One big principle is that the system should be sustainable and where possible use should be made of locally available materials. So, in general, the importing of teaching materials from our rich countries is not helpful except to be used as models for people here to make using their own resources.
I came back to Gasundwe on Tuesday having been asked to call at the police station on my way here. This is merely for security reasons. The police have an obligation to ensure the safety of visitors to their area. I showed my passport and visa and explained what I was doing here, and also the dates when I would be in this sector. The officer was very friendly and happy for me to be here. From now on I don't need to visit, I just need to telephone him when I leave and when I arrive.
Whilst I was at the sector office I went to visit the Executive Secretary to update him on our plans. I have met him several times before and it is an important part of the project to have personal links with the officials. My favourite link is with John Hakizimana who is the Sector Education Officer for Gihombo sector. When I worked with SEO s as a VSO volunteer I found them to be of very high calibre both intellectually and personally. Because they were out in the field they could see the very real challenges faced by the people and most of them had a sincere desire to change things for the better. John has given support in the past and he wants to bring other officials to visit Gasundwe so that they can see the problems for themselves. I asked if he could ensure that the person responsible for health and sanitation could come and I stressed that the main problem in the village is water. Sickness rates are high and the threat of cholera is ever present. I hope they will come soon.
It was a difficult day for me yesterday in Gasundwe, the old 'demons' came back to haunt me. 'What are you doing here? You have achieved nothing in five years, see these children are still walking around in rags, still dirty, still hungry. You are kidding yourself....' Added to that I was physically exhausted and had backache. Sometimes I forget I am getting older and that soon I won't be able to be as physical as this life here demands. I must admit I am also worn down by the constant demand for money. When I take a boat ride it seems I am expected to pay for everyone. I don't know why. I will have to ask Alexis about this when he comes today with Mama. Anyway, I had an early night and feel better this morning.
I woke up with the dawn as usual and heard lots of chattering outside. I realised it was Thursday and therefore it would be members of the Savings and Loan cooperative. I went to meet them.
It was very encouraging, and then appeared a string of guys carrying sacks of cement up the hill in preparation for making the concrete floor in the Children's Centre. It was a wonderful sight to me.
They go down to the shore where the cement has been delivered by boat, they fill their sacks, hoist the heavy sack on their head and climb the hill. Once here they empty the sack onto the pile inside the building. There were twenty sacks of cement and 8 guys to carry. They all stay together and just now I can see them outside the shop eating their breakfast do amandazi and water. They have completed that task for the day. They went up and down that hill three times each. Well done lads!
There are photos elsewhere on this blog which show the concrete floor being laid in the church building that we use for nursery school at the moment. (Thanks, Phil!) I think it was in 2011 or 12. There is also a lovely photo of young Jack Lofthouse lying on a plank of timber looking absolutely exhausted after helping with that dirty and back breaking task!!
So, discouragement yesterday is followed by encouragement today.
Thankyou for all your thoughts, best wishes and prayers. As you can see I personally need your prayers as well as prayers for the work that is going on here. I am reminded of my frailty as a mere mortal every day but when I am here I know more fully the closeness and dependence on God that this life demands.
In our developed world we complain when troubles come and sometimes we blame God ( even though most of the time most people never give their relationship with God a second thought). It is totally different here in this situation. Troubles breed faith and faith gives strength to overcome. There is a short little letter in the New Testament written by a man called James. It is worth reading in a modern version such as 'The Messenger'.
Lots of love