Entries "May 2007":

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Photography, food and Alphonsine. Nearly a strike

Lynn, who was the photo journalist whom I met at Addis very kindly gave a group of us a photography seminar one Saturday. She talked about speed and light but then encouraged us to think about framing pictures and look for more unusual angles. it made me realise that I shall have to go digital, although the old fashioned roll film is great here as I can get the photos printed and  then give them to the subjects who snatch them out of one's hand and rush off exclaiming and laughing!

An amazing invitation was issued  one day when I was invited to lunch with the Freres! It was actually very pleasant, the food was good and they made an effort to speak in English or French. I now understand why the teaching brothers  so often have to se reposer in the afternoons- there was plenty of beer on the table and many of them did not stint themselves! 

I went last week to Kizi with Morgane to vist a school rather off the main road where there is a little deaf girl called Alphonsine. Her mother is dead and she lives with her aunt. She went deaf at the age of four when she had meningitis and has not spoken since although clearly she had both speech and language before. I showed the class some signs of animals for which I know the words in Kinyarwanda and it was lovely to see her realising that here was a lesson in  which she could really participate. She did also use her voice on one occasion which was really exciting. So now we have to figure out how to get her to school in Butare next year and how we cn help her in the meantime.

Some of you will know that I have a thing about World Vision. Well how about this?

Annemeic has a Domestique called Claudine who is very sweet, honest and a good worker. World Vision came to her and invited her to attend 2 weeks of training in various domestic skills, sewing, cooking etc etc. Of course she was delighted and Annemeic happily gave her consent. When she got there she found there was no training at all but they needed someone to make the tea  and  do the cleaning! Talk about luring her with false promises! So now she does that work and then rushes to Annemeic's house - Was there ever any idea of running courses??

Last Tuesday when I got to school I found the teachers in a state of great indignation. It seems that every primary teacher  is to be given a monthly prime of 12,000 RWF but because the classes at the Deaf centre are small our teachers have been offered a mere 700 RWF per month. They refused to work that day which is of course illegal in Rwanda so the military and various dignitaries arrived to discuss the problem - as yet unresolved, so of course they are very unhappy and more than somewhat demotivated. Watch this space!! I have to be careful not to get involved in what is not my cause or country.


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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog
More coffee, a monastery, tin and jewellery

The 10th of May saw the first of this term's trips. This was with the older girls and their teachers and we also had Frere Alexis from school and Cathie with us. We first went to a coffee washing station where we were kindly received and they took time to explain the process to the girls. There was not so much activity as when we went in March and most of the washing and rubbing off skins was being done by hand.

We then went to the tin workshop where we saw the entire process of melting down the tin, pouring it into moulds and then working on the objects, ( things like bowls, plates, vases, animals, ashtrays),welding, burnishing and polishing. I had no idea that tin could be so attractive and very reasonably priced. It was great for the girls to see how many of the workers were women. Then off to the monastery - Gahindamuyaga - run by Benedictines. They have an atelier making jewllery out of gold and silver - we weren't allowed into to see the work being done but some of the finished products are beautiful and strangely one pays not for the workmanshop but for the weight of the gold/silver. There is a huge and rather lovely garden with very well established trees and shrubs and lawns cut by an electric lawn mower - the first I have seen in Rwanda! We were given a good lunch which the girls realy tucked into - there was no a scrap left by the end.

The next day Cathie spent the first of 2 Friday mornings making bead jewellery with the girls - I had purchased the materials in Bangor while I was home. This seemed to be popular and successful and by the end of the second session the girls were being much more creative. If I can find more beads this may be something that they can continue. 

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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog
Tuesday, 01 May 2007

Butare again

I've now been back a week and already England and Wales are a distant dream - except for the added  weight and lots of very happy memories. My return flight was fine except for lots of take off and landing as we stopped at Rome and Nairobi and changed at Addis where i met a charming Canadian photographer, Lynn  coming out here to work at the University on the journalism course. She was able to wangle a lift down for me which was wonderful as I had quite a number of bags and wa rather dreading the bus journey.

 Everyone at school was gratifyingly pleased to see me - not too many emarks about extra inches and we are now back in the swing of term except that yesterday was payday so half the teachers weren't there and today is a holiday - marching, drums, singing, dancing, speeches so not exactly flat out work! Weather is hot with a thunderstorm most days so the country is looking very lush and luridly green.

So often I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have been born to the life I have - one of the pupils came back with his mother with whom I was able to have a sort of conversation in Kinyarwanda - she turned out to be the same age as me but looked years older, suffered from asthma and had a horrible growth in her side that she made me feel with my hand. She had had 9 children of whom 4 were dead but she was full of dignity and acceptance - as was Louis, when I said how sad I was that his baby had died his eyes filled with tears but he said simply " Cest comme ca" .


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Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog