Thursday, 24 July 2014

Form of Colonization?

So... something is rolling in my mind and it`s not leaving so ... here I am to 'rant' a little... 

In the last week we had a large group come through J.Lynn's. They were mostly women and part of some very impressive ministries and movements. When I checked on their table they asked me to share about the history and vision of J.Lynn's. So I shared... stressing that we're giving these women a chance to transform their lives - spiritually, socially and economically - through on hands business involvement, training in health, literacy, personal budgeting, they will develop their own business plans, etc. 

Later that day, I went surfing on the net to see what I could find out about various members of that team. Definitely impressive indeed... but... one thing struck me. Struck me deeply actually. 

You see, they are all connected somehow into an organization which buys goods from an association or two here in Rwanda. They also buy from some other associations in other countries around the world. As I read and listened to various videos, my heart got sad. You see, they come, they work with the associations - usually jewelry or those that make things from material - developing very high quality products and take them back to America to sell. This is good. It definitely develops the skill and vision of most who would work within that association. Yes, they may be able to bring electricity to their home, yes, they may be able to keep their kids in school, the rent paid and food on the table and yes they may be making more money than they have ever dreamed of... BUT... 

.... what happens when the Americans stop buying?? 

THAT is my question. 

Monday morning I had the good fortune of going for coffee after dropping the kids at school with a dear friend here. She too has lived in Rwanda for a long time and we got talking. I shared what had been rolling around in my heart for the past couple of days. She immediately agreed. She shared two scenarios which had happened to her. 

1. In one of the refugee camps which she works, she had helped some of the women there create bags from the strapping on bales of clothing. They are sold for about $3 at the local market. One day, an American lady came and paid $20 for one, thinking she was being generous and helping by giving them a something extra. Result.... they then accused my friend for stealing their money and declared that their price was now $20 USD for one bag ... and they never sold another one. 

2. She had an association which was making cards for a man in the UK. He bought thousands each year and then all at once he stopped. That association is no longer making cards as the few thousand they sold locally was not enough to sustain them. 

It doesn't matter who is doing the buying... but it does matter who is doing the developing - is it being done so that whatever is happening will happen if you are not there. Otherwise people.... it's dependency at it's best or as my friend said... a form a colonization. 

I couldn't agree more.
God help us to do whatever we're doing well. That we can never be accused of 'using' people or creating dependency that cripples them for the rest of their life.

I just trust that the ministries and organizations I came in contact with this past week are thinking sustainably for these women - thinking about their lives, long after they have stopped buying from them.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Rest of the Wedding - Part Two

Then comes the church, photos, reception, dinner, and the Gutwikurura (the part where the bride is officially moved into her new home .... and I headed back to the hotel with the kids to watch some football - they were done and so was I!)

The groom comes to pick the bride at home
and they drink milk before heading to church

The bridesmaids ...

Prince and Isabella

Jovie and Gogo making me look good
(Jovie is Serge's youngest sister)

Our kids love hanging with their aunties and uncles

The wedding cake ... didn't do this one!

All on the shores of Lake Kivu. SO beautiful...

Gift giving time - the extended Kamari Family giving gifts
Cheers to a beautiful day.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The rest of the wedding... Part One

Thought I'd post the rest of the wedding from the other weekend... first the Dowry

After a bunch of talking... ie. the grooms family asking for Juju for
one of their men, and our side deciding whether or not their
family was good enough... Juju came out to greet her husband
to be.

The girls who accompanied her

Beni had ENOUGH!!

Receiving her engagement ring

Exchanging gifts

Isabella was one of the four girls.. about died when she walked
out wearing the biggest sunglasses she owns!

Gifts for each mom

Time for drinks ... and it's almost over!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Training at J.Lynn`s

Each Wednesday afternoon at J.Lynn`s you will find 15 ladies and gents who are house help and looking to improve and expand their cooking repertoire.

We just finished a 10 week course on Cooking Basics. 

We have just started a 12 week course on Cooking Methods - roasting, grilling, steaming, baking, etc. etc. for both vegetables and meats. They will walk away with 14 new recipes to try in the homes which they are employed. 

This class filled so quickly and we have one already signed up for whenever we might offer the next class... not sure what to do with all this... 

It has crossed Steph and I`s minds in one of those crazy, hair brained ideas to do a televised cooking show here in Rwanda as we get SO many requests for training. 

We basically work with house help... but there are so many Rwandan girls getting married that don`t know how to cook and if they do, they want to get beyond, potatoes, rice, ugali, sombe, cassava and meat in sauce. 

Who knows... in the meantime we give opportunity to those we can. 
They pay a little money and walk away with new skills and a certificate. 

Leatitia our trainer... teaching pan fried tilapia.
Bonus for me... I get to sample them all!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Beni turned 5!!

Last Monday! 
Can't believe my non-stop, sweet, fun loving, momma kissing and hugging boy is 5! 
We celebrated with two parties ... 

The first one was with his football buddies from the neighbourhood.

Anticipating treats

Cupcakes with gumballs!

Beni was so happy and grateful. Made my heart most proud.

Second Party ... a friend and two cousins

Dinner time

Alan, Mugabo and Beni

Cake time!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

J.Lynn's @ July 4th...July 11th

We helped the Americans celebrate July 4th... on July 11th. 

I know the Rwandans are always happy that the Americans let them have July 4th to celebrate Liberation Day (end of genocide) 

J.Lynn's is always happy to help the celebration with food. 
We did all things American... red velvet, red white and blue popcorn, lemon meringue, chocolate peanut butter, brownie base cheesecakes, star shaped donut pops, old fashioned lemonade, etc. 
And we about sold out so we were thrilled! 

Rachel, Steph, me and Serge... and our new sign!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Wedding Feast Prep

So thought you.. .whoever is reading /seeing this... might be interested in the food prep for a Rwandan Dowry Feast. 

Saturday was to be a busy day... dowry (where the grooms family officially comes to ask for the Bride's hand in marriage) is at 9am ( but seriously this is Gisenyi and they are NEVER on time!), lunch for all, the groom comes to pick the Bride for church, church, photos, reception, reception dinner for all, gutwikurura (where the Aunties officially move the Bride into her new home), debrief, and drinking and dancing... 

Friday night we show up at Auntie Mathilde's house to check on the progress of everything before heading out to dinner and some World Cup watching. Auntie is a sister to Serge's father so that makes the bride his DIRECT cousin. He's feeling a bit responsible that this wedding happens well. 

This is what was happening about 5pm...the night before the wedding... 

Just a few of the ladies.. peeling potatoes.
Stems from the cassava plants in the background ... stocks
of Muzuzu (sweet plantain banana) all ready to be peeled...

The first 4 crates of Fanta (soft drinks-)
to show up... 

The goat ... living his last hours.
Curious who slept on the mattress the night before...

10 chickens have already breathed their last

More fanta and some beer showing up.
Uncle's won't be happy if they can't celebrate properly!

The decorator arrived while we were there and dumped this on
the road. Sure hope it looks like something before morning!

8am the next morning... 

The Bridal tent is ready

One of the Family sides... duplicate on the other side of the
Bridal tent

Matoke being peeled and brochettes on the fire

The end result.. .enough food for 200+ people

Monday, 7 July 2014

Weekend in Gisenyi...

Late Wednesday afternoon we headed for Gisenyi, border town with Goma, DRC for some chill time and a dowry / wedding. Seems that's the only reason we get to Gisenyi much to our chagrin...

On a side note... as we're leaving Kigali, I get a message on my phone from a team leader bringing a team out this summer. She first came to Rwanda about 5 years ago as an intern and has brought teams back almost every summer since. This summer is no exception. She is writing to say though that a pastor is pulling three from her team because of information he is reading on the internet about Rwanda - particularly the border of Gisenyi / Goma.

I tell her that we're headed there at that moment and if there were anything to fear, we would know about it as Serge has TONNES of family in Gisenyi and Goma. Yes, there were some Congolese soldiers that crossed the border a few weeks ago to steal some cows and that wasn't taken lightly... but seriously.

She is more than frustrated... and it's annoying for us. When 'incidents' happen, countries need to use certain language on their travel advisories and websites. It can be very frustrating as it does not reflect for the most part what the reality is. Everything that happens in Rwanda is taken as 'an incident' ... if everything in USA or Canada or any other developed country was reported like it is here ... just saying! 

I asked if we could write or talk to whoever. Still waiting to hear if they are open to talking. 

We always knows that God has His way of working but I also wonder about quenching what God is doing by being crippled by fear. I need to trust that the pastor is acting out of genuine ignorance and not his fear of the unknown - especially a part of the world that is not known to him personally.

Anyway... here are some pics to entice you to come and visit... and we'd do our best to get you to Gisenyi. A wedding may or may not be included! 

Beni's first selfie...

Off for our first morning walk down the beach

Playing badminton for the first time with the kids.
Beni can't say 'badminton' if his life depended on it...

Liberation Day photo... Goma, DRC, Serge's
homeland in the background

Watching the waves roll in...

A mother and daughter selfie...

Best big brother in the world!
Playing Barbie with his young sister!

Isabella FINALLY learned to swim in this pool! YEAH!!

Catching some sun and nap

Father and son

View of Lake Kivu from our balcony. Could never tire of it.