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.
www.villagerwandauk.com 
Or click on the do the button at the top of this page.
Lots of love
Tricia xxx

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Question

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

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Look who's home .......


Anasthase is home and looking cool in his shades!

He has had a very big adventure for a little boy from this village. He and his mama arrived back from Kabgayi yesterday. He has had the operation on his eyes to remove some growths and then he had injections into the lower lids. His eyes are still a little swollen so he needs some protection from the strong sunlight.
He has to return at the end of this month so the doctor can make an assessment. If there are any problems between now and the date of his appointment he must be taken back straight away.
That's not easy when you have to get a boat and a long bus journey, so let's hope mama doesn't have to do that.
Tricia x

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Learning a trade and creating their own jobs.

So, to continue the story of those sand filter pots - once those pots have been cemented and the cement has set, all the material inside the pot is removed. The photo below shows Silas removing that material.
The pot is then cleaned and put into place inside the house. It is very very heavy already but then it is filled with layers of stones of different sizes, and sand. All these materials have been washed and cleaned. A hose pipe is put across the top of these materials and a large round pot with a hole in the base is put on top of the construction. One end of the hose pipe comes out of the side of the large sand filter. Water is poured into the round pot on top and the filtration system begins. Displacement theory and  capillary action come into play and clean water eventually comes out of the hose pipe as you can see in the photo. (This is only the trial so the jerry can in this photo is not the one which will be used, that will be a brand new jerry can and used only for the collection of clean, cool drinking water.)

Silas and the other trainees will eventually be presented with a certificate to say that they have been trained in this skill. They already have orders for sand filter pots from as far away as the Sector office.

This next photo is Patrick who is being trained as a plumber. He had his first training when the pipeline was put in by our sister organisation in Canada and now he can do small jobs on that pipeline. Today we have piped water in the village but the service is unreliable and most days water is not available because demand further up the line is too high. Investigations are taking place as to how this can be remedied but we think it will be a costly enterprise and we will need help from a large NGO. However, today Patrick the plumber went out to the water source to practice his skills. 

He walked up and down the hills to the source so that he could turn off the supply in order to do some maintenance work. He got soaked to the skin and covered in mud. But it's all part of the days work and he came back shouldering his tools, barefooted and smiling!
It would be wonderful if we could provide proper training for Patrick who would then have a secure income for his wife and future family.
We still have challenges about the water supply but things are moving forward slowly, slowly in the right direction.
Thankyou for reading and for all your encouraging comments.
Tricia


Monday, 7 March 2016

Such hope, such joy, such expectation!

Well, what a day it was yesterday here in the village! 
It's been quite a whirlwind week with such progress on many aspects of the project.

The building is coming on in leaps and bounds now. One classroom is ready for occupation and the other will be ready at the end of this week. The rain water tank is fixed and plumbing is installed ( no water, but we have plumbing for when we do get water). We have a tap in the kitchen also and on Saturday Musafiri came to teach how to make the safer traditional stove from local materials. He will build a stove in the kitchen for us so that eventually Esperance will have access to water and cooking facilities without having to carry it from the spring. The outside of the building at the front has been painted and looks welcoming, clean and friendly.

The very first teaching event was held for 300 people from close by. It is so exciting to think that people here now have their very own building to use for their own ideas and projects. Today they had a lesson about the sand water filters from Jonah who is the civil engineer from our partner organisation in Uganda. He has been here training some young people on how to make these pots so that eventually every household can make its own clean water. They also had a big party today with food and dancing. Here is Fabien, our builder.
Gabriel, Gaudance and I are hoping that we can begin to set up one of the classrooms this week so that by the time I leave next weekend the children will be able to celebrate and enjoy their new space.

Lots of other developments are taking place in terms of empowering the community, contacting and enthusing local officials and pushing forward ideas for income generation, but that's for another blog post.
Celebrate with us all the hard work by so many people and give thanks to everyone who is making this happen. 
As always, these things need money so if you want to become a regular donor please click on the button above.
Lots of love and smiles, Tricia.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Anasthase


This week one of our little boys, Anasthase and his mama have gone to the Eye hospital in Kabgay, near Muhanga. I have known Anastase since he was a toddler and first attended our nursery school. He is of school age now but he has stayed in our nursery for an extra year until he can get help with his eyes and vision. Thanks to one of our good friends, Mark, he has been able to go for a medical inspection and operation at the hospital.

As you probably know, here in Rwanda it is possible to get health care at the hospitals but because families travel many miles to the hospital they have to pay for food and accommodation. This often prevents people being able to access health services. So we are very happy for Mark's support in providing the finance.
I visited mama and Anasthase on Wednesday and he was very happy and excited to be experiencing new things away from the village. He was full of energy, exploring his surroundings in a way I have not seen before. He had his operation yesterday and will stay for another week before returning to Gasundwe. He will probably need further treatment.


We are currently on the look out for a partner NGO who can help us with the many health issues here in the village, including education on sanitation, hygiene and nutrition. So if you have any suggestions or you know someone who may have contacts with people who can help please share this post and let's pray for another miracle!
Lots of love
Tricia x

Monday, 29 February 2016

Do you remember those moulds?


Update on the process of making sand filters for producing clean water.

Those moulds are stacked one on top of the other.

Now there is a hole running all the way through.

Silas and Mary are ensuring that the measurements are correct and the same width throughout.


The structure is covered with cement and then kept moist for several days. It should not dry out too quickly. 

Again, the long rains have caused some difficulties and more building materials have been washed away. However, we continue, undaunted.

By the way, banana leaves have a multitude of uses here, you would not believe!

Thanks for reading. Tricia x

Saturday, 27 February 2016

We're at the mid point of our ten year project.

This is how the village project appears to me at the moment....

After five years of building links and foundations, we are halfway through the ten year plan and Gasundwe is ready to fly!  People are being empowered to take on responsibility for their own futures and it will happen.
We are at the stage of thinking seriously about income generation projects and linking with partners who can help with training, materials and start up grants.

Of course, we are still needing the regular monthly giving so that we can continue the education and feeding programme until the point at which the local people themselves will be able to sustain it. 
So much has happened in the last five years. Let's work together and make the next five as productive. 

If you are able to, please consider becoming a monthly donor or share any information you may have on possible partners for this next stage of our development.
Thanks
Tricia