Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Mish-Mash of Things

This post will contain lots of bits of information. It's been a while, so I'm catching up!

The Harwood group just left after a three week stay in Rwanda. This was the same trip I was on in 2009 when I decided I had to return. We were very busy while they were here. We decided we wanted to be very involved with their activities because we could offer some different perspectives and help them with some ideas on how to manage various activities with 27 people not including the three of us and Gyslaine and Alexis, the group leaders. They spent their first week in Kigali working with some schools, including EDD! They also spent some time in the market. We introduced them to Josephine, our fabric lady. We helped them pick out fabrics, we gave them the prices, and helped to put back the fabrics that had been taken out. It was quite chaotic, but also really fun to be in the fabric business for an afternoon. Josephine was so grateful for all the business we brought her. 

Before leaving for the southern region of Butare, we visited a few genocide sites. The first was the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where 280,000 people are buried. Revisiting the museum brought a lot of emotion. The written stories of various victims went straight to my heart. The most difficult part was the children's room. The children's room contained enlarged photo's of children who were killed during the genocide. The photo's were the most recent of the child, and sometimes the only pictures their families had. Below each picture was a simple description of the child's favorite things, and how they were killed.

We also visited two churches that were attacked during the genocide and are now used as memorials. The first was Ntarama, and the second was Nyamata. I had visited them in 2009 and it was a very different feeling visiting these places again. Ntarama contained a coffin of a body that had been recovered just a week earlier. There were about 9 new coffins since the last time I was there. They are still finding bodies even 18 years later.

On the Monday before we left for Butare, the group came to EDD to do some projects. They primed the walls of the library, and began varnishing the outside walls of the dinning hall. They had plans to build some bookshelves for the new library, but we had some troubles getting all the supplies together in time. The good news is that we have all the materials now, and we can build them soon!

We were very busy in Butare. We took a tour of a few coffee washing stations, one of which is where Green Mountain Coffee Roasters buys beans for a seasonal roast. We also spend time with a group of coffee farmers. We worked along side them pulling weeds, talking, and dancing.

We also spend a few days at Burate High School. It is the top secondary school in the country. The students speak impeccable English. We were able to spend some good time getting to know some of the students. We talked with them about all sorts of things. Most of the time we compared the United States with Rwandan norms. From hanging out with friends, to Country laws. I learned so much from talking with these three young ladies. We also got to challenge some students to basketball and volleyball. We didn't have a chance to win, but it was fun anyway.

After time in Butare, we travelled west towards Lake Kivu, where we spent three nights. The food was delightful, and it was really relaxing to hop in the lake for a swim throughout the days and to have time to get some work done.

After Lake Kivu we travelled to the eastern side of Rwanda to Akagera National Park. Harwood had a grant that allowed them the opportunity to spend a night in Akagera and participate in a five and a half hour safari. We were lucky to be able to join them! It was such a neat experience. 

Spending time with the group was really fun. It gave me a lot of time to think about this country and it's history and the direction it's headed in. It brought many answers as well as many new questions. I loved getting to know the kids in the group and sharing the Rwandan experience with them. It was a really nice change of pace, and now I am energized to return to EDD and get to work in the store room!


  1. Hi Ally, I enjoyed reading about some of the highlights of the time you spent with the Harwood group - thanks for sharing. Elena's Mom

  2. Well done my friend. And excellent safari pictures.