A Day In The Life

2 Oct

After almost a year and a half at site, I’ve finally settled into somewhat of a daily routine and thought it was time to share it.


Wake up depending on how I slept and if I’m going to do some morning yoga I wake up between 5:30 and 6:30. Breakfast is first after exercise on the agenda, usually coffee and instant oatmeal with water out of a thermos I heated the night before. Nothing too fancy to the morning routine, a quick wash if needed, brush my teeth, get dressed, fill my water bottle and pack my bag for work (computer, planner, water, umbrella). I’m out the door by 7 am. Sometimes I walk to work with my friend, but a lot of the times he’s late.


Walking to work takes 20 minutes and I take the opportunity greet the students on their way to school in English and everyone else in Kinyarwanda.


Morning Meeting starts at 7:30 with a church song, then one of my coworkers prays, reads a Bible passage, and delivers a short lesson on the passage. Seldom do I understand the topics, but the songs are growing increasingly familiar. Another coworker prays and we move one to work. The head nurse, second in command, or accountant, whoever is the most senior person at work that day delivers announcements and assigns people to different areas of work. If someone has been to a training they take some time to explain the topic. Then everyone who is not a nurse leaves (including me) and whoever worked the night shift delivers the report from the night.


On good days the morning meeting is over in 30-45 minutes. Sometimes though there are a lot of announcements, or discussion and they can go on for an hour or more. Depending on the topic of discussion, I may leave the meeting early if I don’t have anything to contribute.


The Migration Folks like to take their sweet time getting down to the business of work, sometimes 30 minutes or more. They greet each other and talk about different things. Typically I’ll great whoever is around, then track down a set of keys to the office I work in so I can get started.


Work Most of the work at a health center takes place in the mornings. I make my way to my office in ARV greeting people on the way. Once there, I collect the rendezvous cards from whoever is there to get meds, pull their patient files, and return their cards. While people come and go I check my email/facebook and take care of any business I have online and on the computer while it charges. Things typically slow down, or finish up by 10:30 or 11 am. So then I’ll float around the health center visiting and chatting with my coworkers


People break for lunch from 12:30 – 1:30. Since I’m too lazy to make the 40 minute roundtrip I usually just hang out. Sometimes I bring food, or buy a little something something from the cantina. If I’m really hungry I’ll invite myself over to one of my coworkers’ house who lives near the health center for lunch.

Seldom is there anything for me to do at work in the afternoon so around 1:30 or 2, when I know the shopkeeper is back from his lunch break I’ll head into the village. First I greet my market mama and her older sister in English. Depending on how I’m feeling we might just go over basic greetings, but sometimes we chat for an hour or so. Then I go teach the shopkeeper and his friend English for an hour – hour and a half. Then I go visit my other market mama in her shop to greet her and to pick up anything I might need, and soon we’ll start working on English greetings as well.


Tuesdays I don’t typically do much teaching because they all have choir practice so it’s usually just quick greetings. Fridays it’s also just quick greetings because it’s market day and they’re busy, not to mention that me teaching them English draws quite the crowd of market goers.


I usually head home between 3:30 and 4:30. On my way home I make sure to greet the students in English and when I get to my neighborhood there’s always plenty of kids to greet. They usually come running up to me yelling my name with their arms out for a hug. Every one of the ‘regulars’ gets a hug, and the little ones get picked up. Depending on how demanding the day was, I’ll take some quiet time, maybe read a book or close my eyes for a bit before going back outside with the kids.


Evening If the weather is good there are tons of kids coming and going with their jerikans of water. We play ring around the rosie enough times so that every kid can have a turn holding my hand and fly around like air planes. Recently I started teaching them a more useful song, head, shoulders, knees, and toes and their new favorite game is tickle monster. They’re always asking me in Kinyarwanda to tickle them.


How hungry I am dictates when I light my charcoal stove. If meal prep for the evening isn’t too involved I’ll light my stove and then use the 20 minutes while the candle burns down to cut veggies/do meal prep. If it’s a little more involved I’ll start meal prep before I light the stove. After the candle has burned down I spend about 10 minutes fanning the charcoal to get it going well. Then I make whatever is on the menu for dinner. Once dinner is finished I put on a pot of water on the stove for breakfast the next day. I usually eat while watching something on my computer, usually in the dark. After 45 minutes the water for breakfast is ready. Twice a week, after all this I heat water to wash my hair/bathe. Otherwise after my thermos is full I lock up my kitchen, anytime between 6:30 and 8 pm, depending on when I started.


Most evenings my motivation to do anything vanishes with the sun so I’ll watch a movie or TV episodes until bedtime (9 pm). Sometimes though, I’ll wash dishes, read by candlelight or putz around my room.


Because of the market on Fridays, and it being a slow work day in general, I’ll head home early and try to get a jump on the weekend chores, usually sweeping and mopping my two rooms. Friday nights, in an effort to extend the life of my computer battery over the weekend I usually wash my unmentionables.


Saturdays I seldom sleep in past 7 am, especially with three little kids in the house. I like to have a slow morning with breakfast and maybe some book reading. Then I get my laundry ready for the umukozi and take care of whatever chores I didn’t do Friday before I head out for a hike between  9 or 10 am. I usually get back around noon, if I don’t end up visiting someone on the way back from my hike and light my stove to make some lunch and bake my cat’s food for the week.


Usually at least one day of the weekend I’ll head into the village to visit someone/charge my computer. If I don’t go in Saturday afternoon, I like to bake something or make something involved/delicious for dinner.


Sundays I occasionally go to church, but increasingly I like to enjoy the quietness of everyone ELSE being at church. The last couple Sundays I’ve been at site I’ve had visitors at my house so I’ve spent the morning cooking for them. Typically it’s my quiet day and I’ll read quite a bit or write in my journal. Then visit or have visitors in the late afternoon. Usually about once a month I’ll go to church, and I’m trying to visit all the different churches in my community, but it’s difficult when I’m gone a lot on the weekends.


Most days no matter what I’m in bed, and often asleep by 9 pm. We’ll see how that changes when the electricity arrives (slated for early 2013).


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