Another painful morning waking up early, the need for a weekend was very prominent as we began to brace ourselves for another ridiculously hot day. Traveling along our ordinary route we all became more accustomed to the treacherous roads and less intrigued by the locals.
Yesterday Henry, Vivian and Jasmine joined us at J T Reffell to experience a more chaotic and physically tiring day with 23 children to 2 of us compared to Ballanta's one on one lessons (though of course lessons are also exhausting). Unfortunately, since there was such an almighty storm the night before, Freya and Polly couldn't use the fire stations court for their sport as it turned into a huge mud bath, which wouldn't be a hugely great experience with 30 children running this way and that. So they, joined by Vivian, took to the hall to entertain the smaller children and to make use of the parachute that we brought for them. Hattie and Ebs, joined by Henry, tried our best to spark some inspiration and confidence out of the children that aren't normally used to working individually. We had a new class to the last two days so we had to begin at square one, as they had never done drama before. Despite this they managed to create some unusual creations with a pair of sunglasses, like the day before and some really great creations of monkeys and lions. It was extremely useful to have Henry there as the children were much younger than expected and he managed to save us before we collapsed with exhaustion and irritation at the children's inability to do what we ask. He read them a story and got them act each page out: being big bears and little bears, creeping "in the dark".
The pile of hullahoops in the corner began to get too inviting for the children so we allowed the commotion to start. The joy on their faces as they rolled them around and used too at once, doing all sorts of tricks, showing off to us, even the teachers enjoyed the use of unusual equipment, not normally used. Amongst it all there was Polly showing off her gymnastic skills and attempting to get them standing on their heads, jumping and spinning in all sorts of directions however not all going as gracefully as those on the Olympics or even our school gym.
Lunch was a big relief as we had all worked so hard, particularly Sarah, Jasmine and Christine doing art with more than 50 children. So we sat there mostly in silence as we ate our wraps. Waiting for the nut lady who was late and Hattie, in particular, was gasping for some protein. As we began to prepare for sweat in the dance session, the children showed us what they had already learnt the day before, which was extremely impressive as we expected them to forget everything as an English class would do. We worked them extremely hard, by the end they were dropping like flies, a part from 5 girls in particular were copying Hattie's every move and were determined to accomplish the exact moves.
It was an extremely rewording day but it was also relieving to get back on the bus to air con. Heading home in silence and then jumping in the pool as soon as possible. It was lovely to return home to comfort and looking forward to an experience at the culture village and relaxation with a movie evening.
Meanwhile during a day in Freetown, the 5 remaining musicians headed back to the Ballanta. Getting there very early, we decided to go on a walk through Freetown, which was a great chance to chat to the locals and Mr Yates trying his hardest to marry the girls off!! Afterwards lessons started in full swing for some whilst George and Lizzie waited in the office for their first students to arrive. I think everyone is now comfortable with what and how to teach their students, and the results gained from seeing a student enjoy learning something new are really rewarding. For lunch we all popped down to see the Muffin Man to grab some muffins and pies for lunch before a choir rehearsal with Ballanta Students for a concert at the British Council on Tuesday evening. Learning proper African songs was great fun (I'm sure our embarrassing attempts at African dancing were caught on camera to show you all at home!) and we also learnt the Sierra Leone National Anthem which I must admit is much better than God Save the Queen. After a productive day at Ballanta we headed back to IMATT, stopping at St. Marys Supermarket to pick up some final ingredients for the curry that evening with Owain displaying good bartering skills!
After a few hours in the pool we were all ready to head down to the cultural village to experience some authentic African dance. Arriving at the village we were greeted by masses of screaming children, all desperate to hold our hands and have their picture taken. I think this is the first time in Sierra Leone we had experienced the extreme poverty some children were growing up in, even in comparision to to the slums in Congo Town. This was most showing in the state of the childrens clothes, with many ripped and dirty and some only wearing a pair of pants. One woman was wearing what looked like a snow white costume. We headed in to watch the dance troupe surrounded by children, all excited to see the show. The dance began, being accompanied by traditional drumming, with the kids showing incredibly skills as well as lots of bum wiggling! Following the dance we began to say goodbye to the kids, giving out sweeties and little presents, which was fine initially until the amount of kids became overwhelming. We all felt quite emotional as we realized the significance of such small gift that we would have usually taken for granted. During trip home, with rain pouring down, everyone contemplated what we had just witnessed. We came home to relax with the film 'The Blind Side' and popcorn, with many people falling asleep! Mr Meally especially enjoyed it when he described the 'huge amounts of cheese and the fact it was Sandra Bullocks worst film ever'! Now to bed and ready for a day with the chimps tomorrow!!