Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kigali yumugi, Agashya, and Kwishuri

In an effort to make this entry readable, I’ve choosing to break up the stories into categories. Kigali City, Adventure, and School.

Kigali City
Life in Kigali seems to change climates often, but is always a good time.
Recently, my friend Cady was talking with our friend who presents on Voice of Africa radio. The station would like to have more programs in English. Well, we speak English. So- now we have a radio show. Cady is the host, and I’m the co-host of The Melting Pot. One of our other friends came up with a great idea that our show should bring in foreign people that live in Kigali and interview them about how they see Rwanda. So far we’ve had four shows with the following guests: a former VSO volunteer from England, a friend who works for International Justice Mission from Washington DC, a german volunteer who works with people with disabilities and a teacher from the US, and two german volunteers who work with street children through Scripture Union(one who had previously done an internship with psychotherapy).
Even with just the few guests we’ve had, it has been interesting to learn more about people and organizations that are here in Rwanda. There is a web address where you can listen to the radio show, but I’m not exactly sure how it works.
When we return in August we hope to expand our listening audience, as well as gain sponsorship from local businesses.

I’ve mentioned before that some of my closest friends are in a band here in Rwanda. They are often asked by different authorities to perform at certain functions. We traveled to Butare with them for a public event for the youth against taking drugs that was put on by the national police. This past weekend at the small stadium there was another concert they performed at that is promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. Two of the specific campaigns are against ‘Sugar Mommies/Sugar Daddys’ and cross-generational sex. The majority of the crowd was secondary students brought in on buses to the stadium. There were several speeches given and even a short drama. Although we couldn’t understand most of what was presented in Kinyarwanda, we did leave home with bracelets that say sinigurisha which means ‘I don’t sell myself’.

A few weekends ago, my roommates and a few other friends traveled to Musanze (formerly Ruhengeri) to trek mountain gorillas. It is seriously a dream life that we had a Friday off from school and just went to the Virunga Mountains and hung out about 5 meters away from Silverback Mountain Gorillas that are only found in this small part of the world. I stayed an extra day and relaxed at a lodge that overlooks two beautiful lakes with islands and hills…I took some gorgeous pictures- but of course they just can’t do justice to what it looked like in real life…it was like a fairy tale or something…

I try to jot down quotes from my students as often as possible. A few weeks ago an amazingly profound discussion took place while the kids were writing friendly letters.
It went something like this:
S1- Yea, you can write to God but it’s not like you can send it to Him in the mail…
S2- You don’t have to send it in the mail. When you’re writing it’s like he can just read it.
S1- That’s true. But you can pray and it can be like sending it to Him and He can do a miracle.
S2- Yea, He can do a miracle. But sometimes He saves it. He can save it cause He knows when you really need it.

I was so impressed by the depth of their understanding. They know that the Lord hears our prayers; they trust that He listens to us. They believe that God is able to do a miracle because of prayer! But—even more than that…S2 says that God sometimes does not give us the miracle-- even though He is able. And He knows when we will really need a miracle! I was so touched by their faith in that discussion.

One of the great things about teaching where I do is that the opportunities for guest speakers and field trips are unique to this place.
At the beginning of the year as we were studying plants, we had 2 people who work with coffee farmers in the villages come and teach us about how plants grow, the importance of the soil, and the importance of keeping the plants healthy.
Later, during our unit on rocks and minerals, a father from South Africa who is here with a mining company was able to bring in labeled rock samples and teach us about the rocks and minerals found in Rwanda that could potentially offer jobs to thousands of people.
While studying how we use the Earth’s resources, our class took a trip about 4 minutes down the road to Living Water International, which is a company that provides clean water (and evangelism) all over the world by digging wells where people don’t have access to water.
We also went to one of the well sites and let all the kindergarten and first grade students try pumping the well. Just recently, we learned about writing friendly letters and it was also just after Earth Day when we went to Cards From Africa. (I think I wrote about this place in a very early blog entry.) Our students got to see how paper is made from scraps collected in town (recycling! and they LOVED touching the pulp!) and beautifully designed paper cards being made by orphans who take care of younger siblings.
As I look back on some of these experiences, I can’t help but be enamored by the richness of these learning opportunities.