Monday, November 22, 2010

Guess Who?

Well, I guess it's not too difficult to tell but this is quite a challenging experience for us. We will not be required to drive motor bikes ourselves but will have to be pillion passengers on Moto Taxis which will be the main means of getting us to and from the schools. I think it might be hard on the body but other volunteers tell us that we will be distracted by the beautiful views.

After this picture was taken I decided that my helmet was too tight - the puffy red face and the asphyxiation might be a clue so it had to go back and I'm still waiting for the replacement.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Raising Money

For the last few days we've been going through all our possessions to see what is surplus to requirements so that packing will be made easier once we start after Christmas. We're ahead of ourselves this time because we're not working but all the same we never seem to have much time. Before we went to Guyana we gave half a room full to charity shops and did the same when we unpacked when we came back. Doing VSO makes you realise how much stuff you have that you don't really need, hence the clear out.

Counting the profits

This morning we went to Addington for 7-15am and spent until 1pm selling our stuff. Now we know that one man's rubbish is another's treasure but this was not great treasure, I must tell you!. Finally parted with my Spanish dictionary from 40 years ago in college. Haven't opened it in all that time. The woman who bought it said she thought language might have changed in that time but she still insisted it was worth 20p despite its age. I wanted her to have it free but she wasn't having any of it. So that's a profit of 6d on the 3s/6d I paid for it (2 1/2p in today's currency). Can't be bad.

Anyway, I ramble, we made a massive £90 for the VSO pot and all the rest went to the Charity Shop!!!

Finally given Flight Details

Yes, today was a red letter day as we received our flight details for 15th January 2011. We fly by Brussels Airlines from Heathrow via Brussells to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. That'll be a Saturday, so hopefully we will have Sunday to relax before the In-Country Training all starts and the big adventure begins!!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fundraising Party

Well, nothing is ever free and, as always, we've been asked to raise some funds to go towards our placement. We've decided to hold a party on Sunday 28th November 2010. We know we will need to give you an incentive to come and hopefully to dig deep into your pockets, so we have a sort of theme. No! Not fancy dress or anything like that; just an afternoon tea followed by a glass of wine and a wine quiz in the evening. It'll be open house from 3pm and here's the incentive ............

In return for a donation to "The Cause" (no matter how small) we will give you a raffle ticket to be drawn later in the evening with the single prize being ..........

(or somewhere of your choice)
(or for the children a meal for 4 at a Pizza place)

Later we will have a wine quiz, perhaps with the odd tasting with a prize of......

Wine for the Winner

We will be sending out invitations shortly!

Just a little bit about Rwanda

Our placements will be in Rawamagana in the Eastern Province of Rwanda which is a republic in the Central and Eastern part of Africa. It borders Uganda to the North, Tanzania to the East, Burundi to the South and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West. It is a land-locked country with many lakes and is known as the the Land of a Thousand Hills (Mille Collines). It has a temperate climate because of its altitude with gently rolling hills, plains and swamps in the east. It is about the size of Wales and has a population just short of ten million.

Rwanda's population density, even after the 1994 genocide, is among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa (230 per sq. km.--590 per sq. mi.). Nearly every family in this country with few villages lives in a self-contained compound on a hillside. The urban concentrations are grouped around administrative centres. The indigenous population consists of three ethnic groups. The Hutus, who comprise the majority of the population (85%), are farmers of Bantu origin. The Tutsis (14%) are a pastoral people who arrived in the area in the 15th century. Until 1959, they formed the dominant caste under a feudal system based on cattleholding. The Twa (1%) are thought to be the remnants of the earliest settlers of the region.

Rwamagana lies approximately 50 km (31 miles) from Kigali, the capital on the newly renovated road leading east towards Tanzania and has a population of around 50,000. There was formerly a large amount of traffic running through the centre, particularly freight to and from Tanzania but with the recent creation of a bypass, the centre of the city is now quieter. The city lies mainly along two roads, the main east-west route, and a spur leading off to the south.

It is perhaps famous for both its volcanoes and, of course, its gorillas. The capital city is Kigali, about 90 minutes by road from where we will be staying. The official languages are French and Kinyarwanda and English has recently been introduced into the schools as the language of instruction. The territory was assigned to Germany in 1884 and after the First World War war allocated to Belgium as a League of Nations mandate; hence the French. Although it has never been a British Colony, earlier this year the country joined the Commonwealth. Mary and I were at the Commonwealth Day Celebrations at Marlborough House in March and very briefly shook hands with the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. Click Here and Here to see photographs of the occasion and the President.

This is just a brief overview but you can find out more from the following sites. Just click on the links.

Friday, November 5, 2010

2010 Oppenheimer Lecture, Rwandan President Paul Kagame

You may be interested in this article by the Rwandan President.....

"Delivering the 2010 Oppenheimer Lecture, Rwandan President Paul Kagame tackled head-on the issues of Africa, leadership, genocide and nation building."

The process of nation-building can only be internally generated and led; it cannot be achieved from the outside, however well meaning."

"From independence in 1962 up to 1994, Rwandan governments based their legitimacy on a fundamentally flawed premise of exclusion."

"African governments should eventually aim to wean ourselves off aid as an important component of our development effort. Rather, aid should be used to create conditions which will make it possible for us to live beyond it, because aid should not be an end in itself, nor is it a substitute for business, innovation and hard work. Aid that does not defeat poverty creates perpetual dependency, which in turn deprives Africans of dignity and self-esteem.
In conclusion, let me say that nation-building is like building a house. You start with the foundation before you build the structure. The foundation comprises security, peace, and stability. But let me also reiterate that, while acknowledging the value of external support and partnership, nation-building cannot be dictated from outside. It should reflect and be informed by the history and particular circumstances of a country.
And so, a nation that cannot find home-grown and innovative solutions from within itself to the numerous challenges of survival and growth is doomed to failure, no matter how much support it gets from external sources. It is with this in mind that Rwandans have sought to solve the numerous challenges we have met by drawing from our history, culture, and experience, as well as drawing support from others."

To see the whole article, click here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

We've accepted!

After having had the placement finalised, we have now accepted and are starting the countdown to our departure. They tell us that the earliest date will be 15th January 2011 but that has not yet been finalised. That's less than three months and there's an awful lot to do. We have been discussing the letting of the house with an estate agent today and there are so many other things to think about. We've been working hard to improve our French through an excellent online course and soon we will have to learn some Kinyarwanda, the local language. That's also online.

So, keep an eye on this site to see how we're doing.

Rwanda on YouTube

Why not check out some of these YouTube links.....

Or just go to YouTube and check out all the other
VSO Rwanda Videos