So other than detailing our work, I will start where I left off. If you are reading Caroline's blog, there will be some repeat. The last weekend my mom was here we visited Gyseni, which is a tourist area on the border of the Congo and absolutely beautiful. We stayed at a great hotel, Musanto House Lodge, and had a spectacular view. The first night, we walked to a restaurant on the pier of Lake Kivu. The food was great and I had tilapia, a special of that area. Some of the best fish I have ever had. That night, we decided to walk home. Now, for those of you who know anything about African politics, you may know that Congo is the most dangerous and corrupt country on the continent. Every part of me said that 3 white women walking home alone at like 10 at night along the Congolese border was a bad, if not absolutely terribly, idea. Thankfully, we got back without issue. Little did we know how bad of an idea that actually was. The Monday we returned, we found out that about 10 Km from Gyseni on Thursday (the evening we walked back) there was rebel fighting, complete with rockets and the killing of UN soldiers. So that makes me feel really pretty cool and really pretty lucky. As Archimede said the next morning, we weren't alone, we just couldn't see people in the bushes. It was beautiful though- this picture does not capture it.
After quickly reversing, we tried to approach it the right way, it started walking towards us and our car stalls. Talk about an adrenaline rush. We got to spend about 3 minutes with our friend, until he went off running. As we continued our path, we saw the destruction left in the elephant's wake. It literally looked like a tornado- trees were down, brush was separated like the Red Sea. After that, we headed to Hippo Beach, full of hippos, birds, monkeys, and crocodiles. I wanted to see a croc, but I didn't. It was very much like an oasis in the middle of the desert brush.
Then we headed to a valley, where we saw zebras, antelope, and giraffes all grazing together. I actually felt like I was in the opening scenes of Lion King. The giraffes were stunning and adorable. They look so majestic, and you can see them from almost a mile away. I think they were my favorite.
Saturday was equally relaxing. It was beautiful our so we went on our rooftop and laid out and read for hours with coffee. Then I went on a run. I haven't really talked about exercising here. First of all, people don't run outside, except in Kigali. Most people do something physical for their jobs anyways. Apparently there are gyms around but I haven't seen any. Secondly, it can get really hot. It is Africa, and you can't wear shorts and a tanktop. Add the altitude and the staring and laughing, its a struggle. Anyways, I still like running here, clears my head, regardless of people running along side me making fun of me. You should have seen the looks I got when I decided to run hills. Sprint up, walk down, repeat. People actually thought I was crazy. We headed into Kigali later in the afternoon. We met up with Ernestine's nephews, who go to school in the US and are our age. Steve, Blaize, and Davy took us out, which was a blast. We stayed out later than I have, honestly, in years- other than for schoolwork. The next morning, we were exhausted. We slept our day away at Pudentienne's and then headed back to Muhanga in the evening.
This week has been full of hectic work that we are trying to finish before we leave. We created a website, finalized 3 brochures, created a school profile, (complete with a budget analysis and business plan), made a catalogue for the handicrafts (and a pricing system), finalized a partnership with Intel (yay!), and made a fundraising booklet for Giving Hope. Still to come- videos for Giving Hope and Ibakwe School.
Also, I decided to financially adopt Frieda Grace, who I spoke about in my last blog. Sara (her amazing mother), Monique, and I have been trying to get her medical treatment. We needed to buy health insurance and then go to the health center to get a referral to the hospital. When Sara tried to get health insurance, we kept being sent to the back of the line because she was Batwa and was trying to get insurance for just one person, who had no official document, as opposed to a family, until Monique went and got the job done. That woman is literally a superhero who knows everyone- a perfect social worker. Yesterday, we spent the morning at the hospital as she had an initial examination and blood tests. She has some type of disease, but nothing showed up as out of the ordinary with her blood work. She got to sit on my lap the whole day and during all the tests. I love her. Early next week, we will head to a specialist in Kigali and determine a prognosis.
Sorry it has been awhile, but I just want to say thank you for all of the support I have been continually getting from my whole community at home. I am so appreciative of the support and hope that my experience here is having effects on people at home that I can't see. I feel really really lucky to be connected with people who don't just let me do this, but are interested and want to help. That's not normal, and I am so grateful and inspired by everyone that has been apart of this with me.