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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 06 Jun 2010

Location: Kigali, Rwanda

MapSunday, June 6th.

After having one of my best sleeps, Franklin cooked us breakfast over coals in his back yard kitchen. We rented a bike from one of his friends and headed out to Gashora which is about a 45 minute drive. There are a group of Canadian university students staying out there and one of them is Kathy M’s son (co-worker of mine.) It turns out they weren’t around today but I did see the project they were working on and it was a nice drive out to the lake.
On the way back, we had a little problem with an empty gas tank. While I guarded the bike on the side of the highway, Franklin headed back to the nearest village in search of fuel. There was a steady stream of people riding and walking by me on the road, and I heard the word ‘mzungu’ in almost every comment. Many of the people stopped to stare or to chat. Our conversations were limited to “Good morning” What is your name?” My name is _____.” Everyone wanted to show off their very limited English! I don’t know Kinyarwandan but they know the word petroli and could make their own deductions as to why this ‘mzungu’ was standing on a highway beside a bike in the middle of nowhere. Franklin finally showed up to tell me that there was no gas in that village.
After a couple full mini-vans rattled by, Franklin flagged down one and sent me back to Nyamata. He would wait for a friend to bring him gas. I thought four across was the limit in each row of these very small vans but these people thought we could fit in five. There were sacks of potatoes and grain on laps and I laughed at the whole situation when a man carrying three dead chickens crawled in at one of the many stops. When I got out at Nyamata, I was confused about which direction it was to Franklins and was surrounded by a crowd of people all clamouring to help. No one could understand me but eventually I found someone who spoke Swahili and he understood what I wanted. I hopped on the back of his bike and he deposited me safely at Franklin’s. I was now worried about being late for my next agenda item so hired a motorbike to speed me back into the city.

Costa’s sister Denise, (She loved the clothes Beki!!) attends a boarding school that has over 1200 or so co-ed students. Her school is built on a hill in a very beautiful setting with an amazing view of that part of the city. Visiting day is the first Sunday of every month and the rest of the time, you need special permission for even a short visit at the gate. I was surprised to hear the rigid schedule the kids must adhere to and could not picture any of the Canadian kids I know being able to handle the situation here. Denise also told us that there is no breakfast served, lunch is only potatoes and supper’s menu consists of cassava, beans and more potatoes. That’s it!!! No variation except for once a week, when they are served rice. Over half of all of the kids are orphans, many who have survived the genocide and she said they are all very ‘troubled.’ She also explained in detail the’ indiscretions’ that the headmaster demands from the girls at the school. People here are powerless to do anything about these matters because of the alternatives they would face, in this case dismissal from school and no chance at an education. It was very hard to leave her there as she asked me if I had any more information about the chance of her getting a VISA to come to Canada.

After saying a sad good-bye we headed back to our room to plan how we could make the best out of the limited time we have over the next few days before we leave. We’re heading down to the IMA office first thing tomorrow and then will go out for a meeting at the mayor’s office in Muhanga. We’re taking our last pile of gifts to the hospital to give out and then will take photos of some of the places where our medical equipment will be delivered. Rylan, Heike and I spent a reflective evening out on the deck discussing the trip and the exciting future of The One Person Project.