Sleep is for the Weak

The past fourteen, or so, days are all swimming together in my head; it’d take hours to write it all down. Instead, I’ll pull the highlights out and get ’em down.

On Saturday, November 1st, some of my host family came to visit me in Kibilizi! I didn’t realize how big of a deal that was until another volunteer explained that, in his two years in Rwanda, he didn’t know of anyone else who had a visit from their family. I feel truly grateful for these people. They get on my nerves sometimes (overbearing) and I’m sure I get on their nerves (lack of communication), but that’s how any family goes, right? After their visit, I made the hasty decision to travel back to the city with them. I packed quickly (for my two week “vacation”) and we hopped on motos to get to the bus station in Rango. I slept on mama’s shoulder for the three-hour bus ride and we said our goodbyes at the Kigali bus station. (They were headed back to Rwamagana and I was staying in Kigali for my week-long training.) Mama took my jeans back to Rwamagana to have a hole sewed up…we’ll see how that goes!

On Saturday and Sunday, I stayed at the Case (the Peace Corps Rwanda transit house, in Kigali). A few other people were in town and we went out to dinner at, what is now, my favorite eatery in Kigali, The Accord Hotel! One of the best parts of Peace Corps is the feeling of extended family. It doesn’t matter your closeness, if you’re in town…you go out together. I had a pesto alfredo pasta, with actual garlic bread. Finding a cheese/cheese sauce, other than the basic formage, is harder than finding Waldo in these parts. It was perfect.

On Monday I checked into the hotel where we all stayed for In-Service Training (IST). The pros included: hot shower, free stay, excellent food. The cons included: located on the very outskirts of the city, bed as hard as concrete. The free stay and food won out; we all had a great time. And, it was nice being together again for the first time in a few months. I really can’t get over how much we feel like a family when we’re all together. We fit into our dysfunctional little roles and it’s wonderful!

Making soy milk!

Making soy milk!

The training itself was really rewarding. I enjoyed each of the presentations, but I most enjoyed seeing all the work my cohort put into their CNA (Community Needs Assessment) reports. It was pretty amazing getting to see how each of us plans to put our little spin on development. Each of our personalities was present in our ideas. One of my fellow H6ers plans to make health-related videos to put on display at her Health Center (on a small television on the waiting-area). Two other H6ers are hoping to build some houses for refugees returning from the Congo. These people push me to strive harder and harder every day. I’ve never been surrounded by such creative, intelligent, and unique individuals. I think we all came away from the training feeling rejuvenated and ready to start writing grants and project proposals. I’ve already gotten started on writing a group grant for WASH (hygiene and sanitation) lessons. One of my most rural villages needs a new well, badly, and I’d love to help build that for them!

It wasn’t all work! Because we’re all over-achieving little weirdos, we had nightly activities planned, including bowling, trivia, expos, casino-night, and clubbing. I skipped out on casino night because I don’t fancy losing what little money I accrue here! But bowling, trivia, and clubbing were all fantastic! (The club we went to is a genuine dance club…much fun was had!) I also skipped out on the Middle East Expo because I attended the COS (Close of Service) dinner for the Education 4 group. Their time in Rwanda is up! It was an emotional affair, to say the least. I’m friends with just a few of them, but it got me thinking about the COS dinner that my group will have in just two years. (Yeah!) JUST two years…I’ve already been here six months…time is absolutely flying by! You bet your tissues that I’ll be crying like a small child come August 2016.

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Bowling night!

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More bowling with Aaroni!

Zach and David (a picture too cute not to post!).

Finally saw some monkeys!

On Saturday, after saying goodbye to some Ed 4 people (that I’m already missing!), I got on a bus to Muhanga where BE Camp (Boys Excelling) was being held.

Camp was crazy.

I poured all the energy I had left (which wasn’t much after IST) into teaching the fifty-something boys about health. It was intensely rewarding! I taught the lessons on Servant Leadership, Healthy Relationships, and How HIV Works. My favorite had to the Healthy Relationships session because I got to spend a good fifteen minutes discussing the differences between American and Rwandan dating culture (to a bunch of teenage boys, no less). My favorite conversation went as follows:

Student: “Teacher, do you have boyfriend in Rwanda?”
Me: “I do not.”
Student: “How old are you?”
Me: “Twenty-three.”
Student: “Do you have teenage sister?”

HA! Of course, the boys were much shyer at the beginning of the week. It was fun getting to see each of them open up, learn about health, and develop their own personalities. All the volunteers who came before told us, “It’ll be the best time of your service.” They were right. Being a Health Volunteer can be difficult because you don’t see direct change in the patients you see daily. Getting to teach this group of teenagers was incredibly rewarding! (Not to mention, my family group won nearly every event…yay for their competitive spirit!)

Explaining Capture the Flag is harder than you’d think.

I especially enjoyed getting to meet a couple of boys who are interested in coding and web design. I gave them my E-mail and I plan to work pretty closely with them to help them develop their talents further. (Some even offered to help with resume/web design classes at my Cafe/Resource Center.)

The low point of the week came when we had two campers get malaria. Malaria takes about ten days to incubate, so the boys actually got malaria while still at home. The problem is…the school we held camp at doesn’t have nets. It’s quite possible that, before we caught the fever and took the boys to the Health Center, they unknowingly infected others. About eight days from now, it’s likely that one or two of the other boys will develop malaria back in their home villages. It just goes to show how important malaria prevention is. Nets are vital.

I came back to Kibilizi on Saturday. It was such a relief getting to sleep in my own bed, in my own home. The best part was going back to work today. It was tough rolling out of bed (especially since I have the flu again), but seeing my co-workers made it all worth it! I received/gave a ton of hugs and heard, “We missed you,” more times than I can count. I missed them too! This is what integration feels like, man. I’m home.

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Our perfect Junior Facilitators

The boy with too much swag.

Favorite camper, Jean de Dieu!

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My family group, The United Winners!

Zach smells.

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