Kagera 3

Tuesday

Tuesday started with an 8.00 a.m. communion service in the KCTC chapel (actually one of the classrooms). These are always uplifting services as the singing is wonderful and there is a real sense of communion amongst the students and staff. Once again, Obadiah and Fareth translated for us and helped us find our way through the service. It is interesting how you can sometimes tell where you are at by the rhythm of the prayer or responses even though they are in Swahili. Absalom welcomed the students at the start of their new year and made the point that we have to be humble in our relationship with God, not trying to compete for a better position. We took communion and then Absalom asked each course group to stand up so that the others would recognise them. That is when we discovered that our English class had doubled in size to 8! There may even be two more joining, but who knows? We were asked to introduce ourselves and I couldn’t help but tell them that today is our silver wedding anniversary – cue much applause and delight.

This required some rather drastic rethinking of our lesson plans over breakfast and we decided to reinforce yesterday’s lessons for those that were there and introduce the new people to the course. We managed to find extension material for the two advanced students, so I think everyone got something out of the lesson. It was exhausting again, however as we taught from 9.45 until 1.20 with only a 10 minute break! Nevertheless the students worked hard and concentrated very well. Our new students are Elias, Reuben, Jeremiah and Timothy and all are starting from a low base. Today we focused quite a bit on pronunciation and did lots of practising in pairs while we listened in.

Still no word from Rwandair. I tried phoning, but after hanging on for 3 minutes I gave up. I have emailed them and then noticed a live chat thing on their website. I never got past third in the queue so gave up on that as well. I suspect that Christine’s case will be staying in Kigali!

As we have been trying to sort out the luggage issue on line, Tim has been secretly organising a surprise celebration meal for our silver wedding anniversary. Naomi came back in and cooked a delicious combination of rice, cabbage, macaroni something, chips and peanut sauce. It was excellent and we ate our fill.

However the bag hung over us like a bad dream. I had eventually got the phone number of the manager of the Lost and Found Office of Rwandair, one Antoinette and had a full and frank exchange of views with her. Her bottom line was that if we could get a taxi to pick up the bag she would give the driver $80 to defray costs. I tried to argue for the other $20 to go to Rusumo but to no avail. I was to email her with his name and she would make sure he got the bag. I texted Peter, our driver from Kigali who replied that he would pick up the bag etc. I asked him to give me his surname and he also sent his ID number which I then sent on to Antoinette. He was so keen to please that he went straight to the airport, where they then demanded photos of Christine’s passport and the form we had been given when we reported the loss. I tried to text these but they wouldn’t go so in the end I had to ask Peter for his email and managed to email them to him. Then we sort of lost contact.

By now I was feeling frazzled. As I went to bed my Tanzanian phone rang and when I answered it all I could hear were some men shouting in the distance and distortion. Thinking it was Peter trying to contact me I phoned back and got someone talking in Swahili who then hung up. I texted him and got a very strange text back in English. I think it was someone at the place we had bought our SIM cards from. He had phoned my phone to test it and so I suppose my number was in his phone. All very strange, but I turned the phone off and so far there have been no more strange calls. Peter then emailed to say that he had received the pictures, but no news of the bag.

Wednesday

I found it hard to get to sleep, but eventually dropped off and slept well through to about 4.00 a.m. which seems to be a pattern. At 6.45 we got up and found a message from Peter that he had the bag and was already on his way to Rusumo! I phoned Thomas who arranged for Imam to drive to Rusumo to pick up the bag leaving at 8.30. Tim and Esther kindly agreed to go with Imam as we had to teach.

On arrival at the classroom we discovered another student, Philipo. So now we are nine. He seems quite able and probably needs to be fast-tracked along with Joctan and Flora. Christine led the lessons today. At our short break about 11.20 Christine was delighted to find that Tim and Esther had returned with her bag – drama over – well at least until I start writing letters to Rwandair to try to extract the rest of the costs of their mistake. I suspect I will be whistling in the wind, but still.

I had to go to teach computing at 12.50. I wasn’t at all clear what was wanted, but Absalom had said that the students needed to know how to lay out an essay, so I took them through the basics of how to lay out a document using titles, subtitles, headers, footers and references. 15 of them crowded around my laptop was not the best way to learn, but there was no other option. When I had finished, I said that if they now liked to try this on a computer I would come around and help. A young man with glasses piped up, “Excuse me Sir, but some of the students do not know how to turn the computers on.” Oh dear, I had pitched the whole lesson at too high a level. So I went through basics such as switching on, opening two windows at the same time and the basics of the keyboard. Then they went off to try it themselves. There seemed to be only two computers working. “What about the others?” I enquired, “I saw them working yesterday.” “There is a power cut Sir, so we can only use the two which have batteries.” The barriers to learning here are just so immense! We had found a laptop in a cupboard in Tim’s room which seemed perfectly fit and when we had asked Absalom about it he had said, “Oh yes, we must do something with it.” Now seemed the time, so I went and got it and now there are 3 laptops in the computer room that can run on batteries – only 5 students to a computer – quite an improvement. As I went around helping, I was impressed by how much they had remembered but concerned about their fine motor skills. Many of them found moving a cursor to a particular icon quite difficult. Unlike our children who spend their time on mobiles, tablets and laptops from an early age these do not, although most have mobiles now.

The lesson was quickly over. Now I know what level most students are at I shall modify my lessons accordingly! There was a good lunch waiting for us on our return and then it was time to settle down to a post-prandial. Lesson preparation followed and then a walk. The rest of the items sent by Valerie to the Ruzubelas had now arrived in Christine’s bag, so we took them round to their house. They were delighted and we were invited in. We sat and talked with John, while rose disappeared. After about 15 minutes we made to go as it was getting close to sunset and we wanted a walk. However Rose had made some tea and we were invited in to the living room to meet her mother who was sitting on the floor with some grandchildren of her son’s. The poor woman was almost blind and apparently is quite ill with high blood pressure. She shook our hands and kept saying ‘Asante sana’, although why she was thanking us I wasn’t sure. Feeling a bit embarrassed, we asked if we could pass on the tea and come back another time, as we had little time left for a walk before sun down. Making our excuses and promises to return we left.

We walked briskly past the hospital and found that today had been market day in Murgwanza. The stalls were being packed away. We headed for the path around the back of the hospital as the sun set and just made it home before darkness fell. Who knows how many more we shall have in the class tomorrow! We wait to see.

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