Tuesday, 24th July

While I joked about possible malaria or drug induced delirium yesterday, before getting up for breakfast this morning, I was actually concerned this might be the case.  Rooster at 5:30am (probably had been trying to wake me well before that, but remember I think I’m able to filter him out for the most part), followed by music a little later (similar to yesterday, thumping beat, seemingly far away), but after this, now I can hear the army?  “I don’t know but I’ve been told.., <I don’t know but I’ve been told..>, the streets of Dar are paved with gold.., <the streets of Dar are paved with gold..>”, or the Swahili equivalent.  Come on!  This can’t be real.  Call the doctor!

When I asked yesterday, nobody had heard the music and I got a strange look.  How do I broach the subject of army manoeuvres?  As it happens, this was actually the army out for a run.  Craig heard it also.  I was mighty relieved!  It was then that I realised where the music I was hearing was coming from.  Because of the heat everyone has their windows down, but their car radio up.  If a car stops nearby, all I’m getting is the music from their car stereo.  The longer they are parked up or stopped for, the more music I hear, carried on the wind.

After breakfast, we loaded up the cars for our second day at Chihanga school.  We would finish off our painting today on the two classrooms and do two more kids clubs to the standard 5 class (84 kids).  When we got to Chihanga and inspected the classrooms we painted with emulsion yesterday, we were happy that only a third coat on the lower half of one of the classrooms was necessary.  We could have one team complete this and Craig could start on the mural at the back of the other classroom.  The other team could run the morning bible club.

Bible club was good this morning.  I walked into the class and everyone scurried for their seats, then stood up and all 43 addressed me loudly more or less in unison, “Gud Moahning, Sah!  How ahh yu!”.  I stood there a little nonplussed.  It didn’t sound like English, but I knew it wasn’t Swahili either.  David, our interpreter told me what they were saying, and then it made sense - simply an accent thing.  I replied “Thank you” and I got “Yua wehcome!”.  Brilliant!!  The morning was off to a good start!

We went through our usual routine of singing, colours theme and then into craft, which this time was an involved enough one of making a collage of coloured squares on a paper plate and overlaying a cross on it – all with the help of a glue stick.  We had dodged this craft all week, because we were sure it would cause headaches.  As it happened, it didn’t.  We explained what they were to do (without an interpreter initially) in a show and tell format and the kids were more than capable of filling in any gaps.  Before long we had 43 plates all beautifully colourful, with a cross in the middle of each and I had 43 fist bumps to hand out.  There were coloured squares left over, but basically once the plates were complete, if the wind blew these off the table and all around the classroom, that’s fine, whereas they had previously been the most valuable commodity imaginable.  (This is the standard African attitude – you can see it in their fields also.  Last harvests corn stalks are still left where the corn ears had been taken off them.  The fields wont be ploughed again until the rainy season starts in November and they are ready to sow, so why bother doing anything with these now?

Memory verse – very good with today’s kids (Swahili and English).  We managed to tempt 2 kids to say the full Swahili version with no help – all boards covered- for which they received 2 balloons and a lollipop. (Bribery to learn the Bible – who are these leaders!).

After this, outside we played with the parachute and got everyone in the nearest 3 towns covered in dust!  We then went into football with the boys and loom band bracelets with the girls.  The girls has obviously been talking with their counterparts in standard 3 from yesterday and as soon as Ellie and Zara arrived, they mobbed them.  Training was given in basic technique and all the girls soon were making their own.  When the boys had finished their football, the girls from the school called them in to the bracelet making class to make more.  Around 1500 loom bands later, the loom band masterclass was finished.  Ellie sneaked out the classroom door, leaving Zara mobbed, fighting for her life and a bag of loom bands.  FYI – not the Marines!  Soldiers will be left behind, Zara!.

The afternoon bible club team took over with their half of the class and completed a good day of bible club and games similarly.

In the classrooms, Craig had done a great job in classroom 1 with the stencilled circles/bubbles and we finished the emulsion repaint in classroom 2 so quickly that we went on to classroom 3.  Along with Craig and Beth we completed the stencilling in classroom 2 and by the end of the afternoon, classroom 3 had two coats of emulsion and was ready for its stencilling (which we can do on Friday when the Mountpottinger Cup will be held at this school).  From a labour point of view, the last 2 days at Chihanga have been an outstanding effort by all our team.

We left Chihanga this afternoon happy.  We had got rid of all of our 5000 – 6000 loom bands, trained around 50 kids during the past couple of days how to make bracelets; dealt out a dozen tennis balls, had 4 good kids clubs and scoped out the footballing ability of the school.   We had also painted about 30% of the school.

On return to base, we took a look at what the next couple of days hold for us.  Tomorrow will be food distribution for most of the team morning and afternoon, while for those skilled in the art of stencilling circles onto walls, they will finish off the second classroom in Msalato that we didn’t get done last week when we were there.  Thursday we have decided to split the day half/half between bible clubs and food distribution.  These will be an extra 2 bible clubs in another school where we haven’t been yet.  The team were all keen to put these extra clubs in rather than everyone drive around with the food distribution vehicles.  By the end of the week, we therefore will have held bible clubs for around 500 kids when we had initially planned for 160!

The craft that we have been doing with the kids is really the only time that they get to do this in a school environment. Craft is not part of the curriculum.  Everything is essentially learning.  So, to that point, the materials that are left over after we finish the kids clubs we will put packages together or crayons and colouring sheets for as many as we can so that they can do this at home – because it is clear that they like (and are good at) colouring in.  Similarly, for some of the sports equipment we have bought, we will decide whether or not to give it to schools if they don’t control it.  Hopefully the little tournament between the 3 local schools associated with kids4school will foster that desire to provide sports equipment at school level for the use of all.

At the close of the day after devotions a couple of us were discussing what is poor in the West and what is poor in the 3rd world (and what is not).  If you are reading this, at this point I would encourage you consider these questions.

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