Monday 30th to Friday 3rd Nov

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November 3rd 2017
Published: November 3rd 2017
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Monday 30th
Busy day starting at the shops at 8am, provisions for me for the week and a flask so that I can light a fire in the morning and make a flask of hot water for tea throughout the day without having to light another fire till the evening meal. Bookshop for maps of Malawi to put in the library, printing for Heather and stuff for soap making - one of Sam's Village fundraising projects for water. The community put in half for mending broken boreholes and Landirani match it with the soap-making profits.
Then we went to the office, which is nearly fully roofed, and Heather met with several staff, and I met with Wezie, the education manager about the projects I'm going to help with (nursery caregivers, and menstruation pads so that teenage girls can stay in school). Also I asked her about pupils who need sponsoring at secondary school, as I'd like to try and find sponsors for some bright girls, or boys that I worked with last time I was here.
Next we went to the Crossroads Hotel, as Heather was having an appraisal meeting with one of her staff there (the internet was down in the office so he had gone there to work). I had a very nice lunch there, read through the curriculum for the nursery caregivers that will start next week, and took the opportunity to see if I could get scrap paper from the hotel for the briquette making.
Heather's next meeting was back at Mabuya Camp with Love, Support, Unite, another charity that works in the area. I walked down to town to get some things laminated, and buy some wooden animals for the nursery.
Heather is leaving tomorrow, having spent six weeks here. I told myself this would be the last time I came out here, but when I see how I can have an input, and make a difference, I'm not so sure… And it's lovely to go to Cool Runnings and Mabuya Camp, and be recognised and remembered by the children at the school.
Sunday it rained, in a deluge, and there were rivers running either side of some of the roads, and one roundabout was completely flooded. The real rains aren't due till December, but for now, it's just cloudy with the occasional rain, but still hot.
Tuesday we came back to Sam's Village, and Heather, after a meeting, went to the airport and home.
Over the next few days I went in the CBCC with the nursery caregivers and met with the Standard 8 girls, with Irene from the library translating. Heather wants to train some school leavers in making pads, so they can provide for the Landirani-supported orphans, and then make some to sell to earn some money.
The little kitten, Chimwenwe (sister) is delightful. For the first couple of days she was fiercely playful, and my arms were covered in scratches, but now she is very gentle and snuggles up with me. For a very little cat, she takes up a lot of room. She likes the middle half of the bed, and when I move her over to one side, so I can have the middle, she drapes herself over my neck like a scarf.
Wednesday, after a session in the CBCC I took a bicycle taxi to Lumbadzi 700 kwacha (about 75p) for a 40 minute slog over mostly unmade up roads.
The cabanza (bicycle taxi) driver I used last time is now doing business buying and selling on maize. I liked him, I do hope he doesn't become a fat cat.
Friday morning i feel well enough to make a fire and have tea, first thing in the morning. One of the guards chops me some wood and my second fire (the first went out) finally delivers enough water to make a cup of tea, 40 minutes after I get up. It's a bit weak, and tastes of smoke, but it's hot and the water did actually boil, which makes a change.
Last night I managed to cook up some vegetables, but it wasn’t very tasty and even the dog didn't like it. I'm going into town today for the weekend, at least I can get proper meals there. Those who have been out here will appreciate how bad my cooking is when I say that the best meals I've had since Heather left, are those with the guys here. That means nsima with relish. The nsima is stodge and I can't eat much of it, but the relish is plentiful now that crops are grown here.
Kwondani, the permaculture manager showed me round the gardens yesterday. There are four areas, fenced round with bamboo and maize stalks, so the wandering goats don't get in and eat the crops.
The day starts early here. It is light at 5am and people are out in the fields. School starts at 7am, but this time I'm not going in that early. Yesterday I went in to observe the English lessons in Standard 1 and 2, which is one of the most dispiriting experiences I've had. Both teachers were working from the curriculum handbook, and teaching about 150 children each. Standard 1 lesson was 'This is my head, (mouth, nose). The curriculum assumed a big leap ( sadly misplaced) to Standard 2 where the lesson was on working a cellphone, word focus 'call, press, receive’ with a story about a boy being shown how to work a phone by his mother.
Standard 1 improvement may have been to use a picture; Standard 2’s would be to forget the curriculum handbook and start from where the children's language is. It's a wonder anyone learns any English at all, but I think those whose parents speak English manage, and the library with its wealth of English books helps. Chikondi the librarian is very good. He runs a reading group for some children and I hope to be able to get in and see it next week. He's a natural teacher I think, but his time is better spent engaging children in the library than attempting to teach an umworkable curriculum to a inordinate number of children.
Last night the cat caught a mouse, It may have died of shock or have been playing possum but I threw it outside. The cat eats the spiders, which is fine, but my experience of cats eating mice is that they leave dismembered bits of bloody corpses across the floor for unwary feet. Not that I walk about with bare feet on the beaten earth floor.
Friday morning after a successful session in the CBCC, I came into Lilongwe with a guy who had come to the village for a meeting.
He not only dropped me off at Mabuya camp, he offered to take me back down to town to get my purchases. In the laminat shop I met Nyomi Russell, who was the rammed earth architect at Sam's Village three years ago.
Mabuya seems so civilised after Sam's Village; proper showers, flushng loos, a pool and no discernible spiders.
I'll be going back to Sam's Village early Sunday morning with some of the Landirani staff as the first training session will be held there for the next fortnight. It is for the CBCC caregivers (in effect nursery staff). I'm wondering how it will be; I've read the curriculum training manual which is for a five- week course, and they are intending to teach it in two weeks. It's full of good ideas (children learn through play, and learn from each other) but short on the How, and What to teach, especially when faced with 60 odd pre-schoolers.


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