Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rwanda - Day 2

Kigali Memorial Center

In the morning everyone was picked up from their host families to visit the Memorial Center of Rwanda. We all were wearing a purple ribbon pinned to our chest, since purple is the color of mourning in Rwanda. This museum is dedicated to everyone in Rwanda since the genocide of 1994 affected every single Rwandan. The exhibit explained to us the “Path to Genocide,” the “100-Day Genocide,” the “Aftermath,” and how remarkable the fact is that Rwandans hold their heads high after everything that happened. And upstairs we visited the Children’s Memorial - a room dedicated to the children who were lost during the genocide. Seeing the eyes of these children in the photographs and reading their individual stories moved every one of us. We also went through the part of the exhibit called “Wasted Lives” that presented and explained the history of genocides around the world.

Downstairs we walked through a room filled with personal photographs of the victims. After we explored the museum inside, we all took a walk through the beautiful gardens to the mass graves. We put down a bouquet of flowers on one of the eight mass graves and had a moment of silence to remember all the brave hearts that were lost. It was astonishing to think that 250,000 people were buried there who were unidentifiable or who had no family to provide a proper burial. This experience was heartbreaking for everyone, even more so for the Rwandan girls who visited the memorial for the first time.

Afrika Bite

Then we all got on the bus and were on our way to a cafĂ© called Afrika Bite. Most of the lunches we ate together were buffet-style meals. We all took a seat and then grabbed our plates and got in line around the table to have our first official Rwandan meal. Everything was cooked in beautiful clay pots. You could choose from rice, fried potatoes, sweet potatoes, cooked plantains (that taste like potatoes), vegetable stews, chicken, fish and beef stew. Instead of bread we ate something that resembled a very thick crepe. You could also choose between two sauces. And for dessert we had a choice of the fantastic fruit – melons, papayas, bananas and pineapples. You don’t know how actual fruit really tastes until you have tasted the fruit of Rwanda!

Mosaic Mural at Nyacyonga

We very much enjoyed the scenery on our way to Nyacyonga where the WE-ACTx clinic is located. That is where the mosaic mural will be. The mosaic mural will installed around a clinic window through which the patients receive their medication. Our mural will be the first thing you see when approaching the clinic. Since Jeanne had been in Rwanda for a week before we arrived – many things had already started to develop. First we did a lot of unpacking and divided the tasks. Jeanne did a little presentation to show the Rwandan girls how the whole thing would work because they had no experience in making a mosaic mural before this. We got a lot of things done the first day. We put up the birds, the colorful turbans, Kigali Mountains and the skyline of Chicago and the moon.

Many kids from the clinic and around the area came to see what we were doing. They were very excited and happy to see us. But they were even more excited about the candy and gum that we brought.

We worked on the mosaic until it was dark and hard to see what we were doing. After a long day everyone returned to their houses for a good night's sleep.

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