Rwanda – August 2nd 2008
Kayonza District, Eastern Province
Well. I have ordered supper, Bunny IS on the menu, and will be on the plate in around 45 minutes, just long enough to knock this blog off. I hope. Been a very hectic, hard day. I had to watch the Liverpool v Rangers game in the bar and am now watching Andy Murray thrash someone at tennis. Yup, it’s been draining.
I did actually do some work, honestly. We visited the Eastern Province and looked at 6 little farms in a township, so obviously the plots were very small, a bit like someone in England growing all their fruit and vegetables and having a cow in the back garden. And you know what? They do it with plenty to spare, one family selling cabbages to neighbours and passers by at between 150rf – 200rf (100 francs are worth about 10p in proper money) As a comparison a 300ml bottle of coke is 200f (20p) box of Pringles 1700f, Dairy Milk 800f, Cornetto type ice cream 1200f. I’ve been shopping too if you can tell. The farmers are getting around 150f for a litre of milk, which isn’t a million miles behind value in England, so you can see how valuable it is.
The project in the town was planned so that all the recipients weren’t close by but scattered throughout the town where the impact would be greater with neighbours seeing the benefits, which they have, and a new group is up and running in the area, although they haven’t received any cattle yet they are busy building sheds and planting gardens.
It is good to see how the Send a Cow idea works, with neighbours and families round about seeing the real benefits that recipients get with the cow and, probably more importantly, the education they receive. You can really see how these ideas can catch on and sweep a whole area, helping feed families and pull them out of poverty. The government in England goes on about beating child poverty, and how many they have lifted out of the poverty trap, which is all well and good, but there are different types of poverty, and I am willing to bet that there aren’t many, if any, children back at home that have to root through bins looking for a bottle with a little bit left in for a drink, like I saw a child do tonight. Puts poverty into perspective and makes you realise how important work like Send a Cow and other charities really are.
The area we visited today was a lot drier than the previous areas that we have seen, with the earth very brown and dusty. On the way out of Kigali there were a few larger scale farms with dairy cattle and fields, which I haven’t seen before either. The dry season ends in September here and the wet season lasts maybe 3 months. The temperature stays fairly constant all year round, up around 30 degrees (high 80’s) during the day but dropping of sharply at night to a cool 15 or so, as the country is so high. Kigali is at around 1300 metres above sea level or 3900 feet. The heat is bearable at this time of year, indeed, pleasant because it is so dry, but I understand in the rains it is very, very humid.
I suppose I better put something down about taking photos as I am meant to be a photographer, and some of you reading it might be interested in photography (Some of you? I am being very optimistic in saying that…for all I know it might be just my wife reading….let me know if you are reading, drop me an e-mail). Anyway, as I was saying, about photos…although it is dry season here the sky is pretty much smudged over all day. I was expecting blue skies and intense sunshine, but because of the dust it really isn’t very clear at all, which isn’t bad for close up photography as the light is nice and soft, for any landscape photography it all looks a bit dulllllllllllllllllllll. It can be also very hard trying to get over what you want the people do.
They are quite shy really and not everyone is overly keen to have a picture taken, and when they pose it is a bit like “stand straight up, arms tight to your sides and grin inanely”, which I don’t really want, so I have to ask, through the workers, who interpret for me, how we want things doing. I am sure they all thing I am mad, clambering around the dusty ground and asking them to do things like talk on a mobile phone when there’s no one at the other end. But they all do very well and everyone collapses in laughter at the end…especially when I start mooing or bleating at the animals. I fear I might not be the best ambassador for Send a Cow; they will end up thinking English people can’t talk properly, they just grunt and make animal noises!!
Didn’t finish before set off for supper, but back now. I am beginning time has no real meaning in Africa. I set out at the allotted time, and am back again 1 ¼ hours later! I don’t mind, really I don’t. Not as though I have a train to catch. Last night I bought a local newspaper to read which kept me entertained with articles about how the country was going down the pan because the young people don’t use tea cosies any more, a “Latrine Crackdown” (!!! Actual Headline. I like that) and numerous amusing adverts. (This was actually a Ugandan newspaper I hasten to add) Tonight’s amusement was the TV. I was seated very near the large screen TV, not by choice, just that Chez Lando is very busy. By golly was the telly loud. I have hearing problems at the best of times but I think it is worse now. What? It is just quite poor quality I just wanted to laugh, which would have looked a bit silly really because it was the news, and one doesn’t laugh at news normally. They also showed some traditional dancing and drumming (not on the news, but it did keep appearing suddenly with out warning in middle of programs…I wonder if a TV station has been hijacked. The dancers etc were very good, if a little loud. For the record, Peter Rabbit was not bad at all. No sign of any ears, was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a paw to rub for luck before I ate it though!!
Quiet day tomorrow as it is Sunday. But, I will still report, so you can all (both?) get your daily fix.
Find out more about Send a Cow on their website