Friday, 24 February 2017

An emotional day

And so to the last day at Umonga secondary school ... the day started with a rousing chorus practising our song before breakfast ... I say rousing ... what I really mean is croaky and bleary eyed first time through but they soon got in the mood ... then a cheer as the students realised that it was pancakes for breakfast.

Then to the ongoing saga with the bus ... well guess what, it was on time! Unfortunately we were then sat on the bus for ten minutes waiting for Fred who had been communicating with the bus owner for hours to ensure it was in time and then assumed it would be late! Only in Africa!

We got to school and unfortunately Rose had forgotten to tell the class 1E teacher that we were going to take the class so she decided that we couldn't teach them ... disappointing as all other form 1 classes had received two lessons and class 1E received none ... instead we joined Mrs A's group and introduced Kathryn from the nursery to Arran at kaloleni... whilst playing with the parachute and bean bags with the nursery class ... I am really pleased that we have made this link. For years I have been trying to find a partner for kaloleni and on this trip I have found two ... St. Leonard's and Kathryn. Kathryn has agreed to go into the nursery at kaloleni every Wednesday (her day off from the nursery at Macedonia and teaching at St. John's university ... what a great way to spend your retirement!) which is a huge bonus as she will train the nursery teacher and help improve the effectiveness of the school ... so I am very happy with this outcome.

From kaloleni we went back to prepare for the great football match between the Umonga first team and BES, supported by the teachers. At the last minute a netball game was sprung on us as well ... Rose really hasn't been on the ball with her support this trip and I do worry about her a little ... Anyway, the game started ... Umonga sporting the Wolves kit that the Claverley business men had taken out for them when they built the assembly hall ten years ago, with BES kitted out in one of the kits we got for Umonga through the RAF shirts for Africa scheme four years ago. The game started with BES under pressure from a very good Umonga team ... as the rain started to fall BES eventually gave under the pressure but not before Eloise had made a stupendous tackle and clearance to rapturous applause! The rain got harder and harder until the ref (me) had to call the game off because the mud playground had become dangerously slippy ... and we were absolutely drenched! the girls had been much more sensible and had got under cover before it became torrential! 

The decision was made to return to the hotel to change our clothes ... the rain was the heaviest I have ever seen anywhere ... we changed quickly and were back in the bus to return but the gully was so full and running as a torrent that we could not see the very narrow earth bridge over to the main road so the driver sensibly decided to find another much longer way round ... 

Back at school in typical African fashion the quiz we had agreed before the trip became something completely different and ended in a team of the best Umonga form four (18 year olds) students against the mixed endowed team ... two rounds from myself and three rounds from Rama ... Rama was concerned that the Umonga students wouldn't understand my accent so imagine our hilarity when half way through his team were asking me to repeat his questions because his accent wasn't helping 😃 safe to say that endowed won the day convincingly ... I have to say my questions were more balanced than Rama's so the Umonga students didn't really have too much chance! 

Then it was displays for our benefit ... there was a fashion show, a play about a drunk and a Doctor and a singer ... the Umonga students were a bit unruly and we felt sorry for the singer because no one really stopped to listen to her apart from us (it's one of those strange africanisms ... they just let the kids be unruly ... few staff in the hall, token gestures to keep order but hardly any teachers present) and they then finished with fire rating and acrobatics ... both very good entertainment ... and then came the endowed song (which went down very well, so well that one student could sing the chorus to us later on) and a short speech in Swahili from yours truly and some gifts ... money from the sixth form Taste of Tanzania company to pay for extra English and maths lessons ... and two tiles depicting ironbridge as the centre of the industrial revolution and a book of the history of ironbridge (last time we were presented with a carving of man making fire as Tanzanians believe they were the place where man first made fire) ... and now the emotions started to surface ... 

We retired from the hall but were mobbed by students and there were tears and smiles and swapping of email addresses and gifts which went on for quite a while before we retired gracefully back to the hotel via our favourite mini-market.

After some chill out time Rose and Sinene joined us for a celebration meal (plus the lady who prepared our lunches) ... it ended in speeches with Fred master of ceremonies (and a grand job he did too) ... speeches from all of the adults ... and when the students were invited to make a speech George very eloquently obliged on their behalf ... tears were flowing freely now ... and then Fred produced a certificate for BES and a cake with the African adventures logo iced with BES there as well (you'll have to see the pictures to do it justice) ... in Tanzanian culture if it is a celebration you cut the cake up into small pieces and feed it to each other on cocktail sticks ... but with feints and dodges so that the recipient doesn't get the cake straight away and nearly wears it instead of eating it ... Faith was a good sport and when called forward by one of the Africans played along beautifully ... that didn't help things and the tears continued to flow so we released them so that they could go and play some music and run through the emotion before bed ... leaving us adults to talk about Tanzanian education and culture and put the world to rights!

When I went to find the kids to send them to bed at 10.20 they were all in a room singing merrily and asked to sing one more song so I joined in with wonderwall and there Ended the night! 

In summary: in Rose and Sinene's speeches they talked about the investment that I and the Endowed had made over five years and the sacrifices many parents and supporters had made in helping students to join this trip and their appreciation of the input. They summed up the impact of five years by talking about students Improvements socially, economically, academically and culturally ... Rose said that the students had really built in confidence over the five years and that showed in examination results. It is important to know that you are appreciated and I wanted to echo Fred's message of praise for those who have supported each of these 14 students to make this trip because we are absolutely certain we have made positive impact on both kaloleni primary school and Umonga secondary ... and I believe that each of our students has been changed irreversibly by the experiences of this trip ... so thank you to mums and dads, to grandparents and other friends and relations for your support to help me continue my work in this region ... and really big thanks to those students in particular who did the volunteer thing the real way and raised all the money themselves through graft and hard work ... I hope the experience was particularly worth it for you.

And so ... with no internet because of the rains the blog will sit written and waiting until I can find the next wifi, probably at the Sawe hotel ... we're preparing for the long bus ride back to Dar tomorrow ... we'll talk again soon. Mr L

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