I am not sure how many ‘parts’ will be in my Africa series. As I write more and more, I keep thinking of more things to document. I have never made a trip like this in my life and may never again and I never want to forget it. I really should’ve kept a journal over there! This will have to do for now.
Once we were complete with the bridge, we had a BBQ for our team and the community bridge committee, who did a TON of work and without them, we would have never gotten as far as we did.
Where I come from – a BBQ usually consists of meat cooked on the grill or smoked, maybe a few side dishes and some drinks. In Rwanda it was very similar, except our meat was fresh. Very fresh. As in, killed that morning fresh. All it took was a few Rwandan Franks and a walk down the path to the next farmer over and we had a hand-picked pig and a goat, ready for consumption.
Might I suggest goat brochette and fried potatoes? It actually was pretty good. I’ve had goat before when I worked in South Texas, but never like this. I ate a couple of kabobs and they were quite tasty. It was nice to have some meat after going several days without. Also – they fried the potatoes in sunflower oil and then tossed them with salt and red onions at the end. The cooks made them this way for us at several meals and it was really good.
We sang and danced and celebrated with our teams in the afternoon rain and had a great time.
The next day we were up later than usual, 6:30 am, and prepped for our opening ceremony with all of the community members. A few of us fixed our hair and put on a dab of makeup for this fun event! We all had purchased custom hand made skirts from a local business woman and planned on wearing them to the opening ceremony to honor traditional African women, in our own way.
The amount of community members who came to the opening ceremony was amazing. They were so excited to see the project completed! This made me really happy, knowing that the community members were actually going to utilize this bridge.
The people in this off-the-grid region of South East Rwanda were so kind and happy and welcoming. I am going to be blunt there – they were so poor. I had never seen poverty like this in my life, but I don’t think they even realized it. People wore rags, most didn’t have shoes, the kids had very few toys and most were ones they made out of trash, the houses had dirt floors and electricity was sparse. It was eye-opening and very humbling for me to see life like this and to also see people living this way who were so happy and free. It is still difficult to process.
Living and working with another culture has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It was challenging, humbling, difficult, fun and sad all at the same time. I would recommend it to anyone.
Until next time, Rukarakara.