Friday, October 24

1 October 2008 (Day 1 Rwanda)

Left Heathrow last night at 8pm on a plane with five children sitting in the row in front of me, three of which decided to cry the majority of the way. Once in Nairobi (Kenya) queuing for the next flight I found out two of the children were coming "with me" and as luck would have it, once again right in the row in front of me!!

Arrived safe and sound in Kigali where the immigration officer was just lovely and taught me my first Kinyarwanda world, Muraho (meaning hello). Once I'd found my luggage (slight delay as a man travelling on the same flight had attempted to bring in a suitcase full of mobile phones), I turned to look for Vicky or at least a sign with my name on it. It wasn't hard to find either as there was only one blond haired woman in the crowd and right next to her was a man holding a sign with my name on it - I felt very relieved and famous both at the same time. "Relieved" because as most of you know I'd never met Vicky so there is always that worry that since I'd heard from her 4 days before maybe something had gone wrong and she wouldn't be there. "Famous" because never had anyone picked me up at the airport with a sign bearing my name!!

After brief introductions, I learned the man holding the sign was the Country Director of Itafari, Chrysologue. From there we proceeded to the car, and after a rather short ride we were at the Iris Guesthouse. The place was quiet, beautiful, and seemed very friendly. The vegetation reminded me slightly of being in Costa Rica.

My room was not quite ready, so I took a nap in Vicky's room, whilst she went to a meeting. Around noon she arrived back at the Iris and we decided to go for some lunch. We went to the Union Trade Centre, which is very close to our hotel. Inside of it there is a great lil place called Bourbon Coffee, where we had meat samosas and the first of many Fanta l'oranges! After our meal we decided to check out the new (as in opened a month ago) store called Nakumatt. It's a Kenyan based store which is now open 24 hours a day and has just about everything you could ever imagine and more. We got a few favours for the sponsored children's party and upon checking out discovered they accepted VISA cards, which is virtually unheard of, but a great sign of how the country is growing in leaps and bounds, so we were very excited about that! I cannot say enough about how lovely the people are (I'll probably say this again and again during my Rwandan post, but it's cause it's true!) The cashier at the Nakumatt introduced himself, asked our names and how we were doing, asked us to return again soon and for God to bless us - when does that happen in the US or the UK?

Back to the hotel, where Vicky made a few phone calls and started to fill in our calendar for the next few days. I cut stickers into groups of two and counted up all of the party favours to make sure we had enough for all the children. We had straws with paper umbrellas, pens, pencils, chocolates, toothbrushes, erasers, and mini puzzles). We also chatted with Chrysologue about our city tour we were hoping to take in the morning.

That afternoon I met Vicky's "daughter" Charlotte and her "son in law" Charles. That evening we had dinner with Vicky's best friend Joy, who is part of Gahaya Links (some of you might know the name from the baskets sold at Macy's).

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At 24 October, 2008 18:01, Blogger mary o said...

I am savoring your post and am looking forward to reading "upward" to each day. It's so perplexing that we who (at least at the moment)have so much and seem focused on ourselves; these Rwandans who have, comparatively speaking, so little, are focused on others. Perhaps it's an irony of "progress and prosperity." Hmmmm. . . love, Mommio


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