Me at Lucy's Wedding. The sun does shine in England!

Me at Lucy's Wedding. The sun does shine in England!
Me still in England!

Saturday, 25 December 2010


Merry Christmas everyone. Feels very strange here and a bit isolated. Most of my colleagues have been on leave for the last week and gone to their villages to be with family. I have continued going into the office to  editi the lesson plans and Lea has come with me but I am having a bit of a break now as the office is closed until Jan 4th. I did get to visit another school with Jegede which I really enjoyed-especially when she took the lesson herself-think OFSTED could learn something from that! Would be great to see them doing a model lesson after being observed!
 People here don't really do presents but give food and get new clothes at Christmas. In particular the women have their hair done-mainly extensions-have been tempted but think I may just use the Clairol dye I bought with me. My bargaining skills are greatly improved and I am getting better at shopping I think. We have just had a roast dinner with most of the trimmings! I got a chicken for Lea from the Kwara hotel-it was frozen! I decided if he wanted a fresh one then he could go and bargain for one of the live chickens I have seen in cages, watch while they kill it and then pluck it himself! I also used money I had saved to get a big piece of cheese, some chocolate, chocky biscuits and decaffeinated coffee. So we had chicken and bean burger for me with potaoes, carrots and cabbage and banana cake for pud! Couldn't manage gravy! Washed down with the bottle of wine left by Lilian, listening to Skye news!
After we went for a walk to our own house and visited our neighbours. I took sweets and some fairy cakes I had made for the children. We were made very welcome and I tried 'chin chin' which is little pieces of dough with nutmeg and very nice-Oozo gave me a load to take back which I can't stop eating now!
I learned that sightseeing isn't really a Nigerian thing as it was pointed out that thoughts are mainly on ensuring they have enough food to eat and then getting clothes. Most people stay in on Christmas day and visit tomorrow. The girls at the egg shop were very pleased to see us as well and we are making friends with another neighbour who is keen to come home with us! We found out a bit more about the political situation which is very complicated-don't know what will happen during the elections but Ante said last time it was safer to stay indoors as there was a lot of kidnapping.
We are now back in the comfort of Sue's house enjoying the generator. I wish this colder weather would come. Harmattan doesn't seem to have arrived yet. Locals say it is colder now-it is a bit first thing-but it soon gets to 37 again.
Was great to speak to family and friends today even though SKYPE is a bit fuzzy and very delayed. We may get a bus and venture further afield next week. We went for a swim yesterday and almost had the pool yo ourselves! Am missing everyone loads but not the freezing weather I can see on the TV!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Lake

Coffee shops???????

Well we have actually found a few places where we can go and have a drink and a cake! We enjoyed a nice apple doughnut and fruit juice in 'Chicken chilis' but have not been in the 'stomach Care' restaurant yet! On Friday after work we walked down to the lake and had a drink there which was quite pleasant despite the constant cries of 'White people' and the mozzies around our legs! Being Brits we tried to return our bottles but were told to drop them on the ground!

Goats and Carols.

They are everywhere! The Billy goat has a little family that he takes for a walk near our house!
Last night we went to a carol service at Katherine's church. There were several choirs and it was interesting to hear their adaptations of carols! It is hard to believe it is nearly Christmas but hearing 'Hark the Herald Angels' made it seem real and the children's choir were cute-especially when they rushed to the front at the end to get their sweets!
We went swimming on Saturday at 10am and had the pool to ourselves as the locals thought it was too cold! It is about 20 at 7am but soon gets back up to 36!

Sunday, 12 December 2010


Yesterday I went to an orphanage with Funmi, my colleague at ESSPIN. They were having their Christmas party. The orphanage is on the same site as the school and children from the school were there too. There are 13 orphans who have been rescued from rubbish dumps and the streets. The youngest is about 5 months. They are cared for and now thriving better but sleep in two rooms and have very few toys to play with. The toys they received from Father Christmas were of the cheap plasic kind and not suitable for toddlers but they held onto them with grim desperation. They play with bits of metal and tyres and have no possessions of their own. The staff are quite poorly paid themselves. While I was there a baby called Peace was crying. He stopped when I picked him up but later it was clear he was hungry. He was born in May so is 7 months. He was fed by a woman who put the milky cereal they have in her hand and then tipped it into his mouth. When I questioned this technique I was told it was the most hygenic way as they had no facilities for cleaning bottle teats or feeding cups. They also seemed short of bibs. The children were dressed up for the party but had to give all the clothes back at the end and they were put in a big bag to keep them clean. The owner has done a lot for these children but said they desperately need clothes for when it gets colder and I think it would be great if they all had one cuddly toy each that was theirs to keep. If someone is reading this and wants to help me collect some new cuddly toys and clothes 6 months to about 8 years please let me know. I just can't walk away from this. In the room they share with 6 other babies and children there are two beds which they share. They have so little and when I think of the number of toys children have in England and they are making do with plastic sunglasses that snap, balloons and pencils that they are either too young for or can't use because they have no sharpener..........

Quite a week!

Busy, busy, busy but some amazing experiences! On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday  it was School Development Planning training for the SSIT. Lilian was doing this and I was asked to assist and do a couple of the sessions. It was a really good experience. First we went over the School Self Evaluation -much more straightforward here! It's a really big step that they are starting this here and it is leading on to a school development plan that has to be agreed by the School Based Management Committee and the parents. Kwara is leading the way with Literacy and Numeracy and now needs to catch up with the other states in this area. Lilian is a brilliant trainer and I learnt a lot from here. The SSIT are great to train and we all did really well especially as there was no air conditioning and when the fans eventually came on they made a horrible noise. The SSIT now need to train another team of people who will go out and train the headteachers and SBMCs. On Tuesday we had to stop after lunch and go to the ministry where there was a big ceremony. Funds have been found to give all the School Support Officers in the state motor bikes so they can visit even the most rural and remote schools so there was a big ceremony as they were handed over. Awards were also given to the best teacher and there were science and maths kits for schools. The deputy governor and the comissioner were there complete with body guards and red carpet and I was with the ESSPIN team sitting behind them. So much has been achieved in such a short time. The next day another group gave them all helmets which was great too.In the evening it was the staff Christmas party complete with agenda! Yes, really-we had speeches and quizes and I was touched to be mentioned in one of the speeches and then had to go and make a speech myself! Later in the week there was a party with the SSIT which was great too. I felt quite choked when Philip said how well I had fitted in and how they appreciated the work I was doing with them. They had even organised special veggie food for me-moinme (sort of spicy bean thing but very nice!). On Thursday I had to go to Offa for a meeting at a hotel. We stopped to get okaro-which is deep fried beans and my favourite Nigerian food. On the way back we stopped to buy white sweet potatoes which Offa is famous for and Katherine got me a paw paw which I also like! On Friday I had another meeting-I am now on a sub-committee for the operational framework for the in-service and advisory policy!!!!
Yesterday I finally braved the hospital and had my B12 injection. The doctor was great and said as I was a foreigner he would give it to me himself. Everywhere was very clean so I felt okay only- problem was we were completely ripped off by the taxi driver. Fumni said 10 could have gone for the price we paid. Anyway we cheered ourselves up with a kitkat and a fanta! Earlier in the week I actually acquired my bank card! I had to sign two huge log books and more forms plus I mananged to get stuck in the security door but yes I can now access my living allowance!
We have moved into Sue's house while she is on leave and are enjoying air conditioning and hot showers and tv!!! Seems mad to be watching 'Who wants to be a millionnaire' here. Sadly Jayne, our flat mate has left and gone back to Kenya as things didn't turn out too well for her so we are the only volunteers in Kwara now. I will upload some photos when I am in the office. I am out visiting a school on Monday which I really enjoy.
This week I also made bean burgers with the VSO recipe book. It is still hot but has been a bit cooler at night and we are all waiting for the harmattan wind which will bring cooler weather and loads of dust! NEPPA has been very poor so I am very glad we are here. We had the bets night's sleep last night.

Sunday, 5 December 2010


It has been another busy week. I did my first training with the SSIT which I think was okay and I also gave some help on the use of the number line. I really enjoyed being with them-it was quite lively at times but good fun too. Yesterday (Saturday) we took a taxi down Taiwo Road. The driver was quite chatty and asked us if we were missionaries! When we explained what we were doing he told us the real price of the taxi for our return which was useful. Our aim was to renew the Glo subscription but the shop was not open yet so we walked down the road and found an interesting gift shop where we bought a few Christmas presents. Next door was a cafe where we bought a scone! Yes a real scone-no butter but washed down well with Fanta and only cost 60n. Back to the Glo shop and I was greeted with, "you were very angry last time". However when I explained that it now worked and I was not here to complain we got our new subscription and instructions on how to install. As we were now on a roll we decided to walk back(in full sun in true Brit style) and look for speakers for our laptop. After several forrays into dark interiors we were directed into another shop and shown some speakers but they were 5000n (£20). I explained we were only prepared to pay 3000n and after much haggling the owner, apparently a devout Christian who trusted us and wanted us to have it agreed on 3500 without a receipt. They work!!!!
We then found Gomalez-a 'department store' where we bought some funny little gifts for our grandsons. Shattered by now and fed up with near-death experiences with bikes and taxis we got a taxi to Martrite where amazingly I found white sugar.
I was now able to make my contribution for the party we had been invited to that evening. Apples are in good supply so I made apple crumble and even found custard powder-although the custard was rather lumpy! We really enjoyed meeting up with everyone at the party and Lea got to eat chicken and goat! I enjoyed the vegetable curry!
Today Sue took us to the lake in the university which is so lovely. It is set in the countryside and really great to breathe fresh air and be in such a peaceful setting. We saw egrets and heard some very loud toads. We will definitely go there again.
Other good news has been that I have been able to open a bank account this week thanks to Yejide in the office.