Wednesday, 14 March 2012
When our car arrived at Cyeza, a small village perched precariously on a hillside, we were warmly greeted by the women of the Abarikumwe Association. This group of women of various ages meet regularly to make handicrafts, namely earrings and bracelets out of the sisal plant, cultivate their fields and generally talk about daily life. We were welcomed into our host Yusta’s home and dressed for the field in fabric wraps. Then, hoes in hand, we walked down into the valley to a nearby cassava field to help the women to harvest the cassava. We joined in with the harvest and Jeannine, our translator, helped us to understand what to do. The women talked about their homes and their lives as they worked, and helped us with our hoeing technique! We tried to carry our harvest back to the house on our heads which was a great experience and the women helped us when our loads began to wobble.
Then we peeled the cassava roots together, again listening to tales of Rwandan village life as we did so. We fetched some water together from the village tap, and on our journey we passed through fields of coffee plants, banana trees, maize and bean crops, all with the stunning green hills of Muhanga district in the background. After finishing our work for the day, we were treated to a home cooked lunch of fresh avocados, cassava, beans and rice, and we enjoyed the company of the women over lunch. The women laughed as we ate and with the help of our translator we shared stories about our homes.
After this hearty lunch, the women taught us how to make our own earrings and bracelets out of the sisal plant. Berthilde, my teacher, was very patient and guided me with her expert skill. We were shown the farm animals by our host’s friendly children and then we danced outside in the sun. It was a real privilege to spend a day with these lively, vivacious and welcoming women and we learned so much about rural life in Rwanda from our experience. We felt like we were part of the group as the women were so keen to involve us in everything they did. When I arrived back at the Azizi life headquarters I felt tired but very content after such a wonderful day out in the Rwandan hills