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Rwanda – August 1st 2008

Southern Rwanda

Once again we headed south, but at a more acceptable time, starting out at around 8.30, to visit 2 groups, just north of Butare. I must admit though I wasn’t feeling my best this morning, a consequence of staying up late to get yesterdays piece out (No sympathy please…really…well, if you insist!). My lap top seemed to be suggesting that it had gone self employed and was working different hours to me. Most annoying. Seems to be working better today though. I also unwisely skipped breakfast as I was running a little bit late. Had a Coke and a bit of a goat kebab to take me through the day!

A different driver was taking me around today, and he was very good, especially on the dirt roads, where he fancied him self as a rally driver…blowing his horn wildly (as is the wont here) at any sign of anybody within a metre of the edge of the road to either warn them away or let them know to hold their breath so they didn’t take in a lung full or two of red dust which follows us around the countryside!

The first stop was at a primary school where the extension worker was giving a theory lesson on animal husbandry and shed building. The little class room was packed with adult members, all behind little desks designed for primary school children. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself as I sat quietly in the back corner (Just like me) and looked round. Although they were adults, it was like being back at school again….there were those listening with rapt attention (probably even brought the teacher an apple!) there were those looking uncomfortable at sitting behind the desk, and as in all class rooms there was the one that either talked or attention wandered and kept looking at other peoples pieces of paper! Was quiet funny…well to my mind anyway. I was very impressed with the number of members their at the lesson, and they really were keen about all they had to hear, which was borne out when we visited some of their farms.

The first man we went to see, Nsekanabo Dammascene, was preparing to receive his first cow, and like many new converts was infectiously enthusiastic. He was on building his shed for the keenly anticipated cow, but he had learned about the Keyhole Garden, and taken that very much to heart. His little plot of land was as tidy as any you could find anywhere, with no less than 7 Kitchen gardens and 4 Nursery beds for growing young seedlings, and even though it is the dry season his garden was blooming, full of cabbages and other veg.

We then visited another Peer Farmer (The idea being they teach neighbours about the SAC ideas), who again had a great garden with many kitchen gardens and other beds. He has been in the project for about 18 months, and has a female calf ready to hand over to a beneficiary. His original heifer is still milking, giving around 14 litres a day at peak, but has dried off a bit now because of the dry season. His neighbour is to receive the young calf, and already the shed is going up in preparation for the new arrival.

One of the big jobs of the extension workers is to make sure animal welfare is maintained and the animals are all healthy as can be, as they are vitally importance not just to the host family but to neighbours as well who buy milk and extra produce. Mwizerwa Blaise Pascal is the extension worker for the groups in this area (Abishyizehamwe and Terimberemuhinzimworozi). His help was needed at the next farm we visited, as the Jersey cow there had had an abscess on its face, probably from a tick, and now, even though it is recovering still has a sore spot, so he cleaned the wound and washed it out with soap and water just to double check all was ok. The cow had been giving 12 litres a day and was now doing about 9.

Next to this farm there was a family shelling coffee beans, so I wandered over to take some photos of them doing that. I think my hosts assume that I am mad as I snap away at all kinds of things, probably things they think are mundane, but to my eyes are really interesting. Left to my own devices I wouldn’t get far I would be too enthralled in this countryside and its people! It’s good that I have an itinerary and realise that I can’t expect the driver to stop every 10 yards or so. I constantly have to bite my tongue to stop yelling STOP..picture! I did on the way back tonight however as I spotted a herd of local cattle being driven down the trackside, which I jumped out and snapped at. My father in law and Brother in Law would be ever so proud of those cattle (Tongue firmly in cheek Lewis and Marzi!)

Following yesterdays supper exploits I thought I would get ahead of the game and order in the BBQ / Bar area downstairs. I know I promised last night I was going for the bunny, I was hungry and wanted a good steak n chips, which I went and ordered. Except the waitress wouldn’t let me. I was a man not to be messed with and asked for steak, without looking at the menu (I did know it was on though, I hasten to add) She asked me which sauce I would like, and gave me the options, and I hummed a little (I had had a shower, was a hmmmm noise), so she jumped in and said… “You don’t want that any way, try this, Veal Escapolades, stuffed with ham and cheese, much better” so I did. So much for being masterful and getting what I wanted! But you know what? It WAS great, so I left here a generous tip, even though it is against my upbringing and farming background. I left a tip for 500f. About 50p, my usual tip in England, but I think she appreciated it a lot more than waitresses in back home and didn’t throw it back at me, as per usual.

And tomorrow night I AM going to have steak. Or Bunny. Unless my waitress suggests something else of the menu.

Au revoir,


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