A few years ago I volunteered in Rwanda. This serialised post is based on letters and emails sent home to friends during my six months there, and from notes in my personal journal. Each blog post is aimed to be a five minute read and a self-contained piece of narrative. A table of contents is provided below.
My writing from Rwanda was intended from the outset only to be a private correspondence to friends, a disentanglement of thoughts from a huge thought-knot, string by string.
I gained a privileged insight in to a recovering nation and writing made the experience easier to process – it was as if by hitting the keys on this laptop, the unresolved, restless mind in flux, finds something to earth itself on. Or something like that.
In hindsight, this is also the story of my sojourn, an average guy from London who found himself working as a volunteer for a charity in the heart of Africa.
Those intense 6 months are filled with memories: of inspirational friends, resilient and hopeful, many of whom were orphaned in the genocide but rose phoenix-like in to wonderful young people to work for the common good; of a beautiful land of rolling hills and shimmering lakes; of the adventure of climbing smouldering volcanoes and trekking across verdant jungles where rare mountain gorillas just knuckle-walked past us; of how we set up and recorded the centre’s first audio guide system and helped co-ordinate a series of workshops for sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Rwanda has moved forward in many ways since I was there. Skyscrapers, shopping malls, fast broadband and ATMs have appeared in Kigali, but somethings fortunately haven’t changed: her hopeful countenance, her collective memory, her resilience, her healing wounds, her stunning beauty and peace still endure.
Table of Contents:
1.The flight to Rwanda, the contraband and spotless Kigali
2. A letter from the heart of Africa – settling in fine
3. Getting to work, Rwanda style
3. Peter and the Soup Confusion
4. A special place of remembrance, hope and beauty
5. Help! I’m a businessman going to work in an NGO in Africa
7. We Need To Talk About Why People Kill Each Other
8. Stolen socks and missing underpants
9. Banana-leaf balls, making friends and a bitter falling out
10. The Shimmering Lake in the Shadow of the Volcano
11. The Chatter of the Raindrops
15. Leisure pursuits: tennis, jogging and painful stomach-flattening (please do not try this at home)
16. The Day When Time Slowed Down
17. A Festering Malice: The Grenade Attack
19. A weekend in the rural beauty of Rwanda
20. Feeling down
22. In Search of Silence and the Missing Female to Female 9 Pin
23. Being mindful – bug bites and quiet nights
25. As time goes by
26. The Sports Bar in the Heart of Africa
27. Where you never walk alone
28. Faith, devotion and complicity
29. Sometimes on Tuesdays Always with Tea (part one)
30. Sometimes on Tuesdays Always with Tea (part two)
31. A Hike Up Mount Bisoke and a Lesson in Understanding Gorillas
32: Being lighter at the equator: a weekend break in the northern hemisphere
33. A Weekend Break in the northern hemisphere part 2
34. When memories come calling
37. The snowman in the heart of Africa – Climbing Mount Karisimbi (part 2)
38. Unexpected hosts: gorillas after the midst
39. The Ragged Children of Kinigi
40. Seven tips for volunteers in Africa
Just read Peter and the soup confusion, looking forward to more.
Thanks a lot Dave. There will be many post on the way.
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