Okay, so Kampala was a month ago so I need to catch you up. The Italian roommate moved back to Italy and a few weeks later the American girl, Karen moved in. Now, Karen and I get along really well- plus she brought with her a small fridge and stove (this is life-changing news!!) We’ve taken to watching episodes of 21-Jumpstreet on her laptop in the evenings. She works for “Food for the Hungry” with our friends Christi and Tom. In about one week, we will be joined by another VSO named April who has come to work in Gitarama as an audiologist. I welcome the company and although some days the 2 hours of commute to Kamonyi is un-fun, I marvel at how lucky I am NOT to have to live in the remote area first suggested. The first week of August was still school holiday but I elected to work through it. (My four days in Kampala was vacation enough- there is work to be done!) I rented a moto and spent three hours driving around Kamonyi District trying to locate my 20 schools. Emile, my moto driver speaks only Kinyarwanda but we were able to locate 9 schools altogether- and one Black Mamba Snake!! Funniest part was, I was standing about 2 feet from it, remarking on how it looked like a long stick, or piece of rubber tire before I finally acknowledged, oh yeah, that’s a snake.. okay a pretty big, menacing looking one.. that’s okay it’s dead. I think in retrospect, had it been alive, the ending of this story would’ve been different. I snapped some pictures (it was on the playground of Shelli Primary School) and as you may or may not be able to tell, someone had taken a shovel and cut it into thirds. Aside from the occasional spider, our now FOUR ghecko housepets (yup Bill and Sally Ghecko have two young offspring now) and kitchen ants of various sizes, I haven’t actually had to deal with much African Wildlife.
Around August 8th, we said goodbye to one VSO girl who was returning to England, having completed her one year contract. I was so curious about how she felt to be leaving. Some VSOs are around university age and their year of volunteering is prior to entering the “real world”. Others are of the retirement age and they have the benefit of having completed their careers. There are only a handful who have chosen to break away from their current career to veer off into “volunteer world”. I’m finding I relate very well to Karen, Christi and Tom who work for FH- we are all the same age. Luckily, I am also finding that the need to lean on or seek advice from people has lessened. (I really value my independence so this is a welcome relief). There are far less emergencies, queries or concerns and those that do come up, I can try to resolve or absorb myself. The upside to these friendships are the regular convening of meals/poker night/movie night or trips into Kigali together. The highlight of these experiences may have been two Saturdays ago when one VSO from Ireland celebrated his 50th birthday at an Indian restaurant with 80% of all VSO volunteers living in Rwanda in attendance. It was nice to meet up with so many friends I’d come across during my first few months here. In the context of the group dynamic though, the people who arrived together definitely have a tight bond. I’m a little envious of that. There are 15 new volunteers who’ve just arrived yesterday and they are receiving a 10-day orientation. I reflect somewhat on my turbulent beginning and am grateful to have landed smoothly here in Gitarama with such a nice group of friends. Okay, next blog will include details of the golfball-sized bumblebees, the bat colony in Shyogwe and the goat on the roof of the Primary 4 classroom during a lesson on adverbs! Haha, life is never dull here.