Subject: Weekly Update
Hello to all,
We trust all is well with everyone and that your lives are a bit slower than ours even though we do enjoy it as it is what we were looking for.
We have had a few different experiences this week that will stay in our memories for some time I have been taking one of our oldest boys (19) into town by boat three days a week to work with a plumber who is also very keen to work with us to try and train our kids in trade skills. It is a great and very lucky opportunity as this man is a jack of all trades so he is teaching the boy in many different areas. The young fellow is a big fan of listening to music on his mobile and every time you see him in the home he is just walking around with earphones in and the phone in front of his face. he started doing the same thing when I was taking him to work and he would come along to the boat, hop in and sit down and listen to music I always had to ask him to help load the boat, hold the rope or any other small job of the many that has to be done in a boat. But I had to tap him on the shoulder first because he couldn't hear me. I spoke to the plumber about it and he agreed it was too much so we have banned the earphones from the boat and work.
The school headmaster and I went out and saw the Vocational college people who are going to give about 18 of our children a 3 month course in whatever area they choose between Hospitality, Bricklaying, Joinery, Welding and clothing manufacture. each time we go there they say the same tale of how they do not have enough instructors but are in the process of interviews and they hope to have the new teachers by the 29March?????
Before the floods we had arranged with the local electricity company to connect power to our new transitional home. Well our electrician came out last week and told our boys where to dig the trench for the cables. But the power box they were running the cables from was in 2ft of water and after the boys had dug about 10 metres of the trench the floodwater had engulfed it. We saw the eleco the next day in town and he said the power company was all loaded and ready to come and connect but their workers are like many Africans and scared of boats and water so they were getting the OK from them to come out by boat. I had to tell them to postbone the lot as the situation was comical to think of them laying power cables in 2 ft of water and flooded trenches. I think it will mean a long wait when we go and ask them to connect next time.
The small boy (7 years) Marg took to the hospital last week has a hernia in his testes and has to have an op next month. They are so lovable when you take them out like that as he was spellbound by the boatride, sat at the hospital for 6 hours wuth Marg and did not utter one word of complaint or ask for anything, then on the ride home in the open boat we got drenched by a storm. I put my coat over him and he just sat their in the pouring rain not saying a word.
We took our keen fisherboys up a lovely side creek near the home on the weekend and one hooked a good sized tiger fish but it was on a small hook and the fish got off when we had him beside the boat ready to lift in. This is the third fish the boy has lost and I think we are as keen as him to see him land one as he absolutely loves it and is on our doorstep all the time asking to use the rods. He is 13 years old but has HIV and only weighs 26kg and is on a lot of medication. He is the hardest worker of any of the children even when filling sandbags and he is a joy to help. The advice from the old locals is that the fish will bite well once the water levels go down as at the moment they are spawning on the floodplains and it seems to be true as we see lots of babyfish when we have to walk thru kneehigh water to get from one building to another.
Our headmaster had organized a soccer match for our boys with a team from town last Sunday to start at 2pm. Our boys were told we would leave at 1pm and pick the other team up and take them all to the field which was outside town. Well our boys turned up at 1.45 and the teachers wanted to put 13 big boys and 3 adults in our 5.7 metre boat with a 40hp motor. They did not believe me when I told them how unsafe it was and what would happen to me if I did the same thing in Australia. Other volunteers in previous years have carried that number of people in the boat so the locals can't see what the problem is. they also treat it the same as a car and load it like the local utes with 15 or so people in the back. I eventually settled for 12 boys and 2 adults and when the boat got going and was only chugging down the river they realized what I meant.
it was all to no avail as by the time we got to town the other team had got tired of waiting and gone home, I then took them to their normal Sunday afternoon game in the bush and the team they play was waiting for them.
Our current director and myself had to spend a day or so last week hunting around for a suitable place to evacuate our kids to if we have to move, even our plumber tried all of his local contacts and we eventually found a place with enough amenities and buildings for the needs of 57 kids. The local logistics manager for flood evacuations and his boss came out last friday and saw our situation with the water still rising and he said we had to move and he was going back to finalize things and would be in touch. Luckily that night and the next day the phone network collapsed and he was called away to another area to evacuate 400 people by boat and truck. Luckily again over the weekend the water stopped rising and when we saw him today he agreed to let things stay as is for now so we have our fingers crossed.
Marg has been busy doing a lot of mending of clothes and school uniforms and giving the kids, especially the littleones new clothes. Our next permanent directors who are a lovely couple bought Marg over some material with them when they visited and she is now making nighties for a lot of the girls. She is of course still being the local Florence Nightingale and treating the kids for the many different ailments they get.
One of the female staff asked me for some ' black fill' and I didn'i know what she meant so I asked her what it was to be used for and she said to rub on her arms so I called marg out as I thought she was after some skin cream. Marg eventually got out of them that they wanted brake fluid as they use it to treat a skin ailment they get. Another male staff member asked me for some more again today as he wanted it to treat a rash on his 14 month old baby's face.
Our puppies are becoming typical for their age, shoes are disappearing, you have 4 of them biting your feet as you walk, they tear up anything in sight and the food bowl is empty before it hits the ground. Marg was frightened of them slipping into the river as the bank is muddy from the boat wash so she put them inside with us for a couple of nights. That was all we could stand as they howled half the night so they are back outside with mum. One has gone to a local tribal elder and 2 to staff members..
That has been most of the main events of the week, hope it is of some interest to you, will write more next week