It was all going so well. A leisurely rise; some last minute packing; a sandwich for lunch. Tim and Esther arrived in plenty of time and we waited for Roger, our taxi to the airport. He arrived a little late, which gave Christine cause for worry. Getting all the luggage in proved tricky and Tim ended up with a case on his lap, but we were soon hurtling down the motorway. We arrived in plenty of time, went straight through check-in and security, had a bite to eat and then boarded the plane. We were about 30 minutes late leaving, but it was a good flight and we even managed a little sleep. On arriving at Kigali we sailed through the visa business and waited for our luggage, and waited. Eventually three of our cases arrived, but that was all. Christine’s smaller case was lost in transit! We went to an office and reported it missing and left contact numbers etc. We were assured that it might be on the next flight. When we said we were going on to Kagera they said that they could get it to the Rasumu border for us. Frankly I’m not so sure! Tim and Esther had gone through and met with Eugenia and it was good to see her when we eventually came out. We looked carefully at the print out I had been given but Eugenia’s number had not been recorded, even though I had given it. We tried to go back in, but of course the security team were not keen. Eventually I was allowed through and Eugenia’s number was duly recorded.
Not a good start, but an afternoon visit to the Kigali Genocide Museum but everything in perspective. Two taxis were waiting for us at the airport, one for our luggage and me and everyone else in the other. Kigali really is one of the cleanest cities you could visit.
There is very little litter. Everywhere there are street cleaners with their besoms. Plastic bags are banned. Parks and green spaces are all around. New houses are going up on the outskirts and there is a real sense of prosperity. Scripture Union looks magnificent and we were shown to some very pleasant rooms with balconies. Sam greeted us and made us feel so at home. Today was actually a public holiday, so Eugenia and Sam had given it up to look after us which was very kind. We had a rest and a shower – icy cold, but refreshing and then lunch. Somehow the message hadn’t got through that we are veggies, so some chicken legs awaited us. However the beans, carrots and chips were delicious as was the fresh pineapple.
Tim wanted to show Esther the Genocide Museum and we needed to restock with necessaries that were in Christine’s suitcase. Peter, our taxi driver, drove to the Museum and dropped off Esther and Tim, then took us to the shopping mall where we had been before. The supermarket has an eclectic range of items. Lots of women’s clothes, but no knickers (bloomers were available, but Christine declined), toothpaste, but no brushes, cosmetics and perfume but no deodorant. On the way out we passed a women’s dress shop and decided to try there. Success and we no longer had to call Christine, Nicholas! A toothbrush was acquired at a pharmacy and we proceeded back to the Museum.
The entrance has been moved since we were last there and now includes a brief introductory film and the gift shop. As always, the whole thing is a very moving reminder of the brutality we are capable of inflicting on each other.The mass graves are set in beautiful and peaceful gardens, a fitting resting place for those so brutally murdered.
We took the audio tour which was clear and informative. We didn’t venture upstairs to the children’s room as we couldn’t take it last time, it was too distressing. We met up with Tim and Esther and Peter arrived to take us back to S.U.. We had time for a brief nap before a delicious veggie dinner including a large number of passion fruit! By 8.30 we were settled down to sleep and saw little of the night until about 7.00. The wnew Scripture Union building is quite something and we had a very comfortable en-suite room with a balcony overlooking Kigali.
We breakfasted at 9.00 and we’re away by 10.00. Peter agreed to take us via the airport although the security is so tight there it is not that easy. We had to get out on the approach road and go through individual security, while the car went under some very modern machine that apparently checked all our bags while they were in the car – amazing! We arrived to find yet another level of security to get through to get to the Lost and Found office. They would only let one of us through, so Christine went on her own. I was banished outside. Thomas then phoned to say that he was already at Rusumo and was expecting us! I had to tell him we would be another three hours at least. When eventually Christine returned it was to say that her bag was in Brussels and would be in Kigali on Sunday. I said that we needed it delivered to Rusumo not left in Kigali. So Christine went back in and returned with Grace who insisted she could not make a decision, but would have to speak to her boss. We should phone her before 3.00.
We set off and made good time . Tim had bought some sandwiches for us to eat for lunch, so at a toilet break in a garage, he gave these out and we happily ate as we continued our journey. The road deteriorated as they are rebuilding it and there are lots of roadworks. However Peter drove very well and we arrived after 3 and a bit hours. Thomas had phoned to say he would meet us at the Rwandan side of the border, but we went through to the common border post. So we had to phone Thomas again. He arrived and it was good to see him and Imam again. It took us about an hour and a half to get our visas, mainly because there are not enough border staff. However we were beginning to relax into African time, so it wasn’t a problem.
This time we drove on the main roads to Ngara avoiding the ferry. The roads were as bad as I remember with axle-shattering potholes. We arrived in Murgwanza to be greeted by Absalom at Principal’s House. It is the same as ever! We shall be looked after by Naomi who had left us a very tasty pizza of sorts. Before we unpacked I insisted that we walk to the ridge to see the view – it is breath-taking!
Then we walked to the cathedral and met Fareth. We unpacked and had our dinner. We were just sitting down to have coffee when who should call but Rose and John – we could have laid odds they would be first! But it was lovely to see them and hear their news. Tomorrow is the ordination day so we need an early night if we are to face a 4 hours plus service!
O.K. 4 hours was an under-estimate, 6 hour’s was nearer the mark. Tim went off before us to get his instructions. We arrived just as the Bishop’s procession was entering the cathedral. Bishops Aaron and Darlington gave us friendly waves as they entered and we felt rather awkward bringing up the rear.
Still no-one seemed to mind and we were shown to an empty bench near the back. It was a lovely service full of life and celebration. Not only were there 8 deacons being priestess but also some officials of the Mothers’ Union being inducted including a new president who looked very splendid in a white and blue outfit with a hat to match. Bishop Darlington spoke very well. Obadiah came and sat behind us to translate for us, although at times it was hard to hear him as the microphone was so loud. The bishop talked about using resources wisely, about change that was going to happen and about the deacons being sent out into the world like the disciples. It was very uplifting and the congregation clearly loved it. The choirs were superb, singing and dancing with great enthusiasm. Then a deacon and his wife were brought to the front and we were told that their house had burnt down and they had lost everything. Gifts were asked for and it took a long time for everyone to bring their gifts up and to say a few words! The Vicar General tried asking them not to speak, but there was nearly an open rebellion so he had to let things continue! Finally we got to the ordinations, each of which took about 5 minutes, then there was communion and finally about 3.00 p.m. we were released, aching, hungry and thirsty into the outside world.
We rushed back to the house as Tim was bursting for the loo. Then we went to the Mothers’ Union building for a hefty late lunch of potatoes, bananas, beans, two types of rice, cabbage and, to our great delight, peanut sauce!
We sat on the top table with the bishops, while the rest of the invited guests sat on chairs in rows. After the meal we came home and collapsed. Later Christine and I went for a walk along the ridge in the evening light. It really is just the most beautiful view, but very hard to photograph well.
When we got back we found the Mzebeli boys, Esau and Jonathan, being entertained by Tim and Esther. They were delighted to see, Jonathan remembering us from 2 years ago. Esau is a very articulate young man and we had a very interesting chat about education in Tanzania. Eventually they left and Tim cooked us a delicious spaghetti with tomatoes and onions. After reading for a short while we were ready for bed. Our new mosquito tent proved O.K. although it is a bit tricky to get in and out of. It also has to be said that it is positively cool here at night, if not actually cold. I wish I had brought thicker pyjamas!
It was very windy in the night and we were woken by leaves and twigs hitting the roof of the house. At Christine’s insistence we rose early to prepare for our first teaching day. There was some confusion as we tried to get photocopying done and sort out what was in Dotty’s trunk, but eventually we made a start. To our surprise there were only four students. Absalom thought more might arrive during the day, but the number remained persistently at 4. It soon became clear that 2 of them were relatively advanced and able, while two were struggling. Four meant that with three teachers they were getting almost individual attention, but it also meant that it was very intensive and by the end of the day I.e. 1.30 we were exhausted. However they are very pleasant students and we had some good laughs as they struggled with the oddities of the English language. Jocatin is very advanced and quite impatient and wants to know everything at once. He is 25 but still rather impetuous and boyish. Flora is about the same age, perhaps younger and is quiet, thoughtful, keen and able. Ananea is married and quite serious, already a priest of sorts, but without any training ( perhaps an evangelist?) and really struggles. Deus likewise is married, 30 years old and has virtually no English. He is, however, very keen and has a big smile. Tomorrow we shall divide them into two classes- beginners and elementary!
We returned exhausted to find a lunch of rice and beans cooked by Naomi with a fresh fruit salad. We settled down with a book after lunch and had a nap. Tim and Esther had been in town in the morning and had come back with supplies and some money, but had not managed to get a SIM card for the WiFi hub. I decided to ask Thomas to accompany us into town and help us get it sorted out. We also needed new phone cards as it was costing us a fortune to phone Kigali to sort out Christine’s luggage. Promises to phone back rarely materialised! The luggage is in Kigali, the problem is getting it to the Rusumo border. I found Thomas who was eager as ever to help and ten minutes later he drove us to Ngara.
2 thoughts on “Kagera 1”
Very briefly. Good to hear all (almost all) is well. Don’t worry, there will be more students. There should be Jeremiah, Denice, Philip and Flora who had been selected by Absalom and fees paid for.
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We have Jeremiah and Flora, but the other two have not shown yet! So far we have had to repeat the same 4 lessons!