Friday, 30 March 2012

A funeral

Today was Kiwi's funeral.
He's a direct cousin of Serge. Their dad's were brothers. He grew up in Congo, fled, got himself through school, left the camp to settle in Rwanda, became a nurse, was married and had three children.

On Monday night, someone found him unconscience on the road. His motorbike was in one direction and he was laying facedown in another direction. This was in the mountains. It took about 2 hours for the ambulance to get there.
We awoke Tuesday morning to hear that they had transfered him to Kigali during the night - a 2 hour drive from his home village.

He never regained conscienceness ... he had internal bleeding and who knows what other complications.

His name was Kiwi because his skin was darker than most - after the Kiwi shoe polish!
His parents still live in the refugee camp. This is their second son to die.
His older brother is married but can't keep a job. He's too generous with people and his bosses don't like that.
The youngest son has just graduated from high school and is back in the refugee camp wondering what is next for his life. We trust university...

Kiwi was the only one in the family with a job and contributing to the rest of the families' life.

I just talked to Serge. They had travelled the 2 hours back to Musanze for the burial this morning. They are back at the house.
The week of mouring begins. Serge isn't sure if he'll be back tonight or not as he wants to make sure that all that can be done is done for the dear widow and their children.

Now what? As many of us are wondering ... burdened... what will become of this family?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

New Stoves!

When one is poor there are many challenges in life.
One of them is finding enough fuel to burn to cook whatever food they have. If they don't have money to buy charcoal, they scrounge for firewood which is difficult as it is illegal to cut trees in Rwanda.
On top of that, most of the simple foods - dry beans, ibitoke, sweet potatoes and potatoes take long to cook. Beans take hours!

The government has stated that they wish people to be using high efficiency stoves. Less fuel consumption and lower cooking time. Not to mention lowering respiratory disease and cooking fire accidents with children.

A few weeks ago, we had the priviledge of bringing this training to Pastor Desonto's community in Fumbwe in partnership with a foundation from Norway.
(Line sent us an email through the ITC website! Amazing really... )

Pastor Desontos getting ready to make a stove

Beating the clay into submission

The finished fuel efficiency stove

Making the cooking basket

Demonstration of cooking
They still used the 'old' method to cook as the
new stoves weren't ready to us.
Boil the rice for FIVE minutes

Then  take it off the fire and put the pot into the cooking basket.
30 minutes later - rice is ready to eat!
Bonus.. the basket can manage two or three pots of food AND it
keeps it warm for up to 8 hours!
Next people to train... Ubuzima - those with HIV/AIDS!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Mama Deborah Graduates!

Our life is full of graduates these days which is more than a little exciting for us.
Our latest is Mama Deborah. She is the visionary and leader of Ubuzima - an association for those with HIV/AIDS.
It's part of our commitment and desire to education and train local leadership.

In primary AND secondary school she was told by her teachers that she would never amount to anything. That she would never even finish secondary school. Well... she's just graduated from university. It has been a long journey but she has done it.

We are thrilled with her accomplishment.
We look forward to how God will use this accomplishment to encourage and bless others.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Matter of Principal!

Yesterday I dropped by the post office.
We need to go and pick up our mail from a post office box and I go about once a week, no more, because I don't want to be disappointed that there is no mail.

Yesterday... a few things for us and a package for Maddy.
I knew that Maddy had been waiting for one sent from her grandparents - in November!

Usually we have no difficulty in getting packages here in a timely manner but we have had the odd glitch with the numbers one and seven.

Our IT box number is 6723 ... but depending on which Rwandan looks at that number, they think it is 6123, as sevens when written here, have the hash mark in the middle.

So... her package notice had gone to the wrong box.

We can be glad the package is found BUT I'm not impressed that they want to charge us 5000 RWF ($8.33) instead of the usual 590 RWF ($0.98) to get the package out!! 

The 5000 RWF is the late fee for not picking up the package!
I could see on their slip that someone had crossed off the 6123 and written 6723.
The lady simply would not budge to my argument that it's not my problem that they made the mistake and that we could not have picked the package earlier as we didn't know it was here.

After some minutes, she suggested that I come back another day when her superior was in and have a chat with him. So... I left without the package.

Maybe I'll get back today.
It's a matter of principal people!

Monday, 19 March 2012

New to Kigali!

I was at Ubuzima this morning putting together some materials for an order they have to get done for Thursday when Maddy calls.

'Do you like Dr. Pepper and if so, do you want some?'
'YES!!!! Where did you find Dr. Pepper?'
'La Galette has got some.'

So I when I picked Isabella from school today, I went by La Galette. I was hoping to buy more than a few as it's the first time I have ever seen it in Kigali and who knows if we'll ever see it again - something like sour cream which appeared once and vanished like a vapour.

So what stopped me from buying it all to enjoy the next weeks, months???

2200 RWF

That would be $3.64 per can.

So... I bought two.
Still debating if I'll tell Serge what I paid for them... let's  just say it's my little treat and I'll be making sure that it's a special occaision and that they are cold!

Happy Monday to me!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

International Women's Day

Empower woman and girls to sustain families!

That is the text I received this morning on my phone from the Rwandan Ministry of  Family and Gender.

That is my heart.
A huge part of what we do here evolves around empowering women.
They are the backbone of the family, a community and this country.

I received this message when I was at Ubuzima - the association we work with for those with HIV/AIDS. There were 7 women there this morning working on making paper beads or sewing. Skills that produce products which help bring income so they can pay for their rent, feed their families and send their children to school. I was there working on some new designs.

Alain, who works with us, was also working with women today. Five of them are in the beginning stages of putting together business plans so they can start their own businesses and Alain is journeying with them through this process.  We look forward to their lives becoming more sustainable.

Marte with her new product - an 18" pillow cover

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Roof - Started!

Here are a couple pics from today.

Soon there will be no open sky ...

View from the road behind our house

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Cross Border Shopping ... and my Ponderings...

I'm back in peaceful Kigali after a whirlwind weekend away - my first girls weekend and doing what most girls go best - shopping!!

My time away started on Thursday morning by getting on the 'executive' bus with my dear friend Dora for the journey to Kampala. 8+hours driving at breakneck speeds around mountains and some rough dirt road. God was gracious... NO Nigerian movies (I so can't take them!) and we arrived safe and sound.

If you have never been to Kampala... think crazy traffic, people, noise, dirt, goats, movement - EVERYWHERE!

Many times during the weekend I thanked God that I live in Kigali - my city of order, peace and cleanliness. 

Dora and I covered Kampala on Friday and Saturday and we got what we came for. I am thinking that God missed a gift in the Bible... shopping! I have definitely not lost my touch for seeking out the bargains or finding what is needed. Was a good feeling for me. We went, we searched - shopping malls, stores, kiosks and the market, and we conquered! I was blown away with what is available in Kampala and had a few culture shock moments. Bit crazy when I was just in the country next door. My big purchase - a crock pot. SO excited as I have always wanted one but have never found one here in Kigali.

Besides the shopping, I think our conversations with Dora's sister stand out in my mind. She's a lawyer in the prosecutor general's office. We had many discussions around Uganda and Rwanda - the similarities and the differences.

So many Rwandans fled to Uganda back in the 50's and many were educated and served Uganda in the government in various capacities. Our own president was 3 years old when his parents fled Rwanda to Uganda and was born and raised in a refugee camp there. Later in his time there, he was the head of security in Uganda. Our countries have many close ties and but the history has been rocky. Currently, we're in a good relationship.

Much of our conversation circled around corruption. How can two countries who have so many similarities be so different when it comes to this issue? Rwanda has zero tolerance for corruption and Uganda may say the same but it's a far cry from that.  

Now I'm not saying that there is absolutely no corruption in Rwanda but I do know that when it surfaces, it's dealt with - no matter how 'big' the person is. Dora and I argued that it starts from the top down...  

We talked about poverty. That people are so poor and that is why there is corruption. Dora's sister cited the police. They get paid so little that they are only trying to survive. I asked her how much and found out that Rwandan police get paid half of what the Ugandan police get. So... it's not because of poverty, it's a mindset, it's people living in self respect and patriotism, desiring to see others succeed and not just themselves. 

As our conversation progressed, Grace's sister mentioned that it might take a genocide or something like it to bring the Ugandans together - God forbid!! Rwanda did hit rock bottom but there must be other ways. Rwanda does have the advantage that we are one people with one language and one culture. Uganda has like 57 or 58 distinct tribes, if I am remembering right.

We talked about the pastors and the churches - are they any different than the government - everyone looking out for themselves and using people to get wherever they think they need to get to? For the most part, no.

We bordered the 'excutive' bus home yesterday morning... no Nigerian movies (Thank you Jesus!) and arrived safe and sound with little to no hassle at the border. Always a good thing when cross border shopping no matter where you go! Serge and the kids were as excited to see me as I was of them.

I am thankful to be living in Rwanda. I don't have all the conveniences (ATMs everywhere, stores that take VISA) and I don't have the shopping selection that I wish I had but I do live in a country where life moves a little slower, the government works hard for the people of the country, we are at peace and where all activities which develop the country are encouraged.

Yes, most of the churches here need to change - they need to serve their communities and develop them and not just expect people to come in the doors to serve the pastor's every wish and desire. Yes, people steal and cheat each other as most are just trying to feed their family for the day. Yes, there is lots to change in Rwanda... but I'm glad to call this country my home. 

I'll just visit Kampala to go shopping :-)