Monday in Manzini

5-Oct-2011

This past week, our principal approached me and asked if I could ‘shelve’ the computer class I had scheduled for Monday and join him on a trip to town. The government has come through and our school has recieved some much needed funds. With the kitchen stock room refilled, there were some other purchases the school has been meaning to make.

I agreed, and we were off. Our first stop was to pick up the school committee chairman (as each check from the school requires two signatures) who squeezed in the pickup truck cab with us.

Once in town, it was a furry of activity and, at times, it felt like we were going nowhere fast. My first assignment was to get quotes for a long list of electrical materials we need to install security lights around the school.

With two estimates in hand I met back up with my counterparts and we were off to see if we could sign the school up for Internet access at SPTC. Unfortunate for us, their computers were down and they were unable to do anything to help us.

Never one to give up, our principal suggested driving to the next town to see if we would have better luck there. We did. Despite having to wait in one of the most confusing lines I have ever seen, we sucessfully purchased the Internet ‘dongle’ and the necessary airtime to get the school ‘on-line’. However, little did we know that a police traffic check point was between us and the on-ramp that would start us on our journey back to Manzini. Lucky us…we were pulled over for what the police officer said was failure to wear seatbelts. (My understanding is that in Swaziland seatbelts must be worn…if they are avalible, but there is nothing mandating seatbelts be ‘available’). In addition, I have no clue how he even saw into the truck as we were struggling against a very seriously fogged windshield and couldnt really see out. Our principal played the sympathy card and got the police to let us off without the ticket.

Back in Manzini we criss-crossed the city chasing down lead after lead. However, we were unsucessful in locating some of the other items on our list.

With the sun setting and the rains picking up, we went to the store with the lowest quotation and picked up our electrical supplies. As the storm continued, we decided we needed to keep much of our purchase out of the rain. So we began our hour drive home with three men, several bags, and a variety of electrical equipment in the small cab of our principals pick-up. Needless to say that about 90% of my body fell asleep or cramped during the trip, but it was an adventure filled day which not only has led to two great accomplishments this week (getting Internet access here at school and the placement of security lights around the campus in preparation of the upcoming school break) but also gave me more insight into the dynamic and partnership between our school principal and the committee chairman.

-Oliver

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