Friday, December 10, 2010


Since there is no school on in Rwanda at the momemnt, I decided to take a short vacation to our neighbouring country of Uganda. Kampala is a much larger city than Kigali and has a huge mall with a movie theatre (!), lots of traffic and the pollution that goes with it. I did all the touristy things including a safari at Murchison Falls and Whitewater Rafting in Jinja! It was fantastic and I met a lot of really interesting fellow travellers (people as well as elephants, hippos, rhinos and giraffes) Good times!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Workshop in Nyamata

The teacher's in my sector were too busy for workshops this month (national exams, English training from the gov't and vacation time) so I went and helped out some of the other VSO volunteers in other districts in Rwanda. For 2 days, I went to Byumba and stayed with fellow Canadian Shala. I helped her and Collette at 2 different schools. In the evenings, we debriefed with beers and chocolate;) This week, I was at Nyamata with Mary (another Canadian!) and we had a very busy 2 days with 40 teachers each day! I learned a great deal from both sets of workshops and have tonnes of ideas for the new semester in January. Thanks gals for letting me get in on the action!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gorilla Weekend!

One of the main reasons people visit Rwanda is to see the almost-extinct gorillas of the mist, that are now protected thanks to efforts of the Rwandan gov't & conservationists like Dian Fossey. I am not a tourist here but I have to say, my visit to the Gorillas was one of the top 10 experiences of my life! I went with another VSO volunteer and his cousin. We stayed overnight at Ruhengheri, the village at the base of the mountains, where the gorillas live. We had to walk about 30 minutes to find the gorillas basking in the sun. After awhile, they started to move, and we tracked them with the help of the guide. One came right towards us and grabbed my butt, like a typical adolescent male (which he was). I will NEVER wash those pants! Many pictures were taken during our 1 hour and 10 minute visit with these amazing creatures but I only have room for a couple here...HIGHLY RECOMMENDED EXPERIENCE!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Workshop

In Rwanda, the school semester ends in October with local and national exams. This is followed by 2 months vacations where volunteers are sometimes scrambling to do training or taking their own holidays. My latest workshop with the teachers in my district is a 2 hour training called 'Songs and Games for the Classroom'. It gives teachers some tools for making the classroom more active, participatory, and child-centered. It also means that tone-deaf, artistically challenged me has to sing and draw in front of teachers who are much better singers and artists than I'll ever be. I think I am actually an inspiration because the teachers look at my drawings and think 'well, I could do a MUCH better job so why don't I?'. I have already seen some improvements in the schools I visit. One of the songs I teach is 'Alice's Camel' which causes much hilarity amongst the teachers. The games I teach are a memory game (involving my drawings on a rice sack) and math bingo. The teachers love them both! Here is me showing my Pictorial Alphabet to the teachers.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bees in my Bonnet

A couple of weeks ago, I came home to find part of my ceiling collapsed along with a huge beehive and a bunch of dead bees (there were still some live ones around to cause me trouble as well). Luckily, I found some community members to help me clean the hive (and honey) out of my ceiling and now it only remains for my ceiling to be fixed and the room painted so it no longer has honey leaking all over it. The community members were eating the honey straight from the hive that had been in my ceiling for months and months. When they offered me some, I said "oya, murakoze" - no thanks. I'll stick to the honey you can buy in the store, thank you.

Some of you know that a couple of days later I found out that my cat that was living with my ex (and also 21 years old) was put to sleep. It was a difficult week for me and I appreciate those of you who offered condolences. Here is a picture of the beehive that is outside my house now.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Birthday Weekend!

For the first time in my life, I spent my birthday in Africa (although it is not the first time spending my birthday overseas - had 2 birthdays in Cambodia). My friend Epi, another VSO volunteer from Canada, and I went to Gisenyi which is on Lake Kivu in the northwest part of Rwanda. It has nice beaches and feels like you could be on the Meditteranean! We spent Friday and Saturday night there and came back to Kigali on Sunday where I had a lovely dinner at the Serena Hotel with another volunteer friend, Portia. All in all, it was a pretty decent 41st birthday! Here is a picture of me relaxing on the beach - still a young naive 40 year old....and by some strange coincidence, this is picture number 41 in my gallery!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

VSO Family Dinner

Early September saw the arrival of 19 new VSO volunteers to Rwanda (unfortunately, none of them coming to my district). They had a week and a half of In-Country Training followed by the VSO Family Dinner, where all VSO volunteers are invited to meet the new volunteers, have a free meal (including alcohol!) and watch some fantastic entertainment by local Intore dancers. The new volunteers seem keen to start their new placements - some are short term (3 - 6 months) and some are here as long as 2 years. Most are in the Education sector as Management or Methodology 'experts' and some are in disability. All seem like excellent additions to the VSO family in Rwanda. Murakaza Neza, new VSO volunteers - I hope to work with you all in the near future!