Sunday, June 21, 2009

To Buj!

I’m back in Kigali for the night. After an expensive weekend in the
city last week, of course I decided to spend more money and head off
to Bujumbura, the capital of neighbouring Burundi. It’s just a
weekend trip, but I’m going with a couple of other volunteers and it
should be fun! Plus, it’s another country to explore! If I spend a
year living in Rwanda without visiting each of the countries it
borders, I’ll feel like I wasted an opportunity. Let’s hope the next
post is filled with delightful stories of a wonderful trip, not woeful
ones of getting robbed again.

This last week I was invited to take part in a football match with the
other teachers. (Remember all you North Americans, football is what
the rest of the world calls soccer.) Since I understood it to be just
a friendly match between the teachers and the students, I of course
refused. I also refused the next day, and the next. However when the
day of the match arrived, somehow I had agreed to play and was frog
marched down to the pitch. The start of the game was delayed for some
time due to the fact that the other team had not arrived, which
confused me, until I realized that we not playing students, we were
playing staff from the local hospital. For those who may not be
aware, my athletic talents are marginal, and limited to badminton,
ping-pong, croquet and lying to strangers about being a hockey player.
I was due to play in the second half, and as I watched the start of
the game, I realized that when the teachers said they “weren’t any
good either”, they obviously meant that they would not have been able
to beat Manchester United. Liverpool maybe, but not Man U.
Fortunately, the players decided they didn’t really want to switch off
at halftime, so to the disappointment of the other substitutes and to
my relief, they continued to play, leading to a 2-0 win for Rusumo
High School over Partners in Health/Kirehe Hospital.

Just to underscore how different life is here from back home, remember
that my high school has no electricity, and now that the rainy season
is over, no water. This doesn’t mean that we have no running water
(ha, obviously) but that we actually have no water. The school was
built on top of a hill with no source of fresh water besides the rain.
For the first year of operation there was a large pump down in the
valley that sent water uphill to the school, but sometime in the
second year (2001) it broke. Since then, the school has used a large
tanker truck to cart water up from the valley a couple times a week,
but this year, like our generator, it too broke. The only remaining
vehicle at the school is a tiny pickup that has to make quite a few
trips a day into the valley in order to supply the school with enough
water for drinking, washing and cooking. On Tuesday, the pickup broke
down. I did not realize this until lunch was effectively cancelled
because there was no water with which to cook the rice and beans. The
students were finally able to eat around 5:00 (almost 12 hours after
they had breakfast) when another truck showed up with a couple tanks
of water. I am continually amazed how things like this are allowed to
happen, by school administration (who despite being deeply in debt and
stuck with broken equipment and a poorly supplied library and
laboratory are having hand-made wooden furniture crafted for the
headmaster’s office), by the District (who also recently sent us
hundreds of Senior 1 biology, chemistry and physics text books – in
French!) and by the Ministry of Education (I shouldn’t share my true
feelings about the Ministry online for fear of being deported, but it
has something to do with being able to find its own ass with both
hands). Anyway, the water situation has stabilized, at least until
the new truck breaks down.

Hmm, I wonder; this post just might be seditious enough for me to
actually be deported…

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