Monday, 20 February 2017

Finally we get to Umonga school

Sorry no internet last night so couldn't post blog but here it is now

Wow ... what a day, what a way to start our time at the school! 

The day started with porridge ... well that was a non-starter! It was liquid porridge in a thermos and didn't look appetising ... so they did us omelettes to go with the bread and mango ... and then a Spanish omelette appeared ... so we did rather well in the end!

The journey to school was uneventful ... what I really mean is I didn't see any of it as I was working on my speech in Swahili that I would have to give to the whole school later ... Fred was of great assistance! 

When we arrived at the school students were in lessons so all was quiet ... I quickly noticed the differences ... now there is a wall around the main compound and a gate (part of the money paid by volunteers has bought the gate and finished the wall ... which we will be painting on Wednesday). The School day starts at 8am with two 40 minute lessons and then 5 minutes before two more lessons ... once we had been welcomed by Madam Rose we went to observe in two classes ... I took my group to the form four biology class (equivalent to GCSE/AS) whilst Mrs A (don't know why I called her Mrs C on the other blog?) took her group to a history class ... whilst mine was fairly slow and uneventful she had the raw end of a history lesson about the white mans oppression of Africa and Africans! Now that's a way to win friends and influence people who have just travelled 1000's of miles to support you in your work ... it all ended amicably enough but was obviously a little disconcerting at times. 

The visit to Zanzibar will delve into the way in which the white man oppressed the black man and subjected him to slavery and the barbaric acts that were carried out ... but I have to say that I have been very impressed with one and all and the way they have just mucked in with our friends at Umonga with no hint of anything apart from mutual respect.

Anyway ... then we had the welcome and my speech in Swahili did the job of breaking the ice for one and all ... I am told I did well and my pronunciation wasn't too bad but they were probably being kind! There were lots of smiles and response from the 650 students, so I was pleased.

And then straight into our first teaching ... four successful 40 minute lessons later we evaluated and were happy ... Mrs A's group did shapes and angles and my group did time ... all taught to classes in form 1 ... students between 13-15 ... who have had nearly two months of being taught in English from a very low baseline of primary English language ... so they are struggling, or some of them are. We found them keen and eager and no bother at all ... they were a bit non plussed by our active type of learning initially but loved it once they got going. BES students were great, helpful, supportive, confident ... particularly in the second of the lessons they taught ... and we were responsible for some good learning #proudheadteacher

So then it was time for lunch and a little 'Chill time' ... hard in this heat of course ... before getting ready for sports coaching ... we had a good group of girls turn up ... Beth and Ellie got them dressed in the donated netball bibs and skirts and did some drills which was great and then Josh and I got the footballers to do a few drills before playing a game ... which was a lot of fun but far too hot! The bus arrived and 14 hot and sticky volunteers boarded, well satisfied that they had made a difference in their first day ... 

A quick stop off at the mini market again ... the previous evening we had discussed that one way to support a developing country is to make sure that you buy local but obviously they should go with their conscience ... I tried the moral argument .. so today I bought cassava chips for everyone to try and they bought a variety of snacks ... many informing me that they had bought local ... but one chap was very quiet ... because yet again he had bought Pringles ... obviously he shall remain nameless ... but I know him as Totti from football teams :-)

Back to the hotel and lots of high jinks in the pool ... which is a welcome addition to the last visit and has made a huge difference so far ... today it was a game of keep Max's crocs from him in the pool ...which led to great hilarity ... and when he did get them both back he basically offered himself up again to be scragged as they were having so much fun ...

A dinner of fish and chips tonight ... not as you'd know it but incredibly tasty ... and almost on time ... African time having an evening off! I have to report that I asked the kitchen to preparea small amount of Ugali (staple food for Tanzanians which is basically a very firm porridge that forms the majority of a Tanzanians one meal a day ... very starchy) and I think everyone tried it with my encouragement ... they kids continue to grow in my esteem ... 

And still I haven't had to visit a hospital or a pharmacy ... things are going well! There was a moment during football today when josh fell and skinned his knee and I thought as I viewed it from afar 'here we go again' but it's just a graze and he's been great about it ... 

Lights out at 10 again tonight ... early start tomorrow as we visit the primary school, kaloleni, for a couple of hours before teaching at Umonga ... the kids have been brilliant again ... so I'll sign off and go and see how they're doing ... then hopefully I'll be able to post this on the blog ... wifi has been terrible today with the power cuts ... all new experiences for today's teenagers and valuable too ... all the best Mr L


  1. The sports coaching sounds great fun, any sign of a football match yet, Anna has the whistles :-)

    I think I would have felt quite uncomfortable in that History lesson but it's all good education to hear the African perspective of that part of History.

  2. Wonder if they still remember the lesson on body parts we taught them a couple of years ago? Bizarrely I can still remember the Kiswahili version of "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" that we used to reinforce the learning :-) :-) So jealous of you all. Sending lots of love. Nick and Ninja x

  3. Haha...... Totti needs to try new things!!!

  4. Gosh what a day ! Sounds like everyone is having a great time. We look forward with eager anticipation to the blogs, it's great storytelling

  5. Champions League Result for Anna, Man City 5-3 Monaco. Too many incidents in the game to post on blog.