Friday, September 2, 2011


Today was graduation for Form 4 at Ngara Secondary School, where I teach.  I don't quite understand how they graduate 3 weeks before they take the final examinations, but it was explained to me that they are celebrating being in school for four years.  Not all of them will pass the test, so at least they get to enjoy the party.

Some of the 150 Form 4 students waiting to graduate

Teachers waiting for the ceremony:  Academic headmaster, two swahili teachers, assistant headmaster, headmaster, and chairman of language department (my boss)

I got there about 8:30 a.m. and took a lot of pictures of the graduates, my teachers, preparation of the meal, etc.  About an hour in I was outside of the assembly hall talking to one of the science teachers, answering his questions about why one side of the heart is bigger than the other.  It was warm but not hot.  I started feeling a little nausea, then grayed vision, then the next thing I knew I was lying of the ground looking up at him.  I didn't think to ask him, but I think I was only unconscious for a few seconds.  He and a student helped me inside and I felt better after sitting down and drinking some water.  Classic symptoms of dehydration.  Rob keeps telling me not to try to conserve the water when it is out, and I think I will at least have to apply this to drinking water.

Meanwhile, the "show" was in progress.  Students had signed up to perform singing, rap, kickboxing demonstrations, acrobatics, dancing, and a fashion show.  Two of the teachers acted as MC's and kept things moving.  There were intermittent speeches from staff and guests.  Bree and I were both asked to speak to the graduates and gave them brief congratulations and best wishes.

I left around 1 p.m. because I was still feeling a bit woozy.  Bree left at 2:45 because the show was still going on and no sign of lunch in sight.  It has been scheduled for 1 so the students could take a break and come back for the disco from 4 to 7.

Swahili teacher Juliana cries as she peels onions for graduation dinner

Students peel and mash garlic


Students preparing plantains for frying

When Bree got home, I showed her how to do the malaria test, which I did to make sure there was nothing more serious going on with me.  It is kind of like a blood glucose test, and many "lay" people are squeamish about the needle stick.  My test was negative, which was a relief.  A lot of drinking water and napping, and hopefully I will be recovered tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


So many people had told us they wanted to be invited to our house that we decided to have a party for our fellow teachers.  We decided to do it on Eid, a two day holiday that signifies the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.  We were told the holiday depended on the moon and that it would probably be Tuesday and Wednesday, so we did not show up for work on Tuesday.  It ended up being Wednesday and Thursday, so we are getting an extra day off.  Everyone supposedly knew this by listening to radio or TV, but since we have neither and no one called us, we pleaded ignorance.

Our party was scheduled for Wednesday.  We met Mama Caritas and three READ International volunteers for dinner on Tuesday night.  The volunteers came from England and were staying in Bukoba for about 7 weeks, but were here overnight to give out books to the schools.  Naturally, the power went out right before the dinner, and they had to find their overnight lodging by flashlight.

I got up to go the bathroom about 2 a.m. and realized the water was out but the power was on.  I stayed up to boil 2 kilos of potatoes for the potato salad we planned to have, knowing I could not count on being able to do it in the morning.  We used bucket water to prepare our whole buffet, which included potato salad, macaroni salad, cabbage salad, and fresh pineapple.  I made peanut butter cookies the day before using Rob's oven, but got halfway done when the power went out, so completed them the next morning.  That didn't taste quite like they do at home, since I had to use cassava instead of wheat flour, and had no brown sugar.  The water came back on about 12:30, about the time we finished our preparations.  We borrowed dishes and chairs from Rob.

All our teachers had been invited, which included about 10 from Bree's school in Murguanza and 20 from my school.  Almost all of Bree's teachers showed up, plus Mama Caritas from the District Office and Megan, Vanya and Kara from Womencraft NGO.  They stayed from about 1 to 3 p.m.  None of my teachers had come and we had lots of food left.  Finally 3 showed up about 4 p.m., the official end time of the party.  The teachers and students had apparently been at school all day getting ready for graduation on Friday, even though it was a holiday.  I am so out of the loop there, since all the announcements on the blackboard in the staff room are in Swahili.

Anyway, our party was a success, even though most of my teachers did not come.  We gave leftover food to the guards and the girls at the canteen, and still had a lot to feed us the next day or so.