Since we get out of class around 3 or 4, we are able to explore the grounds in the afternoon, especially since they don’t typically eat dinner here until 9pm or later. From going into town on a taxi to going to bars and nightclubs, I feel like I have already seen so much that Rwanda has to offer. Now I know this is not true, of course, but doing something new every day sure does make your trip, and life for that matter, seem longer. Last night we thought we were going to see “live music” but we were in fact led to a night club with neon lights and nobody but us to dance! They played some American music and then switched to African music. It was hysterical watching a group of engineers not dressed for a nightclub whatsoever dance in a circle. But at least I can cross that off my bucket list!
Today was absolutely AMAZING. We went on a tour of the Millennium Villages Project to see the work they have done to help the poorest area of Rwanda, which was not only devastated by the genocide but also the problem of clearing out land and ruining major parts of agriculture and thus caused the people to suffer from drought and starvation. We first visited a genocide memorial and that was amazingly powerful. At one point I was standing in a long hallway filled bottom to top with skulls and bones of the victims murdered in the church. There wasn’t class or anything keeping me from touching them. I obviously broke into tears just imagining the number of people in the church. Devastating. On a more uplifting note, we saw a second primary school that was put into place in order to accommodate all of the children. The people here are so proud of their accomplishments, always. For example, the school started off with about 400 students in 2003 and now has about 1,000. The director couldn’t stop talking about that and it just made me laugh because he was so excited! After that tour we went to tour their medical center, where they only have nurses. They off a medical insurance, have in-patient care, a maternity ward, a pharmacy, distribute immunizations and even have a lab where they can test for maleria and TB! It was so refreshing to see how successful they can be. The health center had only seen about 5 patients a day ten years ago and now they see almost 200 a day! After this we toured a farm that was 2 acres but seemed like 10 because they utilize their space so well. They grew coffee, bananas, mangos, avocados, small hot peppers and many other things. They also had two cows, roosters, chickens, goats, and pigs. At one point the farmer dug up a cassava, peeled it and let us try some raw. Then he broke off branches and replanted it! After lunch we saw an area where women do basket weaving and we got to try! It takes them 4 days to make one basket. America would have 4,000 of them gutted out in an hour. But that’s the beauty of Africa. Everything is made in Rwanda, fresh and natural. I am loving it. After that we ended the tour by visiting the village that has both the victims’ families of the genocide and those who were on the other side of the genocide. We talked to a man who actually was a part of the genocide and he told us about how he went to jail for 9 years after and was given the change of forgiveness. Then we talked to a man who fled the country when his father was killed and he was only 11. Now, the two live in the same village, shared the same bench, and have the same wish: for us to take back their stories and tell people that the genocide was in fact real. What an experience it was to shake their hands. To end the day we danced with a group of kids that were doing the traditional dance and singing.
I know this is a lot to take in, but I will be able to blog more frequently now that I bought Internet. Love and miss everyone! Email me for more frequent updates. I love talking to people from home—cutting off all communication for a few days there was pretty rough.