Patience is a virtue, I learnt that from very young. Does it mean I learnt patience, not at all. I have discovered that patience is needed, that patience can be learnt and can be a change of attitude. I often think it is interesting where I have patience and where I don't. I am totally inpatient with someone who should know what to do and doesn't. I can be very patient with a child learning a new skill. I am not patient waiting... And, that is probably the place that patience is most needed here.
The other Friday, (yes, I know I should be more regular in getting on to writing blogs) I had a good day to learn patience. And, because I am such a slow learner, Saturday also showed me I needed to learn more! Friday morning, off to town - some money needed from the bank from Hopebuilders. Ron, goes into the bank and I go to buy a Senior 2 mathematics text. Oh, sorry no Senior 2 but you could have Senior 3 or Senior 4. [Lesson - shops can't stock books that people cannot afford to buy - Senior 2 is only on the way to the main exams] Then, back to the bank, to wait with Ron. Of course, he was still waiting. He has to see the bank manager and so it is usually an hour wait. Then, in and see her. Oh, but we want to open a bank account for us. Fill in the forms, which of course we did but a passport photo is needed. Before we go for the passport photo we go to do the other paperwork. There is a wait, "how about you go and get the photo and come back?" There is an "express" place across the road. "Yes, five minutes is all it will take if you pay for express". The photos taken, we waited... We waited. "Sorry it will be another 10 minutes". We go off in search of the elusive textbook. No luck there and back to the shop. "I am very sorry but we cannot use those photos, we will need to take more". One hour later, after entering the shop we leave with the photos. Back to the bank. "So, pleased you were delayed because we have a problem, the person who does this is away so we have had to send someone to the other branch"... The account is opened, we have an account number and soon we will have a card to go with it.
Quickly buy other necessities, we now know our way around the market and the shops so unless we need something specific (like a textbook) we can usually find it quickly. We did find a secondhand textbook near the market you will be pleased to know. Home we go.
Some lunch, and off to the village. It was great to see the children with their reports. Patience of a different kind is needed though. Here in Uganda at the bottom of the report is the position in the class. This is the defining thing. When a student is asked how they went on their report, the answer will be as a position in the class. We, do not see this as the significant thing and we also believe that children need to be encouraged. Rarely, if ever is there a positive comment on the report and the comments are kept to an absolute minimum. I do have to add that the preschool reports are different and show achievements in each of the small categories for example "able to tie up their shoe laces"; "able to recognise the letters of the alphabet". So, I patiently care for the child who is feeling like their world is falling apart, because they did not get a great report and they are in a significant year of schooling. This type of patience (with the child - not the system) I am better at.
At 4 pm I am meant to have a meeting about the health needs of the village and community. So, I am ready! OK, I need to learn patience. It has been wet and when it rains, nobody goes anywhere. I have been told "I was fearing the rain". So, I wait. Finally some people did come and the meeting proceeded. Though to be honest sometimes these meetings can seem to take forever to get very little distance. Why? It would be easy to say, these people do not have good thinking skills or don't understand things quickly. In fact, I have come to recognise that things need to be repeated because most of the time people do not have access to written words to refer back to. Hence, they have to remember everything and this is most easily done by repetition. I don't remember a lot of things because I know I can find the information quickly and easily without doing so. Being here is such a learning curve, not only as far as patience is concerned.
Home again, a little later than hoped for but for a really pleasant evening.
Not a lot of patience needed when you get to share a meal with four lovely young ladies. These were the second oldest group of girls: Brenda Mary, Fiona, Martha and Carol. They always brighten our days, they make us laugh. They spent some of the evening working out which bed was theirs to sleep on. Convinced that they should be allowed to sleep, in fact I think come and live with us!
Saturday dawned. There were things to do before heading off to the first 'Parent Meeting of Hope Community High School'. My role was to be there for welcoming. I made sure I knew all the appropriate salutations in Lusoga. I had been told 9.30 am, must be there. Of course I joked "9.30 am Mzungu time, 8.00 am African time". Oh, if only it had been a joke! I got there and helped to get the table decorated (now know how to make paper flower decorations Ugandan style) and generally assist. At 10.00 am (official starting time of the meeting), there were a few staff there, no parents and me alone at the gate! Two gentleman arrived very close to 10.00, as did Ron (he should have taken his own advice to come at 11.00). Soon, after he arrived he was sent home to print the agenda for everyone to have! Then, slowly and I mean slowly people began to arrive. The other teacher who was on welcoming had to do the cooking as someone was not well. A student and I managed (somehow), the problem was that she too does not speak Lusoga, she is from Tanzania. So, you can see there was need for patience. The meeting did start about an hour and a half late. Then, I was summoned to come to be introduced as a teacher. Very unfortunately, I ended up at the front, seated on show! Patience was needed as I said through a lot of talking and for most of the time understanding very very little. However, I must say it was a good parent meeting and great to see so many people come, better late than never. Lunch was at 3.30 pm and then the meeting continued through until 6 p.m. A big day!
The children are patient. They have shown this in the way that they have quickly learnt to knit. They patiently sit there and try and then I undo when there is a mistake too hard to fix. Then, they try again. Now, only a bit over a week since they started learning lots of the children in the village can knit. Some can even cast on and off. Soon, it will be purl and then... The children help me continually to enjoy life, not to be stressed when I need to simply be patient. People here are good at sitting waiting and don't think it is their right to have things happen when they want it. Perhaps, a compromise would be good. Then, there are other times when I need to be patient as people do not understand me, or sometimes people choose not to do what is required, or when I simply cannot communicate. I find it hard that people know how to be patient when their need is urgent. However, I am learning (slowly) that patience is important and to deal with the waiting process. I suppose it is like that good old saying "I find it hard to be patient, while learning how to be patient".