Saturday, 25 July 2015

Back in the lovely Rwanda....

Hi everyone. I am now back from my latest visit to Rwanda and I have only just been able to sit back and post some of my thoughts and experiences. Here are some extracts from my journal, i hope you enjoy reading them xxx
Monday 01/06/2015.
Well, here I am, back in the lovely Rwanda – not quite so na├»ve this time, each time I come I learn to be more circumspect about life here. The realities are that people who have experienced poverty, danger, insecurity are just out to survive, to make as much money as they can. I’m learning more and more about this side of life in Rwanda. I don’t like it. But that makes it even more special when I meet people like Alexis and Gabriel who do what they do from genuine desire to serve other people whilst also looking after their own families.
It was lovely to meet up with them today at Beausejour Guesthouse in Kisimenti, under the deliciously smelling, bright magenta Bougainvillea. Big welcome and hugs all around. The double shoulder greeting, smiles. Somehow, here in Rwanda there is always a sense of relief when a person is greeted, relief and thankfulness that you are still alive. We caught up with all the news from the village and made plans for our visit.

All things worked out well with meeting up with Lynne and Darryl. They arrived, but their baggage didn’t. They are two of the trustees of our newly registered charity. They lived in Rwanda for a year so they know the ropes.

Thursday 04/06/2015 at Home St Jean, Kibuye
Today we travel by boat to Gasundwe. Lots of really positive things have happened. The helpful conversations with Tom in Kigali about many things. His suggestion that we make a contract with the church leaders for 10 years with no rent but making improvements to the building. (Alexis suggested we put in a concrete floor like we did in the old church building). Would that come first? Once we have the contract with ADEPR, we can move. The first five years we would be sending money, after that the GiFo would be making the money themselves. And would take over.
Building latrines. We met up with Christianne and Baj and went to see their construction site in Macheo. Great. Ecolodge camping project. One of their contacts, the pastor is coming to the village with us today to give advice and options on toilets for the children- bio toilets.
We will fence around the school building
The teachers’ office will be shared with the GiFo coordinator
I have an appointment with the SEO on Friday to discuss EYDC

Darryl asleep on the toilet rolls on the boat trip to Gasundwe.
Everything here is a stop – go – stop-wait- then what?

Friday 05/06/2015 at Pascal’s house, waiting for him to take me to the Umurenge, He’s changing the wheel on his moto (again!) so familiar!
The walk from the guesthouse has been hot and sticky. Why do we always have to rush? Got an appointment at 9am with the SEO, that’s why! Maybe eventually it will not be like this. I can relax instead. The people along the path have welcomed me back like an old friend. ‘Muraho, Tricia!’ shoulder hugs, greetings. There was an umudugudu meeting along the path. The chief came to see us yesterday and checked our identity. He is responsible for security and for notifying the authorities about who is in the area.
A bent, very old lady with a stick struggled down the path from her house to greet me. She had tears in her eyes and her daughter (50ish) also. Her granddaughter from high School rushed to greet us. This family now live close to Pascal, near the road (well, near the mud track).They used to live in very very poor accommodation down by the lake. The government have moved them up the hill and away from the lake where it is safer from attack and where they can access facilities. That is one reason why they are delighted to see me.
I have just learnt that one very big consequence of our project is that previously the local authorities didn’t know a great deal about the village and the situation of the people. They could only look at statistics and location on a map. There is a national plan to group people more closely together so that services can be provided, infrastructure etc. The people around Gasundwe were going to be re-located until we introduced the school and the water, i.e. Until we began to build infrastructure in that specific locality, that caused the authorities to change their mind and allow the people to stay in their homes, apart from the very vulnerable like the old lady and her family. The people were very happy that they could stay in Gasundwe.
Electricity is in Pascal’s house and village – called Nyabitare. This road where Pascal’s house is forms the border with the next umudugudu. Anyway, there is electricity here now. There was also water here before Gasundwe and the pipes to the village join the mains here at this point.
On our walk from Mamas house we look across the river valley, where the rice is growing green and healthy, to Rususimiro (Viro 3), and see the electricity going to those houses. The people of Gasundwe are saving up for their contribution for the government to install electricity in the area. It will be in three phases. 1st phase will be sufficient power for lighting. 2nd phase… 3rd phase. The electricity, like water, has to be paid for and will be metered. So the people will need to have enough income to pay their bills – links with secure livelihoods. Water at the Nursery school has been cut off, disconnected because it was not metered. Mama has paid for a meter to be installed at the house. Who will pay for the meter at the school or in the village at the top of the hill? The people have gone back to using the spring water, straight from the hillside.
Later that day. The meeting at the Umurenge was very positive, having got through the ‘When are you building a Primary School?’ conversation when I was able to once again insist that we were not building a primary school but we would help Viro school, I was able to explain the vision of a children’s centre. It really clarified thing in my own mind too. The SEO took us to see the Executive Secretary who was also very supportive.
Whilst I was away, Lynne and Darryl spent the day with Gabriel and Gaudence at the Nursery School. 
Esperance making the protein enhanced porridge

Gaudence is the new assistant teacher

Here is Gabriel serving the children with porridge.
Interactive teaching methods

Saturday 06/06/2015. Gasundwe Village
Another productive day. This morning, Lynne and I, along with Reponse and Seden, the two boys of the household, went for a walk towards Pascal’s house. We met many people along the way, including the umudugudu chief with many villagers. (This morning, early, I heard him calling them to come to the meeting) We also met the health worker, Stephanie, and a lot of others, Visitors to Gasundwe would enjoy such a walk with someone who can point out the different crops, farming methods, coffee growing process, bananas, avocado trees, mango trees etc.
When we got back we sat and helped Mama to get the beans out of the pods. Esperance was washing clothes under the tap. We had seen other women washing clothes in the streams running down the hillside. The water tap in the village has been disconnected until it can be metered, which is fair enough, but how will the villagers find the money to buy the water? This is the same situation with the Nursery school, there is no water there now. Mama has paid for a meter to be installed at the guesthouse, so we have water. Regarding electricity we have had to rent new batteries to store power from the solar panels. Otherwise there would be no electricity. Maintenance is a constant issue. It raises the issue of maintenance again and payment for water use and later electricity.

Esperance doing the washing under the tap.

Helping to get the beans out of the pods

Our Primary School children enjoying reading on the grass outside the guesthouse. 
Later today we have a meeting with the church leaders who have a long journey to get here because they don’t live in the area. But that's another story!