Entries "November 2007":

Monday, 12 November 2007

Visitors from Wales

The last two weeks have been full of treats  thanks to Liz and Gavin Gatehouse who bravely ventured to Rwanda  from Wales to visit me and to have a taste of volunteer life.

We began the Rwandan experience with a 2 day stay in Akagera Game Park which is Africa, as many people imagine, bush and savannah with zebra, antelope, giraffe and sweeping views across the Akagera river to Tanzania. The most amazing experience was on our final morning when  we took a boat ride round an island on which we saw a mother crocodile with 20 or 30 babies sunning themselves on her back and  sprawled on the odd tree stump. Lots of nesting birds and on land, evidence of elephants althugh sadly no sightings thereof. Gavin had a prolongued and intense argument with our guide over whether the biting flies which flew into our car were horse flies or tetse flies. It took several reiterations of the fact that he had spent 25 years studying the latter to convince the guy that Gavin really did know what he was talking about!

We returned to Butare for a couple of days to visit the Deaf Centre and see the start of work on the loos, to walk to the University Fish ponds and to take a trip to Gasarenda for Han's birthday party. Han is a Dutch volunteer teaching Biology. She and her husband Mans have built a charming gazebo in their back yard!

Then off we went to Ruhengeri to see the Golden Monkeys - rare and endangered- but very engaging and extremely well habituated. We went for a drive around the area and passed through a forest of bananas in which there was a house about every 200 metres at the entrance to which clustered at least 5 small children. What is going to become of them all?

We went on to Gisenyi where the weather was not great for the first day but we chilled out at the Kivu Sun and took a stroll around the  Colonial part of the town and saw the volcano glowing red at night! The next day we went to Paradis, a lovely restaurant with comfortable rooms just outside Gisenyi where we were able to swim in the lake and watch the fishing boats go out at dusk and return in the morning.

Then it was back to Butare for a night and off to Kigeme to help Annemeic and Cathie run and English Immersion Fun  workshop. Here Gavin and Liz discovered that what most people really like to do is to play God (Pray to God) and that Rwandan Primary teachers really do love singing the wheels on the bus and You are my sunshine and playing Simon Says. Gavin entranced them with some magic science and Liz was great at talking to to the less confident ones.It was great to have some extra native English speakers. We were able to inject a Welsh note too when I did a session in Welsh to show that you can teach a language without recourse to the mother tongue. We all remarked how much quicker the Rwandans were at learning new vocabulary than we were and how much better they were at saying the unfamiliar words.

So now I am alone again and due to do more mundane things like wriing reports and planning some training for next term. Probably my next update will be from UK when, with Gavin's help, there may even be some photographs. But the big event before then will be Cathie and Elson's wedding in Gisenyi on December 1st for which I have yet to get something made!

To those of you who have contributed to the LOOS, A VERY BIG THANKYOU and to anyone else who is interested in contributing, a cheque could be sent to me c/o Helen Thorneloe, The Tower House, 78 Marlpit Lane, Coulsdon, Surrey CR5 2HD. I shall be back in UK on 10th December and hope to have a big catch up with  lots of you!

I cannot finish without saying that the last few weeks have been somewhat darkened by the death of Peter Llewellyn, who started the fund to which so many of you have contributed, and who supported and sustained me with his humour, generosity and wisdom both during my time here and for  very many years before. His last few months were full of pain and discomfort borne with characteristic stoicism and fortitude. Life in North Wales will not be the same without his presence but my warmest thanks and deepest sympathy go to Frances who nobly circulated my last begging letter and collected the contributions, even as Peter was taken to hospital for his final days.


»10:25 AM    »Send entry    

Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog
End of term andLovely loos.

Apologies to anyone who has been impatiently awaiting an update on events in Butare: despite my very best intentions the hour or so needed to  engage with the Blog spot has not presented itself for some weeks.

The term has now ended with the usual Mass and proclamation of results. My big effort was to take and have printed a photograph of every child in the school which I then mounted on card and arranged sessions of decorating with stickers so everyone went home proudly bearing a more or less decent photograph. We also had a film showing for most of the children of Charlie Chaplin in City Lights.This is thanks to my new friend Jeff who has a friend who runs the City Dream Cinema and who shows the films for half price - 15,000 RWF. The children just loved the more obvious humour, such as falling into drains and the boxing match although I think the pathos of the story was rather lost on pupils and teachers alike!

Thanks to those of you who have sent money for the Great Loo Project the building boys are now hard at work and there will soon be 4 loos, I think squatters,( a la turque), and 4 showers. They seem absolutely delighted and were particularly thrilled that Liz and Gavin Gatehouse, (of whom more anon), were here to inspect the progress and take such an interest in the whole project. I think that there will be enough money to replace the existing and disgusting loos for the girls and paint everywhere as well as paying the boys a decent wage for their work. In phase 2 I hope to give the girls some more loos and improve their washing arrangements. I am hoping to have a meeting with Frere  Eugene,  the Directeur, to work out a rota of children and teachers to keep the loos clean! I can't bear the tohought of all that money going to wate just because of a lack of maintenace. Hopefully, if we can set up a system, it will continue after I have left!!

The cooking programme continued and the girls invited a couple of the brothers to the final feast  which was judged to be a triumph. We also have a jewellery making programme, thanks to Katherine from Canada and daughter Helen who sent further supplies. All the older girls now want to make necklaces and bracelets so I shall be stocking up when back in UK for Christmas.


»9:37 AM    »Send entry    

Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog