Saturday, 31 March 2012

Developments in the Village - YAY!!

Sun Rise over the bus park

The closest market
Walking the last 45 mins of the journey
I took the first bus out of Git and caught the last bus back to Git. I left at 6am and returned home at 8pm having been on a bus for 3 hours and a moto ride for 5 hours and walked for an hour and half!!! - but it was worth it to see how well the village is developing. I could only spare one day away from work so it had to be done.

Just to remind you- Gasundwe Village is in Nyamasheke District next to the beautiful Lake Kivu. It is far easier to get to the village by lake and it is my preferred mode of travel. The area is stunningly beautiful but the life is very hard. There is no paid employment here so the people live a subsistence living by growing crops to eat and coffee to sell and by fishing in the lake. There is no water in the village and of course no electricity for miles around. 

The nearest school is one hours walk away, the nearest clinic is about 3 hours walk away. This is not unusual here in Rwanda, but what is unusual is that my friend from Rochdale used to live here before he had to escape in the early nineties. Fortunately that time is over and some of the family have returned to their home village. The Project was started last August and you can find more information on:

By the way, if you buy Rwandan coffee which says it comes from the shores of Lake Kivu you will be buying Mama's coffee! She sends it with the other coffee growers to the co-operative in the nearest market town.

Also if you look carefully at Photo 2 you will see a small white dot on the hillside - that is the shiny new roof of Mama's house which, when it is finished will be a guesthouse for people wanting to experience a different way of life for  while. 

The project is intended to improve health, living conditions, education and life chances for all the villagers in Gasundwe. This will have a 'knock on' effect on the rest of the area (Gihombo Sector)The school is a Nursery school  - up to age 6/7years and we hope to extend to P1 next year. The villagers themselves are the driving force for change.

Such fat faced children!!
When I came to visit in December these children were skinny little things with hollow cheekbones - now look at them- full healthy cheeks! It's amazing what eating food every day will do for your body. 

If you want more information on the project please leave a comment or e-mail me or message me on Facebook

Have you ever seen such a happy teacher in the UK?
The villagers have so many more plans, dreams and visions for their community, it is inspiring to be with them and I thank God every day for their survival. 

During the next few weeks beginning on April 7th (Easter Saturday) the country will commemorate the Genocide of the Abatutsi so this is a specially difficult time of year for many families. The  families of the victims and the remaining families of the perpetrators all suffer.

This Easter time lease pray for these wonderful people and their amazing country. I will be thinking of all my friends and family at home and around the world. 

Love and blessings to you, Tricia

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The most remote school so far...

The headteachers sets off on his way to work

err we'll wait here for you...
 This week we visited the most difficult to access school so far - even people from the District and Sector Office have not visited this one. All the local headteachers said 'ooohhh you're going to Jandari? It is very far, very far.' The headteacher was concerned that we would have to walk, and wasn't sure that we were capable of walking.
Where is the school?

Lets go then, warrior queens do it like this..
First thing in the morning we had a one and half hour moto journey from home to Kanyanza , dropped our stuff off at the priests house, changed moto drivers to our local guys who know the tracks very well and are brilliant drivers. We had a  further moto ride for an hour over very rough terrain - going over a rocky mountain pass. Then we had to leave the motos and walk the rest of the way.

At this point we were at the top of the mountain range where the headteacher met us to show us the way. The school is in the valley by the river where the people can draw water. There is no road or even track into this valley but there is a small lovely community living there. When the guys saaw where we were heading they changed their minds about coming with us!

But we Warrior Queens don't give up that easily- downhill all the way for about 45minutes is tough on the knees, hips and front muscles at the top of the legs. But we kept going and in any case it is a change from aching bums, backs and abs from being on the moto.

Down, down, down following the headteacher
Yay and there it is at last!

The school is next to the river
A beautiful walk and a lovely setting - but everyday? 

The school was built as a satellite school to another one which is at the top of this mountain. It was situated where the people live to encourage parents to send their children to school.
A lovely school community of only 250 children

I stand in awe and admiration for this wonderful country and its amazing people.

The people are so determined to help in the development of their country. education is highly prized and hard won. sadly it comes as a huge contrast to my experience in the last few years of teaching in the UK, where many students just weren't interested in learning.

And here are those beautiful children. They never have visitors in their valley and yet three visitors in one day!! Add to that, that two of them have a strange skin colour and straight hair and blue eyes. They sang and played games with us and were just delightful.  

A great staff Team 

The school building
This small team of teachers work really well together, each taking on extra duties. Everyone of them managed to get to the training that we carried out at the Sector base and they really valued it. They have had no training before.We were delighted to observe the lessons and see some of the ideas being used by teachers.

The school building is in good condition and this shot shows the school bell which is rung at the beginning and end of school and at breaktimes. A child uses a rock to bang on the wheel and the sound rings out around the valley. Remember that these teachers run a double shift system where one set of children come in the morning and a different set come in the afternoon. The teachers start work at 7am and finish at 5pm.
Parents meeting

On the day of our visit the headteacher had arranged a Parents Meeting to discuss attendance and arrangements for the school year. We could see people coming to the school from miles around - they were dotted about the hillside and along the river bank, coming to support their children and take an interest in an education that they never had themselves.

At the end of the day of course there was the walk back up the hill and by this time the sun was beginning to go down.We had the scarey prospect of riding the rough roads in the dark. The moto drivers were waiting for us and we hit the road, but he night was clear and a bright moon assisted us on our way. There were the two planets, Venus and Jupiter lighting up the sky for us. 

It was a long drive home to the priests house but I have to say I really enjoyed it and felt blessed that I was able to have such experiences and to get to know such an environment and the people who live in it everyday.

Love to you all. Tricia

Saturday, 3 March 2012

music and culture in Rwanda

Now take a good look at this guy's homemade guitar and never never complain that your instrument just isn't good enough. This guy makes his living by singing on the streets!

There's another instrument that I can't remember the name of but if I can I will get a photo to show you - it seems to have maybe one string or two and is played with a piece of metal - anyway maybe I can find a piccy and more info....

This week I went to my first film evening in a proper Cultural Centre in Kigali (I took a couple of days off work )there were four short films by young Rwandan directors and they were all really interesting. One was about 'Mama' and the life she had of looking after her children after her husband was killed , another about a boy who was attracted to the bright lights of Kigali. My favourite was about two street musicians struggling to make a living.

Enjoy all the cultural activities on offer in the UK. For some reason I really want to read Will shakespeare's 'Much ado about Nothing' - what's that about?? So ifanyone has a copy they can send meI would appreciate it = I just love the banter between Benedick and Beatrice!!!

Lots and lots of love Miss you allxxxx