12 June 2019
Today We got up really early like 4 am to go chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe National Park. The ride there was extremely long but pretty worth it. But then we had to ride to the forest which also took some time and I was wondering when does this end? When can I get out and stretch my legs? Well my questions were answered as we came to a stop and got out to meet with our guide. He gave us all walking sticks and I was really excited. Not really for the trekking but for the walking stick, I know I'm a child but it was nice to have. Once the trekking began it was smooth and easy we saw a few little monkeys but then it started to get real rough and hard. We had to go down slopes a lot of times and I kept sliding however I made sure there was a tree in front of me to stop me it I were to fall or slip. Others weren't to lucky. Some fell...HARD and some slipped...HARD but everyone was fine and kept pushing forward. I kept looking down which is something you shouldn't do when you above something but it motivated me to more faster and but also carefully. I was scared but I laughed so much at me slipping and almost falling and also laughing when others fell. Of course I made sure they were ok before I laughed but I'm glad I had more humor and than fear. We got to this one part of the forest where the chimps were and we were told the chimps eat the other little monkeys and I found that odd. It's like eating your cousin but their animals and they have to survive so eat away chimps! The chimpanzees were big, I've never seen a chimp in person only gorillas and apes and that's in a zoo. It was really cool to see. I didn't get any pictures of the chimps because I couldn't get a good shot of them but I got the little monkeys. When we were heading back it seemed like the journey was never going to end. I thought I was never going to reach the end. I was first of the three out and when I tell you I was so happy I wasn't with the others behind us because I would just sit there in the forest till someone picked me up and came and got me. That walk was deadly...for those like myself who don't walk for that long at those different altitudes. Thank God I made it out. I couldn't feel my legs after awhile and I knew they were moving I just couldn't feel them. The forest was beautiful. Maybe I would do it again but I would have to train and walk for about 3 hours at different inclines on a treadmill.
After coming from trekking we went to the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda an Ethnographic Museum. There we learned about the history of Rwanda and how people lived before technology. It was really nice to see actual pictures of those people back then and seeing the items they made by hand, which was everything. I love the little hut people can actually go inside and walk around in it, it was really nice. Really well made. It was a nice yurt. I'm not sure if that's what it was called but the basic structure of it was of a yurt. They also had a gift shop in the front before you get your tour of the museum and I bought a bowl and some coffee. In the picture below I have the bowl on my head with the bags of coffee inside it. When we were done, we came out and there were little monkeys everywhere. I guess they smelled the food scraps we threw away and came running. They were cute and got pretty close but not close enough for us to touch them but I was really excited to see them. They had babies with them strapped under them, it was so cute. I wish I could've stayed longer just to see the monkeys but we had to leave but I made sure to take pictures of them.
11 June 2019
Today we met with the Mayor of Muhanga and she was really nice and more humble and helpful than I expected. I thought with her being the mayor she would be to busy to go out in the neighborhood to lend a hand but nope. She proves that work can't get in the way of helping your community if you join them. I was in the group to make cement for a house it was for. Now I'll be completely honest the cement had cow dung in it and it smelled very bad and I was really not trying to touch anything because I thought I would rub my eye or my hair, anything. But I got over it and helped out a bit with the making of the cement and using the shovel to move it to the people putting it on the house. There we children there that took my mind off the whole thing even the smell surprisingly. After that we went to give two cows away to a family there. I was honored to bless one of the cows. It was a really nice ceremony and everyone was really nice. If I were to come back and do the community service again I would like to see my options beforehand. Kind of a germaphobe.
After the cow was blessed and the ceremony was over, we went back to the hotel to have lunch and to exchange gifts with the Mayor. Our Mayor from Buffalo, NY got Muhanga's Mayor a glass figurine of the city of Buffalo. The mayor gifted the girls with convertible bags and the boys paintings. I had a wonderful time with the Mayor and how to see her again in the near future.
10 June 2019
After working with the teachers we got to visit their schools the next day to observe their classes and to see how they applied what they learned working with us in their classroom. Most of the classes I visited was the subject social studies. I just sat back and observed and took notes.
Things People Do To Get Money
Discussing about things people do to get money
Things people do to get money:
The way the lesson was taught:
The teacher ask the kids to show what the activities of the things are in front of the class
Played sound movement stories with kids names
Played word pass with the activities of the things the kids came up with
They work together in pairs for quiz
Uses claps to gain attention
Claps for each other when correct
Uses the breathing method (ended class with this)
Uses the shake method (ended class with this)
1. Write 3 things people do to get money
The next school we went to my teacher took the students outside. They first circled up and breathed in together. Then they played Ha-lo but the way they played was by hi fiving each other with both hands and saying HA. I thought that was a unique spin on the game and I found it really refreshing to watch because they made the game their own. After they played my favorite game, Amazi and Kombe. I joined and played on the sideline. I had a great time watching them play and have fun with the games.
After visiting the school we had our final dinner at The Urukundo Foundation center with Mama and the kids. After dinner the AFP village put on a show (except for me I was taking pictures as you can see) of the story Goldie Locks and The Three Bears. The kids played different objects in the story from tables to doors, beds, and bowl's of porrige. It was a really beautiful show and the children did an amazing job and I will miss them. I can't wait to come back to see them again and to play with them.
9 June 2019
It's our second day of work with the teachers and today one person from our village is teaching the class a lesson in the subject they teach and we as a village become the students and learn from our teacher. The subject was Social and Religious Studies. I took notes as an observer and as a student.
By the end of this lesson, learners will be able to define environment and to identify components of environment
• When teacher enters we say good Morning teacher
• After lesson we say thank you teacher for teaching me
• Uses claps to gain attention
• Asks students questions and let every student answer
• Allow students to go outside to visually learn only for 30 seconds
• She only picks on who raises their hand
• Always claps for each other with right answers and explanations when wrong
• Ends class with song of the lesson learned
1. "We are surrounded, (names the things that surrounds us)
Environment and its components
• Is Everything that surrounds us
• What you see looking around us
• Components that makes the environment
1. Ex: grass, stones, houses, trees, hills, atmosphere, clouds, crops, roads, people, ants, sun, water, gardens, soil, mass(provides network)
1. Define the term environment
• Is everything that surrounds us
1. Identify two main components of environment
• Houses and roads
1. Draw any two example of components of environment
After our lesson we took it and made it into a story with all the things we learned. So we created an evolution of natural and main components coming together. Everyone played a huge part. People were trees, fish, mountain, monkey, man, house, wind, birds, car, motorcycle, fire, etc. We performed in front of others and we got a great huge response. People identified our natural and main components and they saw the connections from one thing to the other. Every group had created a story based on the lesson they learned and everyone did a fantastic job!
Afterwards we, the AFP village said a few words of what we learned and I said that I learned that community is family and family is life. I took pictures with the teachers and share emails with them to stay in contact with them if they ever wanted to reach out to either myself or Monique. I had a wonderful experience with the teachers and can't wait to see them in action tomorrow in their classrooms.
7 June 2019
Today was a funtastic day! Got up early to work with the artisan women in their community. This day was called The Azizi Life Artisan Day. The women welcomed us with song and dance. It reminded me of the children at MindLeaps dancing at the end of our visit. The women celebrated our presence and were very thankful for our arrival and I thought that was very cool. We went inside the house and introduced ourselves to each other. The women all told us their name, age, how many kids they had, and if they were married. Afterwards we got fabric tied around our waist and scarfs tied to our heads to dress like how the locals of the area dress. We started peeling sweet potatoes, then got to see how they cook. They used charcoal to cook. Next some of us went to fetch the water which was a journey away from the house but along the walk we saw lots of cattles and goats. It was easy going down but coming back up was the hardest part. There were children down at the valley spring we went to and we were told children at around age 6 have a job to collect the water for the family. I thought that was very interesting, kids also have a job to provide for the family. Everyone in the family serves a purpose. After we brought the water to the house, we went to go turn the soil. We used a hoe to turn the soil in a near by garden. It was a lot of arm and back work and I became pretty exhausted but I kept going till I was done. We were told that the women turn that soil in their fields for six hours at a time and i knew that i couldn't do that for that long. Next we cut some vegetation down to feed one of the Women's cow and goat that was near by. I cut a lot of vegetation and after the women helped me make a crown out of a huge plant leaf to hold the vegetation I just cut down on my head. At that moment of carrying something on my head and it actually stayed I felt like one of the women. (As you can see in the picture) After feeding the cow and goat we went back to the house to have lunch. For lunch we had sweet potatoes with beans and avocados. After eating we asked the women questions about how old do you have to be to get married and they all said 21. Anyone younger than or an older person trying to marry someone who is not 21 goes to jail. We asked how old to have kids and they said that there's really no exact age your supposed to have children but you should have them in your twenties but there's a lot of teen pregnancy in Rwanda. They also told us that you don't need to be married to have children. You can have as many children with a man and not be married to him. After asking the women questions they took us outside and showed one group how to make bracelets and another how to make soccer balls. Both of which are made out of plants. I was in the ball making group and I struggled to get my ball to look like the others but one of the women helped me and finished the ball for me. Afterwards, it was time for us to part ways but before we left we had a dance competition and each groupd had to dance and Gabrielle (Professor from MSU) had to be the judge. At the end of the competition Gabrielle ruled that everyone was a winner because we all brought unique this to the dance circle but one thing for sure we had in common was how we danced together as a family. I gave all the women hugs and kisses and said my goodbyes. It was really nice being and working with those women and I hope one day I could go back and work with them again.
Later that day we went to the Urukundo Foundation center to meet Mama. Arlene Brown aka Mama came to Rwanda in 1996 at age 65 to offer her help in the refugee camps following the genocide. Mama is a God fearing woman who believes in the power of God and she loves kids. She established the Urukundo Foundation Center to serve the low income children's needs. This center is here to help children develop skills needed to aid them in being what God has called him or her to be says Mama. Mama loves to talk and the things she speaks on has such great detail that I could picture them in my head. I would love for her to write an autobiography of her life before Rwanda and being in Rwanda because she is filled with amazing stories and everyone should hear them or at least read about them. Love you Mama!!
6 June 2019
\nToday we visited the Nyamata Genocide Memorial site. Before even getting out of the van, I felt the energy shift. The first Memorial was a museum where everything was behind windows nothing you can really see close up. The church...A church is supposed to be a sacred place, a place to feel safe, a place to feel closer to God. However that wasn't the case. Thousands of Tutsis went there to seek refuge and shelter away from the genocide but the perpetrators didn't care. Before actually going inside we learned about a nun named Antonia Locatelli, an Italian Roman Catholic missionary educator who went against the government in 1992 to protect Tutsis. The government didn't like that and saw her as a threat. So they killed her on the front steps of her home which was right across from the church. Two years later, the entrance gate to the church was blown open by a hand grenade. The metal bars on the door was bent or blown off. The ground surrounding the walk way had huge pot hole like holes. The impact of the grenade also blew holes in the ceiling above. Machine guns, machetes, clubs, spears, anything to harm and kill was used in that church. I saw a door with the doorknob blown off. I looked at the brick walls and saw nothing but holes from the bullets. Dried blood on the walls and the ceiling. There were holes in the ceiling from the hand grenades thrown in the church and from the bullets. Ten thousand people died in that church. The pews were covered with the clothes of the deceased. The real unsettling thing of the clothing was to see the children's clothes. Toddlers to infant clothes. There was a table that had the belongings of the deceased from prayer beads to children's shoes. With seeing all of this I was surprised that virgin Mary, a statue place at the front of the church, remained intact and untouched. It had dried blood on it from the victims but the bullets and grenades somehow missed it. Within the church there was a bottom floor built to preserve the bones and skulls of those who perished. The bones were placed in a glass that had three levels. The bones on the first level, the skulls on the second level and a coffin on the bottom. The skulls showed how most of the victims were killed. Some had slashed cracked skulls which was from machetes. Some had a bullet wound to the head. Some had caved in parts of their skulls which was from being clubbed. It was a very emotional thing to see in person. However, the worst story we learned today was that not only were the women violated and raped but so were the young girls. A young girl at age of 6 was raped multiple times by multiple perpetrators and to finish her off they stuck a spear up her private area until it came out the top of her head. A 6 year old. A child should never have to go through or experience what that child went through. That broke my heart, even the children especially the little girls had to be gruesomely beaten, raped and killed? I felt disgusted but also happy that their pain and suffering was over and they are in a better place. No child should EVER have to indoor what these children sadly had too. To go down to the cellar and see the mass pile up of bones in huge caskets... Some caskets were small and had people in there who died before the genocide but the big ones were for those who died in that church and also from around different sites where bodies were found. Some of the caskets were open so we could see the bones and how many there were in each. It was heartbreaking. I became silent and didn't talk throughout the entire time being down there until the viewing was over. I'm sorry, truly sorry for the lives lost and how they all suffered and died in such gruesome ways. However, I am thankful for being shown and told about these horrible events that had occurred because it doesn't show weakness it shows growth. Growth within a community, city and country.
8 June 2019
\nToday was our first day working with teachers through story based learning at The Urukundo Foundation Center. We first met in a big circle in front of the classrooms and Drew gave a big introduction to what we were going to be doing for the next two days. We were developing our village and creating at least village rules for our village. The next day we were developing our story. We were split within the subjects the teachers teach so Monique (my fellow village member) and I were assigned to the social studies and geography group. When Monique and I got our group we circled them up. We showed them the giving and receiving hands and took three breathes in together. First game we played was pulse and I have to say I thought since we are all adults that we all would be somewhat pros with this game but nope. We had a lot of hiccups with this one but it was funny. Once everyone got in the groove we were moving faster. With every hiccup we had we took breathes to clear our minds and to get present. The next game we played (which is everyone's favorite) ha-lo. The teachers got right into this game and was playing as if it was a tournament. Some teachers struggled but nothing a few good breathes with the village can't help. After our games we create three village rules that as a village we should live by. Before the rules Monique and I asked our group how each game made them feel and three words stuck out the most and those words were communication, respect and confidence. So we made sure each village rule was with that one word. Our first rule; We agree to communicate with each other in order to share our stories. Our second rule; We agree to respect each other. Our third rule; We agree to act with confidence. We read the rules together as a village and then we went to lunch.
\nAfter lunch each group was given the same quote by Howard Zinn in which we had to create a short quote that sums up what we feel the qoute means. I first read the quote twice to the group and then Monique asked if there were any words that came to mind after reading that quote, words that were important. We came up with close to 20 words and we started to break them down to what words were similar and words we felt we didn't want on the board. That help made our list smaller and so we were left with at least 7 words but the most important words that stood out to the group was goals, determination, and success. With those words we came up with "With strong goals and determination; we can move forward towards success." After we created the qoute we put it into our bodies. We first made the quote into a machine. Then into statues. After we did that we went outside and showed the other groups what we came up with and what our quote was and they did the same. Before we went back to our classrooms, Drew told us it was now time to create a story using our quote we made. So we had to use the story structure; Once upon a time there was...Everyday...One day...Because of that...Because of that...Until finally... So with that structure we created a story about forest animals coming together to defend themselves against predators.
\nOnce upon a time there was a big forest with lots of animals and trees. Everyday life was busy. With birds singing, lions running, monkeys climbing, and elephants grazing. Until one day hyenas tried to chase the peaceful animals. Because of that the animals, especially the lions came together to fight against the hyenas. Until finally they defeated the hyenas and peace was restored.
\nEveryone in my group played a part in the story. Some were trees, birds, lions, monkeys, elephants and I was the hyena. We performed our story for the other groups and got a great response. Our story was a clear example of our quote which was "with strong goals and determination; we can move forward towards success."
\nAfter our first day with the teachers we got a tour of the Urukundo Foundation center. It was really spread out and bigger than I expected. Lots of resources there and free help to those at the school and within the Urukundo community. The views were gorgeous and just a site to see. I don't think the pictures I took of it does it complete justice but I captured the beautiful hills not only with my camera but it will forever be embedded in my mind.
My name is Janae' Leonard and I'm a senior Theatre major at Buffalo State. Since I was a little girl I always dreamed of traveling and seeing the world. The one place where I dreamed of going was to Africa. The motherland, the place where life started. I want to go to Rwanda to experience different cultures, hear stories, and learn how to not only love myself but how to give and show love to others in different ways. I want to show people in Rwanda that they matter and their stories matter. It took me a while to understand that I mattered and that my story matters and so I want to show what I learned and express it through love. I plan to go to Rwanda open minded and open hearted. I want to take in as much as I can and bring it back home with me where I can share everything I learned and felt through story, song, acting and other mediums.