Archive | July, 2012

I’ve Been All Over This Country Lately

16 Jul

I apologize for the GIGANTIC gap in blog posts. It’s partly been that wordpress gives me a hard time whenever I try to post a blog. Mostly though it’s because I’ve been here, there and everywhere. It started back in April when I was away from site every other weekend for one reason or another. Then I was in Kigali for a long weekend at the end of April to take care of business and to say goodbye to some volunteers who are on to bigger and better things. Due to rain and another Cyangugu goodbye party I was delayed at the regional house for a couple of days.

(May 6- 12)Four days (enough to do some laundry and bake some cat food) after I returned to site I was back to Kigali for a training of trainers to work at the newest group of trainees’ Pre Service Training (PST). We had an all Peace Corps Staff training Monday then headed to Kamonyi for some more work with just the PST staff Tuesday and Wednesday. It was a lot of fun going back to my first ‘home’ in Rwanda, spending time with the language teachers and training staff. The cook for PST is a former host mom for a person from my group and she’s GOOD! Needless to say I gained a couple pounds between the delicious food and abundance of milk tea. I had to keep a low profile because of our packed schedule I didn’t tell my host family that I was in Kamonyi and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings by not visiting them.

We finished up in Kamonyi Wednesday afternoon and headed back to Kigali where I had some down time before a committee meeting on Friday. Wednesday a group of us also had dinner with the incoming Country Director at an Ethiopian place I’ve wanted to try forever! Thursday the new trainees arrived so we all had to clear out of Peace Corps hostel for volunteers.

Friday was my third Volunteer Advisory Committee meeting since I joined the committee last November. We meet quarterly and serve as a conduit between volunteers and Peace Corps staff. Each of the 11 regions in Rwanda has a representative. This meeting was special because it was a joint meeting with the outgoing and incoming country directors. VAC something near and dear to our former CD, not to mention she started it in Rwanda, so it was a little bitter sweet. It’s customary at meetings to have an adult beverage in the afternoons after we’ve finished business and move on to more philosophical discussions. At this meeting we had champagne.

After the meeting some of us headed over to Peace Corps to greet the new trainees. Fun fact: two of them are also fellow Western Alumni, one of whom I knew at Western.

(May 26th – June 2nd) Two-ish weeks later I was off again, first to a regional meeting in Kamembe on Saturday, then to my week as a mentor at Health 4’s Pre Service training. It was the third week of their training and the honeymoon was starting to wane making it a bit of a funky week. Not to mention that the fearless leader for PST fell sick midweek affecting the morale of everyone. I attended a handful of the language classes and was blown away by what the overachievers were covering after only three weeks. Days at PST are long but I was still able to squeeze in some fantas and time to gutembera with the trainees. Hopefully I helped more than I scared them.

Saturday I visited the home of the Homestay Coordinator and was able to visit with her son who was a baby during my PST. After that I visited my host family and it was so awesome! My host sister I’m closest with was there along with a plethora of cousins. They don’t have a trainee this go ‘round, but my host brother and his wife do. The youngest grandbaby was there and I was blown away to see her walking, as she was just a wee one when I lived there. My heart swelled with such happiness to see her play with different family members. So often kids get lost in all the work that life in Rwanda requires and to see this exception was amazing. I am pretty terrible at keeping in touch but my host family doesn’t seem to mind too much. The time went by too quick, but I had to get going in order to make it to Kigali before dark (PC policy).

After so much traveling naturally I caught a cold which made traveling home, and the following week at site pretty miserable. Thankfully I got better just in time to head off to Mid Service and PEPFAR Conference in Kibuye (June 13th– June 19th). MSC was the first three days, and just us 13 volunteers. It was awesome! A handful of PCVs stepped up and planned pretty much the whole thing, seeking input from the group. There were of course the few mandated Peace Corps sessions, but mostly it was volunteer led sessions celebrating successes, discussing challenges, and hearing from a 3rd year PCV about what to expect in our second year of service.

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We went gangbusters Friday afternoon taking care of business which freed up Saturday. With said free times a group of us went on a boat ride to the island of fruit bats aka Napoleon Island because a visit to Kibuye is NOT complete unless you take a boat ride. We saw a lot of bats, went for a nice hike and generally enjoyed the afternoon.

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Saturday evening our Rwandan counterparts/coworkers started arriving for three days of PEPFAR aka a conference on HIV. Most of us had two coworkers so we were quite the group. We had guest speaker about the use of peer educators, the results of some HIV survey in Rwanda, small grant funding through Peace Corps, and even some time for action planning. It was…. mediocre.

Wednesday June 20th was a travel day so I headed into Kigali to do my mid service medical exam. Thursday morning I had my teeth cleaned at the dentist and had a medical check up. I had a mole on my upper leg that I was a little concerned about. The doc thought it would be good to remove it and send it off to DC to have it biopsied. Not too keen on the idea of getting a chunk of my skin removed and trying to keep stitches clean when there’s frequently dirt in my water source I asked if we could just watch it for a month.

A couple hours later I was able to wrap my head around being cut open and made an appointment to have it removed Friday morning before I headed to Kamembe for a regional meeting to plan GLOW camp. I received five stitches and was instructed to come back in 10 days to have them removed. I was less than thrilled since in the last 2.5 months I’d been to Kigali more times than the rest of my service combined.

I was back at site for a week, but it’s not like I wanted to get anything done, which is good because it was Army Week (blog post coming) and we were inundated with people coming to seek services.

Monday July 2nd was the observance of a Rwandan Holiday and the day I headed back to Kigali for follow-up with my stitches. I saw the doc Tuesday and he wanted to wait a couple more days so I enjoyed the week with to other PCVs. The hostel was pretty quiet. I made toddy, cold brew coffee and simple syrup since the hostel boasts TWO fridges and a stove in a nice kitchen. We also made some tasty dinners and hit up all our favorite places to eat. I also took some visiting PCVs from Uganda to the Kimironko market where I found 2 pairs of jeans, a dress, and a pair of gladiator-ish sandals for 18,000 RWF or about $30. It was an expensive week but well worth it. The results of the biopsy were supposed to take a month to a month and a half to come back but I found out that Friday that the mole removed was NOT cancerous. Hooray!

I’m just about over my ‘Kigali’ hangover as I like to call it. I’m broke and can’t seem to cook anything delicious or find contentment at my site.

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