Thursday, January 17, 2008
Rwanda Mission Trip..."You Never Know Unless You Ask"
"You never know unless you ask." Those were the words spoken by our friend, Frank Pollari, before he asked Ward and I if we wanted to join him on a missionary trip to Rwanda, a country recovering from the 1994 genocide. The purpose of the mission was to build a library in the new Nu-Vision Missionary High School which was headed by Martin and Evelyn Rusanga. After a couple of hours of contempletion Ward and I gladly accepted.
For 3 weeks we worked side-by-side with Frank, Lacey, Len and Mary, all from Thunder Bay, Canada. Ward and I had the challenge of building and assembling 60 shelving units with 1 inch plywood and flathead screws that would snap in half. During this process Ward started to speak a new language *!?**?! Meanwhile, Frank, Len and Mary worked on assigning dewey decimal numbers to the thousands of books delivered from Thunder Bay. You can challenge Mr. Librarian (Frank) with any topic and I guarantee that he will be able to tell you the dewey number for it. Lacy worked deligently matching books to the science curriculum and designing the lab. After many long days the project was completed. Frank, Ward and I celebrated by drinking some banana beer (it was strong and sweet). Len and Mary stayed in Rwanda to help with the hiring of the school staff and assist in the opening of the school which was scheduled for the beginning of January 2008. Lacy was hired as the science lab teacher and returned to Rwanda after Christmas to start her new job in Kabuga, Africa.
How is Rwanda recovering? They continue to progress and develop. However, they still struggle with an underdeveloped infrastructure. The electriciy and water supply are unpredictable and many roads have not seen a maintainer since 1984 which makes four wheel drive a must. They still have 70% unemployment rate which results in a mass amount of people walking the streets at all hours of the day and night. However, this percentage does not indicate levels of motivation...quite the contrary. The Rwandan people are out at 6:00am standing with shovels or homemade hauling carts...hoping to be hired. Bikes are used as taxis for transportation or to haul food, chickens, wood or charcoal to the market. They carry baskets filled with fruit, water jugs, wood, linen, etc on their heads. They are hardworking substance farmers.
Rwanda is one of the cleanest, friendliest and safest places that we have visited so far on our world trip. It has been a life changing experience. Thanks Frank for asking the question.