With every passing day here in Kigali, I want my trip to be extended longer and longer. There is just something about this city that is making me fall in love with it! All of Rwanda, to be honest, has my heart.
The people here are so welcoming and so accepting of us as a whole, and they want to learn everything they can about us and about the US. One thing I have really noticed here is people are very focused on their education and on their prosperity. I love seeing young people training to be BMETs (biomedical engineering technicians) because not only is that essentially what I am studying, but the work we are going to do in the coming month is going to be extended by the work of the trained BMETs! Nothing is better than seeing education passed on.
I am learning more and more Kinyarwanda and French as the days pass, and even more troubleshooting and engineering techniques. I KNOW that we, as a group, are going to be incredibly successful in the second month, and I am very excited to hear about everyone’s different experiences and hurdles along the way.
The past couple days have been so filled and busy, I have barely had time to contact home (hi mom!). Friday, the group of us traveled to the local, and very developed, hospital, CHUK, to get our hands on some medical equipment. Some equipment was totally fixed and sent off the floor and other pieces not only had the problem identified, but we have gained the resources to fix the problem this coming Friday when we go back! Does this make me a real adult now? I kind of like it!!
Saturday we traveled to the Western Province to the Nyungwe National Forest (a real rainforest!). Words cannot describe what I saw and felt in that 3 hour hike. We walked all through the forest and then did a canopy walk where we were quite literally standing on top of the trees while others were still high above us on all sides. The mountains in Rwanda are incredible. For 5 hours we drove from Kigali to Nyungwe, winding up a mountain, then winding down the mountain, then up the next one, and on to the next. To say the least, I was slightly carsick. But the pure beauty of Rwanda kept me alert and overcome with joy. I wish I was a better writer, but the only way I can put it was that I was becoming increasingly proud of the people of Rwanda and the country with every passing village. Yes this is Africa. No they may not have running water in their homes, or a refrigerator, or a car, but they have a spirit about them that touches me with everyone I meet. Seeing the bins of water out for laundry, goats tied to a pole on the side of a hill, kids pushing a wheel with a stick, men pushing large loads up the mountain on a bike, women carrying twice their body weight on their heads with a baby tied to their back… this country knows the meaning of hard work and thus the true meaning of happiness. I have learned more from their way of life in the past two weeks than I could possibly learn in a classroom.
Sunday we went to the Kigali Genocide Memorial and Museum. This gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about the country and its history. One of the most memorable quotes from the museum said: “They said never again after the Holocaust. Did that exclude us?” Wow. It’s very different for me being in a place that suffered such pain and destruction… in my own lifetime! The people I live with now LIVED through the genocide. The survivors and perpetrators populate the entire country. It is a traumatic and terrible event that truly brings people together and sort of establishes a peace across the entire country. I respect the country as a whole for being able to overcome its past and build itself up from the bottom. Mind blowing. Amazing.
We plan on going on a safari this upcoming weekend! Other than that, nothing here is new other than the fact, of course, I am in Africa! Waka wakaaaa