2018: Days 3-4

Hello from Nyange! Days 3 & 4

On Saturday we participated in Umuganda day (a nationwide day of community service held in every district every last Saturday of the month) at a school building site in the capital of Kigali. The EWB group packed onto the bus with the Food and Agribusiness Institute, the other Santa Clara Group that is in Rwanda at the same time as us. Together, our groups headed a short 10 minutes down the road to a school where hundreds of people had already begun swinging hoes and pick axes. We arrived as a huge group of 20 plus Muzungu’s (Kinyarwanda word for foreigner). We were greeted by curious faces, wondering why we were there and where we were from. We all split up and helped dig holes one square meter wide by half a meter deep for the foundation footings for a new three story secondary school. After 2 hours of switching in and out and trading places and stories, we heard an address by the Minister of Defense (President Kagame’s right hand man) who referred to our group’s participation. He told us that the army would be brought in to finish the school within the next 6 months and that President Kagame would provide five million Rwanda francs to build the school ($5700).

At the close of the ceremony there was much cheering, dancing and blaring music. We finished earlier than expected at 10:30 am and headed back to Centre Christus to reflect on the unique experience of Umaganda and rest our muscles. During our reflection and snack break we were joined by the Centre’s resident monkey (aptly named the Immaculate Monkey) who ate a banana alongside us. After a brief break, we continued troubleshooting the electrical system and developing interview questions.

After lunch, the solar panel and electrical connections were modified to add a power/current read out, and we were able to test the charging using the solar panel for the first time. We also added the finishing touches to the manual. Much editing and adding of new pictures of the system and wiring connections was worthwhile as we were able to improve the conciseness and clarity of the manual. So, with computer in hand and spirits high, we set out to the market and a print shop. The first print shop we ventured into didn’t have color printing, and the second one had some cartridge issues but at long last, thanks to Lauren and Isabella’s hard work, we were able to print a new manual and be on our way to the open air market just down the road.

Once at the market, we split up, as some bee lined for the fabric and tailor’s, while others made way to the craft and basket sections. Since the sun had set, the fluorescent lights hung beneath the high corrugated tin roof made the market seem even more expansive and enticing. Some ordered bomber jackets and others bought trinkets and baskets. We left the market with a shopper’s high and empty stomachs, more than ready to dive into the Italian fare offered at Sole Luna, an upscale restaurant with an amazing view of the convention center and city lights. We shared an array of family style pizzas and reflected more on our day and the work to come.

On Sunday morning we had a nice breakfast with FAI, packed up all of our stuff, and loaded it onto the green machine - Pastor John R’s famous land rover that the team has used during every previous trip. Loading up our immense amount of gear and project equipment took a long time but Sydney’s Tetris skills were on display as she managed to arrange all our bags and boxes while providing a flat surface to lay the solar panel. We were joined by Amani and Kiki, our beloved interpreters who are with us in the community, as we left Centre Christus towards the community.

After a quick lunch on the side of the road outside of Muhanga, we finished our two hour road trip and were greeted by the cooperative members. Upon arrival, a large amount of community members came out to greet us as well. We took some time to admire all of the new additions to the cooperative including their fully developed work building and kiln for firing the clay tiles. This was followed by a productive introductory meeting with the heads of the community where we learned about their progress and their current goals. After a prayer, we dropped off the solar panel for the cart and headed for a walk down the trail that the cooperative uses to transport the clay to survey the place we’d be testing the cart. The gorgeous views and smiling children made this first stop in the community fun and fruitful. We then loaded back into the green machine for Don Bosco, a French Order of priests in Muhunga, a small city located forty minutes outside of the community and our home for the next week. We took all of the gear off of the green machine and sent John R off with a safe drive back to Kigali. After dropping our stuff off in our rooms, we jumped right into assembling parts of the cart and establishing a gameplan for interview questions with the co-op members. We then had a family dinner with the other Don Bosco residents, had fun doing group dishes, and got right back to work late into the night - fully preparing ourselves and the project for implementation in the community the next morning.

Until next time,

The EWB team!