Saturday, 26 May 2012

Well the Director of Education in Region 6 is now back, after having been away in Kombos for a month.  The office had been fairly quiet without her. All of a sudden it’s a beehive of activity again! I was away on trek when she returned but was summarily summoned to her office on my return from Wulli West. She was having a meeting about the Regional Teachers Awards. I was informed that I was in the team to verify the North Bank nominations and was to leave on trek with Kinteh, one of the senior education officers and Waddeh, education officer, the following morning! Wonderful, even better when told it involved an overnight stay. Don’t think Kinteh was too pleased either as tried to use me as an excuse saying I wouldn’t get a bed because I was fair skinned!! We drove from Basse to Fatoto, crossed the river then zig-zagged our way across the North Bank visiting 17 schools in 2 days. Thorough job is not the word to use to describe our verifications! We spent the night in some teachers’ residence crawling with bugs and no mosquito net or fan to keep me cool. What made me feel even worse was the fact that we decanted these teachers out of their beds into sharing with colleagues. The roads are also appalling on the other side of the river, although as the rains have only just started they apparently are rather good! It didn’t help that August, our driver, thought he was a rally driver. Thank God for mobiles! So much so he thought he could take a ditch at speed. Ended up stuck for an hour while Kinteh and Waddeh tired to push and shove branches under and I stood and recorded for posterity. In the end Kinteh phoned a nearby school for assistance. Thank God for mobiles! Definitely not two days I want to repeat in a hurry!

Yesterday was supposed to be a public holiday in The Gambia, African Liberation Day! However, not for Sarah or I. We were told to be at the office for 8.30am for a Cluster Monitor meeting. We duly turned up at 8.30 to find 1 cluster monitor waiting. Gradually others began to arrive, then we find out it was agreed to start  at 10am, but as usual no-one thought to inform us VSOs. In the end it didn’t start till 11am – GMT (not Greenwich!). The meeting went on till 5pm, things being discussed and argued over again and again, going round and round in circles. Although I was finally given something to do by the Director. One school was torn to shreds by her in the meeting. Every aspect from school grounds, buildings, classroom, staff, head teacher to record keeping. She wants me to go into the school and do some staff training with them on lesson planning, short and long term. It is good she has given me something but at the same time means I can no longer go and visit my schools in Wulli West and I had just started building good relationships with the schools over there. That will now need to be put on hold for the time being.

On a lighter note, I learned to make Lait the other day. It is amazing, tastes rather like condensed milk but thinner so much easier to drink. It will be so good to have on cold days back home, Sarah and I both agree that a mug of the stuff on a cold day, wrapped in a blanket would be sublime. Some friends came over and showed us how to make it and we drank it all ourselves. After they left my landlady was teasing me about not offering the compound any. She was quite right, it was very rude of us. But Lait does that to you! I did make it up to her and made some last night for the compound, but didn’t seem as easy as I remember it being the first time. The pouring from barada to glass and glass to glass is definitely an art form, one which I have yet to master!
My way

The right way

The Wulli East to Sandu Rally

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