Wednesday, May 6, 2009

To America and Back

Life here has its extreme ups and downs (to be expected)! I had a three day weekend because Friday was ‘workers day’ so I went to the city Thursday night and met up with some friends for dinner….good Italian food. Completely felt like I was in America. Spent the night at a friends house stayed up late talking and enjoyed using a toilette and taking a real shower. Friday, was spent at the peace corps office doing work and just enjoying some friend times. That night we went to a Tapas place (Spanish food)…the atmosphere is kind of like the coffee shop with books and couches and american magazines! (its owned by an American) Friday night is music night and all the forigners come in to meet people. The later it got the more dancing we did (the fun kind, like we do at formal).

I met a lot of new ex-pats and found out what they were doing here, which was nice. Well, I met a few people who told me, I would never do peace corps, I don’t work for free…

Saturday we went to lunch and then go invited to go to the marines house. (there are 5 marines that are assigned to the US embassy to protect it). They live in a house (aka bomb shelter/ mansion) in the compound of the US embassy. They have a pool, volleyball court and basketball court outside. On the inside is a gym, living area (with a big screen tv and 400 movies), a full running bar with diet coke and margarita maker, a game room with pool and fuseball, a laundry room with 2 washers and 2 dryers and tide, a dining room, a kitchen with 4 fridges and two stoves (all filled with American food), and of course in every corner a security camera. Up stair is all their rooms…no one is allowed up there. Super fun. So basically all day Saturday was spent watching pineapple express and twilight and walking around the house with no shoes and drinking water out of the faucet! Seriously…it was just like the movie Richie Rich. When his friends don’t know how to handle all his stuff. That night we got in a bomb proof suburban and went to the club…it was fun, but disturbing at the same time. Prostitution happens all the time here and its sick to see these old white men kissing on their girl they bought for the night. No wonder some people here don’t like white people. We woke up before 8am the next day and did our shopping and met
up with other volunteers for lunch. Then back to the US embassy were we made carrot cake, chicken, rice and creamed corned! ...all American style! But before that, they brought us to the market so we could translate for them. Lol. I did not make it home until 11pm which after dark here; transportation gets expensive and sketchy! I just closed my eyes and prayed for a safe ride!

Work has been fun the past 3 days: i pretty much live for teaching english, with only chalk and a chalkboard! My students (actually they are my co-worker and friends) here are soo eager to learn, never in america would you see such determination and concentration in the classroom, but at the same time so much fun! ALSO, never in America would you see me teaching english! lol i am working on getting some resources sent from America so pray that comes through!

i finally have a bed after 2.5 weeks of sleeping on the floor, i finally had a great nights sleep!

Thats all for the day! have a wonderful day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Officially Official

First things first! I am finally a Peace Corps Volunteer!

check it out!

This past week was spent in Kigali preparing for swear-in and moving to site! Some of the best times so far! Thursday, after swear-in, we went to the lake where the US embassy owns a lake house and went knee boarding, swimming, played games, and ate lots of good food via US embassy.

Friday was supposed to be spent shopping for house items, but instead a group of us went to the US embassy to lobby for a Women’s rights committee and then to lunch at Bourbon Coffee for a veggie burger and milkshake.

Rwanda is pretty upto date on their technology and they now offer a Wireless Internet card (just like in America) for a reasonable price. A few of us decided to get one. The best purchase I have ever made, works amazingly! After running around town for that, Emily and I started shopping for our house stuff at 7pm. Everything closes at 8pm, except nakamatt (African 24 hour walmart). We went to the Chinese market and started running around the store thowing stuff in a pile and trying to budget everything as well. When we were done at the market we realized we had to walk a few blocks to finish shopping and catch a taxi! Picture this: two white girls, both with backpacks stuffed with items, carrying large buckets full of household items…in downtown Kigali, after dark! As dangerous as it was, I have never laughed so hard at the situation. We met up with other people and i found a new way to get a taxi for cheap! Go to the most busiest place and start a reversed auction. It works.

Saturday, was a sad day….we all packed our stuff and headed for our sites for the next two years. I didn’t leave til 4pm, so I was nice to relax a little and take time to pack up my stuff. My friend Rachael was dropped off first and after we dropped her off it hit me that I was no longer in mini America and the summer camp feeling was about to end. It was dark when I got to site, so my counterpart made me stay at her house for the night, which was nice.

Its now Monday night and I have survived my first day of work. I started writing this blog mainly to tell this one story so here it goes:

So it gets dark here at 6pm, and im scared of the dark. I also have an outdoor latrine…this has potential to become an issue. Earlier today the night nurse told me a lady came in to have her baby and told me to come watch. (I did not see a birthing, I will be able to see one every night if I wish). After dinner, I really needed to go to the bathroom and decided I would go “say hello” to the nurse and just happen to use the toilette while I am there. I get my phone, flashlight, and all 20 keys to my house and venture from my house to the health center (these are only about 20 meters away from each other, but im scared of the dark, so this is a big deal) to “say hello.” Only one nurse works each night (4pm to 7:30am…long time.) I make it there and the gardener is mopping the floor and the nurse is in her office. I realize that I don’t have enough kinyrwanda skills to just say hello and not make things awkward, so I proceed with:

“Ndashaka toilette. Sinkunda latrine n’joro”

this literally translates to: “I want toilette. I don’t like latrine in the night”

no matter how bad my kinyrwanda was she still completely understood me and told me she doesn’t like it either and its scary! We both laughed and I got really excited because she completely understood my fear of latrines in the dark. Complete understanding is a rare occurrence here, so when it happens it’s the most exciting thing in the world. Also I just got the feeling that everything is gonna be alright! I love this feeling!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Culture Shock: Round 1

Last week was very busy and full of new things:

monday morning we left Butare at 7am for our 2 hour drive to kigali for a counterpart (person from our new community who can show us around and introduce us to our new home and job) conference and then on Tuesday, we headed to our site with our counterpart. we also found out our exact site location and job descriptions. Here are my details:

-i will be in the province of Kigali.

-its a small rual town (smaller than BS), but less than an hour from downtown kigali.

-for my primary project, i will be working at a health centre (not sure exactly what i will be doing, but anything from teaching family planning, working in the SIDA (AIDS) center, data management, delivering babies (haha...they think so), and other such activities.

- some secondary projects could include: teaching english to secondary school students and health centre workers, coaching a girls futbol club, doing something with coffee, and any other organizations that could fun to work with. (this could change depending on the needs)

the organization i will be working for is Twubakane (which mean "we grow together"). This org is funded by USAID and PEPFAR - two huge American Aid organizations. All the supplies in the health centre have huge stickers that says: provided by USAID!

About my housing:

Currently, i will be living inside the compound of the health centre, but it has a lot of "things" that need to be fixed: all the windows are broken, i have no place to bathe, i share a latrine with a man, i was refused when asked to see the inside of my house :/, but my attitude is a lot better now than it was. Some positives: there is supposed to be electricity and they are bringing a pipe in so i will have running water (pretty excited).

My site visit was definitely harder than expected! I can laugh about it now, but I had to leave my site for two days and have a “WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING IN AFRICA??” moment. Then I went back to my site to give it a second try and loved it! I spoke more kinyarwanda than I have ever in one day, became a pharmacist in less than 5 mins, and had the joy of learning that a need for teaching English is a must!

I met up with friends Saturday morning and we enjoyed the fairly new NAKAMATT (African 24hour Walmart) and a Burbon coffee shop (filled with white people and real lattes). It was good to learn that I was not alone in the questioning why I am here and happy to know that it will go away and comeback in spurts.

There is now less than a month before we are sworn in as volunteers. We have been invited by the US ambassador to be sworn in at his house! Its pretty exciting!

Also for some more news, Peace Corps Rwanda has just received more funding for more volunteers so in approximately October will be getting 25(ish) English teacher and then more volunteers in January. How exciting 100 volunteers in Rwanda! It’s also exciting because we will become the support system for the new volunteers!

My birthday was great! My second birthday in Africa (first was my 19th) We all went to dinner and just enjoyed the evening and then my closer friends surprised me with a birthday cake (nutella icing). It was fun to just relax and forget about work. I also got to talk to parents, heather, and brad. It was much appreciated.

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes and all the prayers and support!

I really like mail (letters are great) and my address will be the same as it is now, but this is PC so changes to be expected.

Feel free to email me with any questions!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

a need for something!

i visited a health center today and these are the results i found:

over 2,500 people in the community
8 nurses
1 social worker
1 doctor visit, once a month.

people walk almost 4 hours just to get to this health center!

there was one room that hosted sick patients; one room that mothers could give birth, 2 at a time, and four beds for post pardom (sp) mothers to rest! but one positive thing is that 85-90 percent of rwandans have health insurance!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

africa stole my heart

the past week and a half has gone by so fast! everytime i slow down i realize the week is almost over! i have been so focused on learning the language and a few things about heath that i forget where the time has gone! the language is coming very well, but can be very tiring too! its almost like a summer class! ive met a lot of friends in the community that quiz me in my language knowlege. Last week we were introduced to the 16 noun classes (i dont think english has them). here is a paragraph i found from a blog to best explain the language:

"as far as I can tell there are three chief difficulties with Kinyarwandan. First, is just the unfamiliarity and strangeness of the words themselves. There are lots of ‘m’s and ‘w’s’ and ‘mw’s which aren’t particularly common in either English or Chinese. These words are so different (and quite long) it’s hard to remember them. Second is the fact that there are ‘noun classes’ which don’t really exist in English. Noun classes like ‘objects’, ‘people’, ‘animals’ mean that verbs and adjectives need to change to reflect the type of noun and with something like 16 noun classes. Finally, Kinyarwandan is a ‘tonal’ language – I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of what this means yet, because it’s not tonal in the same way Chinese is, but emphasis is clearly more important than in English."

i have very good teachers and great friends to help in this and its really fun when i get to go out in the community and say "miriwe" (good afternoon) + other conversational words and i get crazy stares because a umunzungu can speak their languagae! i love it!

People from USAID, CDC, PEPFAR, and other organizations have been giving us presentations on programs we might be working with and everytime they come i get really excited about the fruits of after training! Which reminds me that in a little over a week and a half we will all be going to our sites for a week, by ourselves, to scope out our communities! eeek!!! im excited!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Its friday already!

Wow! time has flown by this week! I can definitely say that i am so much more adjusted than i was a week ago! (I can say that i am genuinely in love with this place and realize that people would give anything to do my job) Im actually seeing progress, well some, in my language and cultural skills! Last weekend i met my resource family, the mom is a student at the university studying sociology and her husband is an umuganga (nurse)! they have a 3 year old daughter named Amahoro (which means peace)! she is afraid of me! i dont think she has seen an umunzungu (white person). They are here to help me learn the language and to show me the culture. I went to her house and we played this fun board game; even though i had NO clue what they were saying, i still understood what was going on and how to play.

besides the crazy amounts of language classes, guest speakers, and technical classes, i also play volleyball with a bunch of people almost everyday and hangout with friends telling stories of our past; which is such a stress reliever!

last Saturday, we went to a Rwandan history museum! i was good, but i had just walked 4 kilometers in the hot sun without water and still needed to go to the bathroom! i survived and realized i had the rest of the evening off to relax!

Tomorrow, Valentines day: I have a huge Kinyarwanda placement test and we are going to one of the more graphic genocide memorials! if you would like to know more about that topic, i can explain somethings in more detail through e-mail! Feel free to ask me about it!

Visitors would be great in about a year!

amahoro na nkunda (peace and love)


Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Muraho! (Hello)
i arrived in africa last thursday night! the moment i stepped off the airplane, i knew it was a beautiful place!

i stayed two nightsin a nunnery in Kigali...just long enough to get shots, take a tour of the Peace Corps (PC) office/ mansion! visit a genocide memorial and take care of other business!

on saturaday, we drove 2.5 hours away to the second largest city, Butare. the veiw was breathtakeing green hills and lushious crops growing everywhere... we arrived at the second nunnery where we will be living for 11ish weeks! everything is so green here and the sky is so blue, except the part of the day when it rains. the weather goes from being super hot and dry to freezing cold and wet..all whitin one day!

so far i have been learning kinyarwanda about 5 hours a day...which entails sitting outside in cute little huts being lectured by a trained rwandan, going out in the community and practicing/ being laughed at and called umunzungu (white person), sitting a dinner learning fun words, and studying at night before i go to bed! also we have technical training, which describes what type of work we will be doing. after class a 5pm we either go play sports or run/walk...the altitude is so high that its sometimes hard to breathe!

this job definately is not an easy task! some days i want to go home, but then realize that as soon as i got there i would want to be back here!

the Phone network here is going through some changes so i am unable to call people on my phone, but i can revieve calls. im trying to get my parents to set up skype b/c its only .19 cents a minute versus 2.50 a min for computer via phone.

i do not know what organization i will be working for or what part of the country i will be living , but should find that out in about 7ish weeks!

sorry for the typing errors, this is a french keyboard and time is limited! if you have any questions please ask because i probably left out some things.

Thanks for everything! much love!