Week Beginning 04/05/09 and 11.05.09
It must have been an uneventful week - as we've rolled last week's blog into this week's. But we've had our moments and here are a few of them………….
Alison made a lovely banana cake and but despite numerous wrappings and tying of knots the pesky ants (very tiny ones) managed to find their way into the bread and the banana cake so the dogs (one of which is pregnant) and the cats (one of which is pregnant) and the chickens and the ducks and the pigs and the flies had a field day.
Alison attended a meeting for the 15 secondary headteachers' last Thursday. It should have started at 10.00 a.m. Many HTs arrived and waited around. By 11.45 a.m. everyone heard that the meeting was postponed 'til 1.00 p.m. Alison arrived back to see the Provincial Advisor going off to get something to eat for lunch. The meeting eventually started at 1.40 p.m. Whilst discussing weighty issues with the Provincial Advisor the electricity went off and the room was in virtual darkness. No-one mentioned it. There was no break in the conversation and everyone carried on talking as if nothing had happened.
We're finding communications with schools difficulty. There is no postal system and no school phones. We place letters and reminders etc in the schools' pigeon holes at the education office. Someone has to come to town and take these back and give them to relevant people. No-one seems to receive them - or at least they say they haven't. Often they're still on the dashboard of the school vehicles! The distinctive yellow envelopes (the only ones available) seem to be a status symbol - so remain seen but unopened and undelivered.
We arrived at Boromil school on Monday and were immediately asked by the headteacher if we'd talk to the local community about the education reforms (every Monday most parents work at the school - keeping the grounds, building or tending to the vegetable gardens). The reforms are a contentious issue and people have strong feelings and opinions. We managed to field the questions through an interpreter without upsetting anyone. (see photos)
We spoke to two groups of about 350 grade 9 and 10 students about the new curriculum and the education reforms. At the end of the question and answer sessions lots of students virtually mobbed us to ask more questions. It didn't help that part way through, the 'ovens' came on to bake the students dinner (rice and veg normally). It sounded like a blast furnace and the fumes coming under the door made us feel headachy and nauseous. (see photos)
Sunday was Mother's day here, so we made cards with our Saturday morning club. With a lack of resources - one glue stick, one pair of small scissors and 5 pens between 11 children, it was a struggle and we were frazzled by the end of it. They used a folder from which to cut the card, took photos of one another, printed them out, stuck them on, wrote a few sentences and took apart bunches of dried flowers to decorate the front. They were quite sweet really. (see photos)
Feeling sociable, like we often do, we invited the other VSOs to a get-together on Sunday. We cooked and prepared a buffet lunch for 9 with limited equipment or space. Adaptation and modification: necessity is the mother of invention. Alison made summer pudding, lemon drizzle loaf, fresh fruit salad including laulau , chicken satay, chicken and avocado salad, rice salad, Spanish omelette. It was no mean feat,but it was a mean feast.
We both think (wishful thinking) we're losing weight and with the walking we do (mainly uphill - though we have to come down at some point) we're feeling healthier. When Alison gets back she might write a diet book 'Healthy Diet - Go to PNG'. We're glad we didn't chose to take up the positions in Madang as the volunteers there put on weight due to the partying lifestyle of the ex-pat community.
Our very good and dear friend Hilary Wilson is leading a fund-raising campaign to help build a computer suite in one of our remote schools. It'll have solar panels and one server + seven work stations. If you're interested in helping or have any goodfund raising ideas contact Hilary on 01702 219778. Hilary has already made contact with the Basildon Primary schools and the Canvey Island schools. We need about £5000!
Wednesday and the water has been off for a few days - and Maria now tells us that its looks like being off for a week - problems with the pipes - apparently they're the wrong sort of pipes!! Anyway we resorted to using water out of the twin-tub washing machine as we'd used up all the water in the buckets. But don't panic, it wasn't dirty water - its just another useful water storage container. We boil all our drinking water anyway.
On the way back from a school today we encountered a 4ft chain-saw-wielding drunkard. He was actually cutting down a dead tree, but he was playing to the crowd that had gathered to watch - using one hand only and inviting applause with the other. How he didn't cut off a limb or that of someone else we don't know!
Just back from Keraweri School. The road was terrible - like a three hour fairground ride that didn't stop. At one point we got stuck for half an hour while everyone gave advice on how to get moving up a steep, muddy incline (see photo). It should have been an advert for Land Rover. We stayed overnight in the headteacher's house - very basic - no water, no electricity, no beds, no cutlery - but very hospitable. We took two staff meetings, a demonstration lesson, observed six lessons, gave feedback and spoke at assembly. The journey home was no better and we arrived bruised, battered and achy.
BUT we had water- Joy. Luckily it turned out to be rumour that the water would be off for a week. With everything being passed on by word of mouth, things can get a little out of proportion.
Better get organised for our Saturday conversation class.
Love Mike and Alison