Wednesday, 23 June 2010

dedication's what you need

We have officially started training teachers how to teach phonics. Quite regularly the 'Record Breakers' theme tune enters my head 'dedication's what you need....' Teachers are quite capable of teaching phonics, but turning up to work, preparing a lesson and then delivering it rather than sitting with your head on the table, are the challenges we face with some teachers in more rural schools. It has been an absolute delight to teach some model lessons. The children are perfectly behaved and you can't keep the grins from their faces as you do something in class that is interactive and fun. To see them learn so quickly is really rewarding, they don't normally expect to understand anything that is done in class they just learn to repeat and say yes in the right places.
The first rains came about a week ago. This is an event I have been dreading for many reasons, mainly the influx of bugs that each downpour initiates. The electrical storms here are quite incredible. We certainly don't have the stunning views of certain mountain locations to admire them from, but the lightening was flashing every few seconds for hours. Now I know I'm a science teacher, but we all know I'm rubbish at science. Can anyone explain why some of the lightening has accompanying thunder but some doesn't?! The rain is torrential and accompanied by strong winds, so I had to get out of bed at one point to close my outside metal door. It took all of 5 seconds to kick the concrete block away that holds it open, but I was drenched! The noise on the metal roof was incredible and it took a long time to get back to sleep. It was lovely however to have to pull a sheet over me as the temperature dropped. I looked tentatively outside the next morning to survey the damage. I expected the back yard to be lovely and clean but it was covered in soil. I'm not sure if that fell with the rain? Out the front was a mud bath. When we started the bikes to go to work Lucy's back wheel was already sinking in the mud. The road outside was a disaster. Huge lakes had appeared overnight surrounded by lovely deep and soft mud. That was one interesting journey to work, with Lucy nearly coming off at one point as her back wheel slipped in the mud. By the end of the day most of it had dried up, but if that's how bad the road is after one downpour, what will it be like after months of it!
Shortly after this we had to wing our way back to Kombo for another meeting, this time we got a lift from a colleague, a much less stressful journey than the last one. The day after we arrived we discovered the meeting had been cancelled. Superb. No-one really believes us when we say we can't get our emails. No post for me in the office. I did weigh myself however, and was thrilled to find I'd eventually lost 4 pounds! One evening of our visit ended in an impromptu karaoke session with Marielle and Max. Possibly the most fun I've had for a good few years. Needless to say, Lucy and I both had to be put to bed with a bucket placed strategically placed. Photos will be restricted to facebook I'm afraid!

On our return to Soma I was laid up for a few days with a stomach bug, hopefully a few more pounds lost, finger crossed... Finding it quite hard to keep going now and counting down the days until my visit home. The power has been somewhat unreliable since the rains have started, with a run of 10 days with no electricity. It makes the already short and boring evenings even shorter and more boring. The real difficulty is getting to sleep with the fan not working, the humidity recently can be unbearable as it builds up to another storm. The warm drinking water isn't particularly pleasant either! A fan and fridge make a lot of difference. I complain that some of the teachers here aren't dedicated enough, I'm certainly not. It has been quite amazing to see grass shooting up everywhere though after just 2 rains – the place is beginning to look quite different.

I made this!

Still sober...

not any more.

Prelude to a storm

Any views expressed are my own and are not representative of VSO.


  1. I'm loving the bag. If not the mud facepack! Kirst x

  2. Hi Kate,

    My name is Martin and I am writing to you on behalf of a website that I am currently involved in starting up. We aim to provide prospect volunteers with all the information they need in order to feel confident in their choice of organisation, position and destination, as well as inspire people to make the jump and try out volunteering.

    As a part of that, I was wondering whether you might be interested in answering a few questions and perhaps sharing any advice you may have for people who are considering to volunteer.

    If you think you might have time to do this, I'd love to hear from you. You can reach me through, and you can view the website I'm representing at

    Thanks, and keep up your amazing work!

    Martin Jonsson

  3. It's the distance - it's so flat here sometimes you can see the lightning from storms happening all the way over in Senegal, but the sound doesn't travel that far