Thursday, 5 July 2012

Sports day and beyond...

God its been a while since i posted!!

on Friday we had sports day at school. in the morning i was in charge of baby one along with Martha, one of the other volunteers. we basically had to herd them from station to station of the different activities and get them to join in, help them along, tie them together for 3 legged (3 armed for the babies!) etc. The first thing we had to do though was tie these coloured bands onto their wrists, so that we could see at a glance what class they were in/what team they were on and also where they should be (in theory). we went along to our class with a shedload of blue bands, ans started tying them on, in a bow, so that they could be easily removed. the problem with this was that they were prone to coming undone, and so the kids had to either come to us to have them retied, forget about it and drop it on the floor, or get a friend to tie it for them. most of them were reluctant to abandon their bands, i think we could have just tied them on and not done any activities and they still would have been delighted, but anyway, most of them opted to get a friend to re-tie it. the problem with this, was that being aged between 3 and 6, most of them ended up tying them back on far too tight and with impossible knots. in hindsight using non stretchy material was not a good plan.

anyway, once the band crisis had been (virtually) solved, we took them outside, asking them to all hold hands in a line, which of course they didnt do, to the obstacle course. as they are so young we had to take 2 kids at a time each and run the course with them. as you can imagine, this gets pretty tiring and repetative after a while, but mostly it was fun. i came well prepared with my big first aid kit on the day, imagining lots of scraped knees and the like, so i wasnt really surprised that i had to crack it out within half an hour of the sports starting, but i was surprised that the child who needed attending to wasn't actually doing sports day until the afternoon! Anita, the child who had malaria a couple of weeks back, who i was so worried about appeared, ran over to me and said 'lucy, come quickly, my friend is sick!' she seemed to be in a bit of a panic and i was wondering what the hell could be wrong, so i grabbed my bag and came running. when i got the classroom i found that there was no teacher (the staff  were all far too excited by sports day, and those who were scheduled to participate in the afternoon - ie, the teachers of the older classes, had abandoned their classes to join in with the morning session too) but the child was essentially fine, she just had a headache. i gave her some paracetamol from the schools supply (they are constantly handing out pills to the kids and not recording them anywhere, its a wonder they havent given any an overdose) and explained to Anita that she was going to be ok. i told her that next time somebody is sick there is no need for her to be running around and loosing her head unless there is a real emergency, like someone is unconscious or having a fit, and even then, it would be better if she could be a bit calmer about it! she was really apologetic and told me that she was scared that her friend had malaria too, because she had started out with a headache and her friend wasnt talking to anybody either. i felt massively guilty and tried to reassure her that her friend didnt have malaria.

when i returned to my group they had descended into a bit of chaos, (though it wasnt just us, every group was in a similar situation!) so we moved them onto the 3 legged race. when we arrived at the 3 legged station in became apparent that the 3 legged race wasnt really appropriate for children so young, they had struggled to even tie the kids in the first group together at the ankle because they had never done it before and didnt understand what was happening. they had instead run it as a 3 armed race, tying the kids together at the wrist, and letting them run down the hill that way. although infinitely less challenging, they loved it and laughed all the way down, and not a single child fell over, which i was glad of, because it would have been me who had to patch them up.

after the 3 legged armed race we moved our kids on to the water station, which was a game that we had seen one of the teachers set up with the kids at break one day, and decided to steal his idea as the kids loved it so much. basically, the kids were split into 4 teams, and each team has a big basin of water at the start line, and a bottle at the finish line. they have to take it in turns to pick p as much water as they can, in their mouths and hands and however else they can think of, and then take it along the line and empty it into the bottle. the first team to fill their bottle wins. they absolutely love this game and get completely soaked in the process, but they couldn't care in the slightest. they also couldnt really get the hang of sticking to one basin and bottle or taking turns, they all just run to the basin with the most space, fill up, and then empty the water at any bottle that doesn't have somebody already using it. they seemed to enjoy it anyway.

the next station we took them to was the musical bumps station. although this is a party game and not a sport, we have been heavily plugging dance as a sport, because the girls arent allowed to play football and therefore dont get to do any sports at school at all. again, being young children they loved this game and didnt seem to be getting tired out at all.

after they had done all of the stations (i might have forgotten one or two...) they had a break for lunch. the poor kids had missed out on porridge that morning because the school have a new kitchen that they have suddenly started using, and the food is never out on time. as it was, porridge was served at 12.50 (its meant to be at 10.00) and lunch is meant to be at 1pm! i dont know how they worked around that one. while they had porridge we went around and removed any bands that the kids were still wearing, we were planning to re-use them in the afternoon with the second group, but we didnt get anywhere near enough of them back for that, though it turned out we didnt need them, as the older kids are much better at staying put at the station they are at.

after lunch i was running a station, rather than staying with a class. It was a new station for the older kids, as the younger ones couldn't really grasp it  - over and under.  for those of you that havent played this game before, you basically split into a few teams (we did 3), and stand one behind the other. then a ball is passed over the front persons head, and then under the next persons legs, and so on, until it gets to the back of the line. once it gets there the child at the back runs to the front, and it starts again. once every child has been the 'starter' at the front of the line, and the original starter is back at the front, the team sits down. the first team to do this wins. running this station was absolutely exhausting, i was hoarse from shouting 'over' and 'under' so many times, and running up and down the line at the same pace as the ball was moving. i got some great pictures though and the kids loved it.

i dont know if i mentionned it, but on wednesday during porridge i saw a child sitting extremely still. this is really unusual and generally quite worrying. i made my way over to him and saw that one of his toenails was missing, and in its place was an open, weeping wound. i was a bit horrified and immediately carried him over to the lodge, and started cleaning his poor toe. there were some pretty large chunks of crap (thats a clinical term, you know) in it, that i did my best to remove with antiseptic wipes, but in the end i had to use a sterile needle. ive got a pretty big supply of them, so i wasnt worried about using it, but i didnt want to scare him. he looked wide-eyed and scared when i took it out of its packaging, but after id finished he actually told Oz, who was translating for us, that when i used to needle it was less painful than the wipes. i was relieved that it hadnt been too traumatic for him and i dressed it and sent him on his way.

on friday i was working at the over and under station when one of the other volunteers brought the same child to me. the nail looked as though it was starting to grow back, at an alarming rate, i had to check that it was the same child, but he had knocked the top off whatever sort of healing was taking place, and was in a whole heap of pain. i cleaned and dressed it again, but i felt bad that i couldnt do anything else. im certain that it's going to get hideously infected.

after that sports day was basically over, we were all exhausted. i sat on the grass getting my breath back, and Jameel approached and said 'the volunteers, they have made very good games today. are you going to do this every friday?' if i hadnt laughed i would have cried. i explained to him that in the UK we do this once a year, and he seemed a bit dissapointed. i have to admit, the whole school had a jovial party atmosphere, which was great, but i definitely couldnt do it every week!

Wow, ive written a lot, and im not even done talking about friday yet!

after we recovered from sports day - i think most of us had a quick power nap! we got ready for Sals. i dont know if ive explained this but Sals is as close as Ntungamo will ever get to a nightclub. its a good laugh. anyway, before we left i started feeling a bit dodgy in the stomach department but i couldnt miss a night at sals so i was determined to go anyway. by the time we got there i was feeling pretty horrific, too ill to drink, and after about an hour, too ill to dance. i felt absolutely freezing, even though its always warm in the club, but i was boiling hot to touch. i ended up going home at about midnight with a few others.

on saturday morning when i woke up i was still feeling ill, much worse than the night before, so i stayed in bed. at around lunchtime i was desperate for the loo and i didnt want to walk accross the compound in my pyjamas so i got up and got dressed. i sleep on the top bunk in my room and there is no ladder, so you essentially have to launch yourself off the top bunk. i felt a bit faint just sitting up in bed, but i had no other way of getting down slowly so i jumped. i was really weak for some reason, i think i was more ill than i realised, so i fell forwards and banged my head on the bunk opposite. it was a great start. i got dressed quickly and set off for the toilet block. then, as i sat there on the loo, feeling like crapola and producing a fair bit too,  i full on fainted and fell off the throne, banging my head on the wall next to me. i emerged from the toilet block looking worse than i went in (and that was difficult, in my state) and everyone was quite worried about me. i could barely keep my eyes open, and i felt like i was going to faint whenever i was on my feet. there were 2 junior doctors at the lodge who offered to put a drip up for me, and i dont know why because i would have felt better so much quicker if id said yes, but i said no. i tried to drink as much water as possible, which wasnt much, and went back to bed. when i was in my room i remembered that i had a thermometer that i had really brought to use on the kids who had suspected malaria and stuff, but there was no harm in me using it too. i was a bit shocked when my temperature came out at 39.8! it was no wonder i was feeling so bad. i took some paracetamol (no idea why i didnt think of that earlier) and after a couple of hours i felt 100X better. i dont think it can just have been the paracetamol, but it definitely helped! my temperature came back down nearer to normal and i felt less wobbly, which was great. i still couldnt really eat or anything because i was vomiting everything straight back up, but compared to the morning i felt amazing.

on sunday we had the day safari to Lake Mburo and although i still wasnot feeling 100%, i was determined to go. the day didnt get off to a great start, the driver was over an hour late, and asked for double the fee we had been expecting. he also brought a lady friend with him for the ride, and Amon told us that Anne had insisted that a member of the lodge staff come too, so he tagged along as well. this would have been ok had we been in a proper safari vehichle, but we weren't, we were in a matatu. obviously, matatus have limited looking out space as you cant lift the roof off, and Amon and this random woman were both hogging a window seat each. we were a bit pissed off but we didnt say anything as we werent in the park yet and thought they might move when we got there. when we arrived we saw some impala and waterbuck before we even went through the park gates, which was nice, but once we were in the Ugandans we were riding with became increasingly irritating. Amon has recently acquired a digital camera somewhere, and so whenever we saw anything he was getting all excited and leaning out of the windows to take pictures. this would have been fine, except he was blocking the WHOLE window, for the WHOLE time, so the people sat next to him couldnt see, or take any pictures themselves. he was also a bit over excited and VERY loud, so he kept scaring the animals away. the other volunteers got pissed off, obviously, though they were quite rude to him, telling him to shut up and shouting at him, which i thought was really innapropriate and rude.

we saw loads of zebra (76 i think...) and impala and waterbuck, along with a pair of hippos that we were really close to, just standing on the bank of the lake watching them in the water. we also saw a few interesting birds and stuff, along with a load of monkeys and an impressive line of siafu.

on monday morning my roomates, Maya and Suzanne and I set off on the post bus for Kampala. there were no seats when we got on and so we had to stand in the aisle, but thankfully they stopped for a short call after about half an hour so we moved down the bus and sat on the floor. quite a few people got off in Mbarara so then we had seats for the rest of the journey. i had spoken to Paul and he said he couldnt meet us, so he sent one of his drivers, who too us to Medditaraneo, an italian restaurant to meet Tariq. we had lunch (lasagne, amazing!) and then went back to their flat, where we just chilled until the evening. once it got a bit later we went out to a cocktail bar ive not been to before called Big Mikes. it was quite nice (though very expensive, 17,000 for a drink when im used to paying 3,000) and i saw some people i know from being here last year. we stayed there most of the evening, and some new volunteers of Pauls joined us too.  Paul didnt join us because he has a girlfriend who has been living here for the past year but is moving back to Canada, and it was her last night in Kampala.

on Tuesday morning we got up and went to the craft market in town, Maya and Suze wanted to get some last minute gifts for people. Tariq was going to give us a lift but his car wouldnt start, so we got bodas (motorbike taxis) instead. the craft market was as i remembered it, busy, with loads of stalls and lots of stuff to buy. i bought a few things, but didnt go crazy, i've got 7 weeks left here! we went to Open House for lunch, which is just down the road and is owned by a friend of Paul and Tariqs who i know quite well. i was still feeling a bit delicate so i ordered a kids meal, expecting it to be small, but it was huge! i didnt eat very much of it, and when the waiter came over i couldnt work our what he was saying, it sounded like 'can i park it?' nd he gestured at our plates, we thought he was asking if we were done. we said yes, and he took them away, only to return a few minutes later with a doggy bag! we were a bit embarrassed and i realised he must have been asking 'can i pack it?' and we had agreed. we gave the food to a disabled homeless man we passed on the way back to the market. i was also a bit embarrassed and taken aback when we asked for the bill, and the staff seemed to just ignore us. we asked again, and they looked a bit confused and just said 'no, nothing to pay.' we tried to explain that we hadnt paid yet but the situation just got more confused. eventually we worked out that Ronak, the owner, had instructed his staff not to charge us for our lunch! it was very nice of him, considering he only met the girls the night before at big Mikes, and me a handful of times, but anyway, we werent going to argue!

when we got back to the flat maya and suze had to sort out their stuff for going to the airport, as we had booked a car to take them at 12:30 am. Paul called and said he was on his way to the airport with his girlfriend, to see her off. he said we should go out when he got back. he didnt get back for AGES, i was actually assleep on the sofa by the time he got back, and it was almost time for the girls to leave. he was a bit deflated having just had to say goodbye to dy, so he said he wanted to go out. Tariq was at the casino, and he wanted to go and meet up with him, so i agreed to come. what i didnt realise was that we would spend the next 4 hours in the casino, the boys playing poker, and me alternating between trying to learn the game and trying to stay awake. we eventually got back to the flat at about 5AM, the only good thing about going to the casinos is all of the free food and alcohol, and for the boys, free cigarettes. (people lighting up inside is something i will never get used to here, after living with the smoking ban for so long, it seems really strange to see people smoking inside a plush casino)

on wednesday Paul had some businessy stuff to attend to and i went with him, basically riding around the city looking for coffee buyers, and trying to track down some money that had gone missing. it was quite fun actually, way more interesting that conventional 'work'.

by the time the evening rolled round i was starving as we hadnt really eaten all day, apart from some pineapple at breakfast, so we went to this place called MishMash, where i had tilapia and chips, which was really nice. apparently MishMash is the new Mzungu day and night hang out, though i still havent been there at night so i cant comment on what thats like. there were a lot of mzungus there though, and Paul and Tariq seem to know all of them. after we ate the boys decided they were in the mood for a bit more gambling, so we headed over to Simba casino. i wasnt quite so worried about this one as there was another girl there, a friend of Tariq who we picked up at MishMash so at least i had someone to talk to! surprisingly we didnt stay long and headed back to the flat before i could even finish my second free gin and tonic. when we got back we just chilled for a bit, and then Tariq re-appeared with the same girl, and we all just chatted and hung out for a bit before we went to bed.

this morning i went with paul again while he was working, though we did some more leisurely things too, like paul went to get a shave in this salon which was a bit mental, they seemed to do everything. there were women sitting with foils in their hair while one person worked on her fingernails, another on her toenails and someone else gave her a piercing. and it literally was all happening simultaneously. Paul was a bit doubtful about the guy who was shaving him, and had to explain how to do it! if i had to explain to the guy what he was supposed to do i wouldnt want him anywhere near my face with a cut throat razor, but paul was quite chilled about it. he eventually got the job done, though not without spilling some blood (some of pauls blood, that is) and then putting acetone,(thats nail polish remover) of all things on the cut! craziness, clearly didnt know what he was doing. all the acetone would do is sting like a motherfucker, which apparently it did, and then he got some in his eye... i was glad i hadnt opted to get my nails done or anything! i also saw a woman who had acrylic overlays on her nails and was getting them re-done, sitting there and picking them off with her other nails. she was sat right next to me, and i had to actually bite my tongue to stop myself from saying something to her, i wanted to scream! i couldnt stop myself from cringeing.

tonight Tariq cooked us this slightly odd but edible tinned tuna curry and rice, and they have gone to a poker tournament. i will be joining them soon, after the poker is over, to go out.

they are going to Lake bunyoni tomorrow, and will be passing by the lodge, so they are going to give me a lift in the morning :)

bloody hell, that was long. if you made it this far you deserve a medal!

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