Entries "February 2007":

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Cheers Cherie!

Wednesday to Friday this week were entirely taken up with preparations for and receiving visits from the Belgian Ambassador and Cherie Blair.

Two buildings that have remained unfinished for months were given 100% attention by the building boys. A room that had been festooned with trailing wires and pockmarked with unfilled sockets was completed, painted and cleaned in a matter of hours. Worry not that only half the sockets actually work - five minutes before the Ambassador was due to arrive, computers were being carried from the room in which they have been locked and languishing ever since I arrived and no doubt for months before. Rapid and slightly panicky connections were made and hey presto! 3 computers function! 

Meanwhile the show classroom was spring cleaned and repainted so that the visitors could see sparkling walls and windows! I suggested that this might be the moment to make 1 or 2 other much needed repairs like fixing door handles to other classrooms but my remarks were greeted with dismissive impatience! Children were then put to work hauling sacks of stones from a perfectly good path to be replaced with sand which will of course get filthy every time we do the nettoyage and will run all over the classrooms when it rains and floods. Evidently sand is more aesthetically pleasing than stones!

Teachers wearily followed instructions murmering about obedience and I pushed off to town to pay my electrogaz bill!

Eventually all was ready for the visitors, dancing girls in their finery, drums beating gifts prepared and it all went very smoothly for the Ambassador who seemed impressed with everything and half promised to see if he could get funding for repairing the swimming pool. A very charming and good looking young man with a very pleasant wife they were the aperitif before the entourage from British Embassy and various Rwandan dignitaries arrived a mere 2 hours later than expected by which time teachers and children were wilting and hungry! Once again the performance commenced and Mrs B. was very gracious and looked both interested and energetic, not easy when she had to listen to a rather painful and unintelligible reading in Kinyarwanda presented by one of the Deaf pupils. I read the English translation which was an ingratiating plea for more funds - I do feel that in some ways these children are very lucky - they do have desks and books and teachers who are usually there, while there are schools in the country where the children sit in classrooms with mud walls, sit on logs and have nothing resembling a desk and there might be 60 children in a class. Mrs B did have quite a friendly exchange with me and Ruth and was quick to respond when I said that I'd been working in Wales, not England! She was accompanied by a BBC film crew and a very cheerful handmaid. The British Ambassador who is a splendid character, very well informed, amusing and approachable had evidently decided that this was not the day for sartorial elegance -  he opted for the rumpled look with open necked shirt  really very open!!


Ah well! After all this excitement life may return to normal next week.

»9:08 PM    »Send entry    

Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog

Modified on February 24, 2007 at 9:11 PM
A Development Plan!

An entire day was spent discussing a Development plan presented by Frere Alexandre involving all sorts of wonderful ideas like forming every kind of club, giving every child a moquito net, planting trees and flowers and developing sports and games. I have an idea that this was in response to some Government directive and that nothing will come of it! I have been trying to set up some HIV/AIDS training at the local centre but the Coordinator  there, having initially been very enthusiastic, is now becoming rather evasive so after 3 visits, a letter stating exactly what we want and 3 telephone calls I'm going to have to go there again and PIN him to a programme!

Frere A also announced that he will be giving up as Directeur at the end of this term and that the mantle will pass to Eugene who is young and possibly more disposed to spend more time at the Centre. One plus is that he hasn't yet passed his driving test so is less likely to disappear each day!

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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog
Pictures and pancakes

Just as well I got that little entry in as I've just lost 10 minutes where the power went off so I'm now typing at double quick speed to try to bring everyone a bit more up to date!

The first week of February I had Kate Watson staying which was great as she brought paints and managed to have creative sessions with nearly all the classes - the children were absolutely forbidden from doing anything representational so we did have some wonderful wild designs and colours. An added excitement was when we introduced glitter which threw them all, girls and boys alike, into paroxysms of excitement and they put it all over themselves- I even caught some children rubbing the pictures over their heads to have sparkly hair!! We managed to persuade a Batwa potter, (known as the Candlestick maker, because that is what he mainly peddles), to bring some clay to school so that one class was able to make little figures. I think the teachers were a little mystified by the abstract nature of the pictures and have asked me several times since what is the point of such art.

Shrove Tuesday saw 2 classes making pancakes for the entire school. ruth brough her kerosene stove so that we had 4 on the go - it seems to have been a popular activity and although the teachers professed to be worn out I think they were very pleased with themselves for having been able to extend such largesse! The pancakes were more flabby that we would like but thus better for hungry children!  

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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog

Modified on February 24, 2007 at 9:10 PM
Bit by Bit

Yet again I had the frustrating experience of seeing my immortal prose vanish into a blank screen so think I'll now fill in the blog in bite sized portions so that not too much time or creative effort is lost!

Although I've only been back a few weeks it seems like months and all that lovely food,hot water and wine seem like a distant memory! Last weekend Annemeic and I shared a minute tin of pate de foie gras washed down by some Scotch and we felt that we were eating like kings!

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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog