Sunday, 30 January 2011

First visit to a school

On Friday, I took my first ride out on the back of a motorbike!
I went up this dirt-track road into the countryside to visit a school.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

I've found Tricia looking lovely at one of her language classes...

Take a look at this other blog....
'Where's Tricia?' ...well here she is:
looking like she is enjoying her Kinyawanda Lesson!

Friday, 28 January 2011

The Hacienda of Dreams.... is what our house is called.

I have arrived at my new home and it is beautiful!! I did not expect this! After being in Kigali for 10 days I was getting worried that Gitarama would be just a smaller version of the big city , so I was amazed when we drove off the main road and came into a little semi- rural location with goats and turkeys wandering about. Our house has 4 bedrooms, a dining room, sitting room, kitchen, and a bathroom each! We also have a lovely vegetable garden. My housemate is a good cook and she made me a lovely meal on my first evening.

Today I went into the office as requested and introduced myself. The boss was friendly but busy and asked me to come back on Monday morning at 7am (we work 7am -5pm!) So I had a lovely walk home again. Later, another volunteer who has been here since September came to call for me and we went to open a bank account so that my small allowance can be paid in . We only had to wait for 2 hours so that was great! Gitarama is quite a hub for volunteers from all over the place and they often meet up for social occasions.

The local people are very friendly and helpful, stopping to say hello with a smile and a greeting. Today the sun was quite hot with little cloud cover so when I returned I was exhausted with the heat and the walking. I lay down on my bed and slept for an hour – I won’t be able to do that when I start work. Tomorrow I am going to visit a school with a colleague and it will involve my first excursion by motorbike into the rural areas, so I’m really looking forward to it. Click here to see a map of Rwanda in detail.

I hope you are all well, thank you to those who make comments either on here or on Facebook or by e-mail – it doesn’t matter how brief they are they are very welcome.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Going to a new home

Today (Tuesday) is the last day of our ‘In Country Training’ and tomorrow we go to our placements and I see my home for the next two years!

I am lucky because my house has all mod-cons including running water, electricity and gas...we even have a warm shower! There is a photo of the outside of the house on my blog page and I will post photos of the inside when I take some.

Some of my new friends will be taking a whole load of items to their new homes – water filter machine, kerosene stove, kerosene lamp, great big jerry cans for carrying water, pots, pans– you name it – yes even the kitchen sink (plastic bowls). For some of them they will be the only English speaking person for miles round – what a challenge! We are all really keen now to get out and unpack, make our beds up and create a new home space. Not everyone is here for two years, some are here for 3 months, some for 6, some for 12. Some have come with their partners, some have come without their partners. Some are educationalists, others are business managers, advocates, social policy workers for the Disability programme – all sorts in fact!

I’ll probably be out of touch for a couple of days now until I get to find out where I can go on line. Hope everyone is well and that it is not too cold and rainy!! xx

Saturday, 22 January 2011

What a Week!!

This time last week I left my lovely friends and family in the UK, not knowing what lay ahead. You will be pleased to know that I have already made new friends here and we have been working things through together. For the 10 days that I am in Kigali I have a great room mate - the danger is that we chat long into the night instead of getting much needed sleep!

There have been so many new experiences this week, it's hard to pick out just a few, but here goes:

'Mwaramutse' 'Amakuru?' 'Ni Mesa'

>>> it means Good morning, how are you, I'm very well

So, we've had Kinyarwanda lessons every morning and I have learnt quite a lot more than this! I'm enjoying the lessons and have tried out some phrases with the kind people around here. I've also learnt how to light a Kerosene stove, how to get on a bus, pay my fare and shop in the market - if you enjoy bartering you would love it here!

Yesterday we went to the Genocide Memorial Centre, as you can imagine it was very moving, but it is important to understand what happened and some of the reasons why it happened. We don't need to talk about it with our friends here but it helps me to understand how wonderful Rwandans are - they have survived this atrocity and are working together to build their country. Below is a photo of the Memorial Gardens and a beautiful peaceful walkway leading to the wall of names of victims.

I have started to notice the bird calls here and can't wait to get to my home and put up my National Trust bird clock on my kitchen wall!!(Thanks, Phil!)

Don't forget to keep in touch, but remember that the blog is a public space, so you can send an e-mail instead or write to me on Facebook. xx

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Hi everyone! I have arrived safely in Rwanda and the journey was straight forward – I even slept well on the plane , so thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.

We were greeted at the airport by workers from the VSO headquarters in Rwanda. I’ve always wanted to be met by someone holding up a sign and giving me flowers!! (Remember that for when I return home ,please, family)

There is quite a large group of us, most from the UK, but also from Philippines, Australia, Canada and Netherlands. We will all be in Kigali for 10 days and then we will disperse around the country to go to our own placements. These next 10 days will give us time to acclimatise, but there is also quite a heavy schedule of training and we have already been given an enormous folder of paper and workbooks – that did not go down well believe me! But I suppose I am here to work.

Today, our first day in Rwanda, we caught the bus into town and visited the bank and the supermarket and the shop where you buy dongles! Best of all we went to a ‘luxury coffee shop’ - it is the capital city after all and it has it’s trendy parts. I had iced cafe latte to cool me down, I’m so hot and sweaty, but hopefully my body will adapt fairly quickly – so no madcap dancing for a while!

Although I can get internet access it is very slow and unreliable so I will just need to keep on trying. Skype would be best but the connection keeps dropping, so it will take me some time before I can have regular contact.

Don't forget to comment xx

Guest House in Kigali

Just been chattin with Tricia...she was outside her guest house in Kigali. This is where she will be spending the next 10 days with the other British VSO volunteers while they have their initial training. She is sharing a room with a woman from the group. They have mosquito nets up and are settling in today including making a right mess with their unpacking! She has had omelet and fruit for breakfast and coleslaw/fried eggplant for lunch!

The weather is bright, warm, and a bit sticky! I saw a couple of locals walking past and they looked very cheerful/smiley. So we can look forward to hearing more from Trish about the people she is meeting. I suspect you will get slightly more riveting updates from Tricia when she is able to post on here but at the moment her connection is slightly wobbly! Tomorrow (Monday 17th Jan) is the first day of training, so watch this space for more news!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Have you seen this woman?

Calling all followers in Rwanda:

Please post a comment when you have seen Tricia.

Kind of like 'Where's Wally?', but this game is called... 'What's Tricia Doing?'

We like a good game so join in the fun!

Happy Hunting...x.

Tricia has Arrived...

Just had international incoming call from Tricia!
She is safe and sound with her other travel companions. The journey was fine, but she said she was hot and sticky and tired! Sounded in high spirits and was in a hotel room with a friend from VSO.
"So I'm here and had my first meal in Rwanda - coleslaw, beans and rice - delicious
GUESS WHAT - they have fizzy Vimto here produced in a bottle by Fanta!!! So that should draw the northerners to Rwanda."

She will be spending the next 10 days in Kigali on training and then off to her placement!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Nearly There!!

Thank you to all the friends and family out there who have already donated through the 'Just Giving 'page. I've almost reached my Fundraising Target of £900 - it would be fantastic if I could achieve it by the time I get on the plane at 6.40am on Saturday January 15th 2011. If anyone is reading this before then PLEASE think about donating. Just click on the icon to the left of this post. Thank you , thank you , thank you. x x x 

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Party! Party!

My Bon Voyage Party...

We had a wonderful time at the Bon Voyage Party on Saturday organised by my beautiful daughters and son. There was lots of dancing, live music, food and fun. Thank you Sara, Naomi and John xxx

The band linked up for one night only and disbanded because the singer is going to Africa for two years.

I was determined not to be late with my birthday cards this year so I gave them out early!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Packing up and moving on ...

Well, what a week of frenetic activity! This photo shows me and my eldest daughter, Naomi, in the lift at the mill where I am storing my stuff for two years.It was a really good exercise to look at all the things I own and decide what I wanted to keep and what could be disposed of. Items which hold a great deal of meaning like old photos and diaries are being held for me by close family and friends. My paintings are also distributed amongst various households for them to enjoy or hide away once I am out of the country!! But other things are being stored in an old mill which has specially designed storage facilities and this week we have been busy fetching and carrying. 

Here's Ellie and I re-living the days when we stored all our art equipment in another old mill and had to carry heavy trays of tiles up 3 flights of stairs. Ahh! those were the days - the pure luxury of having a lift!

I'm really looking forward to seeing lots of friends and family at my 'Bon Voyage' Party on Saturday night - then next week I can concentrate on packing my bags!!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Thankyou for a Happy Christmas

What a lovely Christmas season I have had with my family and friends - thank you all sooo much. From christmas stockings outside the bedroom to to lovely crisp walks in the fresh Lakeland air, not to mention the laughs, food and drinks.