Words we have (so far) mastered in Kinyarwanda:
– Primus (Rwandan beer)
– Amazi (water)
– Umzungu (White person)
– Muraho (Hello)
– Amakuru (how are you)
– Ni Meza (I’m fine)
It’s only been the first two weeks, hopefully soon that list will include full sentences and useful phrases… We’ll get there.
The last time I wrote we had yet to depart for Rwanda. After a week and six days, I think we’ve been able to settle in and have learned more about Butare and everyone we are lucky enough to work with.
Now that we are comfortable with Butare (visited the majority of local restaurants, seen the National museum, ventured to the market, and walked in the annual HIV/AIDS memorial walk), we are ready to go off on our free time and see more of Rwanda. On Friday, we headed to Kigali to attend the birthday party of our friend Christopher and to explore that city a little bit more and tomorrow we are going to Lake Kivu in the North/West province.
But I’d like to talk about this past week before going into that: Between the welcome party, unexpected visits, tours of Butare, and several group meetings we have gotten to know many members of RVCP. Everyone we work with has been so patient and kind, and fun. I could try and name them all, but the list would be so long! Its really incredible how much these medical students do as well. Right now they have a two-week break, so many are home visiting their families. But in addition to attending school they are active in RVCP, and sometimes other organizations as well. A lot of student groups in the U.S. could take notes from RVCP on how to become more active in community life – and how to make a difference. As Carrie mentioned in her post we went with two members to a primary school to teach the students about better hygiene. And on Sunday we attended the annual AIDS Candlelight Memorial that had been organized by one RVCP member, Emmanuel. These are just two of the several projects they work on in Huye.
It has so far been a pleasure to get to know them all. And I can’t wait for six more weeks with them.
The community as a whole is also pretty welcoming. People on the street are as quick to shout Muraho, with a smile, as they are to point and say Umzungu when we pass by. The children in Butare, many of who are learning to speak English, also shout greetings. Although usually it’s “Good Morning!” – cheerfully expressed anytime of day.
MJ and I have started to go running every morning when we get up. Near our house is a long hill, at the top there is a church and a school and at the bottom the road presumably leads towards a small village. Women and men and children are constantly walking up and down the long hill, carrying a variety of goods and supplies. As the hill flattens into a long dirt road there is a series of fishponds on either side – another RVCP project. The first morning we attempted the run, Carrie, MJ, and myself got up at 6 a.m. While the run was beautiful, getting up at 6 a.m. for a daily run didn’t last. I’d like to go again though because at that time the mist is just rising from the valley at the bottom of the hill and many people were hiking up it on their way to the market. It’s really amazing to pass the fishponds and see the mist overhead, with the treetops on the surrounding hills just visible and the sunlight breaking through.
So many things I could comment on and include! I’ll leave it there for today though. Once we are in Lake Kivu I will try and add some pictures to the blog as well.
Oh and I am supposed to be writing every Friday… I’ll be better about that this week!