Receive Love. Give love. Repeat.
on Rebecca in Rwanda (Rwanda), 14/Aug/2013 12:40, 34 days ago
Receive love. Give love. Repeat. was written on a church sign at Bloor and Dufferin the week before I left Toronto. Since arriving in Rwanda, it's been holding up pretty well as a mantra.Yesterday my friend Christi met me in Kigali and we took a bus out east to visit the RCP school. I'm happy to report that it is doing very well. In two years they have opened 4 classrooms- which is double what they predicted they could do-hired 5 teachers and are not currently in need of any new funding as they continue to be supported by organizations in Ireland and France. It was a treat to see a birthday ceremony, visit each class for the typical serenade of various English nursery rhymes and hymns by excited students and an honor to sit down with the staff to discuss how my school in Toronto can continue to build relationship with their school here. They received our package yesterday (?!) and there were pictures of my students on the wall of the office beside a Canadian flag. The top student of the class got the Raptors jersey we sent. And one little girl named Rebecca came up to shake my hand; we agreed it is an awesome name.I was surprised to see Bosco- who used to work as a domestique in Kabarondo- and so pleased to see him proudly say he is now the secretary of the school. And it was nice to meet with Eric Platini, the Headteacher, who moved to Rwamagana to make the school his top priority. I remember leaving Rwanda in February 2010 and arriving in Dublin to find that the RCP's launch party was the next day. No time to gather my thoughts as we met the next day with 12 people at Kennedy's pub near Trinity College to share the idea for the RCP. For the next year, it was a passion project. We had a contest to name the school, we chose the logo, we bought a plot of land and we tried to relate Rwanda to our friends and families. I learned a lot about event planning, fundraising, using resources and connecting people. I think the highlight event was using AziziLife crafts made by a women's cooperative group in Gitarama to host a booth at a ChristianAid event in Dublin to raise funds for the RCP school project in Rwamagana. I wonder if the women in Rwanda who made the crafts know that they helped build a school in Rwamagana. A really lovely school with solid walls, a playground with swings and 6 very caring, engaging staff members. Altogether a beautiful morning!I'm sure there will be more to say about the school visit but as I am now in Gitarama I'm going to switch my focus.Last night I slept 14 hours! There is no way to articulate exactly what it feels like to be back in Rwanda. There is an ease about getting around because I know where I'm going. I remember (mostly) enough kinyarwanda to hold my own. (Although in my fatigue yesterday some German and some Spanish got mixed in when I chatted with the moto guy). Yes! I took a moto in Kigali! I toured around the capital, got rid of my molasses-legs- a combination of jetlag and altitude adjustments mean that the first few hours of being in Rwanda your legs don't work as they should. I got a reprimand from a local as I was busy taking pictures of a tree full of bats- yup, they'll be a photo of this it was intense- and as I wandered down the street this man stopped me. He told me what I was doing was wrong but didn't say why. He broke the all important 2 feet of personal space rule I have and after a bit of miscommunication, he finally tuned me into the fact that I was taking photos of THE PRESIDENTs HOUSE and I should really stop. oops.Now I'm in Gitarama and I have met up with Ken and Moira for a melange at Tranquillite and a bit of a memory walk catching up on life and events since 2010. I got hug-tackled by a group of small children yesterday outside of Christi's gate. This has to be my favorite thing about Rwanda. It's like a love-bomb. The first kid spots you, points then giggles with eyes wide open and then the boldest one runs up and hugs you. Like full on squeezed! Then the other kids, encouraged by the bold one, do the same and I try my best to greet each one, ask them their names and not fall over or step on toes while I plan my escape route. Tomorrow is a holiday and the kids won't be at school. I think I will walk around my old neighbourhood tomorrow. I can't wait to see Gloria, Noella, Voisine, Fils, Francois and hopefully, HOPE-fully Jean-Pierre. I've already taken a Fanta with Cyriaque- the headteacher of my former model school and met with Procar- the man who has the shop I most frequented in Gitarama. Christi's housemate Louise and her son Bruno and I enjoyed making a craft together that I brought him as a gift and then when the girls were away, Bruno and I spent about an hour playing with a red balloon. I plan to visit Mama and the orphanage so I can give her the clothes that Gabriel sent with me. I am meeting Emmanuel, my former nightguard at 5pm today. Life is pretty sweet right now.Receive love. Give love. Repeat.