Thursday, May 10, 2012

May 10th: Getting to know some locals

We arrived in Gashora on Sunday with Lama and Cedric . Our hotel, La Palisse, is on the lake and has amazingly perfect landscaped grounds full with pineapple plants and greenery of all kinds. The grounds sit on a beautiful lake shore, and apparently there are hippos and crocodiles in the lake but I havn’t seen one yet, BUT I WILL! I won’t leave without seeing a Hippo! Our rooms are in a building a little ways up a hill and they are a little remnant of a convent, but in quaint fun kind of way. Lama and Cedric stayed over night with us here and then took the 1km walk into town where Covaga Women’s Initiative (cooperative) is. They introduced us to all of the women as well as two Rwandan University interns, Rogers and William, whom will be working with us at Covaga. We are really lucky to have them as they help us translate anything that we can’t sign to the children or to the women of Covaga. Rogers is a crazy guy who loves to talk about Rwanda, hip hop, and just life in general. Our fist day at lunch he spoke about the Rwandan heart and how he thinks it is a special heart that has the ability to forgive in a way that not many can, and although he has a lot of strong opinions, the Rwandan heart is one I definitely agree with. Forgiveness in any post conflict society is necessary for people to move forward and necessary for people to once again to live side by side, but there is also no denying that the people of Rwanda are very special.

The women have been very welcoming, they seem to warm up to us more and more each day. One day while we are waiting out the rain inside the newly built structure, one of them called me over. I thought she was going to show me how to weave but they just wanted to play with my hair! Which is great because I love having my hair played with, so what better way to pass the time. So far we have been working mostly in the field behind the building where they are growing a vegetable garden. The women work together in a row with hoes to overturn the soil, many of them with babies or youngsters tied on their backs with fabric. We try to keep up! We moved rocks and debris out of the way and for composting on the first day; on the second we measured out plots and transplanted onions; third we built a garden out of sticks and plastic that spells “Covaga” out in front of the building! Rogers said to us “ no one will ever forget who wrote Covaga”. I don’t know if that is true, but I know that I certainly will never forget. Today we dug holes for the posts of a new fence that will keep the goats out of the field.

Although the women are very welcoming, they are nothing compared to the children! We have acquired quite the fan club! The children meet us as we exit the hotel grounds and come up the hill, they work with us/watch us during the day, follow us when we go for lunch, and they walk us home at the end of the day! They love to yell “mazunga” which means white person! William tells us though that the president of Covaga is trying to teach them to call us friend in kinrwandan instead J. We have a few kids that are around a lot and we have gotten to know! One in particular, Odei or as we have named him "Big Dog", is pretty much always with us! He can most often be seen wearing our work gloves, one pair of our sunglasses and maybe even one of raincoats! He is pretty amazing and he seems to have a lot of say over the other children as well! We are not 100% sure of what his story is but we are pretty sure is Dad is in jail, and his mom committed suicide. From what we can tell he lives with an old man but again we can’t quite tell what the whole story is, but he has definitely become part of our little family here, which is hard because we cannot buy him food or give him water as this would single him out from the other children.

We are going to Kigali for the weekend after work tomorrow! We are going to explore the city a bit more and maybe see what the nightlife is like! Hopefully I will pick up so sick Rwandan dance moves!

DWC Team Member
Rwanda, May 2012

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