Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
80Trip End Apr 14, 2006
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I was late for school this morning, so Florence had already started teaching my lesson, thinking that I wasn't going to turn up. Oops! I only got there at 8:05- still pretty early if you ask me... But anyway I let her continue with the lesson- I'm quite happy to sit there. After break I went to Top Class again, as I'm now doing every day. Today I taught them how to draw and shade a tree and ball. Action packed, that lesson! We finished 10 minutes early so I took them outside to play games/sing songs- anything to try and keep them entertained! They like marching around after me and Chris and I taught them a few songs. They of course, finish their day at 12 (lucky things) whereas I went back to P3 to do more marking. Riveting.
One good thing though, is that the weather is a lot cooler now than it was a while ago- we think the Wet Season has started. It has been raining almost every day, but it doesn't matter- its not drizzle like back home, but rather proper rain- the kind me n Hayley love! So I sat outside and practiced the guitar- I can now play all the major chords, but when I try and play a song it never quite sounds right. Practice makes perfect, I guess.
Thur: I made sure I was earlier today, but even though I got there at 7:50, they were still about to start! I hadnt planned my lesson very well, but I worked out what I was meant to be teaching, I tried to explain it to them. Unfortunately they didn't get it. At all. I ended up doing 2 'real life'examples (getting them up to the front of the class to hold objects) and verbally explained it 5 times - when I asked 'Do you understand?' they know to answer that with a yes, whether they do or don't! So when they brought up their work to be marked and it was ALL wrong, one after the other, I got more and more frustrated until finally they got it. I felt like jumping around when the first person got it right! I gotta say having taught myself, I have a lot more sympathy for my school teachers- I don't know how they do it!
Paul asked the class if anyone needed to go for a 'short call' (going to the loo) too- most people come up and ask one by one, but I guess the kids saw the opportunity and about 2/3 of the class piled out in the middle of the lesson! After I'd finished in Nursery class, we sorted out the shoeboxes. We'd written a label for every child in school, so it would be quicker to give them out later, and stuck each label on a shoebox the right age for them. Unfortunately only those in school today got a shoebox, so we're still trying to persuade Stephen to give out the spare shoeboxes to those who only came into school this week. After this mammoth task of labelling over 300 boxes and sorting them into classes (we had a little production line going), I walked into Nansana to go on the internet. For once the power was on, so I was very happy! I got an exciting boda boda back- none of this 50cc scooter malarky, but this one was a proper motorbike! He didn't go that fast though, which is good since we don't wear helmets. Chris and I decided to attempt toad in the hole for dinner tonight, but it didn't go quite as planned. Despite getting the recipie from my mum, our ingredients were somewhat restricted. We only had maize flour, which is used for making pocho- a sticky starchy rice-but-not kind of thing- as opposed ot baking flour. We also didnt have any milk, so used milk powder- which meant our batter consisted of 2 eggs, maize flour, milk powder, oil and water. Unfortunately pocho is made more or less just from mixing water with maize flour, so we ended up with sausages baked in pocho. I can safely say (because I made it) it was the worst meal I've had since I got here! It didnt help that we were all expecting nice crispy batter, and instead got thick white mush. Yuk!
On Friday, I spent most of the morning making an alphabet poster, and the only other thing of note that happened was when Paul was making the register- the children had to say their nationality and religion to be put in the register- but also whether they were an orphan or not. Paul isnt the most subtle of people, so he'd go around the class, asking these children- 'do you have a mother? What about a father? Oh- your fathers died- so you're an orphan then? When did your father die? and how?' !!I was a bit shocked at his apparent insensitivity- but it seemed that the children didnt mind in the slightest- they just seemed to accept it as a part of their life, like someone asking 'how many brothers do you have?' I guess its a lot more common here. There were about 15+ children in a class of 50 who had lost at least one parent.
After break we went to nursery prayers again- I had Mulungi (the kid who was hanging around last month while we were painting) sitting on me- unfortunately he has a tendency to drool... so I'm washing my trousers today! After lunch primary prayers was fun- there was one boy who evidently got a bit hot, so took of his shirt and waved it about over his head, dancing all the while. It was realy funny! We joined in the dancing too, of course, much to the amusement of the children. We left just before the end to go to teachers prayers- Phionah was talking- but then as soon as that finished we rushed off to give out the shoeboxes!
We got nursery to come first, and as we called out their names they came forward one by one to accept their gift from England with a somewhat bemused expressoin on their faces- I think they probably thought it was a pair of shoes. None of them really understood what we were doing- we worked our way up to the P7s, and were done in about 45 mins- v.glad we labelled them before. Stephen had somehow managed to persuade them not to open them until they were all gathered together on the school field, lined up as if for parade. As we were walking down to watch them all, a girl appeared out of nowhere, and didnt reply when Stephen demanded to know where she was earlier- she didnt have a shoebox. He dismissed her saying that she should go and wait up by his office to get one later- he couldnt be bothered ot make the 2 minute walk back up to get one. But I couldnt bear to think of this poor girl standing up there while everyone else was enjoying opening their boxes all together, so I got the keys off Stephen and walked back up to the office with her. She was very grateful, and ran back down to join her friends! Just as I was locking up a nursery child came with their mother- only an hour late- and asked for a shoebox. I asked what age they were, but I didnt really think I could ask what sex- its really hard to tell here since almost all the girls shave their hair (they love our hair because, compared to theirs, its all so soft!) So after much deliberation I gave 'it' a girls one- although in hindsight perhaps a boys would have been more neutral. Never mind!
I walked quickly back down to the front of the school, where they were just starting to sing. They were all lined up, in yeargroups, clutching their unopened shoeboxes- I dont know how they had such restraint! They sang songs such as 'This is the shoebox, this is the shoebox that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made' etc and all held their boxes above their heads and cheered Thankyou Smile International!! which was really nice and made some good video footage! Then Karen stepped forward and counted them down to opening the boxes- 3,2,1- OPEN!! They all threw open their shoeboxes, and rummaged through all the gifts and goodies they'd been given- they were ecstatic! It was great to be on the other side of the shoebox scheme and actually see the joy on the childrens faces when they opened their presents. Its not like they were getting anything that would have proved too much excitement for children in England- toothpaste, toothbrush, toys, teddybears, underwear, sweets, and the compulsary hat and scarf, but they were utterly delighted, and seemed amazed that anyone would send something like this to them- I think they all felt loved. They all huddled together in little groups to compare what they'd been given, and spent the next hour or 2 running up to us to show us- 'Look! We got this, and this, and this...' It was a great experience. And they all put on their hats and scarfs- and looked hilarious! I'm not sure why the need them as it really is quite hot here, but they loved them, and we've seen many a hat being sported around the local area over the last week or so. Miriam, Godwin, Kirabo and Benjy (the teachers' children) in particular looked really cute in their litle hats! They played with their toys for hours, and then finally packed them all away neatly, and walked home, proudly clutching their boxes. Just as we were about to leave, Jackson pointed out 2 little girls who were comparing their gifts- apparently their father has died, and their mum is quite ill- this isnt all that unusual so far, but on top of that, their house burnt down on Christmas Eve. Jackson has put them up in the hostel since they really dont have anywhere else to go, and I thought to myself- they may not have had a Christmas last year, but judging from the looks of delight and happiness on their faces, their Christmas has just come a few months late.