Friday, 8 June 2018

Pre-packing Prep

One week to go before I head for the UK. First time back in two-and-a-half years. Finding it hard to wrap my head around that. Not sure what to expect or how it will feel. Little anxious about leaving my cats behind. 

It's been a very busy couple of weeks. I got a last-minute contract with a UN department, to give capacity-building training to over 40 heads of civil society. We covered Sustainable Organisational Development, Policy & Advocacy and Resource Mobilisation over a day and a half in a hotel in Nyamata. It was a really impressive hotel with a huge swimming pool.

Those guys above are from the Rwandan National Union of the Deaf, who I used to work with between 2007-09, helping to compile the first Dictionary of Rwandan Sign Language. I worked with a different group of people back then, but these guys still knew my sign name even though we'd never met before. It was really lovely to meet them, and I plan to reconnect when I get back from the UK and brush up on my RSL. 

Definitely been working for the wrong people all this time. This was my first time working directly with the UN and the government. Not only was there a free bar, but also a bubble bath. Bubbles and beer. It was quite a treat.

More from the trip:

Preparing for, and delivering, the training took a lot of work, then there was the follow-up report. I had a small editing job to do for GIZ, the German development agency, when I got back, then... nothing. 

It's really uncomfortable going from a state of being constantly busy to having nothing to do except prepare for departure. Sitting here cradling Netflix on my lap, watching a lot of Deep Space Nine, reliving my teenage years and remembering conversations I used to have with school friends about the storyline. 

Went out for a drink with my housemates the other day. One of my housemates is interning with GIZ and her boyfriend is interning in Abuja, so sometimes hops a flight over to visit. We went to Friday cocktails at a friend's café, where they also have a yummy tasting board, but we'd scoffed it before I thought to take a picture. 

Hibiscus & Rosemary Gin Fizz

We headed to a bar next door where we had a few beers. Around 1 a.m. myself and my second housemate were flagging a bit, so I offered to walk her home.

Kigali is considered one of the safest cities in the world. As we walked, my housemate was saying how safe it is, and I said 'Well, there have been a few moto muggings...'

No sooner were the words out my mouth than a moto drove past and snatched her bag! It all happened extremely quickly, and thankfully she let go, so walked away with a bruised arm rather than a bloody nose, which is better than the last time this happened. Still, it was a bit shocking. I took her down to our local police station, where I knew one of the guys on duty. He was really lovely and took our statements. He told us this was the first report of a moto mugging in Kacyiru.

The same night, another lady had her bag snatched and a couple of days later her night guard managed to get it back for her. Among the stolen items were my housemante's bank card and driving license, so at least she got those back, if not the phone and cash.

Another friend, Chris, is also back in town and staying at my place. She left her car parked outside a friend's restaurant whilst she was away for a couple of weeks. A mechanic was supposed to come and collect it but never did. Whilst she was away, someone stole her radio.

It feels like theft is on the rise. There are reports of gangs armed with machetes robbing people walking up Mount Kigali, and people have been warned not to hike there at the moment. Unfortunately, the response from authorities is to make it easier for citizens to own guns. No one in their right mind needs an automatic weapon. Which means only people who are not in their right mind will have them. 

Arms are defined as firearms and their ammunition, grenade and other explosives used as arms as well as nuclear, biological, chemical or toxic weapons.

Feels like rather a step back in the fight against GBV too. As this article explains, 80% of partners killed by gun violence in the US are women. A guy comes home drunk from a bar and punches his wife, that's one thing. He comes home drunk from a bar, holding a gun...

Where's the option for 'Hell no'?

Lot of women I've spoken to feel rather horrified by this prospect. Arming the public doesn't seem to have worked out well for other nations. Being a Brit, we don't have many guns but there's still violent crime. The difference being, the number of people you can stab before being stopped versus the number of people you can shoot, is usually much fewer. 

Anyway, moving on to happier topics, Chris brought me a massive stash of goodies.

We headed out to dinner with Harris at SoleLuna and I managed to get a better picture of the flowers. 

Extremely glad to have my drinking buddies back. So many people have left recently: Maia, Johanna, Lynette - good when a few return. Went for a drink at PiliPili with Harris and saw the beautiful sunset in the first picture, and looked at this lovely view.

Also, some sort of religious holiday appears to have taken place as these little works of art popped up along the road. I've never seen street art in Kigali before, and it was all swept away by the following day.

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