Saturday, August 27, 2011


On Wednesday Helen Claire, the Director of WorldTeach, who is in charge of the programs in all 20 countries they operate in, was to come over to Ngara for one night after meeting with the government in Rwanda to formalize details for starting the program there.  We wanted to clean up our house for her, but, alas, the water went out again so we only got to sweep the floors.  Thank goodness Bree's cat, Poa, is getting pretty good at going to the bathroom in the shower instead of our living room rug.  Don't know how he learned that, but when we go in to go to the bathroom he often comes in and does his thing at the same time, so it must be learning by example.  Having cats go to the bathroom in your shower does not sound great, but a big improvement over the rest of the house!  The shower hasn't worked since we have been here, anyway.

We expected Helen Claire to come around 6 so she could see our house then have dinner in the canteen at 7:30.  We did not have her phone number so were unable to call her.  Their car apparently broke down at the Rwanda border.  They were able to get it going again, but it broke down again right when they got into town, next to the petrol station where they were supposed to meet Bree.  They were able to see the station right before the power in the whole town went out, and everything was suddenly pitch black, except for the gorgeous stars in the sky.  Helen Claire said she tried to call Bree about six times en route, but her cell phone apparently could not connect in the rural area. 

So about 8 p.m. Bree got a piky piky to the station to meet them and show them the way to our compound.  There was apparently some discussion about leaving one person behind so the car was unattended, but Bree finally convinced them that we have a low crime rate here and the car would be fine.  So they showed up at Afriline by taxi around 8:45.  The prepared dinner was on the cold side, but everyone was hungry enough to do it justice.  We ate by candlelight, since there was no power.  The visitors were tired and in a rush to get to their "hotel" as their driver was threatening to walk there.  So they left after about 20 minutes and not much conversation.  Bree accompanied them to their room at Womencraft, a local NGO that sells baskets made in the villages, where Bree had arranged for them to stay.

The power was on the next morning, but still no water.  Bree met Helen Claire and her companion, Susan, at Womencraft and walked with them to her school.  Her students were prepped to give a little "Welcome Helen Claire" speech that was well received.  They then came to Ngara Secondary School and met me.  I had kept my Form 1C students for 3 periods, hoping the visitors would come and be able to see me teach, but they arrived about 15 minutes after I finished.  I had taught "occupations" and had the students play "What's My Line" so all my writing was still on the board when I took them to visit the class.  My students had a free period and swarmed the visitors instead of the very organized reception they got in Bree's class.  The students finally sat down and got introduced, but Helen Claire commented on what a "challenge" they were.  I then took the visitors to see the library and one of my other classes, also in free period but not so rambunctious.  There is something about cameras, which Helen Claire, Susan and I were all using, that gets the kids really excited.  I think they rarely have an opportunity to get their pictures taken.  Nobody really misbehaved, but they were definitely a little overenthusiastic.  I think the visitors were charmed, nonetheless, as they really are great kids.

the girls get their heads shaved when they enroll,so no fancy braids here

Susan with the Twins

Bree, Helen Claire, and Susan visit one of my classes

Fellow teachers on break

Unfortunately, Helen Claire has gotten word that her mother passed away the day before (not unexpectedly), so her planned visit to Rulenge to see the classes of Lauren and Allie was cancelled.  She wanted to give plenty of time for the ailing car to get them back to Kigali and the flight home for the funeral in the United States.

I have to say, through all the trials and tribulations of their trip to Ngara (car troubles, power and water failure, cold food, no cold beer, late nights and early mornings, curtailed visit) I never heard a single complaint from either of these older women.  Hopefully their journey home went without a hitch.  But TIA (This is Africa!)

Some of my Form 1B students outside of class.  There are about 40 students in each of my four Form 1 streams.

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