Shopping in Kagili

Yesterday I went to Kagili (the capital city) in order to get some things we needed for the project.  This proved to be an adventure.   The capital city is about 45 minutes drive away but as you all know our mode of transport has been our bikes so we needed to find some other way to get to Kagili.  We rode the public transportation which is basically a big van that squeezes 18 people in (including the driver) and stops at every town along the way. There is no such thing as personal space in Rwanda.  When I got on the public transportation everyone was staring.  I asked Lama, my guide why I was so interesting and he indicated the people have probably never seen a white woman on the bus.  Softchoice Cares is all about changing perceptions!

  When we got to Kagali 2 hours later (it is normally a 45 minute drive when not traveling by public transportation) we started on our list.  We found it difficult to change money as no exchange place will take bills that were made before 2006. You also can’t pay by credit card and no one has heard of an ATM here.  After visiting 4 exchange places we found a bank that would take the US cash and let us change it to Rwandan Francs. 

  Kagili is a big city and one of the best ways to get around is a boatabota (a small motor bike).  Of course these individuals want to get to the destination as quickly as possible so they weave in and out of traffic.  I almost lost my lunch.

  After visiting over 30 stores in a super busy city which has streets full of people we were able to get all our shopping done in order to complete our project.  With our bags full of paint, brushes, batteries and glue we boarded the van to go home to our rural village in Gashora.  I couldn’t help but feel I was kind of going back to my African home. 

Working for the Weekend

Greetings from Volcano National Park! On our drive from Gashora to Kigali, we stopped at the Rwanda Genocide Museum. It was a great opportunity to learn more about what happened in 1994, as well as other genocides throughout history. Its truly amazing how much progress Rwanda has made in 15 years. Tomorrow we are trekking looking for the endangered mountain gorillas in Volcano National Park. A great way to spend the weekend after a rewarding week of very hard work.

As the first week came to a close, the team finished laying stones on
the basketball court. The next step is pouring of concrete, and them
the ribbon cutting! The backboards and rims are being restored and
painted. We will begin work on the volleyball court on Monday. We also spent Friday digging trenches for the new Covaga Weaving Cooperative. Its tough work! The computer classes with the teachers at the primary school are going well. The local carpenter is putting the finishing touches on the new desks for the lab. We did have a hiccup with the Internet. MTN came out to do the installation, but despite the site survey, they said it wasn’t worth the expense and hassle for the performance. They recommended using a satellite service, which will hopefully be installed on Monday. Its off to dinner, but the days since the last update have been unforgettable. They people so friendly, the country so beautiful(no garbage anywhere), and the smiles so big.

…and we’re off!

The entire crew are all departing from their home towns this evening. We all meet up at around 7am tomorrow in London, England. A few hours at Heathrow and then we board a 8hr flight to Kenya. Then from Kenya we board a smaller plane for our flight to Kigali, Rwanda! Looking forward to meeting up with Nick who is already there and will be a smiling familiar face once we finish our epic journey.

 Hope everyone home in Canada has a Happy Thanksgiving. We’ll be missing you!

Laptops are loaded and ready to go!

Thanks to the stellar team of Chris Tang, Douglas Dean and Raymund Caballero from the Softchoice IT department,  our donated Lenovo Laptops are full of software and ready to head with the volunteer team to Rwanda in exactly 1 week!

A HUGE donation comes in!

LENOVO CANADA ROCKS!

They just provided us a donation of 10 brand-spanking new laptops to take to Rwanda!

Thank you very much for your generous donation!

10 days to go…

Just a little over a week until the team heads out to Rwanda. Who’s on the team?

Rwanda Mission 2009 Team

Peter Cibula, Toronto

Melissa Alvares, Toronto

Ryan Douglas, Chicago

Melissa Douglas, Chicago

Cate Sassano, Boston

Sheila Kivlichan, Toronto

Georgina Roney, Montreal

Dave Reese, Washington DC

Erin Reese, Washington DC

Vickie Zeis, St.Louis

Nick Foster, Toronto