Trip Start Sep 08, 2003
37Trip End Ongoing
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Allan was a little preoccupied with his own bad news anyway; the Head Mistress at FK Academy, Judith, had just been deported back to Uganda as her visa had run out. I was dismayed; Judith was a teacher I respected; she was one of the only people in the school to make an effort to make me feel welcome, and I knew how much the school meant to her. She must be heartbroken, so I asked Allan to pass on a message of support, and then tried to cheer him up by practicing carrying my shopping on my head. He was in stitches, saying that I would never manage it, as African women start practicing this art as children - I had 24 years of work to catch up on. Hmmm, what a challenge! Here's to trying.... but perhaps I'll start next week, when I haven't just bought eggs!
The week continued with lots of teaching - I am doing a project called 'Self Portrait' with class 5. Starting with handing out mirrors and getting them to draw what they saw, I stopped the lesson half way through and started again, this time explaining how many eyes and ears a person should have. Perhaps I should rename the project 'The One Eyed Alien'! I am really enjoying teaching Art and Craft, despite the school having no materials; it just makes me use my imagination. During a lesson on 'collage', my bin was rummaged through and plastic bags became hair, old photographs cut up for different eye colours, the lid of the honey jar - a pair of lips. My one eraser gets passed around at such frequency I end up with all the children sat at my desk, so all the materials are within reach, and I can prevent squabbling! However the children respond with such excitement, it is impossible to feel frustrated. I was expecting to find Dance was my favourite subject to teach, but the heat, combined with the language barrier makes the dance tuition very hard work. I still enjoy it, and the children love it, but to my surprise I am finding the art classes more rewarding - if much more messy! Papier Mache perhaps not the most inspired thing to teach the very afternoon that the water was cut off!! Ahh, well, live and learn; I think the children thought that picking bits of glue off your hands (not forgetting the walls, desks, and school uniforms) at the end of the session was part of the process. Who needs water?.
Saturday, and I phoned home for my brothers Birthday - and hurray the chess set arrived!!before heading off to Clare's Bbq. Clare is a volunteer at Arusha school. It used to be the best school in Tanzania and Nyerere famously sent his children there. I was interested to witness the Tanzanian concept of a bbq, and was amazed to see that a huge trench had been cut in the earth, the metal food grids laid on top, and a fire lit in the trench. The meat cooked slowly while the carrot flavoured bananas where laid alongside. Clare had even made Jelly for dessert. True to African tradition, there was not enough cutlery, so it was time to use my new skill of eating with my hands. I am now getting much better at rolling the rice into a ball to pop into your mouth; might give the jelly miss though!!!!
The weekend unfortunately ended on a sour note, I won't dwell on it and only mention it for everyone's information. Vicky decided to move out. Communication between us had broken down to such an extent that Vicky now spent every evening alone in her room, ignoring the children's calls for her to play with them. I still read stories and tried to carry on as normal, but felt so isolated and alone. I reasoned that the teaching was going on so well and I had so many friends in town, that I didn't want to give up and go home - but the atmosphere in our sitting room was becoming unbearable, and I had spent most of the weekend staying with the other volunteers in town, who understood the problem. I came home on Sunday, to find her room empty, half the food gone, and no note. I am ashamed to say the sense of relief hit first. Phew. Then a sense of shame; we were the only two white people for 20km and we couldn't get on. What a bad impression for 'Changing Worlds', not to mention English people in general.
The children came round, visibly upset. They had seen Vicky leave, but she had not waited to say goodbye when they called after her, and blamed themselves. I pulled myself together, painted my teachers face back on, and explained that "sometimes grownups don't get on". The children all pulled closer to me, a little hand holding each one of my fingers, promising to behave and work harder as long as I didn't leave too. If it was possible to feel any worse...........
I decided to improve the evening for them, and asked them to play at being the teacher and to teach me some Swahili. Ohh, the enthusiasm! Armed with pens and paper, I now have all the fruit and vegetables beautifully drawn and pinned to the wall, complete with the Swahili name underneath. Now all I have to do is learn them all before I go to market. Oh dear, they are so strict as teachers!! I wonder who they are emulating! (I'll have to be careful or I will be stood outside with my hands on my head!)
The next day I decided to give the children a treat and travelled into Arusha to purchase some new story books. I was half asleep on the boneshaking bus, when a loud bang startled me...... followed by the bus careering to the left, the whole of the bus tilting at an angle I was sure was going to tip over. Oh my...... this had been my worse fear, to be in a traffic accident. I had naively brought my driving license to Tanzania, thinking I may at some point hire a car..... No way! There is no such thing as driving here; more 'oncoming vehicle avoidance'! I am frequently on the Dala Dala overtaking a Dala Dala that is overtaking a bicycle!! The dala dala ground to a halt on the grass verge, a hedge catching the side of the bus and keeping it upright, I clambered out to inspect what was left of the burning back tyre. The dala dala driver ambled out after me, shrugged, mumbled "blow out", seemed completely unphased, and started to route around in the boot for the jack. I didn't stay around to see the end of the story; I had a feeling I would be waiting a while, and the 'spare' tyre did not look much of an improvement. I halted the next DalaDala, jumped on, and tried to hover as close to the door as possible!
Back at Usa the children loved the storybooks, and all tried to fit into my sitting room in one go to see the pictures. I am starting to love reading stories, changing my voice for all the characters. My particular favourite is the wicked queen from Sleeping Beauty. My evil sounding cackle is getting plenty of practice, as it is a much loved by all the girls, yhe boys preferring Beauty and the Beast. I was trying to make the evening fun, as I knew the children had exams the following day. Those that did not gain the pass mark would be caned, and I would have a queue outside my door requesting savlon on 'results' day. I had secretly signed up to invigilate the English Exams, and planned to nudge those that struggled. It would be the first time that everyone in FK Academy got over 50%! I know, not correct - but you try looking into their eyes when the cane comes out!
Tuesday evening I had planned another treat. The children were going to play teacher again and teach me to cook, Swahili style.
The Dish of the Day was Chapattis, and Brenda, Jacqueline, and Queen, were scrubbing their hands with glee. They had given me a shopping list, and the ingredients were waiting on the sideboard. I remember cooking with my mum - flour going everywhere, the fun of making shapes with the left over pastry. I don't have an oven in my accommodation, just an electric ring, which would be fine, although I did step in, when I saw how hot the oil got. Flour everywhere was fine - hot oil was not. The children showed me the precise procedure that Chapatti making follows. The kneading of the flour, the number of minutes to leave it to rise, how to roll it up a sausage, then coil it into a Chelsea bun, only to squash it out flat again to fry it at the end. I could imagine the children watching their mothers preparing these at home. They were so proud of the finished meal, and invited the other boarders in to try them. I found honey and jam, and we had a picnic tea party. Smiles all round - I'm glad I stayed here I thought; this is what I wanted to achieve - happy memories for the children.