The sports bar in the heart of Africa

Football (or soccer for followers of this blog across the Pond) often gets in to the press for the wrong reasons. Hooliganism, racism, homophobia, overpaid players and corruption all drag the name of football through mud; but in its purest form, the game played by children in, well, mud, brings people together no matter their…

Electric-green unplugged

Today it’s April the 7th 2018, a day that marks the 24th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide. One million people were killed in a hundred days in one of the darkest, most horrific, most shameful periods in history. This post is part of the series ‘Letters from the Heart of Africa’ first…

As Time Goes By …

Giving a training course to a group of nurses in Rwanda gave me a new perspective on the concept of time and the meaning of urgency and importance. This is the next post in the Series, ‘Letters from the Heart of Africa’. *** It’s curious that we humans, who are all imperfect, expect perfection with…

Unguarded Moments

The basic facts I knew about Rwanda before I lived there were: it has rare mountain gorillas. Diane Fossey, the renowned zoologist, worked there to research the gorillas. a genocide happened there in 1994. it is a tiny country about the size of Wales in the heart of Africa. It was the genocide that shaped…

Being mindful – bug bites and quiet nights

Most of the nights after work were quiet nights at home and I found my pace shifted down a gear, my tempo slowed and I became more mindful – without the distractions of wi-fi and liberated from a smartphone, my attention sharpened and became undivided. I’d take time to study the red blossom on a…

In Search of Silence and the Missing Female to Female Nine Pin

It’s been a few months since I last posted for the series ‘Letters from the Heart of Africa’. We are now over halfway through with 21 posts (A list of these are at the bottom of this post – I aim to finish the series by the middle of 2018!). Thanks for your patience with…

The nemesis of my sole

Heel gobbler. Lace snapper. Tongue cracker. In the stony, dusty backstreets of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, shoes took one hell of a daily beating. Twice in my first three months my shoes needed resoling. The Kigali streets eat up shoes with a clinical assault; abrasive sands rub them down on every tread; rainwater softens…

Feeling down: the 6th Week Blip

Six weeks in to my volunteering placement in Rwanda I felt down. I had hit what psychologists call the ‘6th week blip’. The theory goes something like this: after 6 weeks of being in a new cultural environment you hit a wall. You’ve had enough. The initial joy of encountering a new place, wears off. Fascination…

A weekend in the rural beauty of Rwanda

One Friday after work, I took a bus from Kigali till I reached a sleepy village called Gahini beside a lake that, by late afternoon, shone like mercury. Paula , a VSO teacher on a 3 year placement, had invited some of us volunteers for a weekend break and raring to see the countryside I…

The Resilience of Hope

I passed the cream-coloured boundary wall the next morning, its smooth surface was now pock-marked with a spray of holes, each with an increasing space from the next, a pattern as if chiselled by a modern artist, but these made by the shrapnel of hate not art. A dozen policemen, each in a black uniform and…

A Festering Malice: the Grenade Attack

What kind of person would throw a grenade at a cemetery? What must happen in a person’s mind for them to be that sick? A heady mix of festering malice, an arrogant disrespect for the sanctity of the dead, a remorseless psyche filled with hate. So many years after the event, I still found that…