Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Diary of a Volunteer part 2.

Friday 22nd
A productive day; caught up on my emails, have a much healthier to-do list, finished Gurai school assessments and am now trying to work out how to create the graphs I want from the data collected, oh and I downloaded the Daily Telegraph so have new crosswords to keep me occupied on Sunday.
We may not all be nuclear scientists but I’ve always believed we were all blessed with some special talent and tonight I discovered mine...I am a toast maker …when the bigli is out and toast is required who you gonna call…toast buster! Not that a talent like mine is always appreciated!
Patehra tomorrow then a day off…I confess I am beginning to feel a little tired but pleasantly so.
Saturday 23rd
Where are the weeks going? Three weeks down …only two to go…
An early start with another long dusty drive… I never get bored when we’re out on the road as there is always so much to see...for example road building. A big digger breaks up the old road surface…then along comes an army of mainly women and children who carry away the old road surface, usually in baskets on their heads. Then piles of smaller rocks and sand are deposited along the sides of the roads, where some men but mostly women, in their beautiful sari’s, yet again shovel it into baskets, to be put on top of some other poor woman’s head and deposited on the road…Villages are completed enveloped in clouds of dust as this very lengthy process plays out, drivers, not wanting to take it in turns to drive along the single carriageway jostle and weave to get ahead of the car in front, often meeting head on other cars travelling on the wrong side of the road to avoid driving over the dug up bits, which eventually caused a grid lock situation where nobody can go anywhere for the chaos the drivers have created…presumably the road eventually gets re-laid and normality is resumed…
I saw a big sign in a very rural are today which basically warned against the evils of drinking and driving…I have yet to be in the company of an Indian person in this area who drinks and there were few cars where we were that day…perhaps there’s a problem amongst the ridiculously overcrowded, often unroadworthy,  auto rickshaw drivers that I’m not aware of that needs addressing…not wishing to belittle an important message…but I don’t think drinking and driving is the biggest threat to life on the roads in rural India!
Loved being at Patehra…nearly finished the assessments; only six to do, and that was due to absentees not my inefficiency. Was observed today by a nosey little lizard…think I did OK!
Sunday 24th
Busy , busy,  busy…rewriting lesson plans, analysing data, catching up on e- mails…did I say this was a day off?? Another rainy day…no matter where I am in the world I am constantly hearing the same thing…this weather is so unusual for this time of year.. at least here once it stops raining the sun comes out…although everywhere is very damp.
Our visitors today were a family of small black bodied spiders with enormously long legs…and we had pigs in the swampy bit at the front of the school made by our septic tank overflow…never a dull moment.
Have promised Neetu I’ll play scrabble with her this evening and I’ve got an embroidery session with the girls sometime this afternoon…(thanks to Angela for the material and silks! I’m looking forward to having a civilised hour  totally unrelated to green coats or black boots)) Beginning to wonder when I’ll get time to look at the crossword.
Monday 25th
 Morning in Mujehra…teaching…yeah! So lovely to be with the children and get rid of some energy! I’s all hands to the pump at Guria today. Tomorrow is the Guria Old Boy’s day…rumour has it we’re expecting about a thousand visitors and we’ve said we’ll feed them…without outside catering help…The atmosphere is buzzing, with children scurrying around setting up the classrooms to showcase their amazing talents or putting last minute touches to their dance routines.  
A much needed admin afternoon…I have a report to write and planning to complete and really, really, really  want to make sure I have plenty of time left on the timetable to spend with the children.
One of the many amazing models made by Year 10
I thought I got up early but some of the children were up at 4 this morning putting final touches to models, preparing classrooms, cooking….(1000  visitors ….a lot of mouths to feed!) Neetu, having spent the best part of last night helping prepare food, then made 2 beautiful Rongoli to decorate the playground…The visitors started arriving at about 11 and for about half an hour or so there were lots of curious looks, foot touching and general inquisitiveness about the foreign folk and then they became bored with us and got on with noisily catching up with each other, and enjoying the day…and what a day it was! Numbers exceeded the 1000 mark quite early on…the drab concrete of the building was masked by a swathe of brilliant colours as the exquisitely dress women in their gorgeous saris ambled along the corridors. The children were in their element showing off their classrooms, their creations, and their skills. We had rooms set aside for games and I was challenged by one of the year 10 boys to a game of table tennis…after last year’s successes with a ping pong bat I had a lot to live up to…you’ll be pleased to know that I haven’t lost it …One thing I’ve learnt is that give an Indian man a new gadget and instead of following instructions he’ll fiddle with it …hence a beginning and end but no middle of a video that  could have been the everlasting proof of my glorious victory!
Our visitors
At midday…and they say it’s mad dogs and Englishmen…(just for the record we had nothing to do with the timing)…we were all requested to sit down in the playground, and the programme began. There were speeches and past members of the Guria family honoured, and then the children put on the most amazing show for the audience, with dancing drama and songs. It was l beautifully compared by Maya, one of our year ten girls. The costumes were stunning especially when you think where most of our children live. The boys are such peacocks when it comes to dancing, and some of the old boys couldn’t resist getting on the stage to strut their stuff. We have some very talented dancers here so, as you can imagine, I was in my element…So many happy memories made today. I keep pinching myself because sometimes I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be involved in the lives of these lovely children… they take such a pride in their school…quite rightly, and are always prepared to do whatever it takes to be successful…Mukesh and the staff also deserve a huge pat on the back…it was a fantastic effort all round…

Neetu's Rongoli

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