Monday, 24 March 2014

Beware the Black Blob!

Well, I think this is a first. Composing a Blog on a Friday night! But I am aware that March is very much on danger of slipping through my Blog posting fingers, much like January did.
 Although, I have to say for very different reasons. March seems to have decided to proceed at a much faster rate than most previous months. One minute it had just started and now I look at it and it is more than half way through. Gone of are the days of counting down the days to the end of term. Straining to get through each week as quickly as possible. Now, I find myself utterly dismayed at the thought that there are only three weeks left till the end of term. I need more weeks! The term can't come to an end yet, I'm not ready for it to. Maybe I should stop, before I lose all my readers in the English teaching profession!

Probably the biggest event of note this month would be the visit of Ntahangwa House to Himbaza School. Himbaza school, is technically our 'sister' school, as it is under the umbrella of Africa Revival Ministries, as we are. We are just beginning to build some links across the two schools.
Last year I visited the school twice. Once just to see what it was like. The second time with a few of my students. The students had decided that we should tithe the money we made at the Easter Fayre and give it to Year 6 at Himbaza.
Each class at Himbaza has between 50 and 60 children. But the rooms are similar in size to those at King's School. Children sit squeezed 3 or 4 to a bench. The back of one bench provides the desk of the one behind. Once you're in you're in. It was a thought provoking experience. Wondering if I could ever teach effectively in that environment.
The aim of our visit this time, was to 'Share Life'. To extend the hand of friendship and see where we could develop areas of support.
My role in the day was to deliver a short talk. It was to be delivered on three occasions. Once to the youngest children (Maternelle), secondly to the Lower Juniors and finally to the Upper Juniors. Five minutes into our session with Maternelle, I realised it was not going to be feasible. They were incredibly cute and adorable and all that. But they were a seething mass of small humanity, that closely resembled a tin of maggots (in movement terms). The combined attention span of all 200 of them would have amounted to less 3 minutes. I quietly, retreated behind my camera and watched the time slot tick by. It was a shame, but there just wasn't time in the end, for Mrs Liz to do her talk.
Our programme continued, very loosely based on the published version. When suddenly I found myself faced with about 400 children!! All waiting to hear my little talk. It was scarily, awesome. Being a product of the English education system, my talk of course had to include a 'hands-on' let's all join in element! The ensuing tumult was incredible. Another of those privileges I could never have imagined happening to me.  All those children erupting into joy, having made their own paper cross.
It was such a simple activity, but brought more pleasure  than I could have imagined possible.

The eagle eyed amongst you, will no doubt have spotted the aeroplane! That is the stage before it turns into a cross. And is obviously quite exciting too.
Unfortunately, rain stopped the rest of our day's programme going ahead. Which was a football match between the boys of Year 6, from each school. It was replaced by some very good impromptu singing from the Himbaza children.
I have a love-hate relationship with our resident cat. She is a large, grey feline. Who goes by the very original name of Cat. We get along well. But I like annoying her and she enjoys biting me, when I least expect it. She is the only cat I have ever met that will walk up to you in the kitchen. Lovingly, nestle into your leg, and then attempt to bite a chunk out of your calf muscle. Recently, however she did me an enormous favour. I heard a heavy thud on my bedroom door. Looked round to see her wrestling with a huge black blob. Being extremely squeamish when it comes to cats consuming things like spiders and cockroaches, I looked away. If I am honest, I squealed quite loudly, and made lots of other pathetic noises and gestures.  Eventually, an inspection led me to the remnants you see in the photo. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am, that I never got to meet the owner of those legs, whilst they were still attached to the rest of it. And to think it was walking across my bedroom door, when it met its very timely end! To think it had been living near me for goodness knows how long. There are muscles on those legs!
On to nicer, fluffier, cuter things. Well one of them is! This is a potential new recruit to the African arm of the family. He is possibly destined to become Andrew's guard dog! Although because Andrew lives in a mixed African/English household, there are a few doggie issues to be ironed out before he arrives.  For example: will he be allowed in the house? English vote - Yes. African vote - No. Will he be a pet? English vote - Yes. African vote - No. Do we even like dogs? English vote - Yes. African vote - NO!
There could be some fun cross- cultural developments occurring in the Kinindo area of Bujumbura, very soon.
Well the composition of this Blog started on a Friday. Continued on a Sunday and is now drawing to a very late night conclusion on a Monday.  I am in the process of grinding out another set of End of Term assessments (Exams). In my youth I was a prolific Exam-Failer. I started with my 11+ and reached a peak with my O levels! So I find it a little ironic that I am now inflicting the same process upon others. However, there does seem to be some justice in the fact that I get a sense of pay back for some of the grind they have put me through this year!
If you were wondering, they have actually improved enormously over the past months. On the whole we have a good time together these days. But some of them are teenagers, so they do have certain standards of obtuseness to maintain. My daily trips to the Secondary school have certainly enabled me to see the positives in 6L.