2 October 2008 (Day 2 Rwanda)Up at 06.17 to shower, get dressed, cover myself in bug spray, find anti-malarial pill and head down for a 7am breakfast. At 07.30 Jean and Lauren arrive. Lauren (soon to be nicknamed Sistah Heata) is an 18 year old girl from Vermont who came to Rwanda to work with Pastor Antoine who is working with East Africa Evangelists. Jean is a missionary working with Pastor Antoine. It is not long before I find out that Lauren is not religious at all! Her parents were in the Peace Corps in Rwanda 20 years ago where they met Antoine (not yet a pastor at the time). She is feeling rather lost in her 3rd day in Kigali. She wants to work with women and children, but nothing has been planned for her yet and she's feeling a bit of pressure with all the religious people around her. I explain I'm not at all a missionary and we chat about our common dislike of how others feel we need to become religious.
Vicky, Lauren and I head out on the City Tour. We started off with seeing where the movie Shooting Dogs (Behind the Gates in America) was filmed. From there we went to the first building in Kigali, built by a German with wonderful views of the city. We passed by a prison where we learned prisoners are always in light pink outfits with little barbed wire around them. Right next to the prison was a primary school. The combo of being next to a primary school and not nearly as much "protective walls" as I'm use to in the US seemed rather strange to me, until I learned that everyone else knows who they are, so even if they did escape and manage to find alternate clothes, they would be identified very easily.
We toured around a few streets and onto the Genocide Memorial, where all I can say is words cannot describe it! They have a pond with sort of a star shape, showing the past with fleeing Rwandans. Next to it is a lovely round pond with a fountain, showing the hope for the future. There were mass graves which were 6 metres deep and covered in concrete. A wall with a long list of names of lives that were lost.
From there, the tour continues rather disjointedly into the "rich" sector of town, by rich I mean houses which cost about half a million USD! These houses were being built by Rwandans and rented out primarily to EU and US members.
When the tour was done, the three of us popped into Bourbon Coffee for a very delicious meat samosa and of course a Fanta l'orange!! We walked back to our hotel where Lauren was picked up by Jean. Vicky and I started an afternoon of meetings in our "office" first that afternoon was Beatrice of Speak I'm Listening, followed by Pastor Francis and his wife Dorothy of Christ Gospel Church where Itafari has 171 sponsored children.
Dinner that evening was with Eric, Beatrice's son, who runs the Bloom Hotel in Kimironko (near Christ Gospel Church). A great thing I learned about Eric was that instead of firing employees, he keeps them in order to train them, because as he pointed out if he doesn't train them who will? It was amazing to me to see a man who was in his young 30s running an entire restaurant basically on his own!
We had dinner at a restaurant called Heaven, which was just 3 streets up from our "home away from home". The hotel was opened recently by an American couple, but with local staff who they've trained in hospitality and cooking. They have the best BBQ chicken!
A wonderful thunderstorm with heavy rains cooled the hot day temps and brought an amazing peacefulness to the city - it was breath taking.