Wheels within wheels

After yesterday’s upbeat note, my glasses fell apart and the Internet went down when I tried to email home: such is Gambian life. The Sierra Leonean lady student was bemoaning the fact that her room was full of mosquitoes and that you-know-who had said he’d spray it but didn’t. I sympathised with her and let her borrow my repellent. They don’t have nets up in their rooms, partly because the fans were positioned directly above the beds.

However, Abass fixed my glasses this morning – I simply couldn’t see clearly enough to do it without my glasses – the SL lady expressed herself unbitten and the Internet seems to be back on.

The Year 1 ESOL class today was real “seat of the pants” stuff: I’d not really prepared much, but the lesson went pretty well, nevertheless. The Maths for car mechanics class was – I don’t want to boast – inspired and the combination of a little simple work on ratios along with practical work with bicycle gears went down really well. The lads reckoned they had never properly understood the idea behind gears until now and they got stuck into the lesson with gusto. After counting the teeth of their bike gear wheels, we did some proportion / ratio calculations then went back to the bikes to check their results and hey presto it worked! They were quite astounded, I think, to see the arithmetic confirmed what they did when they turned the pedals on the bikes. The maths teacher stood and watched, keen for me to do Sudokus with them; which we did for the last ten minutes.

After that, I joined Dr Jagne and the rest of her Interim Board who were having another tour of inspection to see how things had developed since they looked round last. Whilst there was plenty to criticise, there was also praise for developments and a long list of suggestions for things that could be improved. They kept asking for quotes for items: hard standing area for car mechanics amongst others. She is quite a tower of strength.

One suggestion she pushed was to consolidate all the decent usable materials in one container and to have a “yard sale” of the rest. This would include tools bought by Mr Bah through a contact of his: they were intended for woodwork classes but are of such inferior quality that the handles come off, saws blunt on first contact with a bit of wood etc.

I then had a meeting with the Board at their request. Their main interest was to see what I knew / could confirm about the claims of materials being diverted from their proper use to be used by friends and family of the previous management. I was unable to help much with this as in most cases all I could add was hearsay. However, I passed on an estimate of how much Gamscot had donated / contributed over the last few years: they seemed surprised at the level of funding / materials we had provided.

I also took the opportunity, behind closed doors, to express my serious concern about the current management of the RPI. The board seem keen to get the Home Science students more involved in the running of the RPI at all levels: from producing vegetables and fruit for the Inn, to domestic chores, cooking, decoration etc. Dr Jagne expressed the opinion that there are many excellent students and a future manager might well be found amongst them. She may be right, but I’m not sure the RPI can wait that long.

Whilst the Board were around, Mousa scurried about supposedly filling in holes in the plaster where paint had been scraped off. When the Board left Mousa stopped, partly because I pointed out that this is really work for the group to do when they arrive in a few days’ time. I had to restrain him from starting to paint the ceiling: it needs scraped, washed and gap-filled yet and he has more relevant things to do.

Abass came to look at the Mariana Trench in my bed: Mousa had reckoned a new mattress was needed, but Abass pointed out missing / broken slats in the bed base and asked Mousa why he hadn’t reported them. Abass says he’ll have his lads fix my bed tomorrow.

The pre IRA bustle is getting stronger: a new fridge freezer and a microwave (to heat the salmonella) have both been installed and there’s a definite sense of activity around the place. A year or two ago, a Gambian asked “Why do we only do this when toubabs are coming?” I never got an answer.

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