A few days since our last blog - there has been a 40 hour power outage, so we were very conservative with our computer power!
Wednesday and Thursday were 'Youth Camp' days!!! It was wonderful being with the students again. The two days consisted of teaching in the mornings, and a work project in the afternoon. This years work project was to carry bricks from the valley floor, up an extremely steep hill to the church! It was a lot of work! I felt very proud of my four bricks - and then a student came along with 15 on his head!!! Anyway, it was a great deal of fun interacting with the students. More and more of them are getting better at speaking English, so it's fantastic!
Another busy couple of days - time is going way to fast, not 'slowly by slowly' as Africans like to say!
Monday was another day full of teaching, with the last 2 Food Security Sites, Mugombwa and Kibilizi! Rachael and Sandra gave 9 talks in all, and did a fantastic job. The beneficiaries in each site were very eager to soak up all teaching. Rachael even quizzed the sites she taught at about last years material - it was well remembered. This picture shows the eagerness of 2 beneficiaries at the Mugombwa site - taking copious notes!!
Today was a training day for the Assistant Veterinary Technicians (AVI) who are a vital part of the Food Security Program. Each site has an AVI. These technicians are meant to help the veterinarian by seeing any beneficiaries who may have issues with their livestock, treat the cows, if they can, or, get the veterinarian if the issue is beyond their knowledge. The day went well. We discussed topics such as history taking, the physical exam, how to give injections, take blood and even how to castrate and dehorn a cow. The day ended with the presentation to the AVI's at the 4 new sites of a complete medical kit and a bicycle to aid in their work. The other 4 AVI's received their bikes and medical kits in the fall of last year. They were all very keen and ready to work.
These two pictures illustrate the generosity of Udder Project supporters in veterinary supplies that Viateur was very please to receive. Thank you to all those who donated all the veterinary medications and supplies. They are needed and will be well used.
Been a busy last couple of days as well as a really slow and frustrating internet connection - so we apologize we haven't blogged for a couple days!
We started Saturday morning with a meeting with the executive committee of the APAP agricultural group! This is a group Rachael discovered early in our travels to Kigeme and has worked with ever since. It's a new executive committee with real goals and plans. It was fun!
Saturday afternoon found us heading out to another Food Security Site, Kiraro. It was down a particularly bad 4x road in a vehicle not necessarily meant for off roading!! But Carolyn, our chauffeur handled the roads as good as any Rwandan!!!!
Sunday morning we attending the morning service which was the tie up to the convention and a big celebration. The service itself went from 8:30 to 11:30 ad then there were speeches that took us to 2 pm. Needless to say we were a little restless and hungry - even some of our Rwandan friends found it a challenging length.
On Sunday afternoon we were in a teaching session with the whole of APAP group. Rachael taught again on parasite control and answered numerous questions. A very interested group. It was very good to see so many old friends. They have faced the challenges of a severe drought valiantly!
Yesterday was another great day!! Rachael and Carolyn had scheduled time to visit the Compassion child sponsored by Rachael and another sponsored by Mom & Dad Spence. The rest of the group headed up to the convention for another morning of teaching!!
In the afternoon we all went to visit some more APAP farms. First stop was the APAP office up in Kigeme town centre - this is a new office from last year. As well as serving as office space, they also sell the concentrate for the cows and bulls, keep some medications as well as ear tags! They are putting ear tags on all the calves produced from the APAP bulls. Below Rachael is trying to put one on Viateur the Food Security Veterinarian.
Today was another morning spent at the convention!! Then in the afternoon we hopped in the van the diocese has lent us and headed off to Butare to do some shopping! (And get some cold pops!) On the way back we stopped at the Murambi Memorial so the group could learn a little bit more about what happened back in 1994 during the Genocide. It's a hard visit to make, as it puts you up close and personal!
Yesterday was the start of the "Kigeme Convention". The diocese is putting this convention on for 5 days. We spent the morning/early afternoon listening to a number of speakers. The weather wasn't great, it had rained the night before and was still quite overcast, so it was actually chilly!!
We took part of the afternoon off and some went for walks or runs - great to stretch out those legs!
Yesterday was Melissa's 18th birthday, so Mom, Lori, had gotten one of our friends, JC, to help her buy a cake! We had a lovely birthday celebration for Melissa with the team and some of our good Rwandan friends - some of whom showed up with cards and gifts! We had a lot of laughs, and there is a good memory for Melissa to hold onto!! It was also Lori and her husband, Richard's 20th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Richard!
Yesterday was another great day! We started by having our schedule changed - the Food Security site we were to visit in the morning was having a government helping session for issues the community is having. All must attend, therefore we couldn't do our teaching.
We took advantage of the extra time - donned our walking shoes and equipped ourselves with lots of water and went out to visit APAP farms to see how the local farming association has been doing over the past year. They have doubled their membership! We were able to visit 5 of the farms in our morning time, including the one who is hosting the latest APAP bull purchased by the 'Udder Project'. They have had a rough dry season. It has been especially dry and their crops are not producing as much. So, the cows are not getting adequate nutrition as a result. In addition, with the refugee camp, many locals are being sent to work to help build the infrastructure of the camp taking them away from their cattle. We emphasized the importance of maintaining the care of their cattle.
In the afternoon we went to another of the latest sites to come into the Food Security Program this past January, Muse. They were a lively group asking many great questions!! We also visited a beneficiary's farm and saw some good changes since they have joined the program. It was good to see!
Good morning!! We haven't posted a blog entry for a couple of days, although we have an internet stick to connect, it is painfully slow and not always reliable! We will continue to update you all as often as possible!!
Sunday was great starting off with a morning service that was rocking! Afterwards we were thrilled to be approached by a large number of old friends and students in our secondary program. It was fantastic!!!
Our afternoon consisted of another Food Security teaching session, this time at the Kigeme site, so we didn't have to go far! I am really learning about protecting my livestock from parasites - information being soaked up readily here. It is impressive to watch the eagerness with which these beneficiaries are taking in Rachael and Sandra's teaching.
This is the gentleman whose life has been changed by the Food Security Program. One thing drilled into their heads last year was to give fresh water with no additives. This man is demonstrating that he listened!!
Monday, August 6th consisted of visiting two Food Security sites, the first one, Gahira has been part of the program for a while, and the second, Murico, just came on board in January. We saw some improvements at Gahira from last year. They had implemented some of the suggestions we made last year. They still have work to do but it is encouraging to see their eagerness to learn and to want to improve their lives. We visited one man's home who showed us what the Food Security Program had done for him. The year before, he was living in a grass house (the government is making these homes illegal due to the fire risks), and now he has a nice new cement and mud home. He was also able to purchase a new cow who is pregnant now from Artificial Insemination performed by Viateur, the Food Security Veterinarian. The gentleman has said that his life has been very much improved with the program!!
Murico is a new site and still in it's infancy. The area is quite poor which was reflected in some of the children we saw. They are thankful, however, to have the Food Security Team helping them out. They were very appreciative of our visit and seminar. They presented us with two beautiful baskets filled with fruits and tea!! It always amazes us how generous these people are who have absolutely nothing!!!
We had a great first full day in Rwanda! Many old friends came to greet us- for Carolyn and Rachael, it truly was coming back to our second home. We hit the ground running as always. We were up and visiting our first Food Security site, Cyivugiza by mid morning. This is a new site that was taken into the program in January of this year. For those of you who remember the video shown at the Silent Auction, this is the area featured in that video. It is a very poor area- 80% living below poverty line (<$1/day). We were so pleased with the changes that have occurred in the area. Pastor Vincent, the pastor of the church in the area, gave us a tour of the land. Last year, his vision was to clear 5.5 hectares of land and then start to plant crops like potatoes and corn. Well, they did manage to clear the land- 5.5 hectares- filled with trees and bush- HAND CLEARED by the local women!!!! An amazing feat!!!! They figure, if they can get all of the land cultivated- 6.5 hectares- that it will be enough to feed the entire area.
We also had a seminar with the beneficiaries where Rachael and Sandra discussed parasite control and the importance of regular deworming and spraying of the cattle. There were 150 out of 172 of the beneficiaries present that we support. They were eager to learn and very receptive to our advice.
This area, once so desolate and hopeless is showing real signs of regrowth! It was so fantastic to see.
There are a lot more people in the Kigeme area this year. There is a UN refugee camp for people fleeing the conflict in The Congo set up on the hill opposite our guest house. This picture shows just a small section that we can see, it expands quite a ways - and houses about 12,000 refugees. So far the only effect we've noticed directly is the increase in people out and about.
Well, it's actually August 4th right now, morning, but we were way too tired to pull out the computer last night! It was travel day! Up early in Kenya to get to the airport for our flight to Kigali - interesting experience. A big line to get into the airport - there is security screening of the bags at that point. Then a long line up for the actual flight, we were only minorly panicked waiting in the line watching the clock. Our luggage allowance decreased on this flight, so even though we had left a fair bit in Kenya, we ended up paying for the extra (we were down to 7 bags from the original 11).
We met the rest of our Rwandan team on the plane when we finally got there. They looked a little tired as they had been traveling for awhile, coming from Ontario!
After a 45 min stop on the tarmac in Burundi, we finally made it to Kigali! Because our team increased, so did the amount of our luggage - 7 people, 15 big bags of luggage!! Our poor driver!
The plane coming from Nairobi was a small one so they didn't get all the luggage on. All 7 of ours and one of John's were sent on the next flight, so we hung out at the airport for a bit.. It gave us the opportunity to get to know each other.
Today was a day to tie things up in Kenya and say our goodbyes. Last minute photos and visits! One place we were able to visit this morning was the Tumaini Bakery - a business that involves parents of Tumaini students, church members as well as community members. It's still in the fledgling stages, but if they receive a certain permit from the city, they can distribute more widely. And let us tell you, it's awesome bread!
As usual the kids gave us quite a show this afternoon to say farewell. Lots of dancing, singing and poems! There is a lot of talent at Tumaini. We were overwhelmed at the show of appreciation for all that 'Kids for Kids' is doing for the school. We extend that appreciation now to all our supporters and sponsors without whom this would not be possible. We only wish you were all here to see the effects of your generosity and experience the love - there is plenty to go around!!