Although we are still suffering from diarrhoea we got up and went to the school today. Manuels friend PoPo came with us as she had a day off work and she wanted to see what work is being done at the school. Because all the schools and colleges in Yangon have started back the buses are even more of a nightmare. They are so crowded and standing for over an hour while the bus takes the potholes at full speed is not a great experience. When we get to the school the first session of classes are just finishing. The children are leaving to go back to the village and the kids look so happy. The next session doesn't start until 1pm so there is just down time till that starts up. Lesh and Manuel go and figure out the logistics for the water tank with the local guy who can speak english. They find some pipes which they can utilise and now it is just a matter of what size tank and whether or not it will be a pvc or fibre glass one. I am not feeling too well and I just sit round as usual. When the others sit down for lunch I take my book and have a read in a comfy chair. I can't face any food. By 12:30 the kids for the afternoon session start arriving and it is wonderful to see them come. Many are dropped off by their mums and they look so proud that their kids are going to school. Some of the kids are 10 years old and have never had the chance to go to school. The classes are taught in burmese and are as simple as learning the alphabet but this is where they have to start. The classes follow the typical burmese school standards which involve the teacher saying something in a sing song manner and the kids repeat it like a parrot. I am not sure it is the best learning method but the kids look so excited to be at school that you can't falt their eagerness. Joseph tells us that a typical teacher in Burma earns just 30,000 kyat a month (about $30 usd) so although it is a respected job it is not one that brings home the dough. It is mainly women who are married and who are not finacially in need of the wage who teach. It is so wonderful to watch the children learning in a classroom that was not even there 5 days ago. Especially with the fact that Lesh helped to build the classroom. We look back through the pictures on the camera and see how it went from patch of land to bamboo classroom with kids in it, in such a short space of time.
While the classes go on me and Lesh take a walk through one of the villages nearby. We are under strict instructions not to go to the village where most of the houses were devastated by the cyclone. Again maybe it is paranoia but Joseph says that the authorities have not interfered with the work going on in the village since none of us foreigners go there. We might organise the aid and all the work that goes on...but it is always carried out by local people...so they have either nothing to complain about or have turned a blind eye. Anyway, we walk through another village which to me is just as interesting. We see people choping away at pieces of bamboo to repair their houses. One house has ropes attached to it and as we walk past there are 4 villagers pulling on the ropes to straighten the house out! I am worried that they might pull the whole thing down as the house looks so unstable...but of course they pull it just right and the crooked little house is straight again. A wonderful display of community spirit that we just so happen to stumble upon.
The journey back to Yangon is just as terrible this morning which baffles me why people would be travelling back into the city at night? Me and Lesh go to the internet café for a while but I am disappointed as there is no one there for me to talk to :( we had arranged to meet Manuel for dinner at an italian restaurant but when we get there it is closed. Since we are a bit early and we can't call Manuel we leave him a note to come and meet us in the beer station across the road! After a few beers he joins us and we make our way to another italian restaurant by Swedagon. The restaurant is packed and although we are starving (i had no lunch!) we are told we will have to wait at least 30 mins. As an act of wonderful customer service the owner gives us a plate of tomato and mozerella salad on the house which filled a gap while we played some cards. It was nice to eat some western food even though it was blooming expensive...was getting a bit sick of local food!