My favorite photo from ‘field trip’… bird with Lake Kivu as background.
The Rwandan countryside is a bucolic paradise with endless banana plantations and the tiny garden plots and small houses nestled among them. Slick goats tied all along the roadsides munch away and the country people go to and fro along the highway to school, from the store, maybe just visiting the neighbor or for a church gathering or village meeting. It is most picturesque. Of course it is not paradise inside those small concrete or mud houses where there is no heat or lights for the most part, and people are living on pretty meager rations. Still, from what everyone says, life has vastly improved even away from the bustle of Kigali. The President has guaranteed each family a cow and peace reigns. So it’s good to ride along enjoying the view and not feeling like you’re on a third-world poverty tour.
An important aside. Our driver Yasin was a font of historical and current knowledge which makes all the difference on a trip like this. No matter how much we read or take in at the Memorial, hearing the history through someone intimately involved adds another layer of reality.
Morning—off to Kibuye to visit One Acre Fund where lovely friends Val and Jon’s brother-in-law worked and made introductions for Steven to visit. As mentioned sometime I’m sure, this trip is Steven’s graduation present from family and as a new business econ grad he is searching for what worthwhile things to do with his life before he joins the new plutocracy and doesn’t give a damn anymore. So One Acre Fund is a very worthwhile NGO working with the farmers of Rwanda and several other African countries. We spent some time with gracious and enjoyably informative staff member, Rachel, touring and asking questions and listening. What a pleasure to see this international cast of youthful characters who all actually have chosen to do something good for the world. Gives one hope.
Then over to Lake Kivu, the divide between Rwanda and the Congo/DRC, for a late lunch. And three hours home to Kigali.
The one reminder of the recent past was stopping at the site of a church that had been considered a sanctuary by the locals as the genocide began but it seems their priest was a Hutu or in any case not a godly person. He ordered a bulldozer in to destroy the church with the people locked inside and, assisted by explosives, slaughtered them all. The driver is in prison and the priest was apparently tried and charged in the international tribunal on Rwandan war crimes.
It was the kind of day for which one travels—to learn and to look and to love life as it happens out here in the world.