Saturday, 6 October 2012

first week

Last thing I spoke about was seeing Mama Mary for the first time. That was a pretty good day, not many have been that good so far. Things are going good, but it’s been pretty stressful. Imagine the amount of bitching that would go on with 45 girls who don’t really know each other and then three boys, chaos.
On Monday it was orientation. That’s where all of the new volunteers get together, and are formally introduced to the organisation and the staff. It’s basically a load of boring crap that I’ve pretty much done before. I sat around for an hour or so, it was just me and about twenty other girls. After a while, I asked Angella, the TVE director if I could just sign the papers which I needed to and then leave to go to Golgotha. She was cool about it and I got out of there pretty quickly. I got on the Dalla and headed towards the school.
I was really excited when I was on my way. I wondered if the kids would remember me, and hoped that I could remember a bunch of their names too. When I arrived most of the kids were in class. As I walked passed I peeked my head through the windows. I heard some gasps, and kids murmuring ‘teacher Zaci’. I opened the door of the class that I used to teach and the kids went crazy. They all ran up to me and gave me a huge hug, shouting and laughing. It was wicked, I felt so happy again. I told them to all sit down and then went to see Stevie in the manager’s office. There were a few papers that I had to sign. He walked me around the school, introducing me to the classes again. He’s a very nice man, who I have a lot of respect for. He complemented me on the work that I was doing for Mama Mary and said that he and everybody in the village are grateful. I feel like a celeb now when I walk through, it’s pretty cool. Most of the kids remember my name, and I feel really bad when they ask me what theirs is and I’ve forgotten. There are too many! I think they like me because I mess around a lot, I’m a child at heart and it comes out when I’m with kids. I burp, make fart noises with my armpit, put cockroaches in my mouth and so on.
 There have been a few additions to the school since last year. They have a new block of toilets, a chicken coup, a new library thanks to the amazing and admirable Lucy Cottee, and a new climbing frame made from tyres. I don’t see many of the kids climbing on it though which is a shame. There is some new staff too. Teacher Eliza, who I worked alongside last year, is no longer there. She was sacked over a controversial matter, where she apparently stole credit off of a volunteer’s phone. In Tanzania, if you have credit on yours, you can text some over to somebody else’s. Anyway, it turned out that she was framed by another teacher called Joseph. I never liked him when I was there last, he would always ask me for money and to buy him water. He earns enough as a teacher to buy that for himself. There are three new teachers. Samson, who teaches class two (who I taught last year), and who seems like a really nice guy, Asa, who teachers the eldest class, also a nice guy, and then Neepa. Neepa teaches one of the younger classes, mainly class one. I like her but she beat a girl the other day with a stick because she didn’t have her book. The poor girl was crying her eyes out and screaming. I left my class to nurse her for a bit and get her to stop crying, poor thing. It’s hard to discipline children here when they are so used to getting a beating for small things like that. I couldn’t get my class to shut up the other day and Asa said, ‘just beat them with a cane, then they will stop’. That’s not my thing though, I think it’s out of order. It takes me a while but after getting a few kids to stand in the corner and a lot of shouting, they do keep quiet.
There are some problems at the school at the moment. Most of it is to do with sponsorship money not getting to the right places, and the teachers claiming that they are not being paid properly. I don’t know what to believe, but I’m trying to stay out of it as much as possible. That’s not what I am here for. Cassie, a volunteer from the states is trying to get everything sorted. Her hearts in the right place but I think she finds it hard to appreciate the African culture and how things work over here. Not everything/anything goes smoothly here. I think if she’s not careful she is going to cause a big and uncomfortable divide between the manager’s at the school and the teachers/volunteers. Enough said about that. I find it hard to write about as I have no interested in it.
The same day, I met with the builder who will be running the house project. We didn’t speak about anything properly, just that I had the money and that I would speak to him tomorrow about figures. I headed home at around two thirty with Alicia, a volunteer from a different company, Shelley and Cassie. I didn’t do much that evening, I’m pretty sure I just chilled at home.
Tuesday was a little more productive. I met the builder in the morning at the school. I sat with him and Elius and we spoke about figures. I told him that I only had five million shillings, and that I needed it doing with this amount. He wasn’t convinced that he would be able to do it, but he said he would try. We went through ways of cutting costs. I decided that I would get Mama Mary and her neighbours to collect water from the river and bring it to the site instead of buying it in bulk. I also explained that I would help out on site as much as I could, which would save labour costs. After we finished discussing, he told me to come along to the site so he could have another look. When I got there the builders had already started! I was so surprised. They had only started cultivating the soil to prepare for the foundations the next day, but it was still great to see. Mama Mary was ecstatic, too. I agreed to pay the builder one million shillings in the morning, so that he could pay for the materials being delivered the next day. The money paid for a huge pile of sand, concrete and rocks. The concrete and rocks were just for the foundations, and the sand is going to be used throughout the build. I went back to the school and did a few hours of teaching. Then I headed home. I didn’t do much that evening, just chatted with Jennica, Grace and Kim, and smoked too many cigarettes.
On Wednesday morning I met with Elius in town where there was an ATM. I didn’t feel comfortable taking so much money with me through town and then on the Dalla. But I’ve done it since. I split it up between my travel pouch, bag and in my shoes. Just so that if one thing gets stolen, at least I don’t lose all of my money. I took the money out of the ATM and then drove to the school with Elius. We spoke briefly on the way about the situation with Golgotha at the moment. I won’t go into it. But what I will say is that Elius is a business man and I respect that. Business’ need cash flow. So if some money sent over goes into the cash flow, that’s no problem with me. Wherever it goes, it’s making the school a better place in the end. I met the builder and paid the money that I owed him. We walked to the site, they had made a lot of progress. All of the materials had arrived, and they had the dug the foundations out too. They were starting to fill them with cement, I gave them a hand for a couple of hours. It was nice to get involved. All of the builders and mothers kept saying ‘pole’, which means sorry, because I was getting so dirty. It was pretty funny, and kind of them too, but I didn’t give a shit, I was having a great time. Then suddenly my stomach took a turn for the worse. I won’t go into too much detail but I nearly shat myself on the Dalla back to the city. Arse clenched so tight and breathing in and out really heavily, I managed to make it to Friends Corner where I met a taxi driver who I know so he could rush me home. The visit to the toilet was less than pleasant, and I was feeling pretty rough for a while afterwards, too. I took some immodium, ate some food and drank plenty of water. I felt loads better after that. A good thing too, because I was going to Karaoke that night. A few things got said to me that evening which pissed me off a bit and it wasn’t the best night I’d ever had. There’s a rumour going around that I slept with eight girls last year and caused two of them to leave the volunteer house because I messed them around? All a bunch of crap and I have no idea where it’s come from either. Nobody that’s here now was here last year so I’m a bit confused about it. I think I’ve straightened it out though, I just told a few people exactly what happened last year, and I am hoping that will pass through the whole group. When you have people you’ve never met staring at you like you’re a complete wanker, it can get annoying. If they were boys then I would have had a few fights so far. I’m cool about it now though, it’s a silly thing to get wound up about. Very childish, and I think that some of the other volunteers really need to grow up.
I was pretty hung over when I got woken up by Nancy (the house manager) on Thursday. I told her that I didn’t need to go to placement until later today as I’d arranged with them that some days I would teach, and some days I would help build or just help to organise things. She explained that Grace, didn’t know how to get there so I needed to go with her. I was cool with that, and got up pretty quickly. Ten minutes later, Grace decided that her knees hurt or some shit and that she didn’t want to come. She already missed the day before and to miss two days in your first week really doesn’t leave a good impression. Oh well, no my problem to deal with. I went to the orphanage anyway. My hang over was worse by the time that I got there. I went straight to baby class, laid down on the mats and fell asleep for two hours. All the kids just chilled on top or beside me, it was nice. When I woke up the builder was there again and I had to pay him some more money. It was another one million, for more materials, mainly the stones for the walls. I was already pretty stressed that day and wasn’t very happy when I saw the estimation had gone up by another million. I sat with Elius and discussed ways to cut costs again, we managed to get it down a little but it was still more expensive than I had hoped. It doesn’t really matter though, I still have plenty of money to get it done and looking all nice. I also I have enough to climb Kilimanjaro, which I’m going to do in a couple of weeks. Should have plenty left over still for Gorilla trekking in Uganda, and going to Zanzibar again.
The same day the teachers had a meeting. All of them sat in the office, along with Cassie and Shelley to discuss the current issues. I sat out, as I said before, I don’t want to get involved in any politics. Alicia, her friend Rachel who was visiting for the day and I were left with 250 kids running riot. It was chaos, and we couldn’t get any of them to do what we wanted because they knew the teachers were in the meeting. It stressed me out. I realised that I hadn’t had a cigarette since 8am and that probably wasn’t helping either. I left pretty soon after the meeting had finished. I got home and vented a bit to housemates, then ended up going to sleep fairly early.
Friday was a great day. There had been a huge amount of progress on the house, and by the end of the day it was really taking shape. Two of the walls were nearly finished, and you could see exactly where everything was going to be. I’m so happy that it’s coming along the way that it is. I did a few hours of teaching at the school, then on the way home, I visited Zulfa and her mum at their home. Last year I went along with Matt, who was a Canadian volunteer. She fed us two huge portions of rice and beans, both of us could hardly walk afterwards. It was lovely to see Zulfa’s mother again, she’s lovely and such a good host. We sat and chatted whilst she prepared food. Zulfa played around with my camera a lot, she loves taking pictures. Before the food came, I was already offered two bananas. It’s rude to say no and I like banana’s so I ate them. When the meal came, I nearly choked. I huge mound of maze and beans, with some green peppers and garlic in there too. It tasted amazing, but it was just way too much. I finished it regardless. It was traumatic though, I thought I was going to throw up a few times. That would have gone down well! Zulfa’s mother tried to explain the situation of her own mother. She was saying that she lives in the Kilimanjaro region and has lost both of her legs. I tried to explain that I wasn’t sure if there was much that I could do. I knew I might be able to do something but I didn’t want to let on. I told her that I would bring Elius to her house on Monday, where he could translate properly, and work out some way to help Zulfa’s grandmother. If I could just buy her a wheelchair or something then there’s no hassle. It just depends what the ground is like where she lives, because if it’s really bumpy and full of pot holes, I’m not sure that there’s much point. I’ll let you know what happens.
I went out Friday night and got pretty hammered at empire, I spent too much money on rum and cokes and tequilas. It was fun though, and I had a good run on the pool table which always makes the night a better one. When we got home we were pretty drunk and woke a few people up in the house. I don’t know what they expect really, it’s a Friday night and we’re all in early twenties or so. Oh well, same will happen again tonight, let’s hope nobody gets too pissed off!
I’ve written this in a real rush, so please excuse the grammatical errors and probably spelling ones, too! I had another great day today but I will tell you more about that next time. 

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