Sunday, January 13, 2013

And this concludes Stephen and Mary @ Rwanda

Children of Rwanda
All good things must come to an end and our VSO adventures really were worth every minute of the preparation, the training and all the hard work. We have made friends for life both amongst colleagues abroad and volunteers in the UK and all over the world. 
VSO Rwanda Group January 2011
For anyone out there who is thinking of doing a VSO placement, I can only encourage you and hope that you have a time as rewarding as the two of us. Why not have a look at their website. Just click on the tab above.

I am a fan of the film "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", particularly for the words of wisdom imparted by the characters who are facing a totally different life from the ones they have left. Many of the quotes are equally fitting for VSO. Here are a few of them:-

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
“It’s also true that the person who wishes nothing, does nothing, has nothing.”

"He has a dream and he's determined to make it come true."

“Nothing happens unless first we dream.”

"All we know about the future is that it will be different. But perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So we must celebrate the changes."

“The only real failure is the failure to try.  And the only real success is to cope with disappointment

-“I have offered a vision of the future.” 

And my two favourites, particularly relating to VSO.........

"What do you see that I don't?"
The light, colours, the smiles, it teaches me something." 

It's like a wave; resist and you go under, ride it out and you arrive at the others side.

My final posts relate to our trip to East Africa one year after we returned from Rwanda. You can see them by clicking on the tabs or going to the pages from here.....

You will also find links to the Guyana Blog and NCERLEADERS as well as a few others who shared the experience with us.

There's a section on "Rwanda through our eyes" with photographs of daily lives from the roadside. It helps to visualise what Rwanda is like.

And so I leave you with the following........

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." ~ St. Augustine
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." ~ Mark Twain
"A journey of a thousand miles starts in front of your feet." ~ Lao-tzu
"Two roads diverged in a woods, and I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference." ~ Robert Frost
And finally my favourite .........
"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

Cheers from Rwanda
Murakoze, Rwanda

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Friends for life

Get together with Returned Volunteers

One thing about doing VSO is it certainly expands your circle of friends and provides you with even greater opportunities for travel. Here is just a glimpse of who we have seen since we returned.....

Cheryl, Ann, Meg and Sanny in Dublin
Joan at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Guyana Volunteers in Betwys y Coed
Rwanda Volunteers in Sol e Luna
David and Sarah in St Fagans Museum, Cardiff
Cam in her Nzige Garden
She came to see us in London and Kent

David and Sarah in Crystal Palace

Back in the Saddle

Peter (HT) and Maurice (DHT)
This is a strange experience for me because it has taken me many months to put pen to paper since we returned from Rwanda. It's been a hectic time with lots of people to see and visit as well as moving house. All of that has got in the way. But firmly established in Kent and at last organised, I finally feel the urge to finish what I started. Well, fingers to keyboard. Fast broadband helps although it never deterred me in Rwanda with our trusty dongle.

I'm going to start where I left off with some details about our remaining few days before we had to return home in such a hurry. After all this time, Rwanda has not left our hearts and will forever remain there. In fact, we have just booked our flights to return soon (under our own steam this time) and hope to be there for a short while, saying a proper farewell which we didn't get the chance to do last October. We're then off to visit a few neighbouring countries which evaded us at the end. Flights are booked and the final post for this blog will be our adventures when we return.

Rose and her daughter
Cam, Olivier and Mary
So, less of the chitchat and on to the real stuff starting with what happened on our last day in Rwanda. We had to pack up very quickly. It's amazing how you accumulate things in less than a year. The house had to be empty except for the furniture we had when we arrived and the things we were going to leave for the next volunteer (if there was to be one). Our friend Camilla took a lot of things using two motos to get it back to her place. Some went to Rose (she helped around the house) and neighbours and the rest we gave away.

When we had booked our flights on the Saturday, we were visited by the District Education Officer Olivier Umutangana who we had worked with all the time we were there. He made us feel really good in the way he showed appreciation for the work we had done.

Saying goodbye is never easy but

Akiko our Japanese Neighbour
Stephen and DEO Olivier
Outside the House
Our Guard and the Landlord's Mother
On the final day we went to HVP Gatagara School to say farewell to friends and then we were taken to the airport by Peter (Headteacher of Gatagara) and the rest is history.

Emmanuel and Eric in the front row
Peter ready to take us
But not quite so because there was a surprise in store. Peter told us that Olivier had something for us but he had no idea when we would get it. Just before we left for the airport, he got the call and he drove us to a roadside spot in the centre of Rwamagana where we met Olivier and he presented us with certificates and traditional Rwanda baskets. A great surprise but nothing is ever simple in Rwamagana!

Presenting Certificates by the Roadside

  So Farewell to VSO Rwanda !!!

Voluntary Service Overseas
in Kinyarwanda outside
VSO Office