Tuesday, 15 January 2019


I have not been able to solve the problem of loading photos onto the blog so the content is very dull, only text, so I would encourage you to follow the Village Rwanda Facebook Page. I am sorry if you are not on .facebook but  it can’t be helped. I’ve sent feedback but with no reply.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

On Saturday Theo and Rose and I had a lovely walk down into Mugonero from Theo’s house near Kibingo. On the way we were serenaded by a man who was taking his hand-made traditional instruments to Kigali to try to sell them. We hope to buy some for our entertainment for tourists some day! It’s in our Action Plan!
We met up with Emma and Lindsay who had driven down to Mugonero from Kigali to come and visit the village with us. The boat was waiting and we enjoyed the breeze as we glided along the lake surrounded by mountains, blue sky and fresh air. We arrived at at the landing stage after what seemed like a very short half hour. We were greeted by my old and dear friend Alexis who I haven’t seen for about four years. It was lovely to see his happy smiling face.
Climbing through the banana trees and noticing the coffee, avocado and mango trees we arrived at the village.This was the first visit for all of my friends and we were all overwhelmed by the welcome from people of all ages. It was so good to see Mama looking well because last year she was very poorly and had to go to Zimbabwe for treatment. But now she is her usual cheerful self again.
We had a treat in the afternoon! We were issued with a Rwandan hoe and told to get to work digging! The women farmers are strong and have good muscles, they lift the hoe way above their heads, striking the earth with some force in order to till the ground. I probably lifted mine about two feet from the ground so my technique needs working on. The women do this in bare feet and have never had an accident. Yikes! Having planted some sweet potato plants we then harvested others that were ready to eat. A competitive element emerged amongst the rest of the team as to who could find the most potatoes. Rose impressed us with her ability to carry a basket of sweet potatoes on her head all the way back to the guesthouse. We prepared and cooked what we had just taken out of the ground and along with other delicious food we had a shared meal outside sitting on grass mats near the fire.

Needless to say, we all slept well on Saturday night.
Sleep well too everyone. Love Tricia 

Saturday, 12 January 2019

encouraging meeting

Well, I wasn’t able to write the blog yesterday because we were either on the bus or busy with the meeting and basically enjoying the countryside!
Yesterday we left Kigali by bus from the wonderful Nyabugogo Bus Park and travelled for four hours to get to Mugonero where we met up with Theogene. Jumping onto the back of Moto’s we went up to Theo’s new house which is just off the tarmac road between Kibingo and Mugonero. He and his wife Mary are working hard to make the house into a guesthouse for the influx of tourists who are now discovering the beauties of Rwanda.
The guesthouse is still being worked on but it has great potential and at some point it will have a name so that we don’t confuse it with Mama’s guesthouse which is in the Village and best accessed by boat or a lovely three hour walk.

I can’t seem to download photos but they are on my Facebook page and on the Village Rwanda Facebook page.

Off to get the boat now.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

First day back in Rwanda in 2019

I arrived safely at Kigali airport and I must say it is lovely to get back to the warmth of the sun and the warmth of the people. As soon as I chatted to the Rwandan clerk issuing my visa I remembered the cheerful and relaxed attitude that most people here have towards life. I really really hope that development doesn’t also bring hard faced and miserable attitudes to life.

After a lovely deep sleep under the mosquito net I woke with the sun and went out into the garden.

After admiring the view over Kigali I went around the back of the house and has massive surprise!

Ritah has a workshop for carpenters at the back of their house! All the machinery was brought from the UK in suitcases because it’s not possible to buy them here. They are making wooden toys for Ritah’s business which she started less than three years ago. It is called Toddle Care and you can explore it on www.toddlecare.com . This is a completely new concept in Rwanda and it is becoming very popular. One of the principles we used when I was working for VSO was not to bring in lots of plastic for children to play with but to use locally sourced materials as much as possible. There are more and more items being ‘Made in Rwanda’ by Rwandan Workers. These two carpenters are symbolic of this policy. Ritah also employs people who make beautiful items from fabric, such as dolls, playhouses. If you are ever in Kigali it is worth a visit to her shop or take a look at the website and ask me to bring something home.

I’m hoping to meet Theogene soon when he arrives in Kigali so I will keep you posted!

The Blogger website planner keeps jumping about, it is a little unstable but I will do my best!
Thanks for all your care and interest in what I’m doing here.
Bless you, Tricia 

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Sunset at the equator

I took this photo from the aeroplane just as we were passing over the equator. It was an amazing sight with beautiful golden yellow and orange light rays merging into the clear cornflower blue changing to deep navy. A great welcome to Africa.

I have arrived safely at my friends’ house in Kigali and I’m looking forward to a good lie down and a nights sleep so that tomorrow I can meet up with Theo to make plans and later to collect Rose from the airport. Hopefully o can keep the blog going. God bless. Tricia 

Monday, 7 January 2019

I'm off to Rwanda tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again.... and of course, enjoying the warm sunshine although it will also be the end of the Rainy season. As with the rest of the world the timing and severity of the seasons is changing in Rwanda so it is very difficult to predict what the weather will be like.
Hopefully I will be able to write some posts and add photos but who knows???

Keep a look out anyway. Lots of love. Tricia x

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Struggling with blog

Hello everyone from sunny Rwanda. I’m struggling with the blog this time so there will only be text. If you are on Facebook you can link to our Facebook Page ‘Village Rwanda’ which I have been using regularly. Sorry about that, the software makers seem to have changed things and I can’t insert photos on here easily.

After spending three days in .kigali sorting out money and airtime and meeting with friends I travelled on the familiar three and half hour bus journey to Kibuye. I was met by Theogene and we greeted each other warmly. We decided to take a shared car on the next part of our journey, cramped but quicker, now that there is a new tarmac road. Arriving at the boat landing stage at Mugonero our new boat, generously provided by the comgregation of Norden and Bamford Chapel, was waiting for us.
The walk along the grassy bank to the boat is beautiful. It is a piece of land which juts out and the first thing I always notice is the agriculture to the left, it always used to be rice (umuceri) but now half of it is rice and the other half is maize (ibigore). During the day this provides work for many people. Next we pass the reed bed where we are startled by a flash of orange and deep deep black. A most noticeable bird perches in the reeds, alongside the reed warblers, busy making their intriguing nests. We stop to admire the wildlife and I decide it’s time I leant something about the birds of Rwanda. Further on and almost there there are two massive metal boats moored and the ‘sand-digger men are hard at work filtering sand from the river bed before it makes its way to the lake. This is back breaking work and the men of all ages often stop for a chat and a laugh. They shovel the sand into wheelbarrows and push it up the ramps connected to the massive metal boats. When the boats are loaded the sand is taken south down the lake to Cyangugu to be used in building.

Eventually we reach the boat and I’ve already had lots of stimulating experiences! Patrick, the captain and Prince the assistant greet us like the old friends we are. My first ride in our very own boat!! It’s such a smooth and relaxing experience to have a boat trip when the lake is calm and it was that day. We arrived at the lakeshore and were greeted by Gaudance our teacher and the fishermen mending their nets, ready for the next catch. They are very cheeky as you might expect of men who spend their days in such a tough job. Many people in this area have come originally from Cyangugu because the fishing is good and over the years they have decided to settle here in the village.

Up the hill between the bananas, cassava and maize, passing Mango trees and avocado trees on our way we reach the top and emerge into bright sunshine. I’m here!

It’s two years since I’ve been in Rwanda and the capital city Kigali is hotter and busier than ever!

There are a lot of new buildings, the road layouts have changed and it’s been a little bit confusing. I got on the bus and was asked for my travel card - blank look from me ! I was able to give a fellow passenger my cash and he used his travel card on my behalf. So no serious concerns but I must get down to the brand new bus station and get myself an oyster.... oops travel card!

I’m sorted with telephone airtime, internet connection and cash so I just need to telephone the bus company to book my ticket for tomorrow. I wonder if the telephone number has changed too?

Big success with the search for blackboard paint! Sourced it in Muhanga, paid for it by Mobile Money and it’s going on the bus to Theogene as I write! Get in!!!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Off to Rwanda again!

Hello everyone. What a long time it is since I wrote my blog.... I’ve almost forgotten how to do it.

My suitcases are almost packed and travel documents ready. My flight is early Tuesday morning from Manchester airport and I’ll arrive in Kigali on Tuesday evening.

I’ll keep you posted, best wishes Tricia

Monday, 4 July 2016

June 2016

In June, two of our trustees (right) travelled to Rwanda for their second visit to the village of Gasundwe. This time they took along two of their friends (left) and were ably assisted by our new in-country representative, Theogene (centre). They had a great visit and were very impressed with the progress so far.
In the photos below you can see one of our friends cleaning the rainwater collection tank. This is the same one that blew away during a storm. I'm happy to see that it is now back in its place and functioning again.


Currently there are two more visitors in the village. They are both students and along with Theogene they are carrying out research which will help us in our future development plans.

And this little guy called Peace is very happy to see them!

For further information and how to donate please go to our website : www.villagerwandauk.com 

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Improving health

Here is the new cooker that has been made in the kitchen of the Children's Centre. It will cut down dramatically on the number of burns and scalds suffered by people and children using the old method. It will also cut down on smoke inhalation which causes severe respiratory problems.
Below is a photo of the traditional method, using three rocks and a great deal of firewood. The new stoves and furnace are all made from locally available materials.

Thanks to Musafiri and friends at the African Community for Sustainable Development (ACSD) for training our village to make these stoves. We hope that householders will adopt this method in the future.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The children are in their new classrooms!

On the first day of the second term of the school year, the children are gathering for their first day in their new building for Gasundwe Village Nursery School. We used to have 65 children, now we have 120 and we are full. 
Here are some photos of them inside their new classrooms:

The photo below is of the newly elected Parents Committee who have the responsibility for listening to children, parents and teachers and for making decisions about uniforms, fees and the feeding programme..

Thankyou for all your help so far. We could not have done this without your support. We are still raising money for the new toilet block which will be bio- composting and will help improve agriculture and health.
Please visit our website to give a donation, however small or large.
Or click on the do the button at the top of this page.
Lots of love
Tricia xxx

Wednesday, 30 March 2016


If we were awarded a gift of £5000 what would we spend it on?

First of all, how wonderful if we got such a gift!! Amazing. 

We have four ideas and I want to ask for your opinions.
We could spend the money on any of these projects, which do you think would be most useful?

Project 1.
At the moment our new Children's Centre building has a pit latrine, basically a hole in the ground. We are in partnership with a local group who would provide a 'toilet block' based on the African dry toilet system. This would not only improve toilet hygiene but also provide fertiliser for the crops.

Project 2.
The village is very remote and transport links with such services as the hospital, the Tarmac road and the nearest town are very difficult so the provision of a boat with an outboard motor, based in the village and owned by a cooperative would provide improved links and income for the cooperative

Project 3
One aspect of our project is aimed at sustainability through income generation. We have many ideas for job creation but we need money for training in various skills and finance for start up businesses

Project 4
The nearest hospital is a difficult journey of two and half hours away by boat and by foot. We want to be able to provide training and facilities for a health worker in the village.

What would you advise us to spend £5000 on?

I really want to know, so either comment on the blog or on Facebook. Thankyou so much.
Tricia xxxx

Monday, 14 March 2016

Saying goodbye to the village.... For now

On Thursday, I awoke with the sun as usual, knowing it was my last full day in the village for some considerable time and I heard the chattering of the women who meet every Thursday morning at 6am before they go off cultivating for the day. These are the women who have formed themselves into a Savings cooperative and they are my friends. I got dressed quickly and went to see them. We chatted and they danced for me, of course I joined in! The lady on the left of the picture with the red jacket is Stephanie, the leader of the group and a new member of the local NGO, Gihombo Forward. This group is now responsible for the use of the building and for promoting further development in the vicinity.

The lady immediately to the left of me in the photo above is one of the oldest ladies in the village and her family were given a gift of a sand water filtration pot which Silas will install for her. 

Thursday went by quickly with lots more activity and all too soon it was Friday morning and time to leave. I went to see the children at school, it was still very early but, already, there were some of the 85 morning children waiting for their protein porridge. The feeding programme is still a very important part of the project and will need to continue for a long time. We are still looking for an NGO who will come into partnership with GiFo in order to improve health promotion and health care. 

The hardest part of all was saying goodbye to Mama and the household and there were many tears. It is wonderful to me that even though we don't speak the same language we have the same spirit and the same heart of love within us all.

Many friends walked down to the lakeshore with us where the boat was waiting, we climbed in and had a lovely peaceful journey with water lapping gently against the wooden boat, blue skies, verdant green land, exotic birds and fish jumping in the lake. Just at that moment Gabriel received a message from his wife to say that she had gone into labour with her second child and her neighbours were taking her to hospital. As a treat and to get there as soon as possible we hired a taxi car to take us on the new tarmac road to Kibuye. We dropped Gabriel off at the hospital before continuing into town to the bus park. In the middle of the afternoon I received a message to say that his daughter had been born..... And here she is

This two month visit has seen some surprising things happening for the people of Gasundwe, some hardships and some miracles. We have shared the sadness of the funeral of a much loved papa and now the joy of the safe arrival of a new baby girl. It seems to me to be a fitting illustration of God's love and care, of God's concern and compassion for the poor. I feel privileged to be part of God's activity in this place.

Thankyou to everyone out there who has supported with money, love, prayer and by simply taking an interest in the lives of other human beings living in completely different circumstances to yourselves.
Be blessed. Tricia xxx

PS this is not the end! I will keep you updated from UK. And if you want me to come and talk to your group or just to share a drink with you and bring some photos that would be great.... And if you can provide cake , even better!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Here is one very happy teacher

Here is Gabriel, our main teacher, in the classroom that is almost ready for occupation. The floor in the other room was concreted on Thursday and will take a few days to set and to dry out.
Our teaching materials have been stored in six cupboards in one of the bedrooms in Mama's house for the last six months and this week we have been moving those materials to the new children's centre. This involved emptying the cupboards and then carrying them across to the Centre. There will be three in each classroom and we have another one for the teachers office. 

Getting the cupboards out of the bedroom, involved great discussions amongst the guys.
But five strong men eventually got the cupboards over to the children's centre.
The older children had great fun washing the materials and enjoyed the experience of playing with Lego which they have never seen before. I have a short video of them doing this but for some reason it won't upload. Never mind.
One of the lovely experiences for me is watching the adults attempting to complete a jigsaw for the first time in their lives. It is hard for me to describe to you what it is like for people who have never had access to pictures or printed images of any kind. We start off with a picture from a magazine ( brought in from the outside world), I cut it into three straight pieces, mix them up and they have to put it back together again. It is inspiring to see them working together to solve this new puzzle. Then I provide a floor puzzle comprising six pieces and again work together to solve it. It's such fun teaching here because everything is a new experience and people of all ages are inquisitive and keen to explore new things.
A fundamental principle of the project is that whenever possible we use locally available, sustainable resources but these materials were sold to us very cheaply from a nearby project which sadly had to close down. It was an offer too good to refuse, so Thankyou Victor for thinking of us. 
Now, Gabriel and Gaudance have the task of sorting out the materials into the six areas of learning as described in the new curriculum for nursery education in Rwanda. I won't be here to see the classrooms being set up using mats and creating corners of activity for the children, however I know they will do a brilliant job in the next few weeks and that next term the school will move into the new building.
Everybody is very excited and motivated by this development and there are people from far away coming to visit because they have heard that something special is happening in Gasundwe. We have had visits from local officials and representatives of nearby villages. We have been encouraging people to understand that this building does not belong to the church, it does not belong to one family in the village and it does not belong to the people in England who have provided the money. It belongs to the community and that they are responsible for it. This is a big challenge for them but there are potentially strong leaders emerging within the local population and I look forward to hearing how they will move things on in the next few months.
Best wishes
Tricia x