Sunday 20 June 2010


I thought, after being here a couple of months, I would give you a taste of day to day life here.

“Ah, Iwe. Zona awye.”
“Where's my lunch box”
“Ah where's my shirt?”
“Give me the iron”
These kind of things, at a high volume, are usually my cue to roll back over, squeeze my eyes shut and try to kid myself that it is not morning yet and pretend I will manage to go back to sleep. It is around 06.00 and the boys are getting up ready for school. I lay in bed and listen to them going backwards and forwards, getting their rooms ready for inspection. One of them sweeps, someone comes in and makes a mess, they get shouted at, someone else sweeps. Etc.
06.30 riiiiiiiing, riiiing, riiiiiiiing. The alarm (just outside my room) is turned on to let everyone know breakfast is ready. This is accompanied with lots of shouting and running trying to get the final things done. Breakfast is tea and bread. (1 loaf shared between 5) Some of the boys eat it straight away, others collect theirs and go back to finish getting ready, they were late getting up and haven't managed to get all of the jobs finished before breakfast is ready.

Boys start to trickle out of the gate to walk to school. (Looking verry smart in freshly washed and ironed uniform, but I try not to ever see them like this!) I am still laying in bed listening to the noise, waiting for it to quieten down. Someone runs back past the room, they have forgotten some books. Someone else shouts to them “Iwe, my book” “I don't know where is it” “the table” All in Nyanja, peppered with English.

A hush settles on the house. It is safe to get up. Time to go and get some breakfast, toast and coffee. Thoko is working in the kitchen. You can tell the mood of the day by whether you are greeted with a big hug or a grunt. Aunt Yvonne wants clothes for washing and Eunice is looking for matches to make the fire for cooking. The boys who are at home come in. One carrying three cabbages, one with a bucket of tomatoes, one with 3 onions, then 'Mum' comes in so they all run back to the farm. Only one person needed to bring the vegetables up.
Time to get dressed and sorted for the day ahead.

It has come round too quickly. The boys are all coming up from the farm for breakfast and school and I am not ready because I have found something else to do instead of getting their books ready. (Usually this is a good time to go on the internet because I wont get disturbed.) The amount of noise just a few boys can make is amazing! The devour breakfast and go for bathing.

“School time, come on boys don't be late again”
5 mins later they begin to trickle in and we settle down to a mixture of English, maths, social studies, science, RE and any other subject that I think they could do with. At 10.10 we have a break, it is only meant to be 10 mins, but 15 mins later we might be ready to start again with everyone working on a different subject to earlier.
By 11.00 the boys are beginning to flag, sometimes they will work until 11.15 but usually by 11.00 we are involved in a deep discussion about who is the richest person in the world, how you can become rich, which job would be the best job to have or where they would like to visit when they are rich. When I tell them they can go the slowly leave, not the usualy rush out of the door at the end of school so I take that as they have had a good day.

Time to walk around the farm and collect the little children for their lesson. As I round the corner three little bodies come flying down the slope to see who will be the first to get spun around this morning. Then we walk together, singing as we go, to get Eliza. As we get close the little ones stop mid flow in their song and begin calling “Eliza, school time” She runs and gets her shoes before joining us going back to the house for their lesson. This is a combination of all different kinds of activities, sometimes we cook, other times we make puzzles and learn sounds. Eliza and Ezra have just learnt to write their name so are keen to practice writing the letters. At 12.15 we pack up and it is “trampoline time” The best part of the lesson! Outside is now above 35 degrees but that doesn't deter them. They run down to the trampoline and all jump on it together doing seat drops, front drops, back drops. There is a tap is close by... It would be rude not to throw some water over them. They run screaming, then back again for more.

“home time, nsima time”
All shoes are put back on and we walk back to the farm, balancing along the wall as we go, two children on each hand, although they are beginning to get more confident and try balancing on their own.

With the children are delivered safely back home I am hungry! After some lunch it is time to mark any work from the morning that didn't get to looked at then prepare some work for the next day. Most of the boys in the lesson now need work written in their books as they are older boys but working at lower levels.
At some point in the afternoon I may go into town to pick someone up or do some shopping or just to get out for a while. Sometimes I stay at home. If it is a bad day I might be sorting school work until the boys start coming home from school again. Some days it is a nice quiet afternoon and I can read a book and get some peace and quiet for a little while.

The noise level is rising, this can mean only one thing. School is over and the boys are on their way home. Between 15.45 and 16.30 the boys all arrive. Some wander into the kitchen looking for food, others go to their room and lie down for a while. Most get changed and head over to the football 'pitch'. Someone finds a guitar and starts practising some 'chords' they have dreamt up without realising it needs to be tuned or there is a certain way to make the chord they want. The boys on duty check to see if there is nsima and relish made. A couple of boys stay in the kitchen hoping to 'help' and pick at whatever is being made and a few of the older boys do some studying.

At 18.00 the bell goes again to tell the boys it is their supper time. They come bringing their plates and cups. We finish making our supper, setting the table (for around 10 to 12 people) then go and enjoy some quiet while we eat.

19.30 is prayers time. The bell goes again and everyone gathers in the lounge, people sitting everywhere. Someone chooses a song to sing and they read around through proverbs. One of the verses tells them they are fools who don't want to learn and everyone laughs nervously. The adults all agree with what is being read. Some of the verses provoke heated discussion, others mean the boys shift uncomfortably in their seats. Then if anyone has anything to pray about they can mention it before we pray.

After prayers is lunch box time. The person on duty cuts 5 loaves into 10 pieces each and slaps egg mayo, peanut butter or sausage meat in between two of the slabs of bread. Someone else is washing up and packing away and another few are clearing up any scraps or left overs. Then it is homework time. Time to collect the spellings and other work for the guys at home and see what the guys from school have bought home today. Some are at the table in the lounge, others work in their room. Thandy comes, “Will you do my homework?” “No, but I will help you” Usually he has spellings and maths. With a little explanation he understands the maths and gets most spellings right. One of the boys creeps up. “Sorry, but can you do maths?” “No, but I will try” they show me a question on simultaneous equations “Go and ask someone else!” Then we spend a while looking at it and explaining how you simplify it. If there is a question that I cant remember how to do I try and find a text book with the explanation and we work it out together, usually coming to a satisfactory conclusion with both him and I having learnt something.

21.30 people start drifting off to bed, the bread for breakfast (all 9 loaves) has been taken out of the freezer and the kettle is on the hob starting to heat up for the morning. One of the big guys locks up and sets the alarm and peace descends back over the house. Time to climb under the mosquito net, check for beastys, read one line of a book before giving up and sleeping until I am woken again...

No comments:

Post a Comment