New Years Day 2014 saw me at Manchester airport once again and it wasn’t long before I was soaring into the clouds. It took many minutes to get through the thick cloud layer that was covering the whole of the UK that day. As we left Manchester it was a cold grey day with rain lashing onto the tarmac, but even so I was reluctant to leave.
I’ve had such a wonderful summer and autumn, living in my unusual home and re-establishing my life in a new town. I recognise that so many things have worked together for me, resulting in an enhanced and simpler life in England. But then I felt the sun on my neck coming through the window of the aeroplane – and it was good! I was on my way back to Rwanda...
I first came here three years ago and stayed for two and half years, so I got to know the country quite well. As we drove from the airport in Kigali I experienced the familiarity of the warm night air, the many people walking in the streets, the ever present motos looking for passengers and most of all the enthusiastic welcoming smiles on people’s faces. I felt I was coming to my second home country.
I spent the first few days in Kigali, making the most of some luxury foods and meeting with friends who stayed behind to make their lives here. Even in the 6 months since I have been away there have been big changes in the city. Like any capital city, it is the wealthiest part of the country. There is a noticeable increase in cars – not old bangers but big expensive cars. The city streets are clogged already and in another 6 months there will be big problems. I never understand why emerging cities want to follow the mistakes of ‘developed’ cities. Surely everyone knows that with wealth comes traffic and that traffic should be kept out of the city centre... Will I see ‘Park and Ride’ when I come again?
My plans for the seven weeks were vague – but that’s normal in Rwanda. However I knew I wanted to get to the village as soon as possible so that I could work out how best to spend my time in helping to develop the Nursery School. Getting to the village can be difficult, but the best way is by bus and boat. From Kigali we have to take the bus to Kibuye and Lake Kivu – surely one of the most beautiful places on earth? The journey takes most of the day whichever way you do it. I met my friend Alexis, who is the local co-ordinator of the project, at Nyabugogo Bus Park.
I enjoy the sights and sounds and all the activity of the bus park at Nyabugogo in Kigali, but some people hate it – love it or hate it you have to go through it! Once safely on the bus we’re on our winding way. At Kibuye we buy provisions for the week including a big sack of rice and another sack of Irish potatoes. Mama is waiting for us on the boat down by the shore.
|Mama at the front of the boat|
|Alexis and Jean Baptiste who owns the boat.|
This time the boat journey was easy because the lake was calm. We chuntered along for two and half hours and as the ‘home hill’ came into sight I felt my heart rejoice. The boat pulled into the shore and we began the steep climb to the top of the hill. I had with me the big bag of knitting wool which was donated by so many kind friends in England (about 18kg). One of ladies put it on her head and carried it up the hill.
When we got to the guesthouse, there was more excitement as I was shown the bathroom now with flush toilet, sink and shower!
|This is me packing the knitting wool|
|The lady in front is carrying the wool|
We were almost at the top of the hill when I came across the first water tap. I was so excited to see the women drawing water from a tap so close to their homes. It is thanks to our Canadian friends in the group Ottawa 2 Rwanda that the village now has 3 water taps. The other two are strategically placed – one by the church/ school building and one at the guesthouse.Website address: www.Ottawa2Rwanda.org and on facebook.
|The guesthouse now has a flush toilet|
|and a working sink!|
|the water tank catches rain from the roof and is also connected to the mains|
|This is the tap at the guesthouse|
I’ve included the photo of the family cow because when a Rwandan man gets married it is the tradition to give a cow to the family of his bride. But after a few years the bride’s family return a cow to the groom. This cow is the child of the original cow that was given when Alexis married his wife.
|Alexis and the family cow|
And after a long day and tiring journey it was time for me to re-discover my bed!!
To be continued
Love to all my friends and family, and strangers who are as yet undiscovered friends! Tricia