Sunday, August 7, 2011

Just a few bits and pieces

Comment - to the person who made the anonymous comment about the yellow snake, I am sorry that you did not understand my humour. It was about Jerrycans and how important they are to Rwandan life and to our lives whilst we were there. In order not to cause any more misunderstandings and indeed offense if any was taken, I have adjusted the article to make it more straightforward.

Starting early
In recent months, a spectacular red brick wall has sprung up as you enter Rwamagana on the left. It’s at least 100m long and 2m high. We’ve watched the whole process from beginning to end. The final stage was tidying up the pointing. Like many jobs, including mixing the mortar and, in fact anything, a job for women. There were six of them meticulously cleaning up the straight lines of the wall with trowels. Four had babies strapped to their backs, one looked as though she would give birth at any moment and the sixth was child free or so I thought. Her little tot, no more than 18” high and a babe who should be in arms was sporting a trowel, copying Mama, learning his trade. They start early here in Rwanda!
The interminable, metaphorical yellow snake
Collecting the daily water
Well, it’s not a snake at all really. It's a row of Yellow Jerrycans - sometimes as many as 20 or thirty of them when people are collecting their daily water. The row keeps moving, six inches at as time and gets longer and longer at the back and shorter and shorter at the front. They can be seen in many places in Rwanda, as people queue for water and chat as they wait. They come in all sizes and little kids look after the little ones. Some carry them on the back of bicycles and others can sometimes be seen on the heads of women.
They are essential to the survival of the nation They are probably one of every family’s greatest possessions. They transport the water from every available standpipe, well, river and water hole and lubricate the nation, keep them alive and smiling as well as healthy. It’s the humble “ijerrycani” as they are known here.. Everyone lines them up and moves them forward until it’s their turn to fill. Veritable “Eau de Vie!!!!”

When is a banana not a banana?
When it’s a stopper for a Jerry Can? Which came first the banana or the hole in the Jerry Can? Did bananas evolve to their unusually small size to be a water bung? Who was the first person to use one as a bung? What happened to all the little red caps? Unanswerable questions but nevertheless a normal part of Rwanda life?

When is a bed not a bed?
In our house when it’s used to store rice sacks, pens, rulers, markers, card, motor cycle helmets, shopping bags, jigsaw and board, worksheets, paper, flipcharts. Where does it all go when someone comes to stay? The bed's in the kitchen and there's nowhere else to store all the things we need to do our work in schools.

Where will the guests sleep?
The Humble Elastic Band
Perhaps the most useful accessory in our household and especially in the kitchen is the elastic band. It’s versatile, it’s cheap, it’s recyclable, it comes in various sizes and most of all it stops disease.

There are few things that don’t need wrapping up, tying up, protecting that cannot benefit from an elastic band. Imagine the earwigs in your cupboard, the cockroaches on your floor and the occasional gecko. They can wreak havoc with your flour, your oats, your herbs and all the other stuff that by rights should be in your fridge but when you don’t have one, the elastic band creates an impenetrable seal well away from the reach of these critters.

They are good for hanging curtains, securing candles in bottles as well as the usual uses associated with offices. The best 150 RWF we ever spent.
And that brings me to my favourite quotation about travel..........

"Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad of new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way."
Ralph Crawshaw
Watch this space for more interesting facts about
our life in Rwanda.

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