Muraho! Whew, time is a whole new concept in this country! Every day feels like one week and every week a month. There's so much daylight and a wonderful docket of challenges and tasks to accomplish. Every time we go to a new place in RWA, I find myself thinking: "Wow! We could have spent the entire trip just at this one place, and it would have been as amazing." This trip is a powerhouse of best hits as Drew said.
Things we've done already:
12/31/15: Village visit where we met our young friend Elvis, Belgian Memorial, Kigali Genocide Memorial & Museum, Dinner and live music at the Hostel
1/1/16: Walk to village near hostel with Tolu and John
1/2: Gashora cooperative, Nyamata Church Killing and Memorial Site
1/3: Inema Arts Center, Dinner at Pastors house
1/4: Rehearsal, Gihembe Refugee camp, Dinner at Republik
At the main Kigali Genocide Museum, I learned more than I thought I would. It truly is a place where the idea of 'knowledge uniting' rings through loud and clear. We began the memorial with a brief 10 minute video prefacing the types of things we would see in the museum. In the video, 3 survivors of the genocide shared personal bits of their experiences during the dark times in 1994. Looking back, using the word 'brief', I only meant in terms of time. Emotionally, spiritually, mentally - this video was not brief. It was needed and helpful however, to provide some perspective and to prepare us for what was ahead. We were given lanyards with little handheld devices that could play a recorded guiding voice while working through each section of the museum, which was organized and numbered. I did not always use the device because there was soooo much to read and see, and also it died at the end. Thank you to Dan for letting me use yours when it was important though!! I learned so much about the Rwandan genocide, which I expected. However, I was so informed about all of the other genocides of the 20th century. The museum was only able to display as much information as they could fit in their building. That's alarming. It enlightened me though, that genocide has just always been going on in one part of the world or the other. It isn't new, but it's always shocking. One quote that I really resonated with while walking through: "Genocide is usually the act of a government and its collaborators to destroy a part of the population under its control."
The gardens and mass graves that are part of the museum were a perfect display of the dichotomy of Gahndi's quote once again. The gift shop was wonderful too, as they sold books that could offer you further enlightenment and I had great conversation with the worker there.
Inema Arts Center:
"I read to find out" - Patrick at Inema Arts Center
When the singing and drumming began and I realized that the children were dancing, I wanted to cry, I felt tears welling up. I held them back though, which I regret. They were happy tears of being overwhelmed with joy. I was experiencing catharsis on the other end of the spectrum compared to the way I've cried at Genocide Memorials. Watching them dance was a real gift. When they began approaching us to dance with them, my heart was so overjoyed! I had a blast. Timothy, a man who worked at Inema, approached me with my camera and phone asking me which one id prefer he take some pictures on. He took photos of the whole scene on his phone and I'm so grateful that he did!
A really sweet highlight for me: seeing a recently married couple with their wedding clothes on in one of the lovely circles we drove past.
Another highlight from today (Monday): I was able to meet one of my professors from Buffalo State whom I had never met before but took online classes with. What a better way to meet a professor!
I will prioritize to keep up with blogging more from here on out! My next post will include photos because I've always found that communication via photos is preferred for me.