Saturday, July 3, 2010

It's Saturday - it must be wait, Kigali

[I'm finally on a computer with working internet, so I am going to type and then upload pictures in the next post]

We were supposed to be at the national park today, but that got moved to Wednesday, so we are back in Kigali this morning, at the wonderful and beautiful Bloom Hotel. We were pleased to find working wireless internet and many are on computers and phones updated facebook and sending emails!

The past two days have been amazing. We were in Ramagana at the Lutheran School. We worked at the new school site doing construction type things (moving rock, filtering sand, painting, cleaning) and helping organize the book donations for the library (more on that later).

Thursday we arrive in Ramagana at around 9:00 am, and were met at the school gate by many smiling young people in green school t-shirts. We shook hands with, and met, everyone and then we went to a field and played a couple of games to break the ice (which took no time at all!). We then moved to the Kigali Lutheran Church (which now has a roof, but no walls), where we were greeted by Pastor Celestine, and were blessed to see (and participate) in traditional Rwandan dance. The troupe is made up of young people who are genocide survivors, some whose parents were participants in the killing and young people who returned from refugee camps after the genocide. We were told that their parents were not happy that these groups were mixing, but they persevered and the parents are now at least resigned to it.

Some of the Ramagana Lutheran School students sang for us as well, and women from the parish had beautiful baskets and jewelry for sale that many of us took advantage of! After lunch with the RLS students, we worked side by side with them for the afternoon.

Friday morning meant classes for RLS, and we returned to the work site to continue on the projects from the day before. In the afternoon we went to the place where RLS is renting space for offices and classes and heard the story of RLS from Robin Strickler, the principal of the school. It began as a dream in 2005, and this year they began classes. They are far under capacity, but they had no applications from students that could pay the fees. They do not want to depend entirely on donations for the support, so they need paying students as well as possibly a trade of some type to bring in income.

Then, we met the students at the end of their school day and we joined in song and dance and jumping and sharing of stories. The connection between these two groups is astounding and immediate. I was so blessed to be part of it and see the young people make connections with each other, and with adults from both groups as well. Our true hope is that this is a connection that is in its infancy and will continue to grow and blossom with new fruit in the coming years.

Lunch is in a moment, and then we go to a genocide memorial site at Nyamata. I hope to upload the pictures later today and spend some time reflecting on the genocide memorial in Kigali we visited earlier in the week, as well as Nyamata.

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