Entries "July 2006":

Saturday, 22 July 2006

A hectic time

I left Butare on Wednesday to go to Giterama where I was to visit an orpanage and training Centre run by an organisation called JAM. there are some Deaf children there and I had been invited to see what they are doing - or so I thought - when I got there I found 4 expectant teachers armed with pens and notepads all ready for me to deliver a day's training. I had nothing other than my somewhat addled wits and a rush of adrenalin! Somehow we muddled through the morning with practice in lipreading and diagrams of the ear and spent the afternoon playing with sand and making things with glue and loo rolls. There was an added drama to the day as we were informed at dawn that one of the house mothers had just died -alarm and despodancy all round and a deputation was sent off to Kigali to find out about funeral arrangements. At lunch time came the message that she was not dead after all - critical yes but still breathing. I'm not certain if she'd been lowered ito her coffin....

I've just spent 2 days in Kigali helping to put together Amakuru the VSO Rwanda magazine  -in which some of you may feature - please don't sue me for copyright - Happily a French volunteer Laetitia has been about in the office waiting to hear whether she has a new VSO job and therefore a visa, so she did all the French English translation - which was great and Inga who is to do the desk top publishing was also there some of the time so we had a little Welsh update.

We also had a Disability Working Group meeting: more events planned as VSO now has oodles of money to spend on Disability.  Including an all day meeting next Thursday with partners and stake holders to discuss funding and grants. I think I may be going to Uganda in 2 weeks to do some research for a Deaf Conference to be held in October.

Meanwhile I've been trying to put together a programme for a Sign Language workshop to take place next week. I hope that I'm going to meet 5 Deaf students at the bus stop tomorrow who are going to do the teaching at the Atelier. It won't be so easy to "wing it" for 3 days if they don't show up!

This morning Meg, with whom I'm staying, promised a lie in - it was not to be as her Domestique was there soon after dawn crashing around with buckets and mops- still it enabled me to write out the agenda for the Volunteer Committee meeting which took most of the morning as vols have not been at all happy lately and it could have been rather acrimonious. Happily most of the hot issues were discussed in rational manner and maybe things will improve! 

I recommend you to read Cathy's blog for quite lyrical description of how the country is looking just now.



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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog
End of Term

The term finished on Sunday with a Mass which include Confirmation and Baptism of several of the pupils from the Centre Sourds et Muets so it went on for quite some time but gave me a chance to meet my deaf friend Martin's sister, who is a dressmaker in Kigali and is pretty stylish. she is also Deaf and was a former pupil at the school.

I had spent several hours last week acting as an interpreter for Martin who was being interviewed by a Canadian accademic in Butare researching into Post Genocide Society. Very fascinating to observe her interview techniques and also to relay Martin's respose to her questions. I also had a visitor - a young German girl called Freddy who is about to start studying to be a teacher of the Deaf in Cologne but is currently working here a a volunteer at a nursery school in Gahini. she helped me keep children occupied on 2 days while teachers added up marks and practised for the Mass. We made some collages with older children and played games and coloured with younger ones. The highlight of the final week was the football match which was played on the final Friday after the "declarations" - announcing how well or badly all the children had done and lining up in order of class place.

I had been to Kigali to buy some footballs and then suggested a match between staff and students - it was a good game despite an extremely uneven pitch and goal posts very close together at one end, thus making the goalee pretty much invincible!! In the end the Deaf won - to wild rejoicing and I then sent Frere A in search of a couple of crates of fanta for the students and beer for the teachers!! This was better than going to a bar where I would have had no control over the consumption!!

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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog

Modified on July 22, 2006 at 7:24 PM
Saturday, 08 July 2006

nother tea trip, a show and what is the point?

All of a sudden I'm able to access this site and write a quick update of my musings and doings! Thanks to everyone who has written or sent me packages -chocolate is really welcome as are fruit teas. I am so grateful to be still on the receiving end of your thoughts and parcels!!

A whole month has passed since I last wrote anything - I have now been on another school trip to a different Usine du The - a long, dusty and bumpy ride through pine and eucalyptus forests and through villages where the sight of a Muzungu created near hysteria- there were lots of pigs and their squeakers snoozing by the side of the road or being drive or led by snotty nosed children or rheumy eyed old men. the fields of tea are breathtaking in their freshness and there was a very pretty garden by the huge tin shed housing the works.

The children were really quite interested in the whole operation and I got some good photographs which I plan to put together in an exhibition this week. Of course teachers and children alike are really only interested in pictures of themselves but they ar getting used to my strange ideas of showing things and places as well as people!!

Not much cooking has been done in the last 2 weeks because of the run up to  exams - It's quite a relief not to be dashing to and from the market or seeking out Jean Marie and hanging about while he busies himself chatting up the young female staff! -Lots of hand holding and arm stroking while I look on po-faced!!

Last weekend I went to stay with Cathy who had put on a "talent show" at her school. It was a bit of an ordeal for her as just about everything that could go wrong DID! The students had failed to make any curtains - not a disaster - but the music machine completely packed up early on which let the male dancers to become all tempermental and refuse to perform. In contrast some of the sketches went on interminably in Kinyarwanda, actors unmoved by power failure or exploding lights once the generator had been connected! Other helpful people ran in and out of dancers trying to sweep up broken glass while the audience in best Shakespearean tradition, booed, hissed and gave slow hand claps!

There were poems about the importance of Kinyarwanda and about "no love no education". the most popular act was the tradititional dancers who weere very good and received wild applause! The whole thing went on for 3 and a half hours without a break except for the 15 minutes we sat in the dark!!

We tottered home completely exhausted and Cathy has sworn that she'll never do anything like it again!

I went to Kigali on Sunday for a farewell party for Nancy - a volunteer who came out with me - full of plans to DO things at the VSO programme Office on Monday, only to find that it was closed so I wnt with laura to have a massage given by a blind woman - which was very restful - except that the oil was rather glutinous and smelt of vick - so I'll take my own next time!!

There is something of a revolt against being continually asked for money by colleagues, students, people one meets on the bus or in the street. I have come to dread the request to have a few words in confidence because they always lead to a request for funding - usually to support a child!! It makes one wonder whether we aren't encouraging a completely dependent society and it does lead to a kind of profligacy - there's no need to put money on one side to buy a new generator - some donor will appear and give us one!!

That's it for now -will try to be more regular over the next few weeks.


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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog