Every last Saturday of the month Rwandan roads are shut down (almost like a curfew) between 9-11am. Kigali was almost ghost town-like today, with only Police on the roads. This is because it is Community Service Day (Umaganda), where everybody cleans up/betters their Community in one way or another. Team Rwanda hit the silent streets before bewitching hour, arriving at the Catch-Up Centre before 9am. Our Community mission was to Deep-Clean the school. Desks were removed from classrooms, African brushes (like little broomsticks without the handles) swept, then we mopped and scrubbed classrooms, and litter was picked up in the grounds (there was quite a lot of it!) Classrooms were then re-decorated with all the work Team Rwanda and the children had done together, whilst others on the Team sorted and tidied away resources. It was a hot, dusty, dirty morning, but was nice to think that when our lovely kids turn up on Monday morning they will be wonderfully surprised at how we’ve all left our mark. Some of the teachers and schoolkids had also come in to help which was lovely. Some of the kids even got a bit of extra tutoring in as they were trying to fathom out How, if the world was round, did we not fall off the bottom of it? (This was because of the bunting Team Incredible had put up summarising each lesson we had done with them.) Queue Defying Gravity! (smiley face – no emojis!)
Every evening we have a session where we all reflect on what has gone on during the day. This serves to support those who have difficulty processing what they are experiencing, or just want to share their thoughts and feelings. On the bus journey we were all saying what a brilliant idea ‘Umaganda’ was, and how it brings the Community together enhancing both its spirit and environment. We wondered what the UK would be like were we to choose to adopt it…
We spent this afternoon visiting the Community Centre of Kinyinya meeting Genocide Survivors. There were three categories of survivors present who live together in this village: Widows, orphans and those who lost their children. Hearing their chilling stories first hand, it is hard to describe how it has left us feeling. However, their stories of how they survived and became the community that they are today was truly inspiring and it has clearly been a long journey that is still continuing today. Each team heard different stories and the community requested us to take their stories back to you and be Rwandan Ambassadors for them so that this sort of horror is understood and hopefully never repeated.
(Pause in blog writing whilst Sarah chased a cockroach around the room …Barb had the winning strike!)
On a lighter note, we were delighted to see the arrival of beautiful red roses (and melted chocolates) for the sleeping beauty Susie on the 4th wedding anniversary. We then had a team meal out to have pizzas. They were massive so we packages up all the remaining slices to be taken to the street children we met on Wednesday afternoon.
A shout out to Dan’s daughter Phoebe on her 3rd birthday today!!
Love Sarah C, Barbs, Susie and Stevie. x