The beginnings of my time in Rwanda. OH MAN!
I like to talk about how nice is the life we live and only now do I realize how far from reality even my conceptions of everything were. It's only been 12 days since I left and it literally feels like another lifetime. Talking on my cell phone has made me realize how close you can sound and how far away you can be and feel.
My host family is very nice and I know they genuinely are trying to help me adjust to life here. The ability with which they are able to do that is limited. There are only so many life adjustments one can make in a day. First, I learn how to sleep under a mosquito net on a foam bed over wooden slats with one sheet. Second, I learn to use (in the most polite terms) a pit latrine. This makes it sound so much more pleasant than the experience actually is. Then, taking a 'shower' out of a bucket, not too bad, if less relaxing. Then cooking over a fire and eating potatoes and beans everyday. I've done that once before. Just one day at a time...
In general, I'm loving life. The food is great overall, if somewhat less varied. I can still get a nice warm cup of tea in the morning. My classes are stressful but I'm learning a lot in such a short time. We have evaluations at the end before we can go from being Trainees to be recommended as Volunteers....daunting, but so far, this all seems possible. I have a great teacher and a great small group of volunteers with which I work. We're the guinea pig group here as they haven't in the recent past used the Community-Based Training model here in Rwanda. They learn as we learn, which can be frustrating for us BUT we have hope that this will make it easier for all future groups here! The staff in general, though, is very supportive! They certainly have the best interests of us and the program at heart.
I have had some rough moments, but nothing that equals the great ones. Teaching "jump", "dance", and "so TIRED" to the little girl and boy that wait to walk me to and from my house; teaching my family Old Maid; and cooking porridge in the morning with my mom and niece make it all worth it. I have met soooo many people in my umudugudu (village) but can't remember any names. So far, the greatest success is being able to feel like myself (without fear) in so many moments, and garnering a positive response. One of the common side effects of our malaria pill (Mefloquine) is wild, vivid dreams. I think I will have many more Rwandan nights for Mefloquine dreams.