Monday, April 16, 2012

visitng a primary school en route out of the rainforest

We have finished our work in the rainforest village of Ote, and it is time to go.  We packed up our tents and were ready to leave at about 10 am becuase the drivers with the adapted Toyota pick-ups try to get as many journeys in as possible and so could arrive at any time.

Half of the village came to wish us farewell and we waited.  Whole family groups gathered and chatted and we ended up taking photos of everyone and eventually one by one family groups came and asked to be photographed. and eventually our vehicle came and we loaded up for the journey. We had fond farewells with many hugs and kisses. Some women wailed and cried.  We set off only to be stopped for another farewell in the upper quarter and more photos and crossed the river fairly quickly and disappeared into the nothingness of the forest.  The road was as bad as ever.  We got stuck many times and again the boys dug us out.

En route we stopped at Akwa about 11 miles along the track where we are organising a twinning with a primary school,  Stanley Primary in Teddington, West London. The deputy head Sue Leney, is keen to set up a link with the year 5 and 6 children which will also tie in with their curriculum in which she has done a lot of work with her pupils on beekeeping, and also with their charity days in the school.  Here we dropped off a package of notebooks and pencils for the year 5 and 6 children as a gift from  the London School.  The teachers and the children are very interested in our visit.

The school have no resources including pens and paper, and instead the teacher writes everything on the black board.  Children have their own blackboard slate which they take home with them and sit at wooden benches and rote learn from the main blackboard.

They obviously adore their teacher who was especially pleased to link with us.  They have trouble with leaking classroom roofs in the rainy season and so classes and teaching is interrupted. We will be looking to bring out some resources and possibly raise some money to support this school during the next year. Despite what we perceive to be difficulties and disadvantages,everyone is very proud of their school and the children looked very smart in their uniforms.

We also took a gift from Stanley Primary School of a cloth bag which had been given to them by their local beekeepers association.  It had been donated by Rowse Honey, a company in the UK which sells honey thoughout the UK and is virtually a household name.  The bag had been distributed to the English school by the local Beekeeping Association, part of the BBKA who maintain the school's bee hive, to support them as part of an awareness raising programme about beekeeping and learning about the environment.  It contained a jar of honey, a wooden spoon for stirring collected honey, some lavender seeds, as lavender flowers are attractive to bees, some recipes using honey, and the bag itself.  I don't think the lavender will survive in the wetness of the rainy season, and the gift was intended for the UK climate,  but the idea tied in with our other gifts.  We gave them a variety of bean seeds and some hoes to tend their vegetable garden as well as tomato seeds.  This is all in an attempt to encourage a greater diversity of food plants to be grown and also to encourage horticulture.  Growing and planting crops is on the national curriculum in Cameroon, but the school cannot afford the equipment and seeds to do this.  Eventually Bees Abroad are hoping to introduce bee keeping into the Akwa school as part of the move to spread the culture of beekeeping wider afield to help provide another income source in these remote rainforest villages.

The honey jar was a plastic squeezy bottle shaped like an old fashioned beehive and the honey producers who saw it just loved it and want to put an order in for some immediately.  The problem is that they cannot afford to buy plastic bottles for their existing production and collect old plastic water bottles, which are free.

The gifts were very well received and it is nice to know each child has a pencil and notebook and it is funny to think of English honey in a very modern packaging being tasted in a rainforest village.

No comments: