Rwanda Journal - Day 2
Yesterday was our first full day in Kigali. We had our orientation, ate lunch downtown and went to the genocide museum. Orientation was really just Claire, our FVA leader, telling us about Rwanda. She discussed the culture, what’s expected of us and do’s & don’ts of traveling here.
The Genocide Museum was interesting. It told the same story that I already knew, but it was interesting to see pictures and films of the people after. The guy that is supposed to be a hero from Hotel Rwanda actually turned out to only accept people into that hotel that paid money. So, there’s not much mention of him in the memorial. The other thing I learned was that after everything happened, they had a court system where the genocidaires (they call them) and the victims had to meet to discuss. They wanted to begin the healing and bring Rwanda back together as a country. The Belgians were who decided to separate them into tribes, the Hutus and the Tutsis. Before that, they had never had any type of civil unrest. What Claire said though, struck me because it’s something I could use in my daily life. She said, “We can choose to move forward, or choose to look at the worse. To look at the worse only brings pain, so why not stop doing the negative.” The hutus killed over 1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days. Children and women were systematically raped and killed because they didn’t want the Tutsis to reproduce - they were trying to exterminate them. But they are choosing forgiveness. They want to go back to a world where they shared everything and were a true community. They may not be advanced in many ways from the Western World perspective, but the US could learn a lot about forgiveness and the thought of a neighbor. The whole is what is important to Rwanda, not the individual.
After the museum, we went by Gisimba, an orphanage here in Kigali. We met Immaculee, who is the president and founder of FVA. We also met Ildiphans (I think I’m spelling that right), someone else in a leadership role with Gisimba. They were both very nice and I practiced some of my Kinyarwanda on them, “Muraho” which means hello to someone you’ve just met. The other word I used a lot yesterday was “Murakoze” which means thank you. Everyone here is so nice and they got really excited when I tried to practice some native words with them. Claire said they like muzungas, foreigners, to come because it makes them feel special. Like, if they view the western people in such high regard, which they do, and they want to come spend time here to talk with them and help them, then maybe they are special too. They put westerners on a pedestal and when we come to them and say, “we are equal”, it gives them confidence. That’s one reason that I hope I can talk to the women in the outreach program. They are learning to start their own business and I’d love to just meet them and help in any way that I can. I believe that we will be going to Gisenyi today and will work in the outreach program for a week. Then we will come back here and work in Gisimba.
Lastly, I was a little nervous about the food because I wasn’t sure what they had but so far, everything has been delicious. Lots of potatoes, rice, fruit and veggies. I have not eaten but one piece of meat and it was good, but I feel like this is my time to kind of “cleanse” myself so the less meat I eat, the better. We have not had good coffee yet because most of the places sell their delicious coffee. But I have had awesome tea! Lastly, I think we are going on a safari maybe next weekend and we’ll get to see Elephants, monkeys and zebras. I’ll be sure to take lots and lots of pictures.