Sunday, 4 November 2012

One does not simply borrow a pen from the azungu

Wow, it feels like ages since I last posted a blog! Especially since Ialways see Catriona being good and updating hers every week. As I've said before, we spend pretty much all of our time together so for a regular news feed of what we've been up to you should check out her blog www.catrionainmalawi.blogspot.com

I think the rainy season really started this week. I haven't seen any today but it rained Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and November is when it's supposed to properly start. Before it started chucking it down on Wednesday we hadn't seen a drop since the GVT coffee meeting, in fact we've had some really uncomfortably hot days over the past few weeks. The heat made the kids a lot more easily agitated, everybody was too hot really be bothered doing anything and to top it all off I was really missing my parents as we reached the six week mark. So it was nice to see the beginning of the rainy season and what will hopefully be the last of the horribly hot weather, despite not being prepared to walk home in the rain on Wednesday. At the end of our walk through the heavy downpour and thunder storm we received an applause from a couple of men who were passing by our front gate, we're guessing that they were impressed by our perseverence.

On our way to Samaritan's one morning this week we came across Chipiliro, one of the younger boys, along the path down from our village. A man who we don't know very well but often see around The Samaritan Trust centre was passing in the opposite direction, and translated to us that Chipi wasn't at school because he didn't have an exercise book, so we walked him back to the centre where we were told that he actually goes to a school which is nowhere near the path we found him on. We still don't actually know why he was there but I'd guess that maybe he got confused and went to the school that's not far from our house, which I know a lot of the Samaritan's kids attend. Chipi is only about 7, always gives us a great big grin and a hug when he sees us and always seems to be wearing the same massive pair of shorts really high up around his waist which make him look hilarious.

Yesterday was one of the best days I've had so far. In the morning we helped out in a maths class with an introductory lesson to algebra. The class included two new girls who we met in a maths lesson on Tuesday morning, one of whom seemed to have never been taught about multiplication. I tried explaining using bottle caps, getting her to count out four groups of three botle caps etc. but she still didn't get the hang of it. When we saw that she didn't understand the algebra at all I had another go at teaching her to multiply, this time getting her to draw circles and dots (e.g. for 3x5 drawing three circles, and five dots inside each one, then counting all of the dots). I was so happy and immensly proud of her when she managed to do all of the sums I'd set her without me telling her how many circles to draw and how many dots inside each one. I've heard people talk about how fulfilling being a teacher can be and now I really know what they mean. At the start of the lesson she couldn't even recognise the difference between the addition and multiplication signs, I had to spend a good ten minutes showing her how to draw a 'x' instead of a '+'.

This week we finally discovered the real words/ meaning of the song that we saw the kids being filmed singing the first ever time we visited The Samaritan Trust. We've been told that the first word is "mdima" (darkness) and "mtima"(heart) but it's now confirmed the lyrics are actually "ndimadalila" which means, "I depend on you". It's really catchy and the kids are great, check it out.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hm9dh0oPvFg

We also taught Madalitso, a 15-year-old boy who speaks English very well and is a real character,
to say "Can I borrow a pen please?" instead than the usual "borrow me pen!" which is how most of the kids ask for one. I told him that every time he says "borrow me" I'm going to quote Boromir from Lord of the Rings. Of course he didn't have a clue what I meant but I make myself laugh :)

And I will close with the news that the stranger who was at a bus stop on the way to Blantyre on Thursday is fine. It seems that he got a bit confused about how to greet people in English, because although I didn't actually notice him until he spoke and so didn't get a chance to ask "How are you?" he poked his head through the window and said "Hi, I'm fine" when our minibus stopped to let some people off. Or maybe his name is Fine...