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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 04 Jul 2006

Location: Kigali, Rwanda

MapJambo everyone,

Oh my God! What a day! It'll be hard to describe to you all what today was like for me. You can only experience it. I think I had said that we were going to a festival today. What it was, was the anniversary of the liberation of Rwanda after the genocide in 1994. We drove in our very uncomfortable, rattley, hot van thing for three hours on the ruttiest road you EVER saw. (I'll never complain about the crappy roads in Canada again.) The whole way there we passed thousands of people...they're everywhere. When we arrived at Gashora, a little village way south of here, there was a huge gathering of maybe 8000-10,000 people. They parted the crowd and led us to seats that were right up at the front a couple down from the dignitaries. There was dancing and singing and speeches (that we couldn't understand). It was one of the most emotional, moving experiences that I've ever had. The kids kept trying to get closer and everyone wanted to touch us. I held the most beautiful baby you've ever seen. There was also this adorable little girl who was about two that sat on my knee. II gave her a little doll that all the children passed around to each other. Then she got her mom to tie it on her back like they all carry their babies. She parraded that doll on front of me for the rest of time we were there. It was so
cute. All of the people are absolutely amazing. They have so little and seem so happy. They stare at you and if you look back, they smile from ear to ear. I can't descibe how we all felt being a part of this very emotional celebration. After it was over. they invited us with all the "bigshots" to a room and served us warm pop, skewered goat meat and some banana-y things. We had to accept everything they were offering us so we wouldn't offend them. We left there and drove back to Nyamata for a bite to eat in a "restaurant". (I'll show you pictures.) The whole way back there were the same crowds of yelling, waving people. It's the weirdest feeling. They are all yelling "mzungu" (white person) and they are so excited just to see us. Especially in Gashora because not too many people brave the roads to go there. We didn't get to give out much to the children because after we handed a couple of things out, the crowd was getting too excited and it was distracting people from the ceremonies. You have tohave a controlled situation before you can give things out, there are just too many people.
We didn't get to go to the memorial in Kigali today because the trip took too long. I saw where the one is in Nyamata but we won't have the "official" tour until the weekend. It's hard to believe that 35,000 people were killed there, 10,000 in a single day. Well gotta go, I haven't even gone to my room yet...we're all pretty dirty. Tomorrow we are starting work on the house we're building in Nyamata. I'll try and write when I get back.........Thanks again for the notes......I miss you guys.........Kwa Heri.......
Brendalina Jolie