Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Atypical Day

My niece Marie mentioned recently (complained?) that she still has no real idea of what Simone and I do all day, here at Tubahumurize. So this blog perhaps will give a clearer idea of our daily activities, although it must be said that one day is never the same as the next so there is no truly clear routine. And to be honest, yesterday, Friday, the day I am going to describe, was a very busy day.

Our day began in earnest around 8:00 am, with the arrival of the sewing students who bring a lot of excitement and energy and chatter. Simone was already up, doing yoga in the morning sunshine with Simeon, who is a natural. Though I usually stay in bed as long as possible, just listening and thinking and gathering up energy for the day, yesterday I got up quickly, knowing it was to be a full day.

By 8:30, Simone and I had cadged a lift from Aaron to go to the huge indoor market at Kimironko, about a half hour walk from the centre. I even skipped my cup of coffee to leave early! We spent about an hour there, buying a few items to bring home as presents, and of course, I had to fondle all the fabric and buy some too. Then we tipped the young man who helped us find things and we hopped on moto-taxis back to the centre.

After my coffee (!!)(half hour to prepare and drink), Simeon and I walked to the local market to look for a woman named Anatalie. She had been ill and had come to the centre to see if I could help fill her prescription. I had called a nurse who works in a free clinic; she was able to fill the prescription and had dropped it off at the centre the day before. At the market, we asked a few people where to find Anatalie, who works there sewing. I ran into Prosperine, one of the beneficiaries at the centre, who told us that actually Anatalie had gone to Tubahumurize to see me!

But before returning to the centre, Simeon and I needed to buy some vegetables. I found another lovely woman I know, Febronie, who sells tomatoes there. She filled our bag with fresh tomatoes and helped us get potatoes, garlic, carrots onions and rice at a good price. She seemed very proud to be able to help me and for sure we were surrounded by a great gaggle of people the entire time, all clamouring for me to buy whatever they had for sale and just wanting to shake my hand or greet me.

I actually love this environment, so full of smells, sights and sounds, the hustle bustle of people working and chatting and arguing. It feels very relaxed, and though people want me to buy from them, they accept when I make a choice and don’t seem to hold a grudge against me or their “competitor.” I guess what I am saying is that the atmosphere does not feel at all competitive. Just noisy!

Bags full, Simeon and I walked home. I went to tend to Anatalie, giving her clear directions about the medications and putting in the first dose of eye ointment that was prescribed in her eyes. I think she has a touch of pneumonia actually, so I hope the antibiotics she takes will kick in. I told her if she does not start feeling better in three days, she should return to see her doctor.

After this, I had promised Valentin that we would (finally) build a composter for the garden. Two days before, we had gone to several shops down the road to find some stiff wire mesh (about ¼” holes) and some heavier wire for attaching things. Mission accomplished, we had returned with 2.5 metres of wire mesh and a roll of heavy wire.

So Friday, we began by cutting four stakes from wood that had been stored in the garage. Then, we prepared the area where the composter was to go, digging a shallow round hole, into which we inserted the ring of wire mesh and bury it a few inches. We covered all the edges with duct tape to avoid the nasty cuts that wire can give (though it is not sticking that well, so we may need to find another solution).

Valentin drove in the stakes, I cut wire to attach the stakes to the mesh and in about an hour, we had our composter up and running! I even started to fill it with some garden waste. Several people watched this process, especially Simeon and the two Erics from the sewing class. It is going to reduce the landfill wasted generated by the centre and will also enrich the garden soil. As a sidebar, the garden seeds we planted are all sprouted and growing away!

Then, I sent Simeon up the lemon tree with gloves on and a pair of secateurs in hand to prune off a few ridiculously tall branches – so tall it was impossible to harvest the lemons. Also, the two lemon trees need pruning in other ways, but that can wait for another day. We started with the tall branches. So he did that. It looks much better already.

During this time, Simone was busy working on the newsletter and finishing a funding report. Jeanne was off having her hair done. Epiphanie, the sewing teacher, called me to try on the skirt she is making for me, which I did! It fits perfectly. No more of that off-the-rack stuff for me! Made to measure rocks! Simone and I consulted a bit on the day ahead, especially a project we were planning with the sewing students and we divvied up the work.

I took a few minutes to read my email and especially to read Sarah’s blog, about her (my daughter-in-law) amazing, excellent and thankful recovery from brain surgery! Another story for another day, but she is doing well. I spent some time organizing all the photos of the sewing class into one large folder as we were going to present a slide show after their class. Jeanne had returned and prepared a meal of leftovers, which we all ate with gusto. It was almost two o’clock after lunch and we had a class with the sewing students at 3:00 pm.

What we wanted the sewing students to do was to write to the many individuals who were part of a large fundraising effort in Alberta. A program called Green and Gold out of the University of Alberta, had planted an enormous organic garden and had given away all the produce, only asking for a donation. This raised over $16,000 CDN and all the proceeds are to come to Tubahumurize! (The connection to Simone is through her boyfriend Eloge, who is the son of Jeanne, who runs Tubahumurize. Networking, networking…)

Simone and I got the paper, pens, pastels and coloured pencils ready, as well as a template for the students to follow when writing their letters. Valentin and I hooked up my computer to a larger flat screen monitor and Simone got together some music to accompany the slide show.

Shortly after three, the students finished cleaning up for the weekend and came around to get their “lesson.” They were very diligent in their work. Once completed, they took some time to add illustrations to their “cards”. I think these notes will be very much appreciated! They are really sweet. Then, everyone came inside to watch the slide show. They loved it! Laughing and hooting and pointing, seeing pictures of themselves and each other. It was a great success! Something to be repeated for sure. Everyone wants copies of these pictures and that is something I plan to do on my return. It is too expensive and complicated here to make prints.

After the students left, Simone and I got busy in the kitchen, baking a chocolate cake for the birthday party we were invited to that evening, the now-13-year-old son of one of Jeanne’s sisters. One hour later, we had two lovely round Ultimate Chocolate Cakes, covered in chocolate peppermint icing.

At this point, I took a short nap! Shortly before seven, Jeanne, Aaron and Sandrine (Jeanne’s youngest daughter) arrived to pick us up. Simone looked stunning in her new African outfit! We spent a pleasant evening with a very nice family, mostly eating and chatting quietly. All very subdued and dignified. The cakes were a hit! We did not stay late as everyone was tired.

On our return, Simone and I sipped glasses of wine and talked for quite awhile pretty much about life, the universe and everything. She is feeling a bit sad about leaving but also excited about a two week stint in Europe with friends and then her return to Montreal – and Eloge!

I have no idea what time it was when I untied my bed net and arranged it around my bed. I only know that I slept soon after and stayed that way till morning. I think Simone is still sleeping, a wonderful thing as she often has insomnia.

So that was one day. Not typical, but frankly, none of them are. Hope this helps you picture our lives a bit better Marie! Over and out. Elaine

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