I’m knackered. But Rob says he hasn’t seen me this happy in ages. Day 3 of school today, and we had 38 kids (almost double what we had when we opened on Tuesday. Eek). We also had another teacher so we were able to split the children into three classes – one group of 13 sat on 8 office chairs (no maths lesson, this) that we’ve been lent, with Teacher Avdyl, one group sat on the floor in the luxury (carpeted) room with me, and another group sat with Vlora and ‘young’ Rob on the concrete of another room, made a tinier bit more comfortable by spreading them with some good quality John Lewis curtains I had at home. Ouch.
There wasn’t a single complaint. In fact, I realised today that this has been one of the joys of teaching these kids – no grumbling at all. When yesterday I handed out the improvised mini white boards (sheet of paper in a plastic wallet, with a dry-wipe pen and piece of kitchen roll) one between two pupils, no-one whined that they wanted to have the first go using it. Instead they seemed amazed that they were allowed a go at all. I demonstrated how you wrote on the plastic wallet and if you made a mistake you could wipe it clean again. I took my piece of kitchen paper and used it to rub away the marker pen, and the children literally burst into spontaneous applause. Magic marker indeed.
Everything feels magic right now – we had good news after good news yesterday. Not only the coming of Teacher Avdyl, who was a really important presence in the school today, and enabled us to run a carousel of activities through the rooms (half an hour for each group in each teaching space), but also the news that out of teaching hours, Livelink Kosovo would like to use the space we’ve rented to run an antenatal group for women from the community. Added to that was a really generous financial donation from a colleague of Rob’s and friend of mine. There have been so many other ways that people have helped, too – thank you ever so much to all those thoughtful people who have read the blog and got in touch to offer support or encouragement. Opening Facebook to find motivational messages from friends (and in some cases strangers) from Singapore to Islington, and Balkan points between, and working in a space where every pen or clock or book has been donated by someone as a personal contribution, makes me feel like a whole community of people are watching and crossing their fingers for us as the lessons unfold in Fushe Kosove. Thank you.
By the way, Cima learned the letter C today in a quick bit of 1:1 tuition. You might remember she mastered M yesterday. I reckon I is going to be a cinch tomorrow. Do you think by Monday she’ll be able to write her name?
Gjelane’s story is now told in a book published as The Rubbish-Picker’s Wife; an unlikely friendship in Kosovo (Elbow Publishing, 2015) and available on Amazon