This ain’t no camping trip!

Camping is fun. You get out in the woods, you make a fire, you don’t shower for a few days or weeks at a time, you live in a tent. This is not a camping trip! But, after a month (already!) here, I have adjusted to my routine remarkably well— except for the whole not having electricity thing. There are pylons everywhere along the road, apparently, the government plans on having the entire country wired in time for the elections (scheduled on August 9th)—- yeah right!

Although I came here to work on a seed bank project, I have been re- routed to the Strategic Planning Department for the next little while. This requires me to work on a computer reading reports and analysing budgets, project data, etc. for the better part of the day. But, our electricity comes from the sun. Hence, my productivity has been reduced to just until the solar power cuts out and the computer shuts down (usually about an hour and a half). Being of a productive nature as most of you know, this has me knawing at my wrists wishing I could have a generator with me— just so I can work!!!! But, of course, this comes with a lesson! It is dastardly difficult to give donors things like Strategic Plans and reports without electricity. A healthy dose of patience and forward planning is required. I will soon start going out in the field collecting data from the different parties for the Evaluation of the previous Strategic Plan and for the planning of the next few years. It is not what I can here to do but it is quite interesting and has helped me develop quite a few new set of skills that weren’t planned upon. I also need to translate. The Rwandan government decided all of a sudden to join the Commonwealth (insert many political commentaries here). This means that English has now replaced French as the main administrative language here. Hence, my bilingualism is a skill set desired by many. In my “spare time”, I translate very technical agricultural documents from French into English (or vice versa).

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Its already been a month since I have been here in Rwanda! I only have a month and a half to go! I can’t believe how fast time is flying around here. I spent the better part of last weekend being sick out of my sane mind. I think two people especially got the brunt of in- between throwing up phone calls of me not knowing what to do with myself and wanting to be home, in my bed. Everyone was pretty scared and I think being sick is a good way to re-enforce community bonds in a new place. No, really! Host mother, brothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, group members all came by to say hello and pray and hope that I was ok. I did have some pretty dark hours but happy to report that things are almost back to normal now. I can even eat a little rice! No worries!

The weather has been phenomenal. It usually hovers around 20-24 degrees Celcius during the day at at a comfortable 15-18 at night. There is always a breeze and if I could import this weather to British Columbia, I think that it would be heaven on earth.

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We had a St- Jean Baptiste/Canada Day Party last Sunday for the community. I don’t think I have ever seen so many children stampeding after balloons in my life. It wasn’t the most fun experience. But, it did teach us a few things about African culture and how to host people. Also, it made me realise that my host brothers are GOLDEN. They actually left me an evening this week to go to Kigali. I had a great time miming to Mama Marium what I was trying to say but I’ll admit I was glad to see them both next to me singing and joking around last night. This isn’t a camping trip, its a life lesson and personal building experience, its a lesson in adaptation, in cultural understanding and sensitivity. Its learning to laugh at one’s one mistakes, to be able to take most of the day off and relax in the sun when you want to be working, its laughing at the fact that the door of the taxi- van you’re in just fell off, its the stars at night and the fact that you can see the milky way, its appreciating the hills in the distance when you’re walking back and forth from work. Its laughing at children who can only say “Good Morning” even when its the afternoon or evening. Its having your host mother holding back your hair and patting your back when you’re puking your guts out in the basin next to your bed for 8 hours straight. And its your brother leaving a wedding ceremony to bring a radio that will play music when you call him in distress. Its coming home to children in your courtyard and bringing in goats for the night and singing and learning new dances and songs and laughing for hours. This is life! And its a great one.

(I apologize for the randomness of posts, Its hard to synthesize all we go through into a single post). Thank you for comments everyone! I appreciate them a lot! Much love to everyone.

2 thoughts on “This ain’t no camping trip!

  1. Raïsa,
    merci d’être si fidèle à nous raconter ta vie là-bas au Rwanda ! Tu as un vrai talent pour écrire, tu sais – te lisant, je peux si vivement t’imaginer dans les différents moments de ta journée, avec tes joies, tes surprises, tes frustrations, tes rencontres, tes bonheurs et tes heures difficiles. Je me rends compte combien ton expérience là-bas te fait grandir ! J’espère que tu vas vraiment mieux maintenant et que ce n’était qu’un malaise passager qui t’a rendue si malade. Dis merci à ta famille d’accueil là-bas, de ma part, de prendre si bien soin de toi. Et sache que je pense à toi souvent et que j’ai déjà hâte à ton prochain récit. Bonne chance et beaucoup, beaucoup de soleil (pour permettre à ton ordinateur de travailler ! )

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