Time and again it has been said, “Fortune favours the brave”. These are words to live by. As I faced my demons this year in the form of end of semester exams, I got wind of The Bus Campaign by AIESEC. It was an opportunity to participate in a Global Community Development Project in Uganda, Tanzania or Rwanda at a subsidized cost. Admittedly my application was a leap of faith because of so many looming uncertainties; filial, financial and academic in order of ascending gravity. Well, it would be preposterous to purport that this is a word for word account of my six weeks in Rwanda but let’s say this is an abridged version. The following paints a vivid image of what was seen, what was felt and what transpired. The good, the bad and the merry.
I was a lone Kenyan, who together with a team of other global interns left their homes and made their way to Rwanda. On a mission to change lives of the locals, I found the expereince changed mine as well. The six weeks arriving on the 23rd of December 2015 and ended with my departure on the 4th of February 2016. Events therein are not arranged chronologically but in terms of importance personally and professionally.
The first thing that strikes you as different in the +250 is the beautiful scenery. Jaw dropping, staggering and picturesque. Rwanda truly is the land of a thousand hills. Green, rugged and plush as far as the eye can see. Rwandese people are kind, generous and cheerful to a fault. Despite the language barrier, complete strangers would approach us to give a helping hand. Be it getting you into the right bus, making an order at a restaurant or most commonly negotiating for cheaper prices, there was always a Good Samaritan on hand to ensure your stay remains memorable. I recall an instance where an intern forgot his phone on the bus at a public bus park and a gent followed him to the office to return it. Such simple acts of kindness I previously considered rare treats I now find myself hard-pressed to expect any less.
During Christmas we the interns in Huye hosted the other delegates; we cooked, prepared drinks, and shared our home in Mukoni 123, Kyarwa. It was in that time that we visited the Ethnographic museum and started to learn what we could about the people of Rwanda.
While in Kigali we were able to experience first-hand the night life in the city. While there, we took a time capsule into the history of Rwanda and its mysterious politics. We visited the Presidential Palace where one of the president’s planes was shot down and coincidentally the rubble landed right within his estate. We also paid a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial; it is there that I discovered that the country had born witness to a grief so profound it cannot be easily forgotten.
Well eventually we were compelled to visit Musanze. We took to the hills. Hiking up a hill adjacent to the house, by Jove that was jolly fun. As a parting gift we visited Gisenyi and swam in the refreshing waters of Lake Kivu.
Thank you Master Tony for drafting an amazing Itinerary for Team Huye. Having given a mental map of our adventures, it is quite clear I toured this foreign land with more zeal than I did at home. What I haven’t shared is the characters that give this tale colour. Those that bring it to life. Tevin Nzei, for my first live international game where Congo outfoxed Angola in a 4-2 showdown. The endless conversations, the games we played and jokes that nearly cost a rib or two. The quiet moments, the warm embraces, the romances that flared and/or drama that ensued. Particularly my phone getting stolen on New Year’s. I guess it really loved the country and wanted to stay on as a tourist. Or the testimony I was compelled to share in Church while attending a service in Mavuno Church Kigali with friends I call family. My many failed attempts at courtship, the few countable successes. Sharing a soda with a motorcycle operator in Gisenyi after he carried me on his bike to the for-ex bureau. Playing a game of pool with police officers on their Christmas break. Playing water polo and losing to our newly acquainted Rwandanese friends. A race on the back of motors where I won quite a few. Oh and our daily meals uphill at Igisubizo Restaurant with our main man Francis. Watching the joyful union of man and wife during a church wedding and thereafter joining them in their celebrations. Hitch-hiking our way to a Canopy Walk in Uwinka near Congo on the back of a pickup. A two hour drive home in a taxi with a driver who couldn’t speak English to save his life but still managing to make a stop for supper and arriving at our doorstep.And of course, my partner in crime and now best bud Kevin Momanyi.
Most of all the friends in AIESEC who became family, my buddy Ingrid and every other person with whom I interacted. They gave this story enough chapters to write such intriguing memoirs.
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This article was written by AISEC Member Ranft Mwangi.