Muzungu Amakuru!


Welcome to a day in the life of a GROW intern (warning, due to our strange diets while in Rwanda, this will be a mostly food-based post):


We: eat… walk… talk about food…meet…walk…eat…walk….read/nap… talk about food more … meet…play with babies…walk…nap/ read… walk… eat… and read/sleep. Just kidding… well kind of… We usually wake up for a 9 am meeting with one or many of the RVCP members or adventure to one of RVCP’s various programs. For breakfast we have invested in a rather large box of oatmeal that we successfully finished today! Topped with cinnamon, bananas, apples, or Nutella, the blandest of breakfast choices is rather tasty! We have recently decided to all start getting fit so every few mornings we have engaged in Shawn T’s Insanity workout videos or an incredibly dusty run up what seems to be Rwanda’s longest hill. Thus far, we have been able to participate in RVCP’s Maternal Health Education Program (the reason for our journey to this beautiful county), MHEP’s cooperative farm ( , and the Hygiene teaching program at a primary school. This next week will be jam-packed with visiting the other programs and initiatives such as the Hygiene program in the village, the orphanage, the Malaria and HIV teaching programs, and the income generation program (specifically to see the rabbit farm, for Abhi). We are also just getting started on our research to see if there is a correlation between the women’s participation in MHEP and their children’s nutritional status so there have been many meetings with the different RVCP members to get the research going. Most of the programs are held in rural villages so we have been either walking or motor-taxing between them; today we took our first bike-taxi. Rwandans are an extremely friendly bunch, and I think I have shook almost every single person’s hand in Butare, if I have not greeted them with a “Muraho! Amakuru?” or “Bite?” (for the younger folk). To basically everyone in Rwanda, we are Muzungu, white women. You can hear people commenting to each other as we walk by and almost always, the only word you can pick up from their conversation is Muzungu. The other day as we were exiting our gate a group of little school girls started sprinting down the hill with their arms outstretched, planning to jump into our arms, yelling “Amakuru?!? Amakuru!?!” Similarly, as we were on bikes coming home from one of the programs this weekend, a group of ten boys starting running beside our motorcycles yelling “Muzungu Amakuru!” It is hilarious, especially since, we have never encountered anyone in the United States pointing and yelling someone else’s race as they walked by.

After our meetings we are usually famished and have been talking about food for the past few ours so it becomes time to decide what we shall eat.nomz ice cream The only ice cream in Butare.

We have been shopping at the farmers market for our produce and have made friends with most of the vegetable sellers.

all the friends at the market

If we eat at home we will have an avocado and tomato sandwich, or if you are Abhi you will have nutella and/or cliff bars. We have been eating A LOT of protein/ cliff/ Luna bars. (Parents, Friends, and Family- care packages of any type of granola bars would be greatly appreciated, our summer stock is running rather low).

A meal in Butare, typically costs between 1000 and 3000 Rwandan Francs (around 2 and 5 dollars). We however, have found our new dining place of choice, SHEKINA! Our first day there we signed up for a meal plan where we paid ahead and get some kind of discount so whenever we go we don’t have to worry about paying, but our meal costs about 600 RWF, less than $1. Since we are girls we get to serve our selves from the buffet rather than having a waiter/waitress fill up our plate. The options at Shekina include, chips (French fries), Irish potatoes, rice, pasta, sweet potatoes, fried bananas, sweet-cooked bananas, dodo (cooked cassava leaves that look like spinach), beans, and cabbage. So far we have only missed one or two days of Shekina, but do not worry, we have also been more than once in a day. We are regulars now so when we walk in the door they have our card ready for us and the other day the chef offered to make us boiled (instead of fried) sweet potatoes and spinach- our new favorite dishes. He also is going to teach us how to make chapatti (a tortilla). The portions at Shekina are rather large and we usually end up rolling out of the restaurant at the end of the meal. I once filled my entire plate, but was told by our Rwandan friends that that was not a real meal because I did not have the food heaped up (thank goodness for Shawn T and Rwanda’s hilly terrain). Shekina also has a great drinks menu with some mysterious, delicious fruit juice served in Obama mugs, tea with an almost unbearable amount of sugar, and sour milk (basically drinkable yogurt). The other day, however, Maddie and I got rather cocky and tried ordering for ourselves. Mind you we have tried going on our own on many occasions, but our RVCP friends are almost always there when they are not with us. So Maddie and I ordered one of our new favorite dishes an omelet cooked on top of a chapatti, but we tried ordering together and instead of saying an omelet with two eggs, we just said two eggs and sides of beans. We ended up getting four chapattis with no omelets, four boiled eggs, and three sides of beans, with a side of shaved carrots. Fail.

so excited for shekina

A rather small lunch at Shekina, with an Obama mug!

A rather small lunch at Shekina, with an Obama mug!

After lunch, we will have more meetings or programs or if we have the afternoon off, we will journal, watch Friends, nap, and read.


afternoon nap

We have attempted at cooking our own meals that have been vaguely mentioned in the recent blog posts. We brought our own Crockpot and loaded it with fresh vegetables and legumes from the market. We plugged it in and left it for the day to cook. When we returned home we realized the machine was no longer on and that we had probably broken the cord by not using the proper converter. So we left it in the Crockpot for a few days in our living room, contemplating what to do with the ingredients inside. Bad Move. Three days later, Molly smelled something and we realized it was coming from our Crockpot so we locked it in the kitchen. Two more days later, the smell was seeping through the door and we realized our dish had fermented and was bubbling. RIP Crockpot.

We have also learned that beans take a really long time to cook on a charcoal stove and are not super appetizing when they are hard.


beans in a crockpotThe longest cooking beans on our stove.

We had a successful rice dinner, the other night with green beans (that may have been too old) and carrots, and our next adventure is pasta. Wish us luck.

*Kineyrwanda is the national language in Rwanda.

** On our way back to Shekina!

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2 Responses to Muzungu Amakuru!

  1. atkins1960 says:

    Love the video. I almost feel like I have the red soil on my feet! The blogs are wonderful…

  2. Paige says:

    Sorry about the crockpot ladies. Is that the one Molly got in Middlebury? Thanks for keeping us updated with your posts! What an amazing experience!

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