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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Friday, 21 May 2010

Location: Rwanda


Well, we just had our first full day in Rwanda and boy was it full!

It started with a breakfast of eggs and dry buns. for $3 you can't beat it! We met some new friends doing work out of Burundi with a free clinic. They were from the USA. One man was doing a Peace marathon this Sunday here in Kigali. So, of course Brenda decided quickly that she thought it was a good opportunity to have a bit of a workout and signed us up for the 5 km run. well, those of us that wanted to anyway. It's still up for debate with me. :)

After breakfast we headed to the bus station. On the way up to the station, local kids spotted us and ran up to hold our hands. They walked with us for a little bit and after we gave them a cookie, off they went. They are so sweet. I'd like to have something healthier for them next time, though. I wish I had brought some of those gummy bear vitamins they sell for kids back home. They would have been like a treat!

The streets were so busy! Finally, after dodging cars and motorcycles, we arrived at the bus station. We all hopped on board and for only $1.80 each, drove through the beautiful countryside for about an hour till we reached Muhanga. We wanted to see where the crate will be when it arrives and to help make a mud brick house for a lady named Ephifany. She and her young duaghter are HIV positive.

Vanessa from GroundWorks was already there when we arrived. (GroundWorks is the the organization we partnered with to distribute the contents of our crate) There were lots of people gathered to watch us make the bricks. Everyone was so kind and friendly! Many kids gathered off to the side as Allisha, Catey and myself hopped into the "mud pit" to pull up some mud for the others to start forming into bricks. I got out after a bit and missed the "mud dance" the girls had with one of the local men. It was like grape stomping!

Rylan, Terry, and Brenda were so quick doing the bricks that we were done in no time flat. (well, for the day anyway) After the bricks were set aside to dry a few of us sat and visited while helping sort beans. Kids were everywhere and enjoyed getting their pictures taken and looking at the image after. The women started singing and next thing we knew, we were all dancing! Heike's sure got the moves!!!

Afterwards, we walked a long way until we reached the GroundWorks office. Then off to lunch before we walked again for a long way to the Muhanga Hospital. Did I mention we walked a long way? (I would have worn my runners if they weren't still missing somewhere, along with all of Rylan's luggage, at one of the many airports we visited!) The Muhanga Hospital is where a lot of the medical contents of the crate will go.

At the hospital more local people gathered around us and women came over to shake our hands while children giggled and hid behind their mothers legs. After some pictures and laughs the kids were all around us again. I felt eyes on me all the time. (There aren't many caucasian people here or as the locals like to call us Mzungu, I think I saw three others since we've been here) We visited some of the children in the pediatric ward. Some have been here for YEARS! Yes, years! They are very sick and need to stay to be cared for. Some of the children we saw have been abandoned for one reason or another and were being taken care at the hospital. We brought food for some (sorgum and sugar) We plan to go back Monday or Tuesday and bring more gifts and food. Brenda is looking into buying ingredients for baby formula for one of the little ones. One of Brenda's friends gave $100 to Brenda to use for someone that really needed it.... The mother is HIV positive and can't nurse her, so the baby is not growing well and looks to be about 1-2 months old, even though she is 9 months. I saw the mother try to feed the baby a bun, but she was struggling. The doctor said the baby was not doing well. The mother is extremely poor and cannot afford food for the infant. Brenda has decided this would be a good place to put the money that was donated. It is so hard to think who needs it more... They all do. Hopefully, we will make it back soon with the formula. That sweet baby was so hungry.

All and all I think I did pretty good at holding back the tears. Whenever I felt myself getting a bit emotional, I would just pop on the sunglasses and take a deep breath. All the local people were so happy to meet us. Even the really sick kids were smiling away. I didn't want to be a "downer" by showing how sadenned I was at their condition. I knew the chances were great that some wouldn't make it; some without families to come and see them. I can't wait to come back and bring them toys that were donated by some of you and the thrift store. I had only seen one toy there. It would surely cheer them up.

Well, off to bed! It's 11:30pm Kigali time. I have a feeling tomorrow will be another busy day! :)