Dance Party: I am often heartened by the ways the PCV’s find ways to keep their spirits up – especially the young ladies who live in the middle of nowhere. If they want to go out and enjoy themselves as we could in America they are setting themselves up for endless sexual harassment as well as community elders/teachers thinking less of them.
I often see Facebook posts on Friday night saying they are having a great time at home with popcorn, wine and a solo Dance Party. Good for them for finding ways to make the solitude fun!
The other night one of our friends came over and said the five of us should have a Dance Party. Five? He was including Rati and FiFi. He put on some Meatloaf – and oh my goddess! we enjoyed dancing with those dogs! Paradise By The Dashboard Lights was never so fun!
Kids Reading: John and I love living in our neighbourhood. There are hoards of kids that come over all the time. They are in our yard all day everyday if we are home or not. If we are inside and don’t want to play – they ask for books, puzzles, crayons and toys to play by their selves outside. The other day I told them it was a reading day and those that didn’t know how to read English must read to those that did. They all took their jobs seriously. The picture below shows kids reading from books sent my many of you.
The readers all got lollipops sent by John’s Aunt. The little kids can get a lollipop when they can write the alphabet in capital and small letters.
I often think the biggest impact we are making here is our interaction with the kids in the neighbourhood. Many of you have helped us with your generous gifts of books, crafts, toys, sporting items and of course candies. I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I do especially my parents, Nadine and Josh, Angela, Pat and Susan, Gina and Jason and Louie who have sent multiple boxes loaded with goods for the kids.
Donkey Races: John’s office funded the Men’s Sector (Police men who encourage men to participate responsibly in the community to eradicate HIV/AIDS) Donkey and Horse Race in a little village called Kubung about an hour from our house. There were cash prizes for the winners. An HIV mobile testing van came to the site as well. Lunch was provided for everyone who got tested for HIV/AIDS. People were able to get the results on the spot. Everyone seemed to enjoy the race and there were at least 100 people who stood in line for HIV testing. It was a fun and productive day.
If you want to see more pictures of the Donkey Races check out the Newsletter John created for his office at http://kwenengeast.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/men-sector-donkey-and-horse-races/
You can see all the newsletters for John’s office here. They are pretty cool.
Khombi Rides – Dad sent us masks to wear over our faces when we walk down the dusty dusty roads. John sometimes uses the masks when he has to sit next to people who possibly don’t have running water at their home, or maybe they have lost their sense of smell. (I just suck it up ((literally)) and take it as a state of the human condition).
The Dusty Road Update: John and I have been working to get the village to address problems with the road outside the school. Not only is the road so dusty it impairs all regular pedestrians health – it is also grated just enough to allow people to drive about 70 MPH in front of the school, often oblivious to the danger children face with speeding cars.
The teachers and students alike complain and the School Head said he would need some documentation before he took it up with the village counsel. I volunteered to do a survey and write a report. While doing that, John ran into the Paramount Chief at a wedding and mentioned the problems with the road. The Chief gave John the name and number of the councilman who is responsible for the road. I wrote the report and gave it to the school head. John met with the councilman.
Nothing was done.
John and I started putting big 1 kilo rocks in the road forcing people to drive slow when they came down the road. Amazingly, the councilman from the village 50K down the road found out who we were, where we lived, and who we worked for. He met with my School Head and told him we were breaking the law and we be charged if we didn’t stop immediately. It is amazing how resourceful these people can be when they want to stop something from happening. Resourcefulness NEVER seems to be around when attempting to accomplish something!
It was aggravating to be chastised at the Senior Management meeting at the school and also to be called into the School Heads office for a warning about breaking the law.
However, John had also given my report to the District Commissioner (like a Governor) and she just sent a reply stating how useful my report was. The District had already included paving the road in the next budget, but there were not funds to start the project. However, she agreed with two of my other less costly suggestions to put in speed bumps and put up speed limit signs.
Right when you feel like giving up – something worthy always seems to happen!!!! This joint project made John and I both feel good for a least two days.
Snakes in the house: After we got our dogs John cut a doggy door into our screen door. We leave the big hard door open and lock the burglar bars, which allows animals in and keeps people out. For weeks I have been having nightmares that snakes are crawling in the doggy door. John thinks it is funny. Finally the other day, while sweeping I came across this freaking snake. John says it was tiny, and they eat a lot of bugs and I should get down from the chair. But he told me to keep the dogs away while he was corralling it out the door – in case it was poisonous. WHAT?????
I will never be able to leave my bed and step on the floor in the middle of the night again.
Running the Tuck Shop: A Tuck Shop is a little tiny store that sells candy, chips, and soda. The school has a little tuck shop which the PTA is supposed to operate and proceeds are used for the good of the school. There are many problems with the PTA running this – mostly that the PTA never meets and does not have officers. As I have said many times, parents see little value in participating in their children’s lives, and many of them are poor and feel inferior to the teachers.
Last year the PTA hired a women to work full time running the Tuck Shop – and paid her P600 a month, which is about $80 – which is so significantly below the poverty level it is ridicules. The Tuck Shop barely made enough money to pay her salary. I suspect she stole a lot of food or money since we were not paying her enough to buy groceries for a week.
Teachers incredibly volunteered to run the Tuck Shop themselves. Which heavily cut into their time to grade, develop tests, and meet with students.
There is no inventory lists, no register, no receipts, no procedures. During the day money is taken out of the vault (a bucket on the candy counter), to purchase supplies. The person who volunteers to get the supplies is to receive P50 for transport costs. Every teacher volunteers to do this and it is costing about P250 a week to buy supplies. At the end of the day money is counted by recorded by how many of each bill/coin are in the vault/bucket and then calculating the value times the number of coins/pula. They check their calculations, and not the money. Total recipes, expenditures, and cash balance are recorded in a note book, which is passed around from teacher to teacher. The teacher in charge for the day takes the money home at night and at the end of the fortnight (African for 2 weeks), the money is turned over to the PTA to deposit. There does seem to be one rule: If you are working in the shop, you can’t give yourself change if you buy anything. I am glad to see at least one rule.
I was going to write book keeping procedures for them. But I really don’t know how to start this project. I have brought up several suggestions along the way – but there is always resistance to change. They do seem to be making a little money – and they could probably earn a decent amount if only, if only, if only, if only too many things. They are using a bucket, for a cash register and vault…………
The Post Office: Thought I would let you know where we go to get all those great boxes that you all send us: