Thursday morning, Thomas arrived early and quickly sorted out the buying of more wi-fi time using m-pesa. I hope we don’t run out again before he returns, although he assured me that any one can do it – well anyone who speaks Swahili and is under 40 I suspect! Thomas invited us around for a meal tonight at 6.00 p.m. to see his new house.
No more new students, and a good morning’s teaching although it is obvious that Joctan, Philipo and Flora are more advanced than the rest. Elias is really struggling. Beatrice supported our request for another room in which to teach the advanced trio and so tomorrow I will go next door with them.
After lunch, Absalom took us to ‘The Good Shepherd’ Secondary School which seems much improved since we last went there 6 years ago. The head, Mr Kibiriti, was very pleasant and clearly on the ball. They have 150 students, 14 teachers and 9 support staff, but could take up to 320 students. They need to rebuild the school’s reputation after the last few years. The last head had to be forceably removed from the school! It costs parents Tsh1.1 million (about £370) a year to send a child to the school, so only the richest can afford it, unless they make real sacrifices. The school is supported by the Diocese of Wellington in New Zealand. There are both Christian and Muslim pupils at the school so Bible Knowledge is offered as an optional subject. We looked in at a Standard 4 class and were impressed by the work in their books, although the cynic in us wondered if it wasn’t largely copied.
We moved on to NAPS where the school day had just ended. We went up to the new dormitory and were impressed to see that it is almost finished. It needs a thorough clean, some paint and the fittings. Outside workmen were busy finishing off the cesspool. The school mini-bus was ferrying pupils home in batches. There are now 234 pupils and it is hoped that the dormitory for 40 pupils will be opened for the next academic year.
On our way home we stopped at the bank and were able to withdraw cash without a problem. Tim had tried before without success. We got home to discover that the house keys had vanished from Tim’s pocket. We searched the car but without success. Tim was mortified, but of course it could have happened to any one of us. Absalom went and got the only spare key from Naomi. Now we have a new mortis lock on the door, as well as the old Yale. Apparently you cannot get a key cut unless you go to Mwanza. I think there is money to be made if someone set up a key cutting business in Ngara!
Thomas duly arrived at 6.00 p.m. and took us around to his very smart new house. It really is very impressive, with a very comfortable lounge and a small, but pleasant, dining room. We were greeted by Joan and Asante, who were playing outside. When we came in Christela appeared with Noela who is even more beautiful if that is possible – doting god-father speaking here of course! However Noela, still got rather upset and wouldn’t look at us, but at least she didn’t cry! We were invited into the dining room and a banquet! The table groaned under Thomas’s home-grown bananas and beans, more beans (also home-grown), peas, a spinach dish, rice, avocados, pineapples, water melon, passion fruit, and oranges. It was a wonderful meal and conversation flowed with the relative merits of socialism and capitalism being amongst the topics. There wasn’t room for the children, nor for Christela, her sister who was soon to be going to University and another young girl.
We managed to make it back into the lounge and collapsed. We gave the girls their presents for which they all said thank you, but they weren’t opened but taken away into another room to be opened later. Thomas took us on a tour of his house which has 3 bedrooms, toilet and bathroom, an indoor kitchen and then an outdoor kitchen with the charcoal stove. Tim was so impressed with the stove he is going to buy one from Thomas and take it home! We returned to the lounge and Esther’s pencil case became the object of interest for Joan and Asante while Christine and I tried to get Noela to smile. She had stopped hiding at least and was looking at us wit those big eyes. Eventually Thomas suggested that perhaps we would like to go home so we piled back into the car and drove along the pitch dark road back to home.
Absalom opened up the classroom next door for my three advanced students to work in. They moved their desks and chairs in and a desk and chair was found for me along with a whiteboard on a stand. A new light bulb was also needed and there was a brief health and safety moment as Joctan balanced on a desk and tried to remove the old bulb from a very dodgy socket. Eventually Absalom managed to put the new bulb in and there was light. The teaching went well, although it took a while for me to realise that the reason the whiteboard kept falling over was that no-one had put the latch on at the back. We have discovered that jungle formula insect spray is very good at cleaning the board after use. We managed to get up to ‘telling the time’, but I think that will need some reinforcement on Monday. Beatrice took over while I went to teach computing – no power cut this time so only 2 students to each machine. I wish I had had time to prepare for this and fully understood what they need. Still they seem happy!
The afternoon was spent marking. I had asked my pupils to come at 4.00 p.m. to collect their work, but all the other students turned up as well! There was one of those awkward moments as they stood half in and half out of our room, neither of us quite sure what was going on. Once I had explained that my group was getting their work back and Christine had said her group could have their work back at 5.00 p.m. it was all sorted out. Tim and Esther had spent the day with Fareth up on the Burundi border which at time sounded a bit hairy! When they returned Fareth, Tabitha, his wife and a cousin had brought them home and stayed for tea and biscuits.
Later we went for a walk and when we came home we found an English/Swahili teacher from NAPS called Wilbert visiting Tim and Esther. He had been telling them his life history (becoming an orphan at ten, drifting around for a time, fending for himself and then persistently asking a rich family to take him in which they eventually did – they now regard him as a son.) He is now looking for sponsorship for a Master’s degree and based on his track record I would be surprised if he didn’t get it! Absalom was also here having bought us some provisions from Ngara.
Christine baked a cake for Tim’s birthday (belatedly) which turned out rather well. We had a meal and then read and talked until bed time. We slept well and thankfully there was no reason for an early rise on Saturday