Letters from Sonja: Maxl has bitten him already
Michy is developing very well. We hear only good things about Michy. He is now Nr. 2 in his class. Barbara does not suffer from the infection anymore. This is completely healed.
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First published: October 11, 2008
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June 15th, 1965
We have started the extension to the house. Today the digging out for the foundation will be finished. Hubert is now making the planking for the foundation and in a couple of days the mason can start laying the bricks. After everything is finished the house will have an L-shape. We build another bedroom with an open arched passage to my future study. From there it leads to our new bathroom. The bathroom has a second door that leads to the second bedroom, which will be the guestroom. That means that the present children's bedroom later will be Barbara's room and our present bedroom will become Michy's room. Our present bathroom will then be the children's bathroom. The corridor then leads around a corner and has built-in cupboards that come off the guestroom. Also our new bedroom as well as the guestroom will have built-in wardrobes. Our bedroom will have two large windows with a beautiful view of the lake. We do hope that we can move in for Christmas.
We plan on going to a flower show on Sunday. This show takes place every year. Everybody who wants to show off their gardening success � mainly housewives � can exhibit it. I have wanted to go there for years already, but it never worked.
We had "National Day" last Monday. It said in the newspaper today that New Year in exchange won't be a holiday any longer. Christmas and Easter, however, will still be holidays.
June 2nd, 1965
Marc, Gudrun's and Gerd's son was born in Nairobi. I am looking forward to seeing the new baby.
H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II had been visiting Germany. During her visit she also came to Baden/W�rttemberg and Stuttgart. There were several mishaps. An artificial lawn was laid in front of the TV tower in Stuttgart as the planted lawn did not get ready in time for the visit. It was a wish of the Queen to visit Marbach. We have two places called Marbach in Baden/W�rttemberg. Marbach/Neckar is the birthplace of Friedrich Schiller, the great poet. There is the Schiller Museum. Then there is Marbach/Alb which houses the famous horse stud of Baden/W�rttemberg.
The Queen was taken to the Schiller-Museum. In the end she asked: "And where are the horses?"
I was amused about the artificial lawn and the mix-up of the two places called Marbach. Was this a joke or reality? Unfortunately it was reality. Apparently the people responsible did not know of the Queen's liking for horses.
July 15th, 1965
Our building project has not advanced a lot. In my mind I am already planning how to furnish the extension and the children are already discussing who can bring home what friend for the night as soon as they both have got their own rooms. Hubert has again shifted to a lower gear. It was really a lot of work for Hubert to do during his free time. I can only hope that after we have started full swing it does not start to rain.
As I have told you, Michy is getting pocket money now. So he can save some for our next vacation in Germany. He has very quickly learned that he can either spend everything or save it so that one day he can get himself something he really wants very badly. He has started off with 10 Shs. someone gave to him and very quickly he did not have anything left. He, for instance gave 4 Shs to an African to make a bow for him. This way the 10 Shs. were gone in no time. Well, the 4 Shs. were certainly good for the African and Michy has learned a good lesson. He also seems to take more care of his belongings, as lost writing utensils, school-belts or other lost pieces of clothing are taken off his allowance.
I am convinced that only 20% of the shoes are repaired these days. The remaining 80% are of such a poor quality that they are not worth being repaired. I must say however that the shoes I bought in Germany for myself and the children belong to the 20 % that are worth being repaired. The Bata shoes I buy here for the children don't last more than 3 months.
I kept Barbara at home yesterday and today. She has got a cough and I don't want her to get ill again. Her leg is still very swollen. Apart from that she is suffering from anxiety and is rather restless during the night. She is eating well again specially lots of fruit. Our mangos are ripe at the moment. I have the impression that Barbara will be eating them all by herself. I also buy apples for her. Hopefully she will be accepted at school. I will only be informed about this in December or January, just shortly before school is starting.
I think it is good to have a ninth year in school now in Germany. But I cannot understand that they do not have enough space and teachers. It should be possible to overcome these problems.
Michy is very much looking forward to meeting Axel again. (Axel was a little boy Michy was playing with while in Germany.) Michy, however, cannot understand that Axel is only in the 2nd year in school, whereas he is in class 4 already.
Michy's curriculum is quite interesting. He learns a lot of general knowledge. The children for instance get 2 words or names about which they have to do some research at home with the help of an encyclopaedia. Yesterday, for instance, he had to research about Beethoven and the Vatican. The children have to put a short explanation with their name into an answer-box.
As far as geography is concerned he knows quite a lot already with his not even 9 years. Towards the end of my own days in school we were still talking about Baden/W�rttemberg, whereas Michy has a certain knowledge about all continents already. (To be fair on myself, I went to school during and after war time.) For every country they talk about they have an exhibition during that time, for example Italy � nice pictures from magazines, a handful of Spaghetti, postage stamps, coins etc. Everything is taken to school and put on exhibition. This kind of learning must be fun. Also the international mixture of the pupils makes the lessons interesting. Michy sometimes gets extra questions like: Where does "Eau de Cologne come from?" The same happens to children from other countries. This way all the pupils profit from the internationality.
Barbara has got new glasses but she still has to wear the "Scheuklappen" (blinders). A lady orthoptist is expected to come to Uganda by August. Then her eyes might be trained. Barbara has now got a normal eyesight on both eyes, which is very good.
Michy with his monkey.
We have had a little monkey for some days now. We call him Maxl. He is not at all tame yet. Michy can handle him quite well and yet Maxl has bitten him already.
Yesterday a new programme started on TV. We can now see a complete film every Wednesday. The first one was very good. It was the story of an English family of officers, four generations from the Boer War until WW II.
August 3rd, 1965
Once again back to Michy's pocket money. My dear Papa, I am sure that you can remember that I, too, did not get any pocket money. Maybe I sometimes got exactly 4 Pfennig in order to buy myself a "Brezel" or the exact amount of money for an exercise-book for school. Certainly Michy will not get any big amounts. He should learn this way what he can get for a certain amount of money. He has to keep an exact book about his money. I don't think that children can learn this too early. Michy was always loosing everything, his complete PE cloths, towels, several fountain pens, two pullovers and so on. Since Michy had to pay for a lost school-belt from his pocket money he does not loose anything. Apart from that Michy is developing very well. We hear only good things about Michy. He is now Nr. 2 in his class. He will get his report this week.
Barbara does not suffer from the infection anymore. This is completely healed. But she still suffers from the side effects. A double-sided pneumonia and the inflammation of the skin of the hip bone left their traces. The worst, I think, is the psychical condition of Barbara. She is 100% aware how ill she was and that is quite a burden for a 5 year old child. She just had a cough. I met Dr. Lewis in town and he asked me to come by on my way home. He then checked Barbara and said that the noises on her chest are far better and that I don't have to worry about the cough. She also looks very much better and does not get as blue as she did for quite some time. Her leg is still swollen but its also getting better. Her veins were very thick, but this is also disappearing. The worst thing is that Barbara asks me at least once every day what is happening after death. She is dreaming a lot and gets frightened and starts screaming during the night. I am sure, that this too will disappear.
Also about Barbara I get to hear only good things from the Kindergarten-School. There was an open day last week when parents could have a look at the work of their children. Barbara's teacher was most enthusiastic regarding Barbara. She gave me great hope that Barbara will be accepted into school next year.
Back to the curriculum at Michy's school: In history he is learning at the moment exactly what children in Germany learn in grade 5 and 6 and children in German schools are always at least one year if not two years older than Michy when they start school. Michy took his German history book with him to school yesterday. The book was put on exhibition for the children as there were many pictures in it about what they are taught at the moment.
I am very much looking forward to your TV programme. Many people here say that the programme in Uganda is not good. I have the feeling that this is out of pure opposition. The programmes here come from all over the world and � forget about politics � this is an advantage for us. For example the Chinese bring very good cultural films. Also the east European countries have to offer something worthwhile watching. Last week we had a Russian and a Yugoslavian Film. I was amazed what beautiful cities are in the Asian part of Russia. I also like watching the French news reel and every now and then a film from Germany. I am not interested in propaganda films, but I prefer neutral films from all over the world to a pure English or German programme.
We have been invited by an American of the American Embassy to a farewell party. It feels good that they still remember me. Not only do they remember me, they still try to get me back.
We have also been to a farewell party of a German couple. We see them all come and go. Mrs. Kanzler liked it very much here, but her husband was not happy in his job. They are now going to Ulm.
To be Continued...
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First published: October 11, 2008