Entries "February 2008":

Friday, 08 February 2008

Meanwhile back at the coal face

Eventually the term creaked into motion despite further delays for the new classrooms which had no desks or chairs for at least a week. The great metal gates effectively seal off the Brothers and their doings and it is somewhat difficult to engineer a meeting with the elusive Directeur who lurks therein most of the time.

I am kept very busy running from class to class teaching English but it does seem to be working and we have nearly everyone attempting to sing which is quite a novel idea. the library seems to be more popular than ever with the children and even the teachers are more inclined to come and look for materiaux didactiques.

 I went to the market with the dressmaker who comes, courtesy of the Peter fund, to teach the older girls and we bought some pretty material that they can use to  make little bags. I also invested in several loo cleaning brushes and vim and have discussed with the girls and building boys how important it is to have a daily programme of cleaning. I do really feel that one has gone as far as is possible on this matter though Ido go on periodic inspections and rants if conditions are not satisfactory!

My splendid domestique has a sister whose son is deaf in one ear. I brought back a hearing aid for him and discovered while talking to  his mother that she made little baskets.  She learnt to do this in prison! So now she is coming twice a week to show the girls. This could be a way in which they could make some money in the future.

»4:22 PM    »Send entry    

Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog
Hero's Day in Ruhengeri

Last Friday, February 1st was Hero's Day during which those who had shown exemplary courage or selflessness during the Genocide are celebrated, it is a National Holiday and the Children from the Centre spent much of the two previous days practising marching behind a placard so that they could spend the morning with everyone else at the stadium.

I meanwhile took of for Kigali where I spent the night and then caught an early bus to Ruhengeri where I was collected by Elie ( I think really Elijah, his younger brother is called Samuel), who is the philanthropic and quite visionary man whose heart bleeds for the hundreds of Deaf who live in the Ruhengeri area. He has a centre with several buildings which could be classrooms, dormitories, training rooms or workshops and about 3 fee paying Deaf children! He also has Louis - the super teacher from Butare and a splendid Daf girl called Noella who is also teaching and trying to help with the floods of Deaf who arrive daily hoping for some kind of hope and education.

Until now these people have had no schooling at all and most of them have no sign language either. Both Elie and Louis' eyes filled with tears as thy described to me the conditions in which they lived. Really abject poverty, barely enough to eat, just mats on the floor to sleep on and houses suchas most Westerners would consider unfit for animals to sleep in. There is still a great deal of ignorance about Deafness and it seems that most parents consider their Deaf children incapable of learning so see no point in sending them to school. The second day I was there several Deaf rocked up bringing others. One of them was a girl of about 16. She had no language at all, either spoken or signed and had clearly never seen a book in her life. She spent about an hour gazing in fascination at a page of print. Another child, about 10 was frightened to touch a book - I think he thought the pictures would spring to life and bite him.

Elie has, as yet no funding for this project! I hope that those of you who have contributed to the GREAT LOO PROJECT will not object if I now try to do something to help these unfortunates and leave the teachers and Brothers to continue wrestling with water supplies and drains!! I can tell you that 3 of the loos have been commandered by teachers, never my intention, and have huge padlocks on them - I have yet to discover who holds the keys so hope that I am not caught short one day! More of school anon!

I have already given Elie money to buy some hens so that they can use the eggs to feed the children and sell the surplus and  also some tools and seeds so that they can start to cultivate the land and grow some vegetables. I agreed to pay the salaries for one month only as I don't feel that this is in any way a sustainable way of using our very finite funds. I took up lots of books and games and gave Louis some money to buy a ball. 

This Elie works for Care International and has a very large house in which I stayed, in company with a Slovenian volunteer, Tania, who is trying to help get things under way. We did come up with several action points so things may begin to move! 

»4:07 PM    »Send entry    

Posted by: Antonia    in: My travelblog