Entries "May 2006":

Friday, 26 May 2006

A fairly uneventful week!

I can't believe it's a whole week since my last entry! I have had a splendid package of chocolate from Peter  - many thanks but no letters.

I seem to have spent most of my time writing out lists of ingredients and standing ove teachers and pupils while they create wonderful things on the kerosene stove! This week more salad; the teachers let the students get on with it themselves this time and  then pancakes - they were pretty good but all the other teachers descended like locusts and devoured them while the poor students looked on with ever longer faces!! However I hope it is making the teachers a little bit more open to sharing their clasroom experiences! The next thing is to brighten up the classroom so that they stop and stare as well as scoff!!

If anyone can lay their hands on healthy eating, balanced diet posters or leaflets and send them to me that would be GREAT!

Val or Gwen, if you are reading this I wonder if you could persuade Ysbyty Gwynedd to part with some stetaclips and puffers for the hearing aids that have been given to some children by some mysterious French people who gave absolutely no guidance to the class teachers at all but merely supposedly trained a couple of the Brothers who seem to do nothing about checking the aids let alone showing teachers what to do!!

The rains seem to have more or less stopped and weather is beautiful fresh and bright.



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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog
Saturday, 20 May 2006

All change!

I now seem to be a cookery facilitator!

All day Tuesday was spent making potage with the older girls - they were great -chopping and slicing, peeling and scraping! eventually bowls were produced and everone tucked in!!

On Wednesday afternoon Frere Jean Marie suddenly became extremely cooperative, whisked me off to the vegetable garden  -

" Come Sister, come" and gave me all the veg I wanted AND went to the market so that we could have carrots and eggs to make salad with 2 separate classes the next day! This went quite well except that the teachers got so carried away they took over a lot of the slicing and presentation leaving the pupils idle! They didn't mind too much as I'd brought a jar of mayonnaise which was polished off in double quick time!!

Frere Alexandre appeared in high good humour on Thursday  and more or less told me to stop asking for permission to do things but just to go ahead - Carte Blanche? So now I'm thinking maybe I can do some science with some of these children but any help from anyone out there would be very welcome -outlines of lessons, programmes of work, suggestions for topics etc bearing in mind that we have no actual equipment!

I'm in Kigali just now having come for a Disability working Group and training on Global Education which has been really interesting. We also had some NGO speakers including someone talking about the establishment of the Gacaca courts which was fascinating. He explained how the have been developed from local courts which originally dealt with quite trivial crimes such as robbery and land disputes. He really spelt out that after the Genocide there were no lawyers or judges because they were all dead or fled. People had to be trained very quickly. He described in a chillingly matter of fact way how the genocide had been "en plein air" for all to see - like going to work at 8.00 am and finishing at 5.00 with a discussion of how the day's "work" had gone and what was the schedule for the next day.

There is a plan that we might be taken to visit a refugee camp in July which will be extremely interesting. Someone from the World food Programme told us how there is a campaign to keep girls in school by giving them cooking oil at the end of each month completed at school in the 4th, 5th and 6th years and how some of the girls have managed to save by selling the oil and sometimes  buying goats which they then sell to pay for their secondary education.

The Sign Language lessons with the Secondary school at Butare have started again and seem to be going well though rain nearly stopped play on Thursday! Lies and I have resumed our efforts to work on a manual of Rwandan Signs as well and the students are  great discussing the various signs and variations.

That's it for now - Thanks to EVERYONE who sent parcels- chocolate much appreciated as is all the school equipment.


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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog
Saturday, 13 May 2006

What a Wet Week!

This has been a week of endless frustration due in the main to the weather. I went to school on Monday to find that once again more than half the teachers were missing, evidently chasing their salaries so it was pretty much impossible to do anything. Things were slightly better on Tuesday and I managed to have a long talk to the older girls and their teachers and establish that sitting sewing and crocheting all day with some of them making cardigans in revolting colours on a knitting machine is not a specially stimulating educational experience!! So we are to start cooking once a week and actually do some reading and writing of recipes - plus I hope visits to the market to buy ingredients. Of course money is an issue but I propose to use the dosh that some of you have so kindly sent me and I have acquired from Meg, ( a Kigali volunteer), a second kerosene stove, which I can leave at the school. I have also spent quite a lot of time trying to capture a few words with Frere Alexandre to get his agreement to this and to have dancers come to teach the children traditinal and contemporary Dance - also using your funds but he is either very occupied or not there and when I do approach him he raises an imperious finger and says " Non, Pas aujoured hui' and diappears. I have asked Amanda my Programme Manager to try to come down  to Butare to see him to establish if all that I am trying to do is OK.

On Wednesday I was awoken at about 4.30 by dazzling flashes of lightening, deafening claps of thunder and rain hammering on the roof. This continued all morning so I made no attempt to go to school until the afternoon when I found that no one else had done so either and at least one of the classrooms was flooded so no work done that day!

Paying all the Electogaz bills has been almost as tedious as chasing Frere A!

One has to go to a window where a grimfaced woman peruses the bill, counts out the money one hands her, checks it with a calculater, has to borrow change from another customer and then wearily writes out a receipt which you then have to take to another window where 2 men verify it, check through endless files and then laboriously write it all out again before handing one the next months bill!! The Rwandans are not very disciplined about queueing so quite often one has to put up with pushy customers barging in front. The whole operation takes hours and there's no where to sit  so I was thankful to have a letter to read last time and a French nun to talk to although her replies to my sallies were "C'est Ca, C'est ca"!!

I'm off to have coffee at the Ibis now and then take a moto to a restaurant that serves grilled rabbit wher I'm to meet Jessica's family over from America for 12 days. Her father is a Real American Lawyer!!

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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog
Saturday, 06 May 2006

Weekend with Annemeic and visit to Nyungwe Forest

I went last Saturday to spend a couple of nights with Annemeic who has had her daughter Michele and son in law Thomas staying. they had spent the day hiking over hill and rocky outcrop to visit the family of Am's protege Valensi. Evidently he said it would be a 3 hour walk and it turned out to be at least twice that so there were some very weary bodies at the house when I arrived. However a few beers and a couple of stiff rum and cokes made all the difference! Rum provided by th charming Nigerian doctor who lives next to AM!

Next day we set off bright and early in the vehicle belonging to Mothers Union, to the Forest. the entry fee is resonable - 20 US dollars but we wanted to do a walk which was a ridiculous price even for residents. However we paid up and set off armed with large sticks to assist the ascents and descents. The pathe was very clear and easy to follow and we did see some monkeys, a chameleon, a small waterfall and wonderful trees including marvellous tall mahogony soaring straight up into the sky hundreds of feet above us forming an amazing leaf pattern against the sky. From time to time we caught glimpses of Lake Kivu and the distant mountains of Congo the other side of the Lake. I was thankful that the others didn't feel like tackling anything more ambitious than the Rose Trail as found I ran out of puff very quickly on the steep climbs up! We had brought a picnic which we ate in a little banda by he reception and shared with the driver whose name I've forgotten - something like Elijah!

We then drove on a bit and saw lots more monkeys, one of whom jumped right up and put his face in the back window -apparently it is becoming quite a problem- many people feed them and they are becoming rather aggressive. If they could speak I'm sure they'd be saying "donnez moi bananes" like the children who say all the time "Donnez moi amafaranga" or "Give me my money"! On both sides of the forest are acres of tea which is lovely to see - such a fresh green and so orderly! Many soldiers lounging about by the side of the road but this didn't stop several petrol lorries "supplying" locals with fuel in every kind of container including plastic bags!

The next day we all went to lunch with Cathie in Gasarenda and had a tour of her school which has the most fabulous views over to the forest in the distance. It reminded me of the view from Llanegryn school, near Twyn although, of course, all the hills near Gasarenda are cutivated from top to bottom!!

On the way back I was next to a very persistent man in the taxi bus.

"Tu es Protestant"?


"Tu es Catholic?"


"Tu es quoi"?

"Je suis un esprit libre''

"Nous n'avons pas cet Eglise ici au Rwanda"

Not a very productive week work wise - Monday was a holiday - Thursday most of the teachers went to the bank  to get their pay and Friday afternoon is always "Nettoyage" and sitting about,  so hope for a more constructive time next week!!



































































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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog