I am into the 8th week of my assignment in Rwanda and time is moving very quickly! Working on the MCSP (Maternal and Child Survival Programme) within the Monitoring and Evaluation Team has been going well. The team are working on two important initiatives, the improvement of Essential Newborn Care/ Helping Babies Breathe services and also family planning. I recently attended a training session and workshop which involved discussions on the successes and challenges, it was great to see the enthusiasm in the groups and also learn of the impact the initiatives have made to date. I am looking forward to continuing working on the programme.
I’m getting quite familiar with getting around Kigali, I’ve even managed to give tourists directions! I have had a few trips out of town too. The more I see and do, the more I like it. There is so much going on, many events are not widely advertised but I’ve managed to catch a few things!
The Ubumuntu Arts Festival was held at the Kigali Genocide Memorial outdoor amphitheatre, a lovely setting. It was supported by the Aegis Trust, a genocide prevention organisation working to prevent mass atrocities and build peace around the world. It was a very enjoyable evening with live music, dance, theatre and poetry performances from countries all over the world demonstrating their difficult times with a focus on forgiveness and peace. To my surprise there was a short play from Ireland ‘Those you pass on the street’ it was excellent and really made my night!
I travelled out of town to Musanze District up in the North West of Rwanda, the scenery on the journey from Kigali through the hills was amazing. The town of Musanze is in contrast to hilly Kigali it is very flat, it was funny to see the bicycle taxis rather than motos spinning around. Like Kigali, it is colourful, lively and friendly, although there was less traffic and it seemed to have a calmer and slower vibe. It was much chillier and rained so I didn’t get to see the views of the volcanoes. There seemed to be quite a few tourists on gorilla trekking trips staying in town. Something I need to plan on.
A Sunday safari in Akagera in the Eastern province of Rwanda was a real treat. We set off before sunrise and managed to see zebras, giraffes, monkeys, antelope, buffalo and hippos. The hippos were a bit shy and stayed sleeping in the water, not even budging when birds landed on them. The crocodiles were also keeping a low profile although we managed to see one lying low in a lake. The elephants also were around but keeping a safe distance and the lions were sadly nowhere to be seen, although we did see some evidence that they had eaten through the night… great day 🙂
A weekend in Kigali goes in really easily. Browsing around the shops, fabric stalls and markets is very fun. Bargaining can bee a little tricky, I am never sure if I’ve got a good deal! I have finally managed to master the local bus service, it was a little daunting on the first trip, but people were very kind and helpful. I catch two buses to get into the town centre and it costs a grand total of 400RWF about 40 pence, not bad compared to 4000RWF for a taxi (I am too scared to use a moto)!