Sunday, March 27, 2011

I never thought I would be cold in Africa but what an inspiration

Rugezi Wetlands
Firstly, just to let you know that twice we’ve sought out swimming pools in hotels and twice it’s been too cold or too wet to swim. And this is Africa!

But, that’s an aside. For the second time we went to visit Joan, in the North, just south of the volcanoes. We stay in a guest house where hot water is delivered outside of your room in the morning, the food is great and the owner respects the work of volunteers and gives us a big discount.

We had planned to go to some wetland about half an hour’s drive away by 4 X 4 but the low cloud obscured everything more than a metre away. However, when the mist finally lifted, we went anyway, passing the tea plantations with the pickers selecting the leaves from the top just for our own Rwanda tea. Incidentally, this tea is one of the main ingredients of Yorkshire Tea. So, they don’t grow it in Yorkshire then!

Magnifying the Lake
After a short but bumpy ride, we ended up in a most beautiful spot, surrounded by hills, all of which were cultivated with a lake and wetlands ahead of us. We were immediately attracted the local children and for the first time encountered real poverty. They were cold, grubby, looked hungry and were wearing insufficient clothes for the inclement conditions but they were fascinated by our presence and, although they appeared to be a little shocked at first, they soon began to take a greater interest, looking at photographs of themselves on the digital cameras and seeing the lake grow in size through the binoculars.

Looking through the church door

We sat in the church for ages which had at least 100 holes in the roof and a mud floor. Over 180 people worshipped there every Sunday. After a ride in a huge canoe where we spied all manner of birds including Crested Crane, we were given as meal in the church prepared by the local women using the most basic of facilities. The whole day was really humbling and inspiring at the same time.

Joan’s friend who took us, in conjunction with the owner of the Guest House, are planning an Eco–Centre on that spot with accommodation which will give the local community work and perhaps a market. Their current one is miles away. At least 100 children cannot attend school at the bottom of the hill because they have no shoes or uniform. Hopefully all this will change as they are given the chance to take charge of their own destiny.

What an inspiring day which I will never forget!

Plans for the Eco-Centre

Church Kitchen

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Hi, hope your enjoy reading about our adventures in Rwanda. We'd love to hear from you. Stephen and Mary