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Published: September 16th 2013
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Tuesday 10th
I wake up to find that I have been eaten alive by mosquitos – and right on the sole of my foot again, right next to the damn honey bee sting. The nice cold shower cools down the 80 odd red dots on my legs and feet.
After breakfast, I head over and I’m straight into marking maths homework about ordering numbers from smallest to largest and using the greater than and less than symbols. The principal goes off into the field again to check on progress for the racing track but gets caught up in a meeting. So after the maths homework, I just help the students with their reading skills. In no time its straight back to the lodge for lunch and just as quickly, back to class for 2 more hours. I ride my bike through the thick heavy rain and make it in time for assembly. The other 3 teachers haven’t arrived and it’s just Felix and I. He makes a point that ‘Miss has ridden her bike through this rain, all the way from the lodge just to be here on time. You must all remember to be on time and learn from Miss’. I have a little giggle to myself, because generally I am always running late or moving as fast as I can to get somewhere just in time!
I spend about an hour teaching them more about Word and the basics. They are already getting so much better and have taken notes on the icons I have drawn on the board and what they mean. Old school blackboards – I forgot how hard they are to write on! I can tell they are tired from the day and are having trouble concentrating so I change it up and a bit then eventually for the last 20 minutes, I set up mahjongg so they can play a matching game together. Then schools over and I’m back home for an early dinner and early bedtime.
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Wednesday 11th
Normal class happens. Come back at lunch and see the Bushmaster group is back again! They look as fresh as daisies and while I have to eat my lunch quick and get back to school a couple of them come over to say hi. I’m looking forward to catching up with them all at dinner.
Afternoon class for computers happens again and this time the challenge is creating shapes. Troy decides to get a little adventurous and starts making a person using the smiley face and squares and banners etc. Once we get past all of the colour outlines and colour fills and copy and paste they have free time to make whatever they want. Class gets cut short to divide the students into two houses for the sports. There are the Harpy Eagles and the Jaguars and a total of 26 kids on each team. It takes so long for the kids to get up and separate but eventually we get there!
When I get back to the lodge I realise Lucy has to setup all the mosquito nets for all the guests including me so I help her with all the housekeeping for the afternoon. It’s a good chance to have a quick chat with all the guys while we pull down the nets and I hear Lucy giggle every now and again at their stories. Aaron tries to one up us and when we get to his room, he’s already done his net. But he’s done it all wrong and Lucy tries not to laugh out loud! It was a good effort though.
Dinner finally comes around and I get to finally try this Banks Beer that is apparently so good. And boy is it good. It’s way better than most of the Australian beers and has a bit of a honey taste to it. It goes down so well that 4 of us continue with the beverages until 11pm - which is almost like 3am in Western time. I have one of the best sleeps ever!
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Thursday 12th
Woke up with a slight headache…. I’m not going to say it was few bottles of Banks beer that I drank…. But it may have been!
The usual deal this morning, I headed to school on the bike but this time I tried to film at the same time. I am confident that it will be the shakiest movie known to man. But it’s a little glimpse into the established jungle path between the lodge and the village. The guys all head of piranha fishing and I am slightly jealous but I’m needed at the school which is more important and I can find another time to go piranha fishing.
The head master headed off to Annai or Lethem, I can’t remember which one, to attend a teachers conference to establish dates for the inter school sports. The sporting system is like any other school in the world. There are house sports, then school sports with the neighboring villages then the schools go into pairs and compete again in the region and then finally nationals. Practice for the kids at Rewa would begin tomorrow morning as the field has now been cut down and the parents and friends have cleared all stumps and weeds from the running track as the kids will run barefoot.
Anyway, principle Felix headed off at about 9am and left me in charge of both grade 5 and 6 to teach. He gave me a quick rundown of what they needed to learn for the day in Maths and English. So I copied his methods and taught grade 5 first for 15 minutes and set a task then headed over to grade 6 to review their unit and set the task. After recess I repeated the same process but for their English lesson. After setting their work, all they wanted to do was get on the computers and I kept telling them to wait until after lunch.
Finally computer class arrived and we did a recap of the previous day. This time making a sun, then making it yellow then with and orange outline then making a thicker outline to 6pt. The kids are pros now. I taught them a couple more things, copy and paste again, portrait and landscape, rotate picture and then left it all with them to play with and make their cartoon man using the smiley face shape, heart, box etc. They love making a man out of these shapes, some even make something similar to a superman logo! For the last hour of the class I just decide to let them play games. They have a learnt a lot about word which will definitely help them, they will just need to practice as much as possible which I hope the parents and teachers encourage. I will make up a little cheat sheet to give to Felix which they can always refer back to.
As I begin to pack up my work, one of the other teachers, Romeo, asks if I am available tonight to help with the writing of a proposal. The community has just formed a Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) tasked with developing new projects to help the village. This also includes activities to preserve the Makushi culture like basket weaving, bow and arrow making, embroidery and also the Makushi language. About 5 people come over to my benab wearing these bright red t-shirts and on a mission to learn about writing a proposal. We go through what their primary objective is and start writing out key points. Eventually I ask if someone wants to start typing and they all look at me and Romeo laughs that if he were to type, we would be here all night! We make some good progress on the proposal and I write a fair bit but am worried that I will end up writing the whole thing. So I consciously ask lots of questions and get them to think of sentences. Eventually I just dot point some headings so that they get the opportunity to also write and reiterate the point that they need to write from the heart. I write with a business head so it may be too official but they need to write with the passion of their village. Admittedly, I’m also distracted with the Bushmaster group being back from the piranha fishing and the arrival of a couple on their honeymoon. A close it all off and say, maybe have a think about if this is correct or if you want to write more and we can continue tomorrow. We also need to do the budget as well so I give some advice on the budget and how projects always go over budget so maybe they should try to allocate money for that purpose.
It’s time for dinner and I’m a little sad the guys are leaving in the morning. There are many stories and laughter and of course, lots of banks beers! The time creeps up to 11pm and I’m aware that Nelson and his partner are ready to go home and close the bar. So we all get one more and Nelson brings over some candles before he turns the lights off and we are in pitch black darkness. The candles give the table such a mysterious feel. The others eventually all go back to bed and it’s just Aaron and I… the two Australians. Of course. We end up chatting all the way till 2am. It’s always great to meet other travellers that are so easy to get along with. Even though he’s a South Australia, he’s still a good bloke and it’s decided we will meet in the Grampians for an Australian adventure.
I fall fast asleep knowing I will only get 4 hours sleep and still have to deal with school kids in the morning.
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Friday 13th
Waking up time – my body is now automatically on a 6:30am wake up time. 4 hours sleep, not so fun. I consider the possibility that I might still be a little drunk. But it was still a good night and after breakfast it’s time to say goodbye. At least I know I still have the honeymooners for company and that Toria will arrive later in the afternoon. Toria is the co-ordinator for Fronteering (the volunteer group) and after skype chats before I came, I am looking forward to meeting here and learning a whole lot more.
I head over to the school for my last day and I am sad for it all to be coming to an end. It’s the sports day and although I am so tired, I feed off the energy of the kids. The girls lead me over to the field and we make jokes and laugh. It’s a wonderful day (and cloudy so not to hot!). The kids are so quick with their running and the power in the legs is amazing. For such slow moving people in a normal situation, I’m amazed that they can move so fast. The little kids look adorable in their sack race and guiding a bike tire down a 100m track. I just want to squish them all with their cuteness. I have a few hanging off me and following me everywhere I go which is very sweet. We head back to the school at about 10:30am for morning snacks and again, the girls lead me the way through the scrub. At 11am the kids are dismissed early for lunch and I take the opportunity to come back and rest my eyes for an hour and half. After lunch, I setup two computers, one for grade 5 and one for grade 6 and start playing Finding Nemo as requested by the headmaster. What a great way to end the school week and busy day of sports! It’s time for some goodbyes and I promise to come back before I leave. I also make the decision to leave my 120GB drive of movies here. The youth group can use it for movie nights and the school can use all the childrens movies. I can also put the videos from the sports day on it too.
After school, I head back for some relax until Toria arrives late in the afternoon. Her travels down were very lengthy due to a storm, the prime minister and everything else that could occur! After a 6 hour delay she eventually got onto a plane and got here in time for an early dinner. The honeymooners come back quite late after their big day of adventure at Grass Pond and fishing.
Again - time for sleep and another day of work.
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<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Saturday 14th
We had a bit of slow morning – weather was a bit cold and will probably just rain on and off all day. The sky is quite grey but in the Melbourne fashion, the weather changes just as quickly and it’s already hot and sunny again!
I head into the office after Toria, feeling a little ill in the stomach like a might chuck. It’s the first time I have felt a little sick but I get through it was some soothers and distraction of office work. Eventually it gets just too hot in the office and we head to the benab veranda to just chill out a bit with work in the hammock. Ahhhhh if only office work was always like this!
For dinner we drink a few beers with honeymooners who have also managed to bring some wine with them. Oh how I miss my wine but it’s a white wine so I stick with beer. We feel a little like we are intruding on their romantic dinner but they are good sports. One is a lawyer in human rights and the other in a diplomat based in Kabul – they are absolutely fascinating people and I probably ask them far too many questions! They eventually head to bed and then Dicky (the other Manager who is in charge when Rudy has his month off) and Romeo turn up for a beer. We chat and tell stories but it is so good to finally meet Dicky. We all head to sleep fairly early – what a pumping Saturday night!
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Sunday 15th
Finally a day of rest! Everyone has been getting a cold and I think it’s finally been passed onto me! I am fighting it off with all my will power and maybe a couple panadols. Toria and I spend the whole day in the hammocks and I alternate between the laptop, candy crush and my cross stitch which seems to be taking forever to get going. I manage a little 30 minute nap and when I wake up I feel much better from this cold.
The honeymooners have left and now we have another new couple in for a 4 day holidays. It will be great to get to know them. It’s also the last day for the staff to be on their 2 week rotation (except for Nelson on maintenance and Rudy / Russian on managing/supervising for the month). Lucy even asks me to come help her one last time. I ask her if shes happy to be finishing and she says yes and no because she is sad not to see me everyday. She is the sweetest person in the world and I will definitely miss her when it’s my time to leave. She says she will come to visit and if she doesn’t I will just head over to the village to see her.
In two weeks I will be heading off and this notion is starting to make me incredibly sad that I will leave everyone. I will have to make the most of the time I have left!
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