Sunday, 31 July 2011

Gitfest - Rwanda's answer to Glastonbury

Madonna in the early days
Mystery Woman

home made festival  lanterns 
The lovely and talented Ella Fitzgerald

Denise and Arnaud and me

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

I received this message from a friend in South Africa

Hello supporters

Thank you so much for everything you do for Msizi Africa.  However, this time, I’m not writing about our children. 

Most of you will know a famine has been declared in Somalia. 3.5 million people risk starving to death (many are children).  Islamists who control most of Somalia have banned the World Food Programme from working there.  As a result, tens of thousands of Somalis are fleeing to Kenya to find food.  They walk for weeks to reach the Dadaab refugee camp but often in vain – children arrive so weak they have less than a 40% chance of survival.  We’ve all seen disturbing images of starving children for years and now most recently coming out of Dadaab – these children are a long way from our healthy, happy children in South Africa and Lesotho.

When children arrive in Dadaab they are given Plumpy Nut, a peanut based food for use in famine relief, formulated by a paediatric nutritionist.  I am liaising with Save the Children who source food from a UNICEF cleared supplier in Nairobi.  I am going to buy Plumpy Nut from this supplier DIRECTLY and Save the Children will drive it straight to Dadaab and distribute it.  Whilst we must safeguard funds for our own children, we have a responsibility to help others when the disaster is on such a huge scale.  Depending on the child’s level of need, it costs in the region of £2 to give a child the Plumpy Nut they need each day. 

We’re donating £1,330 to buy Plumpy Nut for 50 children for 2 weeks – the same number of children in our orphanage.  You now have a chance to donate DIRECTLY to this crisis in the knowledge that 100% of your donation will be spent on Plumpy Nut which will be driven into Dadaab and given to the neediest children immediately.  There are NO admin costs so this is your best way to donate if you haven’t done already.  We will keep our appeal open until Sunday 31st July and submit an order based on our donation and yours on Monday 1st August.  Next week we will contact donors to tell you know how much Plumpy Nut we ordered collectively and when it has been delivered.

Join us and donate at - let’s all try and help!
Thank you

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Oh dear.....

I’ve just seen a poor man being sick and the vomit was bright luminous pink. I think this may be the local  medicine for a poisoned gut. The idea is that if you get a stomach or intestinal problem , you take a local ‘poison’ which will make your system exclude everything, resulting in a cleaned out gut. I’m not sure if this is efficacious and I must try to find out more about local medicinal plants etc. It certainly has nasty side effects.

A night out in Kigali
 However I would not like to give the impression that health care in Rwanda consists of this approach . There are many Pharmacies where you can get  drugs that we have in the  west. The qualified Pharmacist will also give advice on what to take for various ailments. I have only had to visit the Poly Clinic once so far and I received excellent care.
A day out on the road

There are two more weeks of the school term remaining. This week there are  examinations in schools and next week the teachers will be marking and correcting examinations and students will be leaving to travel home. The next term is the third and final term of the school year and starts on August 22nd.

Most of August for me will be taken up with relaxing with my visitors from the UK. I’m really looking forward to it and to showing them around my new life!! Also, another exciting thing will be the visit of my friend Fidele who came in February to visit his family – see blog dated Sunday February 20th 2011.
He is planning to build a Nursery School in his village and I am going to help train the Nursery teacher, so it means I get to go on another boat ride on Lake Kivu – YAY!!

Don’t forget to tell me what you are doing for your summer holidays. Love, Tricia

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Domestic Goddess in Rwanda

OK, so usually we are ‘cooking on gas’ but what happens when the gas bottle runs out and how do other volunteers cook all the time?

When volunteers arrive in their placement home we are issued with a cooking appliance. If we’re lucky enough to have electricity we get a two element electrical hob. If there is no electricity we get a kerosene stove

But if you live in the Hacienda of Dreams we have a full size gas stove – I rush to inform you that this was not provided by VSO but purchased by the occupiers of the house. It is a wonderful invention because we have an oven, in which cakes (especially chocolate brownies) can be baked, and frequently are! 

But the inevitable happened this week and we ran out of gas

 – right in the middle of baking a collection of chocolate cookies for a friend’s birthday – disaster – although the consolation is that even uncooked cake mix tastes good!

So you can see me cooking on the kerosene stove. It feels like I’m back camping in the Lake District but the kerosene is very smelly and smokey, it does the job however and soon we are eating a lovely meal. We also have the double element stove which is very slow but gets there in the end. I have to say my pancakes are not up to the usual high standard when I cook them on the electric hob. Lots of honey and fruit salad are required.

Oh, just a side issue – one of my targets whilst I am here was to teach a certain Australian to toss a pancake instead of using a spatula – success!!!! I have achieved something in Rwanda!

In August I will be having visitors from the UK and although we have one spare bed, we have an empty room which needs another bed. So last week I ordered a new bedframe from the carpenters and when it was ready I went to collect it. There is an amazing delivery service here. The bed is delivered immediately, even if it has already gone dark. 

The bedframe was loaded onto a wooden barrow and the guy pushed it all the way to my house. You will not understand the significance of this unless you know the topography of Gitarama and how far it is from Gahogo (Plateau) to my house at  Nyamabuye Umurenge. Also it was dark and the road was busy with traffic – I was petrified that he was going to get injured, so I walked along behind him with the light from my mobile phone as a warning to road users that there was a hazard. Passers-by thought I was mad, but that’s ok it made me feel better. Anyway the bedframe got home safe and sound and so did the delivery man, so all I need now is a mattress – how will that be delivered? I’ll keep you informed.

Another week begins on Monday and I will return to Kiyumba to visit the remaining four schools with the objective of 'assessing the impact of the training'. It will also be the last overnight stay at that particular priests house for some time. I will miss them.

Lots of love for now, Tricia

PS Please don't forget to comment or send a message on Facebook so that I know I'm not talking to myself. OK, yes, I know I do anyway, but go on indulge an old lady! x

I hope you're as happy as you sound...

People say to me’ I hope you’re as happy as you sound’ or ‘Tell us about the bad times as well as the good.’

The problem with the bad times is that whilst you are in them you can’t write about them because you’re feeling so bad! But just now I am alleviating the ‘bad time’ by eating a whole bar of chocolate to myself. I bought it as present for a friend but I reckon my need is greater than his at the moment!

So, the bad times! – snotty, running nose through crying and no soft tissues left; wanting to sleep but knowing that you won’t; sitting up in a damp bed far from home, under the mosquito net , yes, but that blasted demon bug means I can’t go to the toilet. Smelly drains in the toilet anyway, why does this house always smell of cabbages? I’m not sure this bed has got clean sheets on it; oh, god, the drip, drip of the leaky tap...

 What’s happening at home? There could be an emergency happening right now and I’m not there to help. Panic, panic, shall I phone home? Oh god, not enough air time – more chocolate required ‘No news is good news, no news is good news’ – repeat the mantra.

Think happy thoughts, - smiling children, lovely black faces, bright eyes open in wonder.
Welcoming greetings. People who are always pleased to see you.
Fascinating conversations.
Cultural differences, learning from each other.
The best of both worlds.

Is it the positive thinking or the chocolate that is working the magic? Shall I try to go to sleep? Maybe just another piece?

How can you resist those eyes??

Singing in the rain!

The best thing about the bad times? I could say ‘the chocolate’ but I’m going to say ‘The best thing about the bad times is that they don’t happen often.’

And the next day  there is a lovely parcel from home – with a handwritten letter. 

Thank you