Saturday, March 20, 2010

Difficulties finding Solar Polared Devices

As I might not have reliable electricity all the time in Rwanda, one of the other CUSO-VSO volunteers suggested that a solar powered device for charging cell phones might be beneficial. I was also told they were easy to find - even Canadian Tire has them! Well, not the case in small-town Kelowna! I looked everywhere and was dismayed to discover that the sunniest province in Canada (and supposedly one of the Greenest) has very little in the way of solar powered resources! Canadian Tire only had huge solar power panels for golf carts and such. I asked every sales clerk I could find and they all sent me somewhere else. Finally, I ordered one on e-Bay for $7 from Hong Kong and it works well for my Cambodian-born mobile phone (which should work fine in Rwanda) but not so much for my i-Pod (it actually seemed to be draining it of energy at one point!) I saw a Kodak solar charger at London Drugs for $35 and bought it, knowing I could return it if it didn't work. It does seem to work okay for my i-Pod, but takes eons to charge up via solar power. I will probably hang on to it as a back-up energy source as my mobile phone will be my most important and reliable communication source in a country where even the poorest folk have them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

SKWID training in Ottawa

What is SKWID training, you ask? It has nothing at all to do with squishy sea creatures and everything to do with preparing for volunteering with CUSO (which is happening for me in about a month!) For 4 intensive (and sometimes intense) days, we learned more about disadvantage & diversity, conflict management, and the art of facilitation. It was great to meet volunteers from all over the world, especially the 3 lovely ladies who are also going to Rwanda at the same time as me. This was also an opportunity for me to tour Ottawa (and Quebec!) and have a small reunion with some of my former classmates from YK (known to outsiders as Yellowknife).
One of the more unique tourist "attractions" in Ottawa are the feral cats that live by the Parliament building. Some guy build a little house for them and ensured funds that would keep them well fed and comfortable. As you can see from the attached pics, they seem to have a pretty nice life! I even considered shipping my own kitty over to hang out while I'm away in Rwanda! Just kidding, Koby, I'm sure Grandma and Grandpa Giles LOVE taking care of you!