Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gashora, Rwanda: First day on the project with the community

I am so excited for this day is our first day on the Covaga Innovation Project in Gashora, Rwanda. We are up early, eating a good breakfast omelets, potatoes, cornflakes, fruit and coffee, Merv & I didn’t have a clue what we would be doing today but it was going to amazing that’s for sure. We headed down the dirt road (the earth is very red in color here and they have trees that look like cactus, we stay at the La Palisse Hotel where there is rooms that are modest with a bed and may-be a dresser every room has a mosquito net but the mosquitoes aren’t bad so far...We have toilets to share and showers as well with the best cold water that trickles from the shower head but OHHHH so appreciated after lots of dirt and sawdust on us.

We all walked down the dirt road to our work site ,which is about a 20 minute walk along the way we met many beautiful little children, they were all ages, so excited to see the Muzungu which is the name they say for white person. Some wear shoes like crocs, most still bare feet. They all came running up to us shaking hands, asking our names and loving it when we take there pictures. They laugh and giggle and when we take their pictures we can show them on the digital camera, they are always posing. Despite what these children’s families have gone through when the genocide took place in 1994 these children are very happy with what they have they are truly amazing, Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit the genocide museum in Kigali it broke our hearts so much to absorb, seeing the children, and the human bones brought tears to my eyes how senseless the killing and torture to women men and children of Rwanda was. Merv and I feel so privileged just to be here sharing in there lives a life determined to rebuild to include, family, love , laughter and education. We are thankful for so much we take for granted in our own daily lives...

Once at the site there were groups of people gathered many women ,men, and children very happy to see us shaking our hands, smiling introducing themselves, both of us saying our names to each other they wear the most beautiful bright colors, with dress and shawls, they also wear clothes we know have been donated like the Wendys’ soccer (football to them) shirts in bright yellow and purple and say Kamloops on them, how neat was that to see.

There mode of transportation for most is by bicycle, they carry each other, water, chickens, benches, anything they need to transport they do, as well as just for the pleasure, as vehicles are expensive and no one can afford them. The bicycles are older, with carrying racks and often big adult ones not small ones but the children readily adapt and zoom everywhere with them. When we arrived on site we had a group of men introduce themselves who were going to direct us and keep the project flowing. The structure of the centre is built of brick and today we were putting the frame up for the roof. This was hard to believe everything done by ropes and people power it is always a team effort we really helped there today everyone jumping in. We also dug a ditch with a pic axe and shovel good old manual labor but it felt so good and so right with everyone working together . Sad note on that was we had to fill it in because the authorities changed there mind where it should be placed. And another big hole had to be dug.

One of the most shocking things for most of us who went to the toilet was the kind of toilet it was an outhouse with a steel hole shaped like a key hole with two feet on it which you squatted down to do your business on you pack your own toilet paper or Kleenex because you never know if there will be any! Wish the kids could see this !!!

Merv found his grove with the guys and he took to the wheelbarrow hauling the dirt away, helping with the lifting of boards and enjoying the children which were many. I am so proud of him for coming on this trip. He too thought about how we take for granted in life that we have all the tools, and trucks available at home to make a job like this so easy here they have been working on this for 5 months and they are just at the roof the final stages which they hope to finish while we are here to help.

During the day we work, take a banana break, walk back to our hotel for a hot lunch, walk back ,to work, have another banana break which usually women deliver to us in a basket and these bananas are grown in nearby plantations. Just before the end of the day the tiles showed up in a big truck to do the roof and it was amazing we had women, with babies on the back, all of us, men workers, young boys, pitch in and pass the tiles to each other until that big truck was emptied the Rwandans love to sing and laugh and they did as we passed the tiles it was what Developing World Connections is all about even though we don’t speak the same language we are still connecting, people helping people.

I was so happy, I got to talk to the different woman who weave there baskets, and I also purchased some to bring home, I got to work shoveling dirt in making a trench, I got to have a lot of fun working with Peter (He will be graduating from his trade in carpentry he is very excited) who directed Ruth, Jenn, & I with the carpentry skills of using tools to cut, and shave the wood, measure and pile it back. It was great fun and we could tell he enjoyed teaching us. I got to hold a beautiful baby today, he was so cuddly and happy we all made him laugh and he giggled and we all melted. His mother was proud to share him with us. It is very important to Rwandans to have children and they think it is very sad if you don’t have any, they often ask you that question.

Merv and I just are so happy to be here and we are so Super happy Shannon and Lama have worked so hard to give us this amazing experience. Everyone should one day!

Ardell Fedorchuk

DWC Participants
Rwanda 2010

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