I was watching a movie recently and one of the characters was describing life as a series of moments that are like the thousands of little pieces that make up a great mosaic. I really like the idea of thinking about life as this one amazing image that is composed of a million tiny ones because even if a handful of the pictures are really awful the image can still end up being really beautiful. It is a good coping technique for me to put things in perspective because when I have bad days here I think they feel more dramatic and it is easy to forget that it is just one day and there will be many good ones to follow. Here are some of my favorite (and not so favorite moments) from the past week:
• I was down at the orphanage this week and gave the girls dresses that had been donated to another volunteer who passed them down to me. I was a little apprehensive since I didn’t have anything for the boys but the missionary family reassured me that it was fine to just give the girls something. So naturally the boys threw a fit when I told the girls we were going to their dormitory to try on new clothes and despite a lovely discussion with the missionary Mama about how sometimes children in a family get blessed at different times, and not always together, the boys were still pretty annoyed with me. Contrary to the boys pouty glares the girls were in heaven and loved their new dresses, or tunic tops depending on which size they chose.
Clarifying note: The orphanage originally had 53 kids but they released 35 to relatives over the last holiday. There are now 18 kids who are truly orphans, with no known family, living there. Not sure how the orphanage filled up with kids who already had relatives but things happen like that here all the time, someone hears of a free education and recommends an “orphan” who might actually have relatives. Or maybe the parents died and a relative didn’t want to take them in but now the government is forcing them to take the kid back. Anyways, here are some cute shots of the girls in their new dresses/tops:
• Little Cody is continuing to improve after his last bout of seizures over the holiday. He is one resilient little boy. He is no longer potty trained but was able to go back to the inclusive preschool in my area, a move which I think will be great for his development. I love carrying him on my back when he is sleepy because it makes me feel like a true Rwandan Mama. Even when I feel his pee trickling down my back, that just adds to the authenticity. Here is a shot of Cody and Bibi, the mama who cares for him:
• I was able to sit and talk with the assistant director of the orphanage, Mama JoJo, for almost three hours the other day. I went to visit the new baby, and while I did get to spend time snuggling with Tom I spent most of the visit sitting on mattresses in a bedroom with Mama JoJo, just talking about family, our futures, and life in general. There was a moment when she reached out to hold my hand when we were talking about something and I realized that this is why I am here, because of the amazing people I have grown to love.
JoJo with her younger brothers, Tom and David
JoJo, Papa JoJo, David, Mama JoJo, Tom, Sonia, Ines
Adorable baby Tom, growing bigger and stronger every day!
• When I came home from the orphanage the electricity was out so I was using my flashlight to get ready for bed and happened to catch a glimpse of this guy hanging out in my bedroom:
There ended up being two giant spiders, the photo is actually of the smaller one who met his untimely demise after a few solid whacks from my local broom. The larger one managed to evade my attacks and remains at large, camped out somewhere in my room, providing me with enough fitful nights of sleep to make me sufficiently cranky in the morning. I have also developed a new phobia about spiders crawling in my ears while I sleep so I have to sleep with earplugs or I can’t fall asleep now. It has been a regular spider palooza in my room lately and I don’t care for it at all.
• One of my colleagues has a youtube video of Miley Cyrus’ song Hoedown Throwdown on a flash drive and we listened to it, on repeat, for an entire hour yesterday in the teacher’s room. It was painful and my brain felt numb when I finally left the room.
• I often visit my colleague Alice, the biology teacher, who lives across the street from me. This week her husband Philbert was asking me if I like sport so I of course replied, “Yes, I love sport!” He asked me if I knew “gym tonic” and I thought he was referring to an actual gym but it turns out he has a collection of old Tae Bo films that I was then forced to watch for the rest of the evening. This is the same house where I was subjected to hours of High School Musical torture so you think I would be used to it but it was still difficult to sit through. Luckily I had the baby to entertain me although I was occasionally reprimanded for not properly observing the film and the subsequent live demonstrations of the best moves.
• I have started a new activity with my kids that I call “Sentence Creation” and I implemented it in hopes of fostering some type of creative instinct in the students. I give them two or three words and they work in groups to see who can write the most detailed and creative sentences. It has been a painful process because it is not something that comes naturally to them but I am hoping that they will slowly pick up on it. Here is how it works:
– I give them a few words, for example: a name, Divine, and a verb, visited. They must include these two words in their sentence.
– I walk around the class and see most of the groups have the following sentence: Divine visited. I want to take one of their notebooks to hit myself with. After a myriad of detailed examples on the board I really thought that they understood. A deep sense of frustration is brewing.
– I try to encourage them- where did Divine visit? Why did she go there? What did she do? I am answered with blank stares. The frustration is now apparent to the kids and finally a girl offers the market as a destination and I want to jump with joy and take a victory lap around the room.
– After 15 minutes of prompting most of the groups still have boring sentences using as few words as possible, but one group writes a sentence about Divine visiting a zebra named Claude in Uganda and I am overwhelmed with an urge to hug them all. They get it. They understand how to be creative. It is a slow process but I think there is hope for them yet!
I think that is all for now! As a kind reminder I really love getting mail so the next time you are bored and have 10 minutes to spare sit down and tell me what you are up to! Remember to write “par avion” on the envelope, we don’t want it coming over by boat and getting here next May! 🙂
BP # 5462