Rwanda: Days 1-2

by Sarah Luna

I’m typing this now from the headquarters where I have my office. We’re working with at least three (that I’ve counted) international organizations for this project. It is quite the endeavor. I’ve gotten in the habit of writing down people’s names as I meet them.

Rwanda is beautiful. We first arrived at night, so we could only see the shapes of the hills. The sight the next morning took my breath away. Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, and that monniker is completely accurate. The hills were covered in lush green, and a red dirt road ran from the house we were in down the hill into farmland. Just like in the US, the richer houses are on the top of the hill while the poorer communities are deeper in the valleys closer to the fields.

It is so warm here. The colors here are incredible as well. Yellow sun, bright blue sky, greens of every hue, and rich red dust. Everyone keeps the windows open in cars and buildings, and there was one street that had the overwhelming aroma of gardenias.

The four of us are staying at the project coordinator’s house. She has two maids who do all the cooking and cleaning–not uncommon in Africa. Their names are Millie and Sarah. They set out an amazing dinner for us the first night of rice, potato and pea stew, and spiced ground beef. Breakfast is a European affair with cereal, hot milk, sausage, and fruit. I make myself drink three glasses of water and a cup of hot milk (with chocolate, of course) each morning. This way I can hopefully stay hydrated. So far, I’ve had no problem finding purified water.

We visited the school yesterday where we will be conducting this study. It is a boarding school that has 800 girls age 12-20. We talked with the principal and looked at the dispensary where we will set up our equipment. We have to build a wall in one of the rooms. That should be interesting.

Last night, I taught one of the guys how to play my ukulele. I gave him a few chords and strumming patterns to practice while I worked on a grant (for…5 minutes, yeah). I’m really glad I brought it along.  They then set up their traveling gym with bungee cords. Apparently that’s how they worked out in India.

I am so happy with how things are here. All of us were in shock at how nice things are here–a different kind of culture shock to be sure. Kigali is a city with big dreams. The president wants to turn it into the “Singapore of Africa”.

I’ll update as much as I can.