27 September 2014

Lending A Hand In Kigali

Sat 27 Sep: Community Service in Rwanda

Wow does life feel good after a proper night of sleep! Everyone was up and ready for what turned out to be a really big day full of new experiences.
We learned last night that we were here for their monthly national day of community service, where every citizen and visitor across Rwanda spends the morning doing community service in their local area. There is a chairperson, a leadership committee and near mandatory participation. Cars are not allowed on the road, shops are not allowed to be open and even the president takes part!
140927_Kimberley College_World Vision Australia Experience Rwanda_Inspired Adventures_the sweepers on national community service day
We joined our local group and put it a solid few hours sweeping, raking and pruning a large section of land in the heart of Kigali.
140927_Kimberley College_World Vision Australia Experience Rwanda_Inspired Adventures_Emily, Chelsea, Michael, Candice and Dave cleaning
Everyone really enjoyed the opportunity to get their hands dirty and several noted that it was a moment when they didn’t feel like tourists because everyone mucked in together regardless of anything at all.
From there we hopped in our transport vehicles and headed north for Ruhengeri, where we will visit the golden monkey preserve within Rwanda’s largest national park tomorrow. What we expected to be a scenic yet otherwise uneventful drive turned into a major cultural experience as we stopped to take in the view of the Nile river (under a different name here in Rwanda) which runs from the centre of the African continent all the way to the mediterranean sea!
Within minutes of arriving we were inundated by local kids who were curious at the large group of white people wandering around their village. This was the first experience like it for the group and it was a learning one. How do we take photos without feeling like we’re objectifying the local people? How do we not feel objectified when asked for money and food and other items? How are we perceived driving around a developing country in our convoy of SUVs while still trying to have a local experience? These questions and so many more are ones we will continue to work at answering over the next week.
140927_Kimberley College_World Vision Australia Experience Rwanda_Inspired Adventures_Jess making a new friend
We closed the day with a visit to the local market in Ruhengeri, which was also quite an experience. Again, the sites, sounds and smells took people by surprise and led to a really interesting conversation about what the word “need” really means. We’ve been here only 36 hours and already every one of us has been challenged to really think about so many aspects of our day-to-day lives. No doubt the next week will be truly life-changing. Be sure to read our guest blog by Kimberley College student, Chelsea Taylor – read blog.

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