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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 13 Jul 2006

Location: Kigali, Rwanda

MapJambo everyone,

We've had a lot of problems with the internet but I pasted this from word and that seems to be the way to go. Very frustrating for everyone because we are all missing our families and friends and want to keep in touch.

Yesterday was our last day working on the house. It would’ve been nice to see it finished but I can’t say I would’ve wanted to work up there until it was done. It takes about 15 days of solid work from start to finish to complete a house so they probably have another week or so. We felt so bad when we were getting ready to pack up. We thought about the guys all coming back to work on the house and how quiet it would seem without us. We all laughed so much the whole time we were working up there. Everything is funny to them. I would grab globs of clay mud and imitate a major league pitcher and they would just howl. The dirtier we got, the funnier they thought we were. Cathy, one of the WV girls, kept all of the kids entertained while we worked. They absolutely loved her. She got really attached to this little boy named Everest. He was about 3 feet tall with great big eyes, a big belly and arms the size of matchsticks. He gets fed at the Nourishment Centre twice a week but it’s obviously not enough. She gave him a shirt to cover his raggy clothes and it looked like he was wearing a nightie. When we finally said goodbye and drove away the kids were all chasing us…we could see little Everest trying to run with the kids, he was doing a good job keeping up, but we finally lost sight of them in the dust. It was so sad; Cathy was in tears and I’m sure everyone else was.

We also went to visit more of the kids that our team got sponsors for in Rwanda. There were 6 of them at one school. Their mothers met us there for the meetings with their kids. One of the girls I met was this beautiful little five year old who was the oldest of 4 four children. Her mom said that her main job was to baby sit her siblings but to me she didn’t look big enough to pick up even the baby. She has to help a lot because the mother has no other relatives to help her. The mother and the mother’s brother were the only survivors of the genocide. He had gotten married but his wife and baby died recently of Aids. The brother also suffers from bad health and probably also has Aids. These kinds of stories are so common here, the genocide affected so many people and Aids is spreading so fast. The life expectancy of a Rwandan male is 45 and a female is 47.

After work on Tuesday we took a couple of the WV directors out to dinner at Hotel Milles Collines. We thought if we’re going to be right here in the same city we should at least have a meal there to say that we did. The atmosphere and the food were great. It was easy to forget about the slums and poverty of the city for a while. It was nice to actually leave the hotel complex for once. Everyday we have been trapped here. There is a wall around this place and they have armed security guards at the entrances. We’ve never even crossed the road at night to go to the store. One day we considered it and then decided against it. Its so intimidating going out in the crowds during the daylight with an interpreter, never mind at night without one.

Today was our last full day here in Rwanda. We spent the first part of the day with the World Vision Micro Finance people. This is where local people come to borrow money to start small enterprises. They also get some training in how to run a business and how to budget their earned money so they can pay back the loan. We then went out to see two of the recipients of these loans, in action. One was a baker and the other was a woman who weaves baskets and purses. They both have a ‘store’ in Nyamata. The baker even employs 10 people! It was interesting to see how that part of WV works.

Because it was our last day, the WV staff for Nyamata ADP asked us to go next door to a room in the Nyamata Café for our goodbyes. We were surprised to see all of the people gathering and realized that they had something bigger planned than we had anticipated. They had invited WV staff from all around and a big group of the children from a nearby school. The tables were set up in a circle around the outside edge of this big room. They sat us all at the head of it. The children sang and performed all sorts of dances for us. It was so amazing; I can’t wait to show you all videos we’ve taken! Two different times during the ceremony, the children came over to each of us and pulled us onto the dance floor. We did our best with the African dancing which isn’t as easy as they make it look. They all clapped and cheered at our attempts. (I am not used to dancing without a few glasses of beer in me first!) They also called us all up, one at a time, and presented us with different gifts to take home. There were speeches by everyone, thanking us, and all of you in Canada, for caring about them and helping to create lives for the next generation of Rwandan children. The whole thing was so moving and saying good-bye to all of the WV staff that we’ve gotten to know was so hard. I feel like we are deserting them and leaving them with this huge, overwhelming job, to do on their own.
After a lot of gift exchanging, hugs and tears, we finally said good-bye and drove down that horrible road for the last time!

Tomorrow morning we are going to shop for a few souvenirs and then we are visiting another genocide memorial that is here in Kigali. We will go straight from there to the airport to fly back to Arusha. On Friday morning, we are flying to Mzunza, which is at the south end of Lake Victoria. We will drive from there to see the Isegehe foster kids. Because of the distance, the plan is to stay over night somewhere and then see the kids on Saturday morning. We will drive back to Mzunza after that to catch the plane back to Arusha on Saturday night. I will e-mail as soon as I can. Take care all and thanks so much for the messages. I wish I had time to answer more personally some of your comments but it just isn’t possible. In fact right now it is 0250 (my time). I had to do this in the middle of the night because there is no other time. See how much I care about all of you. I’ve even had to fight off a ‘malaria carrying mosquito’ the whole time I was trying to write this! I am going to try to post a picture or two…I don’t know if it will work but we’ll see.

Kwa heri