Jem Warner: Final Report from Rwanda

After finishing at the Excel school, I then started working at the Rwamagana Protestant school, a secondary school. Here I taught Maths to slightly older students, whose English was very good.

Once again, they were all so eager to learn and showed great interest. Children who go to school in Rwanda seem to be so grateful they have a chance at education and seem to have such a brilliant time when they are there. When I turned up at the school, all the children in the school welcomed me with a traditional Rwandan song. It was a lovely way to start.

The children all listen eagerly and furiously raise their hands when they have an answer to a question. I really enjoyed getting to know the children and helping them along with their studies. I found I got a lot out of the Excel School as the level of the children’s English was far higher than the previous orphanage. I found I really engaged with these children and I saw their English slowly improving while I was there, which was very rewarding.

I lived in an interesting house in Rwamagana with a very friendly Ugandan guy called Sam. He was also a teacher at the Excel Bilingual school. He was a great housemate who introduced me to various aspects of the local Rwandan cuisine. We shared a great appreciation for the local ‘chapati’ bread which we regularly devoured after a long day teaching. He had a great sense of humour and such energy for teaching.  Additionally, he introduced me to the local yoghurt called ‘Ikivuguto’, a sort of fermented milk which sounds quite disgusting but really grew on me! He always laughed at my pronunciation of this drink, I’m afraid.

I also continued to enjoy my involvement with the Rwandan Cricket team. Although the facilities were not particularly good, I really struck up a rapport with the local cricketers. In particular, ‘Tall Eric’, (different to ‘Big Eric’, the captain) provided a real challenge to play against. He’s a very talented cricketer and I look forward to seeing him progress in his cricketing career. The team was so full of talent and energy and with the right coaching and facilities I can see them being a real force in the African Cricket leagues.

After I’d finished living in the volunteer house in Rwamagana, I and two others started a 90 mile charity walk to raise money for the Amakuru Trust, which run various projects in Rwanda to help victims of the genocide.  I think I slightly underestimated the challenge here, thinking this charity walk would be quite literally a walk in the park. I got that one rather wrong!

The first day was incredible, as we walked alongside around a hundred other Rwandans from the town of Kabarondo. The trip itself lasted six days, and each day we stopped off at towns in Eastern Rwanda.  It was so lovely to chat to the other Rwandans on the journey, and provided me with a long stretch of time to have a talk about their experiences of life in Rwanda and how they envisaged their country improving.

On some days, the walking was actually quite gruelling, but we were kept going by the beautiful surrounding countryside. We walked and walked and then walked some more, and by day seven we had finished at the Milles Collines. The Milles Collines hotel is famous for its role in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The manager of the hotel during this time provided shelter for many Tutsi Rwandans who were being hunted by the opposing Hutus. It has gone down in history for this, and we felt it was a poignant place to finish the walk. We celebrated the finish with a well deserved ‘Mutzig’ beer.

A special mention of course has to go to the Amakuru Trust for organising the project for me. Gisele, the Amakuru representative in Rwanda was incredibly helpful as well. She introduced me to many Rwandan people, traditions and of course night clubs in Rwanda (an important part of the city culture!).

And of course, a huge thank you to Hazel’s Footprints, which was  so generous in helping me raise funds to go out to Rwanda. I am so appreciative of their support.

 

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