Wednesday in Rwanda

Well, it is just about time for dinner and our resort has power for us for an hour in the morning and 3 hours every night – wireless internet has been installed here but it only works when there is power so I’ll tap out this note quickly.  They have to run the generator so it makes sense to keep it to a minimum.   Power poles have been installed in the local village and apparently power will be turned on in the next month.  That means hopefully by Christmas. 
Because there is no power at the Gashora School we have had to buy a generator.  It finally arrived today – until now we have been packing up the laptops and bringing them back to the hotel so that we can get a full charge in the evening so that the teachers can be taught during the day.  The internet service provider wouldn’t come until we had power so now we can put the full court press on MTN to get out and get us access.  We have decided to focus our training on the teachers.  If they don’t feel confident then they just won’t use the computers because they don’t want to look stupid in front of the students.  The kids of course will pick up computers quickly because they have no fear.    The teachers are doing quite well and we are looking to pick one who will be our local school champion.

 One of the ladies who went to Ghana with me last year is a teacher volunteering in Rwanda.  We met for coffee and she another teacher friend were astonished that this primary school would end up with computers, internet access and power.  They said that this school would end up being THE place to be.  The school has already decided to open the classroom in the evenings to use as an internet cafe so that they can raise a bit of money to make the whole project more sustainable.

 Jone Panavas, one of the founders of Softchoice has donated the money to allow us to rebuild a basketball court and a volleyball court.  This will end up being the centre of the village for the kids.  Each day 30 or so men show up to volunteer and I can tell you even though we don’t share a common language we have quite a bit of fun!  I guess you can’t order gravel because trucks keep showing up with large stones and the men have to use hammers to break the rocks down to small enough pieces to lay down for the foundation of the court.  It is very hard work.  Today, one of the local guys hit a rock and a piece flew off and cut through his ankle.  It looked quite serious so we did a bit of field first aid and then we put him on the back of my bike and I drove him off to the local health centre.  The conditions there were so dingy but three ragged stitches later The Tiger (that’s what he calls himself!) was bandaged up, drugs in hand and instructions on returning the next day.  It cost me 300 Rwanda Francs…about 60 cents – quite a bargain.

 The people here have so little but they have such grace and such warmth.  They are always ready with a smile.  As we ride our bikes through town kids come running to the road to wave or give us a high five as we drive by.  It is humbling – we are just average people sent here as representatives of our company.  We all love it though – we smile, we say hello we yell out Meriwe (good afternoon), Muraho (how are you?) or any other phrase we have learned – they love it and yell back!

 Have a great Day! 

About Nick Foster

After 18 years with Softchoice, Nick foster now works with organizations to help them become best workplaces. He is also a volunteer with Developing World Connections, and the team leader for the International Project in India.