Thursday, May 13, 2010

Coffee, a naming ceremony, mud and other things Rwandan.

Today we headed out to Kabilizi A. Patrick asked me to call the head teacher before hand to ask about the condition of the road. I did and he said the umahanda was in good shape, despite the little bit of rain. Sure enough, it was fine. We passed through the same muddy patch as on our way out to Zaza. It was a rough and bumpy, but passable. For this I was thankful because Kabilizi is an extra 15 minutes passed Zaza.

The school visit was terrific. I had the head master take me to the coffee plants which are in the season to harvest them. I was so please at the school to learn that in my very, very long absense, they have continued with weekly English Club. Also, in each classroom was evidence that they had been creating visual aids using rice sacks. One of the teachers was proud to tell me that they are just buying there own. This, in the end, is the long term goal of VSO. Sustainability. And I’d found it! In a little, rural, and very poor school in the middle of nowhere! Even as I sad in the lessons, it was clear that the teachers were using more English than before, the children were understanding more and the head teacher had developed a better ability to control the students. One of the biggest challenges that the school had was, believe it or not, that children wanted to come to school even when they weren’t supposed to. Schools in Rwanda have double shifting. This means that children come in the morning and another group comes in the afternoon. But the head master found that morning children would come back in the afternoon and hang around or vice versa. Imagine! Have the problem of children wanting to comet o school. It doesn’t sound like a bad thing but the school is already full to the max and so extra children means that they hang around outside and disturb the lesson. So the head master, who is absolutely committed and understanding to his community, has created Saturday school. Four teachers come every Saturday morning and students who want to come to school for extra lessons are allowed. About 150 students come each Saturday morning! Here is a place where children were late for lunch because they were carrying water from far away to their homes, and yet they apologize for being late and promise it won’t happen again.

This is why I came here! And…it helped that I got to each lunch, again, with the wonderful staff at Kabilizi. To me, this is the best learning experience, because we sit around and they explain the cultural norms to me (like woman are not allowed to whistle because this is what farmers of cows do and women cook, they do not farm!). Around lunch today, I was even given a Rwandan name. My own naming ceremony if you will. I am now named Kanasira (at least I think that’s the spelling). It means “a friend who is the first one to visit us here.” What a day!

Hey! Mzungu! What are you looking? We're trying to learn up here!
Director and the coffee plantations of the school.

Nursery class (kingergarten) with director of the school and the nursery school teacher.

Student lining up to go inside. At the start of the year, the children would ignore the bell and run around until practically chased into the classroom!

Materials for math: red pen, blue pen, notebook and stones for counting
Head master gives a lesson on "greater than" and "less than" to a P1 class. Yes - both boys on the right are in Primary 1.

Of course, after lunch, I looked back toward Kibungo and saw dark, ominous clouds and knew that the drive back might look a bit muddy once again. I had no idea!

Why am I not on the bike? I had to go "by foot" because it was too muddy. I didn't think it would be that hard to drive in but the slipping and sliding of Patrick's back, and bald, tire, was not unlike driving up Nosehill Drive in a snow storm.
Finally....I caught up to Patrick who kept looking devestatingly at his bike. So dirty! (And yet his shoes remained remarkably clean.)
My feet on the other hand....(I learned to wear these sandals all the time after wearing unsecure shoes in the mud. My shoes kept getting stuck as I was trying to walk)
A little dirt never hurt anyone...
...I just tossed them in my washing machine when I got home!

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