Hi everyone, welcome to my blog! I am a UK volunteer with voluntary service overseas and I'll be living in Rwanda in a small town called Nzige. Nzige is in Rwamagana district to the east of the country towards Tanzania.I'll be going out to Rwanda as an education volunteer to work on UNICEF's child friendly schools campaign. by teaching in a teacher training college and setting up a resource centre.
Thursday, 10 May 2012
The kindness of sisters
I am about to leave Nzige. I will be in Rwanda for
another month before going back home, but I will be out and about doing
curriculum writing in Kigali, organising and participating in the vso education
sector conference and hopefully doing work at a couple of other TTCs. So I am
moving to Butare (very temporarily, I won’t be there much) because it is on the
main road and there is a volunteer with a big house that me and Lindsey can
stay in. Also , I feel it is time to hand over my work to Julius now. He knows
everything that I have done in my time here, he knows what to do next and he
has a strategy in place to begin. It’s time to let go and move on, however hard
it can be! I feel happy that I have achieved many things, but it is time to let
someone else take charge now and give it their best.
So I have been busy clearing out all of my stuff in my
house in Nzige. This has been quite a challenge, it’s amazing just how much
stuff I have managed to accumulate living in the middle of nowhere in a very
poor place. It just goes to show how rooted in materialism I actually am,
despite my efforts to change. I had lots of unwanted clothes because my parents
brought me out some of my old clothes last summer, and I have wrecked or
semi-wrecked a lot of even my newer clothes. So I filled an old broken suitcase
to the brim with them, along with a few other things such as towels, soap,
shoes and a few children’s toys.
Over the last 16 months I have built up a relationship
with the catholic sisters in my village, mostly because they own and run a restaurant
right by my house which I often frequent, particularly in power cuts or when I
just couldn’t be bothered to buy enough food at the market to sustain me for a
whole week. One sister in particular, Vestine, always has a beaming smile for
me and she really does brighten up my day. In fact I have never seen her look
unhappy. She usually runs the restaurant alone so she is a very busy woman, but
unfailingly cheerful, and incredibly patient and kind with my attempts at Kinyarwanda.
So I knew that she was the person to give my suitcase of
things to. I trusted her to find people who needed some help in Nzige. When we
delivered the suitcase today she was absolutely delighted! She made me the
biggest carbohydrate volcano ever for free and she told me that the things in
the suitcase will go to help three orphaned girls who she has been trying to
look after. She gave me a photograph which I’ve put on here. And later she came
round to my house with lots more food, and I gave her some photographs of my
family. And later still, she came round with a letter written in English (which
must have been translated through someone else as we can only communicate in
broken Kinyarwanda and French!) which said how much I had helped these girls.
So I am sitting here feeling all emotional. I can’t believe that some of my old
junk could really make such a difference and I feel so humble that someone
could be so kind on receiving something which wasn’t even for herself.
The people of Nzige pull together as a community even
when people have so very little and there is a troubled history. Yes it does
mean that everyone knows everyone else’s business but then that also means that
people know when you need help, unlike back at home where people can die and no
one even realises for months. If they know you are having a hard time they will
not let you be alone, for example my TTC colleagues insisted on visiting my house
when I was ill and also when my grandma died. Sometimes I thought I would
rather be alone when I’m ill but then you realise how nice it is that people
care enough to take the time to check that you are ok in person. So if there
was one message I would take home with me from this place it is to take time to
be with and be there for other people, no matter who they are and how different
they might be from yourself.
The photograph of the girls that Vestine gave me. Vestine is the tall one in the cream coloured sisters outfit looking very serious for once and the three girls are the orphans.
The food that Vestine brought around to my house. The little fried balls are like traditional Rwandan doughnuts, the eggs come from the chickens who break through into my garden all the time to eat the leaves of my plants!