Mukore, Mukore (work, work)

Gashora Travel Blog

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Finally finished our first full week of work and boy are we all exhausted! The sun and heat have caused some delays and minor illness/burns but we are very happy to have the weekend off.  The COVAGA building we are constructing consists of 4 small buildings that will each serve a different purpose: a boutique or shop, a restaurant, a weaving building and an undecided wing.  This week we are still doing site preparation on the west wing (our focus) as some of the materials have not arrived yet (typical Africa), but there is still lots for us to do.  I have been digging a 30 metre long, 1 metre deep trench for electrical cable between the 4 wings of the building with several other volunteers and women in the community.  The electrical trench was completed last Thursday and Friday we starting digging another trench for a water pipe between the building and the community tap.  We are mixing all our own cement and hand making the bricks one by one (with one machine) so both of these jobs get done every day. We constructed steel columns of rebar for 8 columns that will support the building and we are using cement and stone around them.  I usually spent the morning hoeing and shoveling mass amounts of dirt, the majority of which usually ends up in my shoes and hair.  We also uncovered two old toilets (square cement squat holes), one for men, one for women that we excavated and think are from the 80s or 90s. 

On Friday night we headed back to Kigali for a weekend of exploring, relaxing and visiting the genocide museum.  Got 3 crates of Primus beer and Indatwa (banana beer, 15% and only 60 cents a bottle!) Saturday I went to the museum with 15 other volunteers and some of the Green Helmets students joined us as well.  Took a moto (dirtbike/motobike taxi) for the first time which was terrifying, but pretty fun actually.  They go very fast through traffic, weaving in and out of cars and sometimes oncoming traffic.  Also took a public bus for the first time which is actually just a 12 seater van that usually has at least 19 people inside.  The bus is cheaper than a moto but only leaves when it is full so they can be a bit unpredictable.  We arrived at the genocide museum, Gysoze Memorial Center in Kigali, which has a beautiful building and grounds.  They have done a great job representing many of the horrific events that happened such as the before, during and aftermath, foreign press, heroes, survivors, children, genocides around the world and prevention.  There is plenty of writing, videos, photographs, sculptures, bones and clothing of victims, child biographies as well as memorial rose gardens outside and the mass graves which contain about 258,000 victims.  It was very informative and well layed out.  It is still incredibly difficult to understand or fathom the breadth of over one million people being slaughtered in three months.  After we had time to hang out with the Green Helmet students and talk about their experience and memories of the genocide.  Most of them were just children, but some remember countless bloodshed and neverending fear. 

After, we met up with the rest of the group and went for dinner at La Republique, a very expensive, muzungu restaurant in the rich part of town.  The houses are bigger than most in West Vancouver and it is the area of town where the prime minister and president both live, and our waiter told us that the poorest people that live in this area have just 2-3 cars usually. So ridiculous.  Dinner took 4 hours (everything in Africa takes longer) and then afterwards most people went out dancing at a nightclub called Cadillac but I have had a bad cough and have been pretty low energy for a last couple days so I went back to the hotel.  We crammed 21 sweaty people into a 15 person van and barely made it up the driveway of the restaurant on the second try, where the driver backed up as far as possible and took a running start at it.  Climbed into bed and watched some Nollywood (Nigerian Bollywood), that is just as bad as it sounds, and slept.  

Went to a muzungu craft market on Sunday that had everything imaginable where I finally got some of the things I had been waiting a couple weeks for such as new sandals (the duct tape finally stopped working) and a day bag.  We returned to Gashora on Sunday night, celebrated some birthdays yesterday at our favorite bar, Bar de la Reference, with Primus and banana beer and had another fun night. 

The third Satuday of every month is Umuganda in Rwanda; it is a day where from 8am-12, everyone in Rwanda participates in a country wide clean up.  All business shut down and eveyone basically pitches in to clean up their community.  There is already minimal garbage here (much less than Vancouver!!) It is such a great idea and it has been such a success.  It is just one small (but great!) step for the continent of Africa!Everyday we are driving around in the bus, in town or in the country, I am astounded at how different Rwanda is than I expected.  The city is huge, with lots of development ongoing and the countryside seems to stretch forever.  The view from our front steps at the hotel is more than a 180 degree span of epic African landscape.  It literally looks like the opening scene of the Lion King when the sun is setting every night.  Everyday I appreciate it, and my home Canada, so much more; I am incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to live in Canada and travel Africa like I am!

Another long week of work is here; I stayed at home this morning to rest up and get better for the gorilla trek this weekend, but am meeting up with everyone now for lunch and then work in the afternoon.  We will drive back to Kigali for Friday night, go to the gorillas on Satuday where there is an all day naming ceremony (so cool!!) and then Sunday a small group of us will do the trek to visit them in the Virungas National Park.  What a great week coming up! No complaints here, I am happy as a clam :) plus, I have a sweet sock/farmer tan from work, which is mostly a perma-layer of dirt on my legs and feet.  I'll update again next week after the gorillas, love you all!

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