Friday, 30 December 2011

Some highlights of Christmas

John and Cat at the Hacienda

The boys with their home made cameras
Here they are!!

John and Cat arrived on time and it was so exciting to see them at the airport. and the bags came two days later!! But it all turned out fine.

On one of the walks around Gitarama when Cat was taking photos these boys made their own cameras out of mud from the ground - fantastic!

Shelling peas with the family

Playing with the children

We went on an Azizzi Life Village Day. We dug over the banana plantation and planted some casava. When it started to rain we took the drying pea plants into the house and shelled the peas with the children. Then we were treated to lunch prepared by the women. Some of us cut grass for the cows, then we all tried our hand at weaving with sisal.

The children taught John and Cat to play with the hoop and stick. that was after Cat taught them 'Heads shoulders, knees and toes'

The beautiful Golden Monkeys
Golden Monkeys are an endangered species and they can only be seen in the Virungas. We walked through the forest of amazing bamboo and heard rustling in the branches above us and there they were bounding about above us. When the sunlight catches the fur on their backs it shines orange. Beautiful.

 And Christmas at Lake Kivu was wonderful. A swim before breakfast and back to our room to open presents, another swim after breakfast and a christmas picnic on the beach. In the evening we played card games under the mosquito net - a really fantastic time.

Thankyou so much for all your messages of love and friendship and I hope you too have memories to cherish of happy times with family and friends.  I really do want to hear your news so please don't forget to write! xx

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Advent and the waiting game…

Thanks to Phil for the beautiful photo

Advent and the waiting game…

We are used to waiting here in Rwanda – we spend many hours waiting…. Waiting for the bus to come, waiting for the bus to leave… waiting for teachers to arrive at school… waiting for meetings to start… waiting for the rain to stop… waiting for post to arrive at the Post Office … AND THEN IT DOES!!!!  HURRAY!

I have learnt to wait.Things do usually happen in their own good time, but you need a great deal of patience and faith that it will happen..., it will…, it will….

And Advent is a time of waiting, a time of hopeful expectation that something good will come.

In my case I am waiting for the visit of John and Cat who will be arriving next week! This trip has been planned for such a long time and there have been so many preparations, inoculations and vaccinations to get through, but finally they will be here and we will all be so happy.

I am imagining my wait at the airport, standing with all the other people looking for loved ones in the crowd. Kigali airport is small and it is possible to see people in the arrivals area. Last time I had visitors I could see them dressed in their travel clothes, walking across to get a trolley, waiting anxiously for their luggage. I could see the look of expectancy as bags began to go round on the conveyor belt and the relief as they spotted their own, then the lifting off of the bags onto the trolley and off we go…  I saw them do all this, but I could not help them.

But then the waiting was over – there they were in front of me – smiling, smiling faces and hugs all around. Was the wait worth it? Yes, of course!!!

So now, I’m waiting for John and Cat. It will be worth it. 

What are you waiting for? Can you make it happen? Do you have the patience, the faith, the desire? Whatever it is I hope it happens for you.

Lots of love at this Christmas season,
Many blessings, Tricia

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Building hope and optimism

Gasundwe village
Gasundwe (village)is home to approximately 200 adults and approximately 200 children.  It is known as one of the poorest villages in Rwanda.

It looks beautiful - it IS beautiful but life here is very hard and the people are subsistence farmers.

There are no nurseries, schools or colleges within the village. The nearest school is at least a 2 hour walk away through mountainous terrain.  As a result the people of the village are poorly educated and have no chance of finding work.

Rwanda is a developing country and greatly requires a workforce that is literate in English and Kinyarwanda.

Within the village there is currently no clean drinking water available – this is the cause of many illnesses. The nearest drinking water is located 4 kilometres away. The villagers have to boil all water prior to cooking which still doesn’t ensure 100% safety from harmful diseases.

There is no electricity in the village thus resulting in no lighting and heating. Cooking is carried out on open wood burning stoves which produce smoke and consequent health issues. The main reason for lack of electricity is the initial cost, the government has offered an option to assist with this supply, but given the poverty within the village this would not be achievable without outside help. We would like to purchase solar panels for the village.

Having identified the village as having more than its fair share of struggles a plan has been put into place to assist the village with help from overseas – mainly the UK.
Restoring the building

 I went to visit the village last week to look at progress so far. It was another wonderful and uplifting experience.

The building that is being restored will be used as a health centre and guest house for visitors to experience village life in Rwanda. This will generate income for the village.

We have also started a school for pre-school children so that they can have a flying start to their education. The school takes place in the church building which at present has an earthen floor and we are trying to get funds to provide a much more hygienic concrete floor.

The community has really responded to the opportunities offered to them and is so very happy and proud of what is happening – there is a real feeling of hope and optimism

The children are given sorghum porridge every day before they start their lessons.  The parents have formed a PTC (Parent Teacher Committee) which makes decisions about the school, they chose to give 1000francs each to buy kitchen equipment and the plastic beakers that the children are drinking out of. The treasurer looks after the money for the food.

I was completely amazed when a child passed me his empty beaker and just casually said ’Thankyou very much’ – in such a natural voice! These children have only been learning English since August.

Gabriel is a great teacher – kind and gentle with the children and everyone is enjoying their learning. He starts the lesson with a prayer and a song. 

The children’s English is fantastic – they are using role play to practice greetings and they also give individual speeches learned by heart. They stand boldly at the front of the class and speak out with their hands on their hips. They are so funny. 

Gabriel is using the solar powered speakers and CD player, that Phil gave him, to play the ‘English Dialogues’CD. The adults and children listen carefully and repeat the words. My only concern is that they will end up with a standard English accent instead of a northern accent!! 

Gabriel gave all the children a test at the end of term and one child got 94% and no one got less than 60% He has printed out the results and is keeping a record of everything he is doing. The community had a celebration at the end of term where Gabriel presented the adults with a certificate each for their hard work in studying English. The children were given special loaves of bread each.

If you would like further information about this project please inbox me on Facebook or e mail me on