|Today was our first full day of work and it was busy! The adventures started pretty much the second we got on the bus. For some reason our bus wouldn’t start so they managed to get it started by multiple attempts at popping the clutch – in reverse! Once we were on our way our first stop was a tour of the secondary school that we would be working at over the next couple weeks. Most of the children board at this school but everything is bare-bones cement and wood. I took pictures of the “staff room” to remind myself how lucky I am and that I have no business getting angry next time the photocopier is out of toner! They have very little but are all devoted to their educations. Not all kids make it to secondary school, which starts at our equivalent of 6th grade. Upon finishing primary school, students are tested and only those who score well and can afford schools fees go on in their educations. The numbers only get lower from year to year as they get older.
Next stop was the primary school where we would be teaching our first lesson. I worked with the three high-school aged girls on a reading lesson in a 1-2 grade class. The kids were excited to hear a story and were all so polite. They would stand up to address you or answer questions when they were called on (such a change from my last class! HA) Because of their perfect behavior and attentiveness the lesson went a lot quicker than we expected, so we sang songs, danced and played games for the rest of our time.
We spent the rest of the day at the school doing a variety of things – playing games in the field, cooking soup for the kids (since all they normally get is a runny porridge), and painting the outside of the school. As you can probably guess, I was playing in the field most of the time! During this time kids picked their favorites and everyone had at least 3-4 kids on or around them at all times. One of the older orphans (Eva), 14ish?, asked if I could take pictures with my camera. She was actually pretty good at it! I didn’t see my camera for the rest of the day but she brought it right back when we were leaving loaded with great pictures!
Eva is also one of the students I will be working with that has learning difficulties. As you can probably guess they don’t have special education over here – they have at least 30-40 kids per class as it is! At one point head-master introduced me to both Eva and another boy that they wanted to me to work with. I had already met Eva and was surprised that she was one of the students that needed help. She is amazing socially, speaks great English and was our go-to person when we needed any help. Apparently the head-master thought I could assess them on the spot and figure out what they needed to “get better”. Since I am not a miracle worker I brought the students under a tree to talk with them and get to know them a bit before I worked my magic. (Yes, the shade of a tree was necessary today – it is getting hotter). Eva, I think is going to be easy to work with and hopefully I can figure a couple things out that can help her. The other student is going to be more of a challenge. As you may have noticed I keep referring to him as “the other student”. I couldn’t even get his name, he talked so softly and had a different kind of name that I would need to hear at least few times clearly to get. All he would say to me was yes or no and I know it wasn’t a language issue because Eva would repeat what I said in Ugandan and he would still say the same thing. This one is going to be tough!
Onto the village! Later in the afternoon we arrived to the village (Wairika – but the ‘r’ sounds like ‘l’). This is the main focus of our team. It is where the school with be built, where the orphans are from, and basically all of our main projects are focused. If I thought the children at the school were clingy and excited – wow – this took it to a whole new level. When we first arrived there were a decent amount of kids gathered on the playground (another Giving Circle addition). Word must of spread quickly that the “muzungu’s” (white people) were there because kids were coming out of the woodwork, or in this case sugarcane. We stayed here for a few hours to play with the kids and meet the villagers. The kids once again quickly adopted their favorites. After a while all the girls (volunteers and kids) were sitting on the edge of the field while the boys played some football (soccer). It’s amazing how sports can unite people so easily, and the kids were really good! It was the same way in Vietnam.
One downside to the village is the red dirt – it is everywhere. It’s almost like clay, yet still with a dusty top layer. No matter how hard you scrub in the shower there are still redish-orange streaks all over your towel when you dry off. Why this hotel has white towels I don’t understand! After dinner I hung out with my two charges (Dierdre and Toni) and we went over the projects we have coming up this week.
Another busy day tomorrow!