Friday, June 06, 2008

A double encouragement

A good day as we enter our last 3 weeks in Cyangugu.
We had a meeting at the nearby primary school, privately run by the diocese. There was a structured agenda, well-written report from the head teacher, punctual start and a discussion about wider issues, not just current crises (which are thankfully few). We left feeling that we had contributed in some small way to the development of this school through our training, encouragement and visits (Sheena is currently teaching there 2 mornings a week).
Finishing at 4pm, we headed to the local football stadium, where an “Expo” has been organised. There were a lot of exhibitors and a reasonable number of people visiting. The western-style DJs and dancers in the corner attracted a fair crowd of young people. There were quite a few interesting products, too, including some we wished we had come across sooner. Making furniture is an important business here and quite a lot of people around Kamembe are employed that way. The favourite material is wood, but it is heavy and expensive. One stall had bamboo furniture; sturdy, well-made, attractive and at a price where you could furnish a whole sitting room for the price of a wooden settee (about £150). Someone else had ceiling tiles made of papyrus. Cheaper than “triplex”, the local name for hardboard, they also look a lot nicer and don’t need painted. They are also, of course, a natural material grown locally.
There were tea and coffee exhibitors (Rwanda’s main exports) and a good number of foodstuffs, crafts and herbal medicines. Rusizi District was showing a promotional video. Overall, there was a very good feeling about this event. There was enterprise, creativity and an opportunity to relax and learn : a real sign of the progress the country is making and not so often seen in this remote corner.

As an aside on Rwanda’s application to join the Commonwealth and its push to become more Anglophone than French-speaking : while all the signs were in Kinyarwanda, we still found French a lot more useful than English when speaking to people at this event.

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