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!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Tough Times

We returned home from Enugu in triumph. The journey took nine hours and we didn’t stop for lunch so it was not a great experience. We did stop in Kogi state and the driver and my colleagues got out to  shop in the market leaving me in the car. I think they thought I would stop them from getting a good deal. As it was I was now alone in a posh car and instantly surrounded by sellers. I bought some little pears-which have to be boiled and taste a bit like avocado, some bananas, some really juicy oranges, some greens which looked different from Kwara ones and were certainly more expensive and a very large ‘pear’ which had a bumpy surface but which, as I will explain later, I never got to eat although I think it is another variant of the avocado pear family. We set off again, only stopping so the driver could ‘ease’ himself’ by the side of the car. Eventually we had to stop for petrol and of course the ‘easing’ by the van. I legged it down the road in search of a large bush! Of course half way through an okado sped past and must have seen quite a sight! I spent the rest of the journey obsessing as to whether I had wee on my sandels.  So you can imagine I was looking forward to getting home and seeing Lea again especially as he had lost his phone and been unable to contact me after the third day.
So we got to the flat and my key wouldn’t go in the lock. After a few panicky moments Lea appeared. Dare helped me in with my bags and boxes of teaching aids and then left with the driver. Lea was keen to make me a drink but then the truth hit me lost phone and  new locks??? Lea had been burgled while I was away. It got worse. Lea had been asleep in bed with the pillow over his head-to drown out the noise of our neighbour’s generator-while a thief had slashed most of our outside netting and some of our neighbours and then sawed through the bars of our spare bedroom window and gained entrance to our flat. He had then grabbed a knife from our kitchen and gone into the bedroom where Lea was sound asleep-thank God-and taken Lea’s watch and trousers. He took the trousers into the parlour and took the money from the pockets. He also took our laptop, hard drive, camera, mobile, head torch and a bottle of groundnuts. He attempted to lower our generator from the window but our landlord’s wife was woken by the noise, opened her window, saw him and shouted, ‘Thief’. He dropped the generator and ran off over the back wall. He had also cut all our electric wires and absconded with our meter. Lea only discovered all this when he got up in the morning and another neighbour asked him if he was alright.
Apparently there had been other burglaries in our flat before we arrived. The last VSO had been burgled but not reported it and never changed the locks. Over the last few months things have ‘disappeared’ from our flat-phones and most recently my ipod which was upsetting as the music used to keep me going when I felt homesick. The police think someone had a set of keys and that another thief had been coming and going-so when I thought I could see shadows I was not imagining things. At least I know I have not been going mad!
So now we have new locks, strengthened bars and a guard at night. Lea has written a funny blog about the police station but I am still reeling from it all and can’t help thinking what could have happened......
Everyone has been really kind. Our neighbour Oozo made Lea a meal and Gbenga was brilliant taking Lea to the police. Fumni, as usual was so supportive too as was Stephen getting Lea a new phone, etc.
We stayed in on Sunday, trying to come to terms with everything. I was so sad that Lea had lost all his poems and his training notes. We had no music either now to lift our spirits. Lea made a special nut roast which I ate with the greens-which seemed unusually tough. So the next day I felt really sick and had, what is called here ‘a runny tummy’. However I managed to go to work but went straight to bed when I got back. I was the aching, had a headache, temperature and generally felt awful so the next day it was off to the hospital. The doctor was great. I had to have the malaria test but fortunately it was negative and so he said I had gastro-enteritis. Drugs were prescribed and he then offered to examine Lea! I spent the next two days in the Esspin guest house and gradually got better. Hence I did not get to taste the bumpy pear and do not want to see Kogi  greens ever again-at one point I was thinking I had been poisoned by them as the stomach cramps were so bad.
It is the following Sunday now and I am still not quite better but have managed to start eating again. Our misfortunes continued on Thursday when Lea got a very bad electric shock from the toaster in the guest house kitchen and on Friday when our new key got stuck in the lock of the front door! I have also lost my bracelet which I never take off-it must have fallen off somewhere.
Again everyone has rallied round. Julie has copied some of her music onto CDs for us which was really thoughtful and Katherine hastened the arrival of the carpenter when I phoned her in distress after waiting for him for three hours terrified someone could just walk in. Sue has also been great-making meals for Lea and getting someone to take me to the hospital. Stephen insisted on staying to bring us back even though we had to wait ages. Neighbours have asked how we are and everyone says how sorry they are about the burglary.
I can’t laugh about it yet. The thief must need money and was obviously hungry. I guess he needed the money from my stuff more than I do.... He probably just thinks white man-money and has no understanding of ‘volunteer’. We do live near to a lot of very poor people and they must see the difference in our lifestyles even though ours is a basic one compared to UK standards. Does make me wonder what I am doing here.........
Sorry folks this is the most miserable blog I have ever posted but it is what being a volunteer is like-taking the rough with the smooth. Fact is Lea and I did not get on the next plane out.
The SSIT were so pleased with the feedback from Enugu and expressed their gratitude to me. They are such a great group to work with. I just hope I can summon up some more inner strength to keep going as my confidence has taken quite a bashing and not being well hasn’t helped.
Final thought: Sorry I can’t provide photos of temples, amazing sights, waterfalls, etc but this is Nigeria and this is the reality of being a volunteer here. The only thing that keeps me going is the people and the children stuck in those dark dismal classrooms learning nothing.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Bak to Kwara

This reads, 'Sound hurn and if men where God'-think they need some phonics training!!!!

Back to the rusty tin roofs in Kwara!

How much can you get in your boot????

Tour of Enugu

Fidelis, the ESSPIN driver very kindly took us on a quick sightseeing tour of Enugu. It was not possible to get to the market as the traffic was so bad-in fact we got stuck at one point and had to turn back-Friday at 4pm everyone is in a rush!
Yellow taxis abound here. Okada drivers are mad and Fidelis sadi there is a special Okada ward kept for them in the big teaching hospital here.

I was quite surprised to see a proper red coach style bus here. There transport systems and roads are a step ahead of Kwara.

This is the 'tunnel'-in fact everyone regards this as a joke as it is only a few meters long and is really a bridge but officially regarded as on a par with international tunnels!
 One of the longest streets in Enugu.
Very old buildings made of brick with strong zinc roofs. They were formally used as telegram post office buildings. They are now homes and shops.

All the other buildings here are made of cement blocks with aluminium roofs.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Highlights of Enugu Training

The training has gone really well. Here they are playing the matching game for words beginning with 's'. They love the adjectives they have chosen for their names. I was introduced as Caring Caroline and it was very strange getting used to being called just Caring all the time! They call everyone by their adjectives and you hear them calling to 'Frequent', 'Intelligent'....... For one activity Dare put them in groups called apples, pears, carrots and mangoes and some of them were calling one another by these names long after the activity had finished!
'Religious' Romanus with a lo-cost no-cost teaching aid. They loved the 'Mighty Mouse' number line and averyone wanted me to take their photo whcn they had made it!
Just Josephine.
Me, Dare, Tunji (the Kwara SSIT members) and Richard (Esspin consultant)

'Find a Friend' x tables game.

Ordering numbers.

Multiplication Bingo.

The number line.

Matching game.

What is in the box?

Mighty mouse!!!!

Final picture with Simeon the Education Quality Specialist. Well done o Dare and Tunji!!!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Journey to Enugu

The State team in Enugu are interested in the lesson plans used in Kwara and so the SSIT were asked to come and do some training on phonics and numeracy with the SSIT team in Enugu. I was asked to come in an advisory capacity with SSIT members Dare and Tunji so we travelled here on Sunday. The journey itself was an adventure as it took nine hours on roads that Tunji classified as the good, the bad and the ugly but then we also added a further category-the horrible!
To get to Enugu we had to go through Oro and travel east. We stopped for bread and akara (cooked in palm oil over a little fire at the roadside) to sustain us on our travels and were soon bouncing down the roads. Our driver, Tajuden-or Baba as he is better known-skilfully dodged potholes and happily overtook six vehicles in one go to keep us on time.One of which was a big lorry with the slogan, 'Only the Living Celebrate'! He is a fan of Don Williams but sadly we were in the Hilux which only has a cassette player so had to make do with Jim Reeves which was quite soothing I must say.
The roads were quite busy as a lot of people were going to church. I saw a lot of people dressed in white- compulsory garments for the Cherubim and Seraphim church.
We finally said goodbye to Kwara and entered the state of Ekiti and a bad road. The houses here were similar to Kwara with tin roofs but there seemed to be more cement as opposed to mud walls. Ado is the capital of Ekiti. The scenery was definitely changing and became more noticeable in the next state-Kogi. This has more forest and there were a lot of different trees such as rubber and palm. They grow coffee and some cocoa here. It is more hilly and there are quarries. I finally got to see my hibiscus!
So then we stopped at a 'service station' where we could 'ease' ourselves -or in my case not drink and hang on until we got to the hotel-my bladder has certainly had a lot of practise at this by now! However I did buy some peanuts and bananas. Emma had kindly asked Ife to make me some moin moin so I was well sustained for the journey. The moin moin was delicious by the way. Tunji tried to persuade me to try the fried cows cheese on sale but I thought I would save that for the journey back when an upset stomach would not be such a disaster. They also sold 'slippers' (flip flops) and DVDs here.
We then reached Kabba, the capital of Kogi state and I spotted an old 'colonial' post box! There were more mountains and lots of crops growing which was good to see.
How much can you get in your boot????
An express way surrounded by mountains. Actually there are just two roads and you swap from one to another depending on the severity of the pot-holes!
Kogi is more prosperous. I saw donkeys and horses here.
Note the 'For Sale'  sign on the car roof !!
Crossing the river Niger in Kogi state.
And then the rain came!
It stopped raining as we arrived in Enugu. Finally we got our weary limbs out of the van. This is the view from my hotel window!!! Enugu is great! Quite humid but cooler and lots of trees and greenery. There is a lake and gardens to walk around in the hotel grounds and lots of unusal birds. The hotel is nice-comfy bed, a/c, hot shower and good internet. Also friendly staff who made me special veggie food-can't ask for more!!!
Enugu is more prosperous than Kwara and there are more cement houses. The roofs here are made of aluminium as opposed to iron in Kwara. They are often blue or coloured and as Dare said more aesthetically pleasing. There is more industry here too.
The lovely lake at the hotel. The white specks are hundreds of birds that seem to flock to the island. It was great to have somehere to walk to!
This is the entrance to the Esspin office where the workshops are being held.

Happy Birthday Lea.

Lea just wanted a quiet birthday. He is very easy to fool and didn't ask too many questions when I started baking bread and chocolate cake.  I think he was a bit suspicious when I started to move the furniture around and even more when I told him to go and get changed. While he was getting changed the guesta arrived for his surprise party! In true phonics mode we played a matching game and I think he was quite pleased secretly!
He certainly enjoyed the Heinneken present from Sue!
Not so sure about the dressing up game with Meg!
The sunflower is becoming a real feature in my blog!!!!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Samples of work!

So we set off to find samples of wotk to illustrate the lesson plans. Here they are working on the theme 'My body' from the lessons. A bewildered kindergarten child was dragged in to be drawn around by an older child!
Everyone at Ansarul Primary was keen to help. I was very impressed with Primary 3 where they were working on sentences in groups. Well done o!