So in the last 10 days, I:
- Ate plenty of rice and beans.
- Was offered Rwandan citizenship by 2 young (and handsome) men who proposed over lunch
- Was in a crammed van with leopard print interior for over 40 hours
- Discovered that you have to pay to pee in a cement hole in the ground (and forego the use of toilet paper). I now have an old Rwandan woman still mad at me because I wouldn’t.
- Wrestled wild crocodiles.
so i might have thrown in the last one for shock value, but i promise all the others are true with very little embellishment..
It’s been a long 2 weeks.
Some other students from the U.S. that are with USP (Uganda Studies Program) and I were able to travel to Rwanda before classes started. Rwanda is an absolutely gorgeous but complex country. We drove through the country side through its towering mountains, green vegetation, and extra-bumpy roads. Its people groups are rich in culture, but have so much history. Interacting with some that had been through the Genocide broke my heart. They oftentimes have no family. None. There are many walking through the streets with missing limbs and scars that tell their story. At the same time, so many are still welcoming. Many people and churches as a whole have begun to reconcile and deal with the pain of over 13 years. I wanted to share about the people because my heart is still bearing the weight of interactions I had, images I saw, stories I heard, and even some smells that still linger in my mind. If you don’t know much about the Genocide in 1994, I would encourage you to research it. Over 4 months over 1 million people were brutally murdered. Women and children were targeted because they were seen as the future of the Tutsi – the people group that were the victims.
For the detailed oriented who really want to know, let me give you the brief run-through of the itinerary from what I can remember:
Friday/Saturday: Traveling, guest house in Kigali (Capital of Rwanda)
Sunday: Church, unlike anything you’ve ever been to – singing, dancing, singing, dancing, some talking, then singing and dancing.
Monday: More traveling- short stop at a Lake in Gahini. The Bishop of Diocese Gahini welcomed us and spoke for a while.
Tuesday: Kigali Memorial Center – much like the Holocaust Museum in D.C.
Wednesday: Murambi Memorial, The University of Rwanda.
Thursday: Kigali? I forget. Spoke with 2 lawyers of the Gacaca (pronounced Gah-cha-cha) Courts – very fascinating.
Friday: Sheikh Saleh Habimana, the Mufti of Rwanda. He talked about Human Rights, Terrorism, and Dialogue of the Muslim Community.
Saturday: Visited a small community of women rebuilding and supporting one another. All had been affected by the Genocide in 1994, and were orphans or had no existing family members.
Sunday to present: Lake Bunyonyi, traveling, etc..
At some point I got to see a traditional African dance, which was amazing. Also, went to the Belgium Memorial for the soldiers killed in the Genocide, and walked around Kigali. The real hotel from the movie Hotel Rwanda was in Kigali; it was a nice hotel, but not at all similar to the one in the movie.
For these next couple weeks, I’ll be commuting to classes and staying with a Ugandan family in the community. I won’t have electricity or running water. However, I will have a great little tub (Little as in i can barely fit both feet in it) where I’ll be bathing. I’ll let you know how that works out.. I’m excited, and can’t wait. I’m looking forward to lots of football games with the kids in the neigborhood (soccer that is) – I’ve already succeeded in finding some little pals to play with.
As for pictures, I tried, but couldn’t get any to upload the other day. I’ll try again until it works, but I can’t make any promises. Rest assured that I’m taking them.
I hope that all is well. Have a GREAT weekend!