An Untypical Day Volunteering in Zanzibar (Renee and Andrew Dodd)

From Reneé: Our day started off pretty normally although we were heading out earlier than normal to fetch Zulekha (the girl with the very poor eyesight I teach in Class D) for an appointment with the optician, Dr Rajab. He was our last resort on the island because he thought he had a pair of glasses for Zulekha that could work!  From the last report you’ll remember that I’d noticed that Zulekha was struggling to see the blackboard and we'd decided to take her to the optician, but her eyes were too bad for the first optician to manage.  So we planned to drive out to the school, collect her and Issa (one of the teachers) and return to Stone Town to see if Dr Rajab’s glasses were a fit! Then we’d drive back to school, have lunch and teach from 1:45pm.

It’s worth noting that each journey to the village takes at least 45 minutes when the weather is OK, but this is the rainy season when there’s a danger of roads becoming impassable due to flooding. So we were relieved to collect Zulekha and Issa (her teacher) and get back in good time for the appointment with Dr Rajab at the hospital in Stone Town. Amazingly the glasses fitted her and she can now see!!! It was quite the emotional moment, I was pretty much moved to tears...I LOVE it when stuff happens like this! We’re not sure when she'll get used to wearing her glasses all the time (she had them off in the car on the way back to school); she’s probably still rather over whelmed by the whole experience! 

As we were in Stone Town I popped into our apartment to use a “proper” loo. Andrew turned the car round and went to park it. I was back in a few minutes and found him where I expected but not as I expected! There were four men standing round the car with the bonnet open and a fair bit of steam coming from the engine!

From Andrew: I turned the car round and there was a sudden “pouff” from the bonnet, the car stopped and was enveloped in steam! We couldn't stay where we were so, helped by a few others, we pushed the car down the road.  When I opened the bonnet it was clear that the top of the radiator had split open along a 10cm length and one of the others looking on “helpfully” told me that I needed to replace the radiator!  There was a car parts shop nearby so I went to find the cost of a new radiator whilst Issa went to find his friend who “fixes things”.  The friend, who actually repairs refrigeration equipment, wasn't there but Issa found “Best”, his friend’s friend, who really does repair cars!  He looked at the car, said he could fix it and that we could use his almost new Toyota to drive to school and back whilst he did so! We're still shaking our heads at this man’s kindness and trustworthiness! We’re also lucky this happened in town and not in the middle of nowhere! So, having called Pamoja (the normal car repair place) and confirming what it should cost, we left the car with him along with a deposit for the repairs and headed to school, picking Sadiq up on the way. 

From Reneé: We arrived at school to discover a power cut. I’ve been using the projector to teach the children basic English vocabulary.  Andrew’s put together a presentation that can be used on any laptop; it's like a PowerPoint and it contains the words and pictures of topics from the our English/Swahili basic dictionary. It includes body parts, clothing, transport, shopping, family, housing, colours, shapes etc. So using our largish laptop I got the presentation ready for teaching today’s topic which was clothing, jewellery, colours and shapes. Before the new topics could be taught, Class C had a test on the previous topic which was body parts. The results were pretty mixed! After several reminders about revising for the test, clearly a number of them didn't do so! A few managed to answer nearly all of the 10 answers; a fair number left blank spaces and the rest wrote their answers in Swahili despite me telling them that this is an English class and you are to please write your answers in English! I think that the way I am trying to teach them could possibly be a new way of 'teaching/presenting' subjects to these children and I hope that when the new volunteers take over, these children will grow in their knowledge of the English Language!

From Andrew: Meanwhile I continued to prepare the Advanced Class for being Tour Guides to students from the International School.  We returned to Stone Town with Issa, who insisted on coming to make sure everything was sorted out.  The car was fixed, with the exception of the fans, which didn't want to work. Still driving the mechanics car we followed him to an electrician who raided his store and using parts from a 20 year old red BMW got the fans working again. 

From Reneé: Issa then left us to return home by local bus; we were so grateful for his kindness in helping to us sort out the car! We went home to recover but the 'untypical' day wasn't quite over! Just as I started to prepare supper the power failed, again! Unfortunately this didn't last long enough to force us to try the 2 for 1 pizza offer at a local Taverna! I'm planning to try this another day with or without power cuts! In the end we enjoyed supper and the call to Andrew's daughter doing exams at university back in the UK before listening to the rain on our roof and going to sleep.  Not all days are as exciting or rewarding!