This morning I woke up to a man singing hymns and rain absolutely pouring down. I went and grabbed a cup of coffee and met another friend before eating breakfast to drop off some gifts from her family in Buffalo. She was all dressed up for Eid today (national holiday here!), and I wish I got a picture of her outfit- it was a stunning mauve colour. After chatting for a bit she left to begin celebrations in her neighbourhood and I went back to breakfast.
\nWe did storytelling practice all morning. This was the first time we all were together as an in-person group participating in these activities. We began with our warm-up games and then went right into building our stories, taking snippets of our emotions from the day before at the Kigali Genocide Memorial and inserting them into the sketches as appropriate. Even though it was a bit exhausting, it helped to build our bonding as a group.
Lunch was at a very nice buffet. I have become a large fan of fish soup in these two days.
After lunch we stopped by the Kimironko Market. I bought some kitenga, traditional cloth, for myself and some community members and bracelets for friends. Honestly everything was so cheap I didn't mind not haggling as much as I could have. For example: each piece of kitenga (4yd) I bought was only $10 and was hand dyed and from the DRC. If I were to buy this in Buffalo it could be easily $50-$75. So, I will be taking full advantage of this price difference.
The market was absolutely huge, with piles of fruit and salted fishes everywhere. It was extremely crowded and noisy but full of life and colour. I liked speaking with the shopkeepers and we will go back to finalize the rest of gifts for friends and family in Buffalo as now we have had our 'trial run.'
This video will not be shown on my page, but I have a feeling AFP will be sharing this. We learned a traditional dance with drum in the afternoon. This was even more exhausting than the sketch creations. I never knew how much bodywork and effort goes into (not even) 2 minutes of dancing. Christian, the dance leader, had us hold our arms up resembling cow horns and would constantly have to fix us. It was so much fun and everyone spent the dance laughing along. After we attempted, the drummer and Christian swapped places. The way they both moved in these dances were absolutely mesmerizing.
We stopped by the hotel afterwards to drop off our new goods and had dinner at a restaurant called 'The Hut.' Upon suggestions from a close friend, I ordered the goat brochette and it did not disappoint.
At dinner, Monique (fellow AFPer) and I had some very intriguing conversation with our tour guide, Françoise. We discussed everything from schooling in Rwanda v the US, to the emergence of Kiswahili in the country, and also an in depth conversation on mental health (they have a 4 week internship in June every year to study and work in this field. Open for US applicants...)
Tomorrow we begin in sharing our storytelling games. In the morning we will be in a transitional housing center for boys. These are children who were from the street and are now in school/transitioning to life in foster homes. I am so excited.
I am honored to have been given this opportunity to go to Rwanda and look forward to growing from this experience, both professionally and personally. The Great Lakes region in Africa is of great interest to me, especially as a resident of the Great Lakes region in the United States. I currently work as a refugee resettlement case worker at a local agency in Buffalo. Conflict resolution and community building are two topics that are crucial in my work, and I am eager to both share my stories on those subjects and learn from the stories of others. Ultimately, through our collective stories, I hope to witness and engage in the solidarity that has developed in Rwanda since the mid-nineties. My hope is to bring that knowledge back to my work in Buffalo. The lessons learned can then be put into action by aiding in the development of programs that will have a positive effect on the families and communities that I serve.