Saturday, 8 August 2015

Karongi, Round Two

Don't Worry Driving School

Saw this in Kibuye, made me smile.

I'm very nervous about driving when I get home. Thankfully, Mum's OH is a driving instructor and can hopefully get me back on the road safely after a year and a half of not driving. Can't wait to see Kitty car again.

Just to conclude the catch up from yesterday...

Went back to Nyange School again (worth watching the video We Are All Rwandans).

It is usually said that six students died, but Sylvestre (far right)
was critically injured and died two years later of his injuries.

This time the teacher was unavailable but the Headmaster came. He took over in 2000. This time, after the first classroom, we went to see the second classroom. We looked through the window as it was locked. My friend Vy, who plays Valens in the film, came to talk to the group after we screened it this time. He spoke at length about his own recovery as a genocide survivor. He's getting married to my other friend Giulia at the end of August, sad I'll miss it.

The second classroom is where Valens died. Apparently he was an ex RPF fighter. He couldn't accept what was happening and tried to attack the génocidaires, to save his classmates, but they threw a grenade at him.

A lot more kids (seventeen) were badly injured in the second classroom because there were bars on the windows. In the first classroom there weren't, so many escaped through them. What I found slightly disturbing was that the bars are still on the windows. Someone said perhaps it was to preserve history? Yes, but apparently a year later the génocidaires came back and executed three teachers in the compound. Health and Safety sort of suggests that if a lot of people were injured because they couldn't get out of the windows, you should probably take the bars off the windows...

Preserving history is a huge issue at the moment. The grenade damage is still visible in the first classroom. They want to raise the funds to build two new classrooms so that they can close these and preserve them as a memorial. They also want to expand Chantal's grave. Chantal was the only one of the six to be buried there because she came from far away and her parents couldn't get there in time, or get her body home safely. Apparently they arrived on the same day the school buried her.

There are now plans to reinter the other five students to the site. It wasn't clear whether this is something the families of the students had asked for. Perhaps they would like their children to be part of a permanent memorial - these kids are known as national heroes - or perhaps they would prefer to have them close to home where they can visit the graves. I don't know. Seemed a little uncomfortable, this idea of taking them back to the place they were killed eighteen years later.

Anyway, Bethany was beautiful as always. I think one of the prettiest sights in the world is watching the fishing boats light up in the evenings.

Next day it was back to the Batwa village. This time we had a big welcome. We split up and went to see the different families to talk about life at the village and check on the pigs. I even got interviewed for local radio, which was an experience.

I won't go back over the pig story, but these are the piglets produced by the two that weren't sold. We had the chance to talk to that family to try to figure out why they behaved differently. They told us that the pigs were a gift and they couldn't sell the gift we'd given them. Still doesn't quite explain it, as everyone else did. But hopefully they'll become a prosperous example to the rest of the community.

We're planning to work on a kitchen garden scheme with them, but probably in partnership with the local school. It's really complicated. Many of the kids don't stay in school, and none have completed secondary. They say it's because of malnutrition - that the kids are too hungry by lunchtime to continue with lessons. Perhaps by making the food project a school project it stands a greater chance of success. You need someone on the ground to look over things, and the youth might be easier to enthuse than the older generation. We'll see.

Then it was back to Bethany. We're off to Gihembe Refugee Camp this time, so we didn't visit Kiziba camp. Instead, we invited some of the youth to join us, to talk about human rights and help finalise the letter we drafted to UNHCR last time.

It was great to see their greetings to one another.

Then it was home via Christiane's place again. I popped over to sort out her computer and catch up. Met her new manager, who is so lovely. Helped get the Macheo website online. You can also find them on Facebook. She's supposed to be opening this month, but there's still a bit of work needs doing. Sadly, Christiane is really ill at the moment. Not sure what's wrong but she's coming to Kigali today to see a doctor and staying at mine to recover. Really hope it's nothing serious.

Rose taught me how to make romantic lighting using a phone. This trip was really good fun. On the last night we all rocked out on the beach, dancing and drinking like lunatics. The trip home was not so much fun. I admit to having rather an impressive hangover, and the road between Kibuye and Kigali is serpentine. We were all struggling to keep our stomachs in. Still, that's the hectic bit of the program over. It's downhill now to the final presentation, then I shall be kissing the bright blue sky. I plan to spend a week in bed when I get back to Blighty. Utterly knackered.

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