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Rwanda – July 30th 2008

Well, here I am in deepest, darkest Africa in the capital of Rwanda, Kigali, and just finished my first full day here. It isn’t really deepest darkest Africa any more, leastaways not here. I am sat in my hotel room (Chez Lando, if your interested), and I can actually connect, Via WiFi, to the interenet! The world just got a lot smaller!

I travelled in on Ethopian Airlines, who were very good, and gave me a seat near the exit so my legs would not drop off on the 7 ½ hour flight from Heathrow to Addis Ababa, which was extended another hour and a bit while we sat through a thunderstorm in London. Leg room was good, but the seats wernt very wide… for eating the meals, well, me and my neighbour had to take turns lifting implements to our mouths…maybe should introduce it as a sport in the 2012 olympics… syncronised eating…the Ethoplians will be well fancied I reckon!

They also managed to leave my bags in Addis Ababa whilst I travelled on to Kigali, but I wasn’t overly concerned as I had my cameras with me so I could manage my photography no problems. It was only when I thought about it that the realisation that I may have to wear the same underpants for a full 10 days, without having a shave and no deodorant to hand in the Rwandan dry season that I might no actually be allowed back on the plane! I washed my socks in the sink, turned my underpants inside out and faced the new day full of hope.

I had supper at the house of the Rwanda director of Send a Cow, Henry Pomeroy, an English man, and he lent me a fresh shirt and some socks, and together we prayed hard that my case turned up!

Following today’s work I rang the Airport up, but No they hadn’t got anything in, ring back in 5 minutes” shouted the unhelpful man on the other end of the phone. I don’t think he really understood the telephone, thinking he had to shout as loud as he could to make one hear…several times I had to check that I didn’t have the phone on loudspeaker mode! I rang him back in five as requested and he bellowed that I ring back in the morning at 11.30, even though there were no flights coming in from Addis Ababa until 2pm…maybe he thought the power of the mind could whisk them over? Who knows?

One of the Send a Cow team suggested it might be a good idea to go with one of the drivers to the airport, which was only a couple of KM’s up the road and check for my self. It sounded like a good idea to me, as at least I was doing something…well, I got there and checked in the lost luggage department (which is one of the largest rooms in the airport, which maybe tells you something!) The bellowing man was putting away the latest of the lost luggage, tring to squeeze it into the room, and there to my great delight, was sitting my bag, with large letters all over it with my name and a sign stating “Urgent – Rush” obviously 11.30 the next day was going to be urgent enough for Mr Bellower, although he did seem surprised to see it there actually! And boy, it feels good to have fresh undies on!!

Its actually lucky that I am here writing this and not in the hospital, or worse. I was having a shower tonight (I did have one yesterday too, in case you were thinking) when I actually noticed that the mirror light, which is the only light in the bathroom, so was switched on, was touching the shower curtain and was getting splashed with water…the light had no protective cover on either so the end connections were in view. I decided to turn the light off the there. Maybe it’s the African idea of “Survival of the fittest” if you are not clever enough to spot the danger you deserve to have a course of 240 volts through perhaps?

So, other than all that, what has been going on, I hear you ask, well at least those who are still reading and not nodded off.

Well, today we went to see a family out of the town, who Send a Cow are featuring in a new campaign which will be coming up before long, Family Friend in which the idea is to help support a family. The family that we went to today are just starting out on the Send a Cow route, and havnt yet received their gift of a cow. They and the rest of the group are just starting to get the education and support needed before any livestock is placed with them. The woman, Mukamana Zulla is looking after 11 children and is very poor. My job was to take photos of a typical day, and hopefully over the coming months and years, people will see how her life is transformed my the gift she receives. At the moment the family do not get any milk as it is too expensive and only have one meal a day, usually consisting of savory bananas. Three of the younger children go for water every day, taking a jerry can apiece, over 2km to the well, or further if the well is dry. They usually set off at 7am and it is often after 9 before they are back. It will be interesting to see how their lives are changed. In the afternoon we went to the local group which Zulla is a member, where they weave high quality baskets for sale locally and also for tourists. Around 30 women meet up every Tuesday and Thursday to weave. Reminded me of the “Terrible Knitters of Dent”, all women getting together, having a natter no doubt and producing their goods, so to speak. I was given a gift from the group, which included six eggs, for which I profusely thanked them, and asked them, though the interperator, Apophia, if I sat on them for 3 weeks would they hatch? It was most amusing to see them all rolling around laughing at the big white English man!! Thats about all for now, so I will be off. Apparently there is a 3-4 hour drive tomorrow, so best be prepared for that.

Hope its not raining too hard back at home.


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