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Entries "March 2006":

Saturday, 25 March 2006

raising children

Lucy in your message you asked me if extended families took a lot of responsibility for child-rearing here and my answer would be well . . . sometimes. . . but mostly it's the other children.  The family who lives next door has 6 boys.  Two are away at secondary school (boarding) and the other four are at home.  Dad's away a lot for work and mom's a primary school teacher and farms to supplement the income.  The four youngest boys (1 and a half, 7, 10 and 12) along with the 15 year-old boy who assumes all domestic duties pretty much take care of each other.  The baby is at home with Emmanuel (domestic worker) while the others are at school but many an afternoon you will find Nayandré (sp?? baby) alone with Didier (7) hanging out.  And this is more than many families.  Many children in my district hang out in gangs where the oldest might be 5 years old.  Little four year-old girls carry babies on their backs.  Five year-old boys clean up the mess that the diaper-less 14 month old has just made.  And really. . . in general they're fine.  I see what a fuss we make about raising children, and certainly a lot of it is justified.  But here, they just make do.  They live in a universe largely occupied by other children.  It helps that they know where to go if real trouble arises, they watch out for each other and the adults keep one eye out for problems as they busy themselves making a living.  In a way it makes them older than their age, but in some ways younger too. 

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog

Well thanks are in order.  Thanks to Tim for the delicious chocolates.  The m&ms are very popular with some of my colleagues who refer to them as "les comprimés" (pills).  Also thanks to Lucy and Adam for your messages.   Cristal I got the pictures a while back and they were great!  I've put the one of you and James and Savannah on the wall.  Congratulations to Tamara and Mike and Simon again.  Anyways.  Thinking of all of you. 


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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Friday, 17 March 2006

More more more

Thanks for the reminder Mel.  Actually, it's very easy to get caught up in the day to day life and I forget how much my perspective has changed.  Things that seemed foreign before are familiar and now.  When I think about life in Canada now, certain things seem very foreign... and absurd.  Like the  material excess.  I know that we've all heard it before, how much we in the North consume consume consume.  Before when people would talk about the over-consumption of North-Americans I would nod my head in agreement, thinking I truly understood what that was about.  However had you asked me to refrain from buying a new pair of jeans, or to brush my teeth with only an inch of water in a cup, or to re-use my ziplock bags over and over and over again, well frankly it would have seemed like a bother and a bit of a sacrifice.  But now, I have so much less stuff, but it's still much more than the vast majority, even than all of my colleagues.  People here take care of what they have.  The men walk around in their freshly pressed shirts tucked into their crisp dress pants.  You will see them wearing that same shirt the next day and those same pants all week and they are never dusty, dirty, smelly, wrinkled or creased.  Most "Northerners", when they come here, have a very difficult time keeping themselves clean.  Because we come from such a throw-away culture.  We are so very laissez-faire.  We sit on the concrete step in front of our houses or schools without thinking that the seat of our pants will wear out quicker or will need to be washed sooner.  We put out backpacks and briefcases on the floor - something a Rwandan quickly gasps at, picks up the bag and then vigorously knocks the dust off. 

The other thing that I am acutely aware of now is garbage.  The disposal of garbage in my house involves burning or feeding to the pig next door.  So, tell me, what do I do with hard plastic?  Shampoo bottles, water bottles, lotion bottles, bottles bottles bottles, contact lens packages, laundry soap buckets, etc.  So, whereas we in Canada would buy a nice plastic tray to hold cosmetics, nail polish, hair accessories or we would buy a cute little container to hold pens and pencils or we would use a nice new pitcher to pour water from, I keep my pencils and staplers in Nomi laundry soap buckets, I pour water from old bottles, I use old lotion tubs to keep my hair elastics.  The milk from next door comes in an old cooking oil bottle.  But I've only been here 7 months and already I have bottles on every shelf and tubs in every cupboard...where will I be at the end of two years?  Recycling is good, we have the luxury of being able to put something in a blue box and forgetting about it, but we just keep buying more and more and more... It's a scary thought. 

Anyways, enough of that for now. 

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Saturday, 04 March 2006

in a nutshell

I bought an agenda today.  And I'm really going to try to use it.  I'm becoming increasingly busy and am afraid that I'm going to lose the tenuous grip I have on my life.  Between English Skills Working Group (which runs workshops for English teachers in the country), the School play I want to put together, stress about the grant we've applied for, scheduling extra classes to make up for the ones I missed because of those damned mosquitoes, and then of course the all important spending time with friends... well you get the picture. Only one week of classes left in this term, it goes sooo quickly.  One week of classes, one week of review, one week of exams, one week of hell (marking and report cards) and then 3 weeks off.  I'll be running a workshop for the newly arrived volunteers in April and then probably heading off to Uganda for a couple of weeks with Antonia.  April is a difficult month here from what I hear and although I want to see a bit of what happens, I think one whole month of being in the middle of genocide memorial is rather intense.  So I think it's a good time to travel out of country for a bit.  OK, in a nutshell that's it.  Talk more soon.

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Mosquitoes - the bane of my existence

Well, I've had it.  Really.  Mosquitoes.  I hate them.  I don't truly hate many things.  But mosquitoes?  I loathe them.  Especially the female ones who come out in the middle of the night.  They make no noise as they go about their stealth mission of infecting me with malaria.  That's 3 times now.  The good news is I'm really good at detecting the early signs.  Quite literally, malaria is a pain in my neck.  I get a very distinct pain just below my skull on the left side, making it hard to turn and watch for traffic as I cross the street.  That's when I know that the parasites are invading my blood.  Before any fever or headache sets in, I'm at the clinic demanding a blood smear then at the pharmacy demanding their quickest drug.  For those of you wondering "well is she taking anti-malarials?", the answer is YES.  She's taking Larium, sleeping under a mosquitoe net, wearing Deep Woods Off, but it's just not enough.  Mom or dad, if you're wondering what more you can send me, other than the endless stream of chocolate, a travel mosquitoe net might be a good thing.  The suckers get me when I'm sleeping over at other people's houses. 

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog