There are some activities that are universal and dancing is one of them. When I visited the New Life Centre School in February there were two occasions when dancing united two groups that have grown up in such different circumstances.
The first was when our group of 4 visitors from the UK attempted to teach some of the older students Scottish dancing.
After the usual giggling and awkwardness as some boys had to partner other boys and hold hands, (also universal), we realised just how much fun can be gained from music and dancing. We had 2 lessons to teach the Gay Gordons, no small feat, as the walking backwards proved impossible to some of the students.
As I was instructing from the side I watched with amusement as one of the boys, a typical macho type with a great sense of rhythm, refused to hold another boy’s hands. He came to stand with me but he understood very quickly how the backward walking should be performed. Such a dilemma! What should he do? Lose face and enter the group again to ‘show them how it should be done’, or stand on the side knowing he could be top student in this activity?
He couldn’t resist and was soon demonstrating with me, a natural performer!
The second occasion was on our usual visit to one of the families in the school. This was my fourth visit to this family. This extended family of grandparents, parents, and children with numerous cousins and aunties and uncles offered the generosity of their simple fare and then two of the young girls started dancing for us. In a spontaneous moment, which I no longer encounter in the UK, we all started to dance, such a joyous affirmation of our delight in being invited and our hosts’ inclusivity.
We all held hands and danced around. I looked at my daughter and another member of the group of similar age, mid twenties, to see if this unusual display would embarrass them. On the contrary they were relishing this innocent pleasure. They both believed it was a highlight of the visit.
On November the 7th 2014, a team of three volunteers will return with me for a few weeks to Muko School in Bugarama. Once again we will be working with local people, doing painting, plastering, and laying cement floors.
One major aim this year is to install windows and doors to the oldest block of classrooms. At the moment these only have small holes in the walls for ventilation, and this (along with their tin roofs) makes these rooms not a very nice environment for children to study.
Rainwater catchment tanks that were purchased last year are still to be installed - it's such a shame to see all the water going to waste! These tanks will provide water for washing hands after using the long-drop toilets (more toilets and better hygiene are also priorities!).
Teaching English vocabulary and grammar is much in demand and therefore high on our agenda this year. At least one (maybe two) of the team will be conducting classes for both teachers and students on a daily basis.
Each volunteer has raised enough money to pay all their own expenses, but we do still need help in the way of donations to pay local labourers who work alongside us and also to purchase necessary building materials.
Donated monies are all accounted for very carefully on this very worthwhile project. If you have already donated in the past I thank you, but more is always welcomed and appreciated.
Please do help if you can!