Home education diary, June 2005

June 4th

Daniel sat his Grade 5 music theory exam today. It's actually the first formal exam he's ever sat in a school building, since his home education tests have been done at home. He's done practical music exams and also drama exams, but those aren't so stressful.

However he was fairly well prepared and is pretty sure he's passed. The pass mark is only 66% so it shouldn't be too difficult. His theory teacher - a very nice lady - rang round all the students after the exam for a chat, and said all the others were very stressed as they had made stupid mistakes. Dan wasn't stressed at all - there was one German word he didn't know, but he shrugged and said it was two marks, so not a big deal. The transposing was easy as it was for his instrument (clarinet) and he went through the paper four times checking for mistakes. (from Cyprus life blog 04/06/05)

June 8th

A couple of times in recent years, the Christian floating bookshop MV Doulos has stopped at Larnaka. The first time, Daniel was able to go and work there for ten days, helping with uncrating and sorting out books, and also selling. It's a ship full of young people, mostly around 18-30 and he loved the atmosphere. Last year he went to meet them again when they stopped temporarily, and decided he would like to spend longer on board once he was eighteen. He applied for their STEPS program, which has a set number of participants for two months, learning about all the different jobs that are done on the ship.

The time he hoped to go was from the last week in June to the middle of August. However not long after he sent in his application form, he had an email saying that this slot was filled. I wasn't surprised: for many university students this is the only time they would be able to go. Instead they asked if he would like the slot from late August to the middle of October. Although it clashed with a short course in woodwind repair that he hoped to take in the UK in October, he felt the Doulos was more important. So we waited for them to take up his references, and let him know whether or not he was definitely accepted.

Two evenings ago he had an email out of the blue, saying that a vacancy has just come up for the June to August stint, and if he wants it he can take it! The ship will be in Tanzania (Dar es Salaam), will visit Mozambique, and will then be in South Africa (Durban) in August.

The problem is, they would need him by 25th June! Tim did some googling to investigate flights; rather discouraging at first when he discovered a direct flight costing 2000! But further searching revealed flights via Egypt and UAE which were a lot more reasonable, although considerably more complicated. 

Then there's a whole host of vaccinations they said Daniel would need to get. We don't even have a GP here and the last vaccinations Daniel had were his pre-school boosters. However his drama teacher has a sister who's a doctor, who can apparently do all that's necessary. I don't like the idea of him having several vaccinations all at once - surely that would magnify any possible side effects - but some are essential. For instance, a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is compulsory for entering Tanzania. And he's due a booster for polio and tetanus anyway. Malaria tablets are highly recommended too, although they have varying side effects so it's hard to know which ones would be best.

Then there's a necessary visa for Tanzania. The other visas can be arranged from the ship, but obviously not this one as he hasn't yet joined them. There's no Tanzanian Embassy in Cyprus, partly because - for some unknown reason - Cypriot nationals don't need visas to go to Tanzania, although British citizens do. A visa takes a week even when there's an Embassy nearby, and we certainly don't want to post Daniel's passport to the UK if he's hoping to travel in less than two weeks.

It looks as though visas may be available at the airport, although that sounds a bit worrying: he wouldn't want to do all that travelling, only to find he's turned down at the last moment.  

My mind is whirling. Dan's excited about the possibility and would much rather go now than in August. So we're hoping and praying it will all work out... (from Cyprus life blog 08/06/05)

June 10th

It looks as though Daniel will be going on the Doulos in less than two weeks! Richard has managed to book flights with Emirates Air, going via Dubai, at reasonable prices. Dan's drama teacher took him to the hospital, negotiated his way through the complex system of chaos to find the nurse who does vaccinations, and he has had a tetanus/diphtheria booster - which he was due around this age anyway - and also the vaccination against yellow fever. 

He also now has an official yellow international vaccination record. So far the cost has been 8.80 which I'm sure is less than traveller vaccinations in the UK would cost. He has to go back for a polio booster a couple of days before he flies, and his drama teacher's sister will get hold of the others he's supposed to have: typhoid, meningitis A&C, and hepatitis A. We need to find some anti-malarial tablets too.

There's no Tanzanian Embassy in Cyprus so we just hope and pray he can get the tourist visa at the Dar Es Salaam airport when he arrives. That's supposed to be possible but it's a bit worrying not to have the visa in advance. It's too late to send his passport to the UK to get it there. (from Cyprus life blog 10/06/05)

June 25th

We saw Daniel off last night at Larnaka airport, just two and a half weeks after hearing that he could go to the Doulos this month. We're going to miss him in the next two months. It feels like the end of his childhood, in a sense. I felt very choked up; but I'm relieved that it's all worked out so well for him. 

He had to take full set of clothes for the lifeboat (sensible, but extra weight), plus everyday clothes for about a week including long trousers for evenings (to avoid mosquitoes), and also some dress trousers with a belt and a long-sleeved button-up shirt. Apparently some African churches expect people to dress up in the way some British churches did 50 years ago.

Then he had to take a towel, and a mug, and a Bible and a camera... and of course his clarinet, which goes with him everywhere.

Both the boys refuse to use text language or txtspk or whatever it's called on their mobile phones. However Dan amused us by texting a message in telegram language, which started:


Then the following day at about 5.45pm we had a brief text from him saying that yes, he's in to Tanzania - no problem with the visa. What a great relief. A lot of people have been praying. (from Cyprus life blog 25/06/05)

Dan's own viewpoint on this month can be found on his Doulos blog for June 2005 - note that the oldest entries are at the bottom.

As for Tim, he's out almost all the time for the next ten days, helping with childcare and
music at the international conference for yet another local Christian agency.

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