29th January 2015
So I seem to be settling in to life here quite quickly - well compared to Uganda, where I remember feeling culture shock for ages. Don't get me wrong, I still spend a lot of time confused, especially by the money - I am still not entirely sure when things are expensive or when they are cheap, but there is something weirdly comforting about hearing prices given in "bob"!
The main reason that I am feeling so at home is because of Evanson, the wonder boss! He's been massively understanding the couple of times I have had to call in sick because of eating something a bit off the night before, or gone home a bit earlier than the other teachers because the heat has gotten to me. I am still struggling with the heat a bit, having gone from around zero degrees Celsius at home to around the mid-twenties - it takes a bit of getting used to and casually applied sunscreen has resulted in some weirdly shaped patches of sunburn!
I've even got a bit more used to teaching but it is definitely not for me! I have convinced Class 5 that I am lovable and should be listened to (I even got a student giving me plums). However, I had to resort to being the 'evil' teacher that you are scared of before Class 4 would even bother to pretend listening to me! My talents are obviously not with teaching the next generation, but I do have a healthier respect for the teachers who put up with me when I was in school.
Luckily for me, and probably the students too, we have a new volunteer teacher at the school so I am limited to just teaching English in the mornings. This frees me up for all the meetings I've been having with local groups.
In the summer, Evanson corresponded with a team of MBA students from the Kelley School of Business in the USA, to put together a brilliant training manual to teach grassroots women about starting and expanding businesses, to enable them to provide themselves with sustainable income and not have to rely on hand-outs. So I am being introduced to the groups that I am going to be helping to train. It's been amazing to meet all these people who just want to help themselves and each other.
I've met women's groups, flower growers, and a disabled group so far - and each time I am slightly astounded by how much they do for each other with so little. Evanson does what he can, providing administrative help, getting trainers, or finding the groups a bit of land to farm together, and they are grateful for all the help they can get. They aren't waiting for funders to invest in them; they scrape together what little they have as individuals, put it together, and work as hard as they can to make things better for the whole group. It's incredibly inspiring to see how far so little can stretch.
Currently the meetings are about scheduling training sessions. I think we have at least a dozen groups, maybe more, that we are going to train for a week each - so we are going round, introducing me and explaining what we will be covering and trying to create a schedule that works for everyone so that we can get started with the serious stuff in February.
Linnet Griffith-Jones is a graduate in Politics from Lancaster University and has an MSc in International Politics from Trinity College, Dublin.
Linnet is currently carrying out an internship with Compassion CBO in Nairobi.