Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ready or not, here we come Rwanda....


On Monday morning Ashley and Heidi went to Kampala for the day to visit someone for Parliament. Some of the primary school team went to St. Edwards to observe the teachers. The Adobe stove team started a stove in Nmango and their team is working very hard and the team members are starting to figure out all the basics to teach the Africans. A small group went to Jinja in the evening to attend a YSA family home evening. They played games and had a lot of fun. We all enjoyed a delicious dinner from our amazing cook. I think we all look forward to dinner WAY too much.

On Tuesday there was a huge holiday called Martyrs Day. It is a day remembering 23 Christians who were martyred because they refused to work on Sundays. People make a pilgrimage to this memorial from all over the world (like we’re talking other African countries, Asia, etc.) For days we kept seeing people trekking along the road trying to make it for the celebrations. Everyone celebrates this day and so all of Uganda basically shuts down, so there wasn’t much work for us to do. We decided to join in the pilgrimage and visit the memorial sites. You have NEVER seen so many people in your life, as we walked with along that road. There was all sorts of people selling fun crafts and goodies along the street as we walked by. We had a great day enjoy the festivities and then we headed to Kampala. It’s totally like a piece of America. There are sky scrapers and the most amazing mall called Garden City. We spent a few hours at Garden City. It is half indoor and half outdoor with all sorts of shops and an amazing food court. We all got some amazing American food and sat at the food court, which was open in the back looking out at a gorgeous garden complete with palm trees and amazing flowers. We spent the rest of the night working on our projects.

On Wednesday Corbin, Leslie and Heidi went to Truelight and built a stove. Building stoves is quite hard work and this group is learning how essential it is to have a lot of people being a part of this project. Later that day some other members of the group filled in a stove for Betty. At 3:00 the secondary schools team went to Hillview Highschool and started their club. With some help from the kids the club was officially name Team Ekitangala (Team Light). Two Mzungus were teamed up with four kids. Throughout the summer the two Mzungus will be mentors to their four children. At 5:00 many of us went to St. Edwards for the weekly orphan gathering. We finished watching Shrek 2. The kids thought it was hilarious and loved it. We came home to a delicious dinner and then each person worked on their projects.

On Thursday morning the persons with disabilities team met with the mothers and their children. Ashley and Natalie gave a counseling session to the mothers about living with a child with disabilities. The mothers were excited and the lesson went very well. The rest of the team played with the children (coloring and playing with balls). After the meeting some went to a business training. David, Jeff and Ashley taught supply and demand to a group of local people. At three Amber, Natalie, Heidi, Rylee, and Ashley went and taught English to a women’s group. Many of the women are at different levels and we plan on pairing some of those that know better English better with those that know as much. Irene threw something new on the menu (we always love our meals, but they are usually most always the same), we had these rolls filled with a spicy cabbage (in the words of Ashley, “A hot pocket went to Africa and got delicious”.) We are so grateful for Irene and Christine, we looked forward to our meals everyday! We plan on going to Rwanda this weekend and so we decided to watch the movie Hotel Rwanda projected on a sheet in the living room. It’s so weird to watch that movie after living in Africa. I don’t think any of us will ever look at the world in the same way at the end of this summer.

On Friday Leslie, Heidi, Rylee, and Natalie went to Iganga. Talked about friendship and taught the children to make friendship bracelets. After they made the bracelets they exchanged them with one another. We played with a parachute after and played other games together. They got so excited to see us and we love working with them. Tori and Jackie went to Kampala to get us tickets for the bus ride to Rwanda. Everyone worked very hard on their projects and it was a very successful week.

On Saturday we woke up at 3:30 am to get ready for our long adventure to Rwanda. Jackie, Ashley, Heidi, Trent, Corbin, David, Tori, Rylee, Leslie, Lauren, and Emily all went for this amazing weekend. We got to Kampala and caught our bus at 6. The ride was a little squishy but much more comfortable than a taxi. We stopped for a bathroom break and they definitely just pulled right over and it was a free for all on the side of the road, SO akward! Our bus broke down and we were stuck for about 2 hours, but finally with the help of some bushes on the side of the road, something in the engine was tied back together and we were on our way again. We didn’t end up arriving in Rwanda until 6:30 pm, it was a very long day. Richard (from a town counsil in Rwanda) met us at the bus yard. We took our things to our hotel (Chez Rose Hotel). We were all so excited because our rooms had hot water and toilet seats, SO nice! We got some dinner at Chez Lando and it was yummy (but it took us three hours from start to finish, everything here is super slow!) We were all super tired and all wanted to get into our comfy beds and hit the hay.

On Sunday morning we had a delicious breakfast provided by the hotel, it was omelettes, bread, bananas, and steamed milk. Richard met us at 9 and we headed off to Kigale. We went to the Kigale Memorial Center. It was such an amazing experience that I know none of us will soon forget. We spent about 3 or 4 hours there learning all about the genocide. They had 14 mass graves in the back that had over 258,000 victims. We put some flowers on one of the mass graves. They had so much information inside and such graphic details. It was haunting but so important to learn about. They had so much dedicated to the memory of these victims and also survivors’ stories. It was an amazing day and all of us were deeply moved. It is unreal the tragedy that occurred in this beautiful place. As we were driving around we were all amazed at the beauty of Rwanda. It is one of the most gorgeous places we have seen in our entire lives and it is so clean. After the memorial center we headed to the Hotel Des Milles Collines (Hotel Rwanda). It was so crazy to see the actual place this happened. We had the honor of having a man named Abias. He was a survivor that lived in the hotel for 2 months. His wife even had a baby in Room 216. It was incredible to see him and hear his story. It is amazing that they housed over 1,000 people in just over 100 rooms and not one was killed. For dinner we went to an amazing buffet called Karibu. It was so good because it was fast, delicious, and warm…..mmm such a great combo. We went back to our hotel totally exhausted and ready for bed.

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