Muraho (or hello in English). I am currently in Kigali, in the Havugimana Israel guest Centre. This is where my placement officially starts and the adventure really begins. It honestly feels like weeks since I first stepped out of that plane and into Kigali. I remember the rush of heat and the darkness of the night. I especially remember the odd mixture of excitement and fear knotting up in my stomach. I had made it, after being on a plane for the first time. The lack of sleep and comfort outweighed by the excitement of being in a completely new atmosphere. It feels like a month since that night but in reality it has only been five days. I suppose that is what its like, getting used to a new culture and easing yourself in slowly.
My first impression of Kigali was that it was much bigger than I expected it to be. The beauty of it hit me in the morning when I walked out of the Moucecore guest house and was struck by the most amazing view. Many buildings seemed to slant in the most organised way, the colours were all so rich and the sun already hot in the azure sky. I felt so blessed to be in such a beautiful place. From Monday (when our plane arrived) we had in country orientation with all the other teams which would be spread throughout Rwanda. It was wonderful, we were well informed about the culture, met our in country volunteers and even had language lessons from them too. They were so much fun, I thoroughly enjoyed embarrassing myself and over-pronouncing the words! It was so useful to get at least a basic grasp of the language. We also learned about the do’s and don’ts of both Rwandan and our own culture. For example in Rwanda you greet everyone whereas in the UK you barely look people in the eye when passing them in the street!
On Wednesday we went to one of the genocide memorials in Kigali. It was probably one of the most humbling experiences in my life. I think you would need to go there yourself to understand that. All I can say is that I understand why people here don’t like to talk about it. The next day after some more orientation about the signs of culture shock we went out in Kigali with our team to learn more Kinyarwanda (the language here). It was such a blessed time, where we as a team really started to gel. I learned so much about my in country team members and even had an ice cream which cost….get ready for this…70p! I love ice cream here.
All too soon Friday was upon us and all the teams departed to their placements. It was a sad time but I felt I was ready to start our own placement. It took about 20 minutes in the car to get to Havugimana Israel guest Centre. We are staying in such a beautiful place, we have a kitchen area, a living room and the most lovely bedrooms. I even have an en suite bathroom. It probably sounds like I am living the life of luxury and I feel like I am but I know its only a matter of time until the hard work starts and I get to do what I’ve come here for. Saturday was spent with our team, getting to know each other and generally laughing a lot! We played games like Jenga and snap (well I watched) which seemed to be a favorite among In Country Volunteers. We had devotion in the evening which was lovely, I enjoyed reading the bible, praying and praising God with my team.
Today has been a little harder. I woke up feeling ill and emotional. In fact I cried quite a lot. But thankfully I had dioralyte (Sorry too much information), the support of my fellow team members and God. Its much later now and I feel fine, I am looking forward to going out into Kigali later with my team and further enjoying every minute of this placement, even the hard times.
Murakose (thank you) and God bless!