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WJR Mission to Rwanda: Week 2

November 24, 2016 23:02

Our second week began with a torrential downpour which continued for three days. This was not the African weather we hoped and prepared for! Yet on Monday we saw how important rain really is for Rwanda. When we arrived at the Kayonza Boys’ Centre, the children were dancing and washing their clothes with water from the rain gutters which they had substituted for a tap. It looked like they were having the time of their lives and were relishing the free water. In England the rain is hated yet here it is a luxury to be appreciated. We taught the ones who were less interested by the rain how to make origami fortune tellers. The kids were so ambitious in writing fortunes and wrote statements such as “You will be a doctor” or “You will be a soldier” We found this surprising from kids who have had such hard lives. It was truly inspiring.

Getting to the Kabarondo centre which is a half hour bus journey away, like travelling anywhere in Rwanda, was an experience. Buses in Rwanda are equivalent to the mini buses we have at home, but in Rwanda, it is a question of how many people can you squeeze onto a seat - 6 people on a row meant for four is relatively standard. It is not unusual for a couple of pineapples and someone’s child to then be placed on top! It is not the most comfortable of experiences.

At the Kabarondo Centre after the English lesson we had the realisation that boys don’t want to play ‘Grandmother’s Footsteps’ but would much rather play ‘Stuck In The Mud’ or simply a game of football. In contrast, when we are not teaching the girls English they are more than happy to sit and have a girly manicure session with the nail polishes we bought from home or to play skipping games.

Whilst in Rwanda we have been asked to help out in the Central Office with their day to day computing skills and administrative tasks. We have started to make a database of all the children in SACCA’s care and are also drafting funding proposals for SACCA for essential items the kids and the centres need.

As in most towns in Rwanda, Kayonza and Kabarondo still have children living on the streets. On Wednesday afternoon we accompanied one of SACCA’s social workers to Kayonza for a street visit. Most of the children that we met, who now live on the streets, have at one point or another lived in a SACCA Centre. Reasons for leaving the centre are numerous and range from drug addictions to fighting with other boys and most interestingly some boys found the chores in the centres too much work and craved the independence of the streets. During our street visit, we only met boys as many of the girls who live on the streets work as prostitutes so can only be found at night. This explains why there are fewer girls under SACCA’s care. The children on the streets were not happy with their lives and many said they wanted to go back to school. SACCA keeps track of these children living on the streets and aim to eventually reintegrate them into the centres although this is often a struggle.

Rwanda’s main tourist attractions are the Gorillas living in the Volcano national park in the Northern Province of Rwanda. We were lucky enough to get Gorilla permits so set off on Friday, with a terrifying driver, to Kinigi guesthouse, our hotel which we considered luxury considering it had a shower and a toilet. We had an early rise but were prepared for a trek this time! At 7am, we were greeted by traditional Rwandan dancing, which is inspired by cow movements, and were then given a briefing and allocated to a group. Our group consisted of three other British students and two older South African men who the guide nicknamed Silver Backs after the oldest gorillas who are old and slow. After a 45 minute trek to the national park through mountainous land we arrived at the entrance. The landscape changed completely and we entered a mountainous rainforest with mud everywhere, where it was easier to slide than to walk. An hour later we got told to leave our bags as we were 40 metres away from the gorillas, by this time the anticipation in the group was extremely high. We entered a clearing and we were shocked at how the gorillas just appeared next to us, all 13 of them. We visited the Kuryama group which translates to the sleepy group. They certainly lived up to this title and the guide decided to wake them up to little avail as they were not fazed by our presence. Their resemblance to humans is uncanny, particularly their hands and feet, and spending an hour with them was an experience we will never forget.

November 24, 2016 23:02

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