Wednesday, December 9, 2009

October 21, 2009: Shopping in Kagili

Yesterday I went to Kagili (the capital city) in order to get some things we needed for the project. This proved to be an adventure.
The capital city is about 45 minutes drive away but as you all know our mode of transport has been our bikes so we needed to find some other way to get to Kagili. We rode the public transportation which is basically a big van that squeezes 18 people in (including the driver) and stops at every town along the way. There is no such thing as personal space in Rwanda. When I got on the public transportation everyone was staring. I asked Lama, my guide why I was so interesting and he indicated the people have probably never seen a white woman on the bus. Softchoice Cares is all about changing perceptions!
When we got to Kagali 2 hours later (it is normally a 45 minute drive when not traveling by public transportation) we started on our list. We found it difficult to change money as no exchange place will take bills that were made before 2006. You also can't pay by credit card and no one has heard of an ATM here. After visiting 4 exchange places we found a bank that would take the US cash and let us change it to Rwandan Francs.
Kagili is a big city and one of the best ways to get around is a boatabota (a small motor bike). Of course these individuals want to get to the destination as quickly as possible so they weave in and out of traffic. I almost lost my lunch.
After visiting over 30 stores in a super busy city which has streets full of people we were able to get all our shopping done in order to complete our project. With our bags full of paint, brushes, batteries and glue we boarded the van to go home to our rural village in Gashora. I couldn't help but feel I was kind of going back to my African home.

-Sheila Kivlichan
DWC Volunteer Participant Rwanda

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