classes, they don’t set work, they sit in the staff room but send their notes to class to be written on the board and copied down by the students, they don’t take a register, they don’t call out unacceptable behaviour…the list is endless.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few very dedicated and professional teachers who teach here and they are generally given the examination classes. The problems I have come across are, that as a trained, experienced teacher I have gone in to teach, expecting a certain level of discipline and willingness to learn/work – this hasn’t happened. Students wander in and out of the class as and when they feel like it. They put their heads down on the desk and go to sleep in the middle of a lesson. They get permission to go to the market when they have class (what stupid teacher grants that permission I have no idea but it just perpetuates the myth that you don’t have to be serious about school!!) They stay in bed and get locked in the dorm so they are not in class – just because they wanted a lie in…there is a whole host of things that really make me question how serious they are about their studies, especially as secondary school is neither free nor cheap! They have prep time every morning and night – 3 hours in total, yet homework never gets done. So much so that I just stopped setting it – what was the point of my wasted energy if they are not going to do it??? At least in the UK the majority of the class is there to work (to one degree or another) and it is the small percentage that causes problems. Granted that small percentage causes HUGE problems! However, you don’t get a significant majority of your class missing every lesson (S2b – I don’t think I have ever had more than 50 in class and there are 90!!!), half of them walking out during the lesson and a quarter of them putting their heads down on the desk.

Yes that does leave you with about a quarter of every class who want to work and learn and these students are an absolute JOY to teach. They are intelligent, bright, and thoughtful and do extra reading just so they can ask you questions to try and trip you up the next lesson – the little darlings!!! So in a class of 76 (my smallest) there are about 19 of them who work for me – yup that’s sounds about right.

Not all of the teaching has been horrific, there have been moments of joy and elation, but admittedly these are few and far between. They tend to come outside the formal class setting; when I am conversing after class with a group of students or meeting a class in a free, to chat over things. The teaching hasn’t been enjoyable and I am glad it is over now, however, I am absolutely thankful that I have done it and survived.

It has made me think about my teaching methodology and revisit basic teaching skills that get lost in the mêlée of school, and running a department, in the UK. When you have no resources other than a blackboard and white chalk how do you engage students and keep them focussed and interested on a topic for 50/100 mins?! It has proven to be a very steep learning curve and one which I am thankful for and I hope that it has made me a better teacher – time will tell when I get back to teaching in the UK.

I can’t wait to get back to classroom teaching and extra-curricular activities in particular. I have many times started a choir going at school here and the commitment just isn’t there. They tell me to go in on a Sunday at 2pm, so I do and only 8 out off 22 showed up last week!!! The rest were bathing, fetching water or resting. Bear in mind that they do nothing all day on a Sunday and THEY had told me what time to be there!! So you can see my frustrations.

There are some students I absolutely adore and will keep in touch with but given my expectations the whole teaching experience has been very different to what I thought. This just goes to prove my thoughts that you shouldn’t go into a situation with any expectations as you will just be proven wrong. The next week I will go in for any students who want help with revision, but mainly it will be to hang out with them before I have to head off home. On a 1-2-1 basis they are so nice and thoughtful and interesting, just get them in a classroom and all hell breaks loose!

It has been hard and tough and it has surprised me daily, but I am glad that I have done it.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;…

… If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;…

… If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
-Rudyard Kipling (Thanks JoCo!)

Decisions, Updates and Questions

This is a long over due update, I apologise but the last couple of months have been craaaaaaaaaaaazy.

At the end of July it was my birthday and a couple of days after a VERY good friend called me up to wish me happy birthday and dropped a bit of a bombshell. She was in the middle of a project and needed some help and asked me that if she paid my airfare would I come home to help her. I didn’t need asking twice and 24 hours after the call I was on a plane. This isn’t to say that I was desperate to get away from Rwanda – I wasn’t, I do love it here. Just the thought of hot water, baths, showers, meat…ah it was too much. I did feel like I was cheating somehow…I had signed up for a year and here I was 8 months into it going home for 3 weeks, but then the thought of hot water overtook me and I got on the plane.

I was very surreal coming home, I hadn’t planned it, I wasn’t prepared and it did feel quite alien for the first few days, it helped that I was so tired. I got the call on the Thursday night at 11:30pm; I spent hours trying to figure out a way to get home. Then I got a call that a friend had been arrested (don’t worry they had the wrong person) so I spent the rest of the night chasing all over Kigali town trying to find and free them! Then Friday morning was spent trying to book a flight with Kenyan Airways telling me they could get me from Nairobi home but not from Kigali to Nairobi!!! I had to quickly get my ass back to Kayonza where I had 15 mins to pack a bag and get on the last bus out back to Kigali. I got a call on the way to say they had me on a 1am flight that night and by lunchtime on Saturday I was home!!!! It was EXHAUSTING but oh so worth it.

After 3 weeks in the UK 1½ in Scotland and the rest with mum, I was ready to go back to Rwanda. What I didn’t realise at the time was the trip home was just what the doctor ordered. I had been battling with the urge to stay out in East Africa against the urge to come home, and I was really conflicted. I desperately wanted to stay but after all the drama and nightmares with my house I didn’t know if that was responsible of me – being an adult sucks! What the trip home did was cement the fact that I have a wonderful family, fantastic friends and a great life. I was able to see a lot of people, go training, go to church, go out for lunch/dinner/drinks…and also get to see my house which I desperately missed (sad I know). I know that by returning I am not admitting defeat, it is not the second choice and I am not giving up. I am choosing to come back and continue with the life I have built up. My life here in Rwanda is great but I realised it wont fulfil and sustain me long term.

This isn’t to say that at some point in the future I won’t be back to East Africa – I will be utterly shocked if that doesn’t happen. In fact I am kinda panning on a return (in my head) for maybe 3-5 years from now, but let’s see what happens in the mean time.

I know I owe you a lot of updates and I promise you will get them. In fact I am going to do a week of daily updates starting today, so you will get overloaded LOL. But I will say as I only have 5 weeks left  if there are any questions you want me to answer either leave a comment or send me an email. Can be stupid things like…how do you brush your teeth when you have no water? A-with bottled water! Or…how do you cope at night when the power goes off? A-after a little tantrum we light candles and sit in the dark, cursing the powers that be who have control over our electricity!!! (Maybe only slightly joking there )

Anyway miriwe for now
Jo xoxo

W Curve

------Written Friday 16th July 2010 ------

The W-curve is something scientists/psychologists/and-other-professions-ending-in-ist use to describe the shock and adjustment people go through when they move to a new place outside of their recognised and comfortable culture. It is certainly something we have all felt out here, alarmingly quite strong at times – today has been one of those days for me. It’s weird, it just hits you when you least expect it and usually you don’t recognise it until you are completely overwhelmed by it. I wouldn’t say it is a W more like a string of Ws all together; up-down, up-down, up-down…and on it goes.


These last few days have been fantastic; I’ve had an amazing time and couldn’t imagine going home at all. This evening however, I just want to go home now; I miss my house, I miss my family, I miss my friends. Maybe it was speaking with one of my best friends on the phone for an hour today, maybe it was talking about decorating my house with my sister, maybe it was realising over the last few days what amazing friends I do have. I don’t know what it is, but right now if you waved a plane ticket under my nose, I would be at Kigali airport before you could blink.


Its hard being here, nothing is easy, even the simplest of tasks takes the longest time to complete. I have been planning on washing my hair all day today but with one thing and another it just hasn’t got done. First the house boy from next door came to clean the house and that took much longer than I thought. Then I found he had used all the water I had so I had to give him money to go with a couple of jerry cans to get some more water. That took another couple of hours and by this time it was dinner time. So I cooked my dinner – super noodles that came in a wonderful parcel from a dear squeeeeee buddy J - and by the time I had done that, eaten it and sorted the dishes it was late. I was just getting ready to boil water to wash my hair when the two little girls from next door came around with their books to do more English work – we did colours. By the time they had gone it was far too late and I gave up washing my hair – that process in and of itself is a mammoth drawn out one and takes the best part of 1 ½ hours start to stop and that’s not drying which is drip-dry. From heating the water to the actual washing; it’s not for the faint hearted. The washing alone takes me more than 30 mins with the trickle from my solar shower. So you see things are not easy here, hence the constantly fluctuating W curve.

So I am sitting here missing everything from home like mad but feeling really guilty at the same time. I have been given a wonderful opportunity and should be embracing it whole heartedly; damn that W. I am also in the middle of trying to figure out what the hell I am going to do come the New Year. I am applying for jobs, but do I really want to stay away from home any longer and if I don’t what am I going to do back home – there are no jobs right now.

 This is the good and the bad dear friends - it’s crazy, but welcome to my life. Don’t worry normal service will resume shortly but in the meantime I will leave you with the lyrics of a song I recorded with my last school choir for their CD…

 LEONA LEWIS – FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND
You walked with me, Footprints in the sand,
And helped me understand, Where I'm going,
You walked with me, When I was all alone,
With so much unknown, Along the way,

Then I heard you say,

I promise you I'm always there
When your heart is filled with sadness and despair
I'll carry you when you need a friend
You'll find my footprints in the sand

I see my life flash across the sky,
So many times have I been so afraid.
And just when I, have thought I lost my way,
You gave me strength to carry on,
It's then I heard you say,

I promise you I'm always there
When your heart is filled with sadness and despair
I'll carry you when you need a friend
You'll find my footprints in the sand

When I'm weary,
Well I know you've been there,
And I can feel you when you say,

                        I promise you I'm always there
                        When your heart is filled with sadness and despair
                        I'll carry you when you need a friend
                        You'll find my footprints in the sand

There was a power cut last night, a long one, which is why I couldn’t post Wednesday’s blog nor write yesterdays.

 

At the end of our dirt path there is a shop which sells all kinds of things and a separate bar where we buy sodas. They have also developed the area behind the shop and bar into a really nice place with kabanas and a TV for the world cup. There is also a grill and they do a mean goat brochette, it is delicious and cheap; 45p for 1 brochette!

 

Anyway, the power went off again last night, it has become a habit recently but it usually comes back on after about 15-30 mins, last night it did not however. So I was sitting there in the dark, with my candles and torches, trying to mark exam papers when I heard a voice at the door. Now the dark here is not like the dark at home. The dark here is suffocating, it gets into your very core, you can’t see the hand in front of your face, in other words it is DARK! All of a sudden this little voice spoke and scared the living daylights out of me and I screamed, which made the little voice scream. Turns out it was my neighbour’s kids who he had sent with some more milk!!! They are 7 and 5 and truly adorable. Jolly, the 7 y/o, was telling me about her exams at school, she had just done one on her ABCs and her 123s and she wanted to show me. So, the three of us sat there in the dark, with only a single candle and the torch on my phone, going over the ABCs and the 123s. Lokirene (that’s how her 7 y/o sister spells it), pronounced Lo-crane, it turns out is really intelligent for a 5 y/o and also wanted to write down the alphabet for me in my book, it’s so cute.

 

After a while I took them home then went to the shop for some credit. Another of my neighbours was there, Sylvester, and he invited me to sit with them and have a soda. I figured what the heck, the power is off, I can’t do any more marking and my laptop is nearly dead, so I joined them. After about 30 mins, Edward the owner of the shop/bar/grill brought out some Waragi (Ugandan gin) and wouldn’t take no for an answer – well lets face it he didn’t have to try very hard and Waragi is really nice when mixed with Fanta Citron. Turns out that when I was toping up my glass with Fanta after finishing the initial shot, he was also adding more Waragi. Don’t forget it’s as dark as Hades and I couldn’t see a thing!!! Suddenly it was 9pm and I was really cold – I was only wearing a t-shirt and a skirt and the nights here at the moment can get quite chilly. I made my excuses and got up – that was when I realised that I’d drunk more than I had thought.

 

So complete this equation and see if you get the same answer as me:

  • X amount of Waragi + uneven dirt path + ditches at side of said dirt path + black as Hades = ???

 

Yup, I was just thankful no-one could see me!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbit Stew Anyone????

The post below was written on Wednesday but, due to a lack of credit for the internet, I was unable to post it then.

OK today has to have been the most surreal day I have ever had in Rwanda and that is saying something. I figured that since I didn’t have any exams that I could hole myself up in the house and start inroads on the 150 exams I had to mark so far. I did need to go to the bank however as the clothes I was having made were ready and I needed money to pay for them. So at 4:30 I decided to ‘nip’ into Kayonza to go the bank – there was the fatal flaw – ‘nip’.

As I left the house I bumped into the 3 children I have kinda taken to looking after a bit. I periodically buy them groceries and essentials such as oil and soap and rice, with the occasional treat of biscuits or mandazi (think the dough of a donut in a ball – no jam or sugar). The other month me and Chelsea bought them an outfit each from the market and took them home, gave them a bath and dressed them in their clothes – they looked so cute
:)

I usually carry some sweets in my purse to give the local kids but I had run out today. So I went back to the house, got some and gave them out, then proceeded to walk on into Kayonza. I bumped into some more of the local kids coming home from school and we got chatting and the next thing I heard was JOOOOOOOOO-DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, JOOOOOOOOO-DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Mucungozi, the oldest of the 3 kids, at age 6, was running towards me carrying this white rabbit by its ears!!! The older kids translated that the mother wanted to give it to me and a thank you for all I had been doing for the family. Eeeeeeeeeeeek!!!!!  We all stood there talking for about 10 mins while this rabbit was swinging by its ears, until I hit on the cultural excuse. Here culture is a HUGE deal, so I asked the boys to come back with me to explain to the mother that in my culture we keep rabbits as pets. I really appreciated her gesture but I couldn’t accept the rabbit and perhaps she would accept it back from me as a gift for them to eat, since my culture forbids me. Now I know technically that’s not true, and technically I could eat rabbit and if it were put on a plate ready cooked for me then absolutely I could. But there was NO WAY was I going to take Fiver, slice his neck, kill him, skin him, cook him and eat him.

Anyway, wherever the muzungu goes a crowd follows and soon there were about 30 of us in this woman’s garden all talking about our different cultures. Then they sent me for my camera to take pictures of the rabbit and of them. Then my next door neighbour, the one with the cow who I have named ‘Yummy’, turned to me and said that since I couldn’t take the rabbit then he was going to give me 2 litres of milk as a consolation. There was no way on earth could I turn down milk after turning down a rabbit, I couldn’t explain that milk made me sick and that I cant drink it. So I smiled and tried to bargain him down to ½ a litre; he had a wife and children to provide for after all. As I left for the bank I don’t know what we had decided upon so I figured the night would show us.

By this time it was 5:45 and I realised I had probably missed the bank but I went into Kayonza anyway as the rabbit has scratched me really deeply and I wanted to check it with the doctor, who just happens to be my landlord as well. (Turns out I’m fine as my tetanus is up-to-date.) To my shock the bank was still open – UK banks take note please – so I went the market and did some general shopping as well as I had no food, and by the time I made it home after stopping at a couple of friends places on the way it was 7pm!!! So much for ‘nipping’ into Kayonza!

The my neighbour came around with the milk as promised, only a litre though thank goodness…my next problem was what to do with milk straight out of a cow? I have only ever dealt with milk straight out of a refrigerator before. Turns out you cook it - simmer it for 30 mins and then its good to go. I had been sent Cadbury’s hot choc powder so I made a huge pan of hot chocolate and gave it out to the houseboy, and my neighbour Godfrey as well as taking some back to the neighbour who had given me the milk. His 2 little girls absolutely loved it. I did drink some, and whilst it was really good it did make me ill L

So all in all a peaceful day was suddenly turned on its head and became very surreal. In the words of my field director, the wonderful Kelly-Jo, the rabbit was a very sweet but disturbing gift!

Conversations

So it seems that my current bout of insomnia is good for my blog updates!!! 

 As you know I teach Senior 1 (year 8) Biology, English and Music, and Senior 2 Biology and Music. I have also been going into Senior 6 to have ‘conversations’ with them so that they can practice their conversational English, learn idioms and generally converse with non-African English speakers. Before I tell you about the amazing conversation I had with them last week I must explain African-English.

 African-English is very different to Standard English; it uses the same words, you can tell it is English, it is just the syntax and grammar doesn’t sit right at all. It is something that I have had to learn in order to communicate effectively with my students but it is also something I am trying to change. Let me give you some examples with translations.

  • Are we together? – Do you understand me/do you know what I am talking about?
  • You are lost. – I haven’t seen you in ages, where have you been? (Statement not question made by them usually with my reply of ‘congratulations you found me’ and followed by their puzzled looks [thanks Penny for that one])
  • Can you assist me with a pen? – Can you lend me a pen?
  • Brochette after 1 hour. – The brochette will be ready in 1 hour.

There are many, MANY more that I say/hear in a day. Over the next few days I will make a note of them all and post them, some are really funny.

 Anyway back to Senior 6. These students have a really good grip of English. A lot of them are of Ugandan heritage (Uganda teaches in English) and so have been speaking English at school for some years. Most of the students are 19 years+ with the majority of them being in their early-mid 20s!!! So we got talking about the upcoming elections in August and they were asking me about our own elections that we just had in the UK. They were very interested in the fact that anyone can stand as a party/independent and found it hilarious but rather strange when I told them of some of the parties and their manifestos.

 You see here in Rwanda, August is really critical in some ways and in other ways it is a huge farce. There has been much made in the international media of late about the lack of freedom here; freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of thought… And it is very true, people only say what they think it right to say (the party political line) and anything else is not spoken about. This goes against all of my principles and beliefs. How can you be a free and democratic country if you cannot speak out against anything or hold a view point that is different? Conformity is not only encouraged here it is mandated. There is no real opposition to Kagame in the elections, they have been arrested/slandered/disappeared. There is no real opposition to the state run newspaper, they have been banned. Everything is so tightly controlled here that no wonder things unravel from time to time and you get grenade attacks like we have been getting.

 However, I can also see it from the other view point. 16 years ago people were running all over this country with machetes killing each other. Officially there is no such thing now as ‘Tutsi’ or ‘Hutu’ or ‘Twa’; everyone is Rwandese. Unofficially that is so not true. Friends that I have made here explained to me that while they have other friends of different tribes, inter marrying simply is not done. The younger the generation the less it affects them but they don’t want to offend the older generations. So they tell me that they will just wait until the older people die and the prejudices along with them.

 If there wasn’t such a tight control on things here, killings would start happening. It is that simple. The hatred hasn’t gone; it is just under the surface. How can you over night get rid of years and years of indoctrination – you cant! So the government has tight control over what is said and what is printed.  And this is what the Senior 6s wanted to talk about – I was shocked! Shocked because people don’t talk about it here; plain and simple. I will explain more in email and when I come home as there are some things I am really not comfortable in publishing on a public blog, especially as the government monitors all internet traffic and everything that is said. I kinda like it here and want to stay out my contract J

 So back to the S6’s…they were expressing to me that they would like free and democratic elections, they would like the choice to vote for whomever they pleased and they would like the chance to have a real say in how their country is run. Whilst none of this is happening now they were really hopeful for the future.

 The conversation then turned to other African nations and Zimbabwe in particular – they thought that Mugabe was a good man!?!?!?!?! Oh boy!!! They only know what they have been told, and they have only been told one side of a multi-faceted story. He got rid of the white people and gave the land back to the black people, so he must be good, right? Needless to say by the end of the conversation, they had heard other sides of the story and realised he wasn’t the martyr they thought he was. They could recognise the good he had done for the country but equally importantly they could recognise the harm he was doing now. They thought the West was bad for putting so many embargos and sanctions on the country, but after talking they realised why. I told them that I wasn’t going to tell them what to think, that I would tell them what I knew about it and they could do some more research and make up their own minds. And you know what, they did! That in itself is a miracle – there is no concept of critical thinking here, you believe what you are told and that is it.

 So we talked about inflation in the country, why it happened and the impact it was having on the ordinary citizens. We talked about the widespread corruption in the police and military and the effect on land it was having. We talked about the Zimbabwean elections and how the government, through the military and the police, influenced the outcome so it wasn’t a real and free election. They went away and did some research for themselves on the internet and today two of the students sought me out to tell me that they thought Mugabe was a very dangerous man; corrupt and power crazy and he was ruining Zimbabwe. HALLELUIA!!!! This was a week after these same two boys men, told me that Mugabe deserved the palace and luxury he lived in because after all he was the president. Now they were telling me that they thought it was disgusting he was living in such an opulent (their word – be impressed!!!) palace when the rest of his country were only surviving because of food aid from other countries. Go S6!!!!!

 On Friday they want me to go and talk to them about Israel and Palestine – oh boy, I have some homework to do to prepare for that one!!!!!


Week 1, Day 1

It has come to my attention that I am pretty lax at updating this blog so I am setting myself a challenge. I will update it every day for a week! This has come about partly because I realise how lazy I have been about updating but also because I have had a few of you email me questions about my daily life and school etc… I hope this week helps to explain my life here a bit clearer.

MONDAY 12th July 2010
This is exam week at school, the week when we get to give our little darlings a whole bunch of exams to see if they have been listening/learning/understanding our drivel at the front of the classroom for the last term. I only have 4 classes of exams to give, which in any other circumstance would be really nice; 120 papers to mark, done in a day – nope not here. More like nearly 400 papers due to the class sizes!!! This afternoon was my senior 1 (year 8) English exam.

This group of little darlings individually are really nice. Their standard of English is really good (comparatively) and they are really nice to sit and chat with, but try and teach them something…it’s like trying to control a herd of wild rhinoceroses. And despite trying all the many and different classroom management skills I have amassed over the years, nothing seems to work with them. This isn’t just me; they are notorious around the school and behave like this for all the teachers. I love going in and hanging out with these students, but trying to teach them – wow it is difficult. So yep, I have made their exam extra hard in the hope that a bad mark will give them the shock that they need to behave a bit better in my class. Put it this way with them – the headmaster has caned a large part of the class a number of times and this has not worked!!!

Due to my current bout of insomnia and as the exam wasn’t until the afternoon, I had a nice lie in this morning. Morning routines are similar in structure to the UK but a lot different in content. Take having a shower for example: I have to start boiling the water 20 mins before I want to bathe as it takes so long to boil. You then dump it in a basin and add cold water and carry said basin into the bathroom. Where by standing in it and using a plastic cup you can then bathe yourself. Sometimes you can get the water temp just right and it’s not an unpleasant experience; but today I put too much cold in it and with the draught through the window, it was a VERY quick ‘shower’. Babywipes and cleanser for the face and neck finish off the cleaning ritual. The soap here is a bit brutal and I don’t like to use it on my face hence the babywipes and cleanser.
Brushing teeth requires you to have a bottle of water available. This morning I realised I had drunk all mine and so had to walk down to the shop to buy some more before I could brush my teeth. Yes you can boil the water (and I do actually have a steripen) but just the thought of using water that has stood for goodness knows how long in an open tank then into my jerrycans (which are not the nicest), it doesn’t fill me with the joys so I use bottled water.

All of this probably takes about an hour – my comparative routine in the UK took me 20 mins!

So I toddle off to school early, where they have a nice new photocopier, to print and copy all my exams, to find there is no power!!! 76 students will be expecting an English exam in the next hour and I had no power. I was just in the process of simplifying the exam so I could write it on the board when it came back on – YAY  So the exam started only a little late. Afterwards I hung around and chatted with some of the senior 1 and 2 students because I hadn’t seen them in a week (last week was revision week and they don’t want teachers teaching them – they want to do the revision themselves [which they don’t!]).

I was really lucky on my way home as I didn’t have to wait too long to get transport. You may remember that my school is about 5KM away from my house and is in the middle of nowhere. It is not uncommon for me to wait upwards of an hour by the side of the road for something to come along. I usually hitch a lift back into Kayonza and walk from there, but today I was fortunate to see an empty moto coming which took me straight to my house.

I have ordered fish brochette and chips for my dinner from the restaurant near by as sustenance to get me through marking 76 exams tonight. So I’d better go and pick them up and start marking.

Apologies for lack of updates, look out for more tomorrow.
Jo xox

I Love My Friends and Family

It has to be said, just for the record, that I have the most awesome friends and family in the world. Without going into details, cos you might find out soon enough, yesterday was a bad day probably the worst ever, but I got a phone call to say that there were some parcels at the post office for me and my housemate. When we got up this morning we could see an enormous storm rolling in from the direction of school so we decided to try and beat it and go to the next town over for our parcels. What???? We couldn’t have made it to school anyway, the storm was upon us. We managed to get to Rwamagana free of charge (a long distance bus took pity on the two muzungu’s doing impressions of drowned rats LOL) and made it to the post office. There I found not one or two parcels but 5!!!!!!!! 3 parcels from my mother and 2 from friends; containing the most amazing things ever. To count:

• 6 packets of savoury rice
• 2 packets veg flavouring
• 3 Wispa bars
• 1 packet face wipes
• Seasons 1-6 of CSI on DVD
• 1 packet Lindor eggs
• I Ziploc of Lindor Chocs
• 6 Zucchini and Choc Chip muffins (In one piece and still fresh!)
• 1 church newsletter
• 2 Easter cards
• 2 contact lens solutions
• And a partridge in a pear tree

You know me so well and know what makes me the happiest

It’s been quite a while since I got a parcel (thanks volcano!) and you have no idea how happy they make me, especially given how bad yesterday was. And to top it off we got a free lift back to Kayonza too. It was chucking it down and we flagged a lorry down but the driver didn’t speak any English. We managed to tell him we wanted to go to Kayonza so he told us to get in. When he dropped us off he turned right back around – this guy went waaaaaaaaaaay out of his way to give us a lift home in the rain (about 40mins).

• So to count the nice things
• Free lift to Rwamagana
• 5 parcels
• Free lift back from Rwamagana
• AWESOME email from a friend which made me ROFLOL

I cannot believe that one of my friends would be so amazing as to send me 6 muffins, and even better they arrive in one piece and fresh as a daisy. I have some photo’s which I will try an upload. However, all photo’s are hosted on my Facebook if you want to see them.

So to all my family and friends I love you so much. Your emails and parcels brighten my day and make me feel connected to my life back home – which is really important. I want to say a HUGE thank you for being my friends, I miss you so much xxxxxxxxxxxx