Sunday, 29 September 2013

You're having a Gilaffe!

Yes I know, it's been a bit sparse on the Blog front. I've been struggling to find something even remotely amusing to share, about my first few weeks back at school.
My bubble has been burst and stamped upon! I had realised last year that my ideal of coming to Africa, to teach children who wanted to learn, was in fact a tad unrealistic. I discovered that children are children, all over the world. They have an inclination towards naughtiness. They don't always say 'yippee' when asked to work hard. In fact, even in one of the poorest nations of the world my role as motivator is high on my list of priorities.
So, who popped my balloon, who knocked the wind out of my sails? My present class 6L, Mrs Liz's, year 6 class. They are, as a group of children one of the most challenging I have ever faced. As individuals, (sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, nephews and neices, children of your best friend) I am sure they can be vouched for, as being, wonderful, loving, fun to be with human beings. BUT, put them together and call them a Class, and they become something different entirely. Herein lies my problem in Blogging about them. This Blog has the potential to be read by a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, and so I do not want to be saying that the child known to any of those people, is anything less than wonderful. I would hate to read a Blog that said anything negative about any of my beautiful, perfect grandchildren!
So, if by chance you do happen to be reading this and are directly connected with one of the individuals that makes up 6L King's School, Primary, Bujumbura, please be aware that I am talking about your child as part of the entitiy that is 6L not as the individual you know and love.
You see the entity that has become 6L has a history of being difficult to maintain. Together they draw out in one another a desire to oppose all forms of authority. Thwart, all attempts at consistent learning. Some have developed highly skilled strategies of concentration avoidance. They have an intricate 'domino effect' attitude to reprimands. Finding it highly amusing to create a string of accustions and denials of involvement in actions requiring a reprimand. 
All in all they have been a nightmare to teach so far!! And yes, I have set boundaries around them, because I know that is what children need. But sadly, 6L as a group are boundary jumpers, boundary tunnellers, boundary climbers. Boundaries are great if those inside them acknowledge them and stop at them. But these guys, they are something else! My next step is to seek out and develop any potential for in-boundary dwellers. There are a few showing signs of tiring, when it comes to fighting the system. A few, for whom the thought of not getting a good education is beginning to be less appealing.
Thus my time has been rather consumed with keeping on top of my lovely crowd. The last two weekends have just been spent re-charging the batteries, ready for the next onslaught.
But I do have a little ray of sunshine to add. This week I visited my colleague's house for lunch, between school and a staff meeting. She has two beautiful children Joanna and Enoch. Whilst home in Endgland a young friend gave my grandson some plastic animals that he had grown out of playing with. When I saw them I negotiated with both my friend and grandson, (Well at 2 years old, the grandson wasn't really up to much negotiating) that at the end of the Summer, I could take the animals to Burundi, and give them to Enoch and Joanna. Thus, this Thursday I was able to pass them on. It was again one of those experiences that makes it all worth while. The absolute joy and excitement on Joanna and Enoch's faces as they identified the animals and played with them, was such a privilege to behold. Enoch was so taken with the Gilaffe. He kept saying, 'it's a Gilaffe, it's a Gilaffe.' The kangaroo was a complete unknown. In Bujumbura children will get to see, hippos, crocodiles, dogs, cats, goats, and cows. Not much else. They wont all have seen the hippos and crocodiles. Enoch and his Gilaffe was great therapy for me.

Even though my class are hard work and appear not to appreciate the privilege they have in attending King's School.They are all still children growing up in one of the poorest nations in the world. They may not be the poorest children in the country, but they are still facing many hurdles and limitations that are not faced by children in the west. And I am still privileged to be able to make a difference to their lives (even if they make it hard work!).
The more I write, I realise that when my balloon popped and must have fallen over my sense of humour eyes. There are actually far more good things that have happened than I first thought when I started writing.

I nearly forgot! What great joy this weekend to hear that a young footballer from Burundi, Saido Berahino scored the winning goal for West Bromwich Albion against none other than Manchester United! Oh what joy that brought to my heart.



Finally, an update on my pea eating exploits! Evidence here of a meal shared with the Junior staff. I am the gap in the photo. We are sharing ibitoke and peas!( and a few carrots)