Monday, January 18, 2010

Some thoughts on Kristen.

As I wrote in my blog about a week ago it is rare to find people in your professional life that crossover so warmly in your personal life. Kristen Cavallo is one of those special people for me. She has been a supporter of New Hope Homes from the beginning. Strategically and financially she has been there to help me think of ways to get our kids the help they need. For the past 3 years she has been talking about coming to Rwanda. As I greeted her and her 3 massive boxes at the airport in Kigali I said “I just can’t believe that you are here”. I must have said it at least a few times each day. Having Liles with us was a real blessing, but I didn’t get to meet him in person until he arrived in Kigali. Kristen however is someone I have been sharing my hopes and dreams about our New Hope Homes kids for the past 3+ years. She has sent clothes, shoes and medicine over the years that really helped. Now to have her actually meet the kids and get to know each of them is indescribable. To have someone that I can now discuss things like – what if we did this or that? What special needs do you see for this child? Do you think we should raise funds to get Esther to SunRise boarding school etc etc.? Having someone who really knows the unique personalities of each of the kids is precious. But, hey, that’s how I benefit and the kids benefit. Here’s what I saw about Kristen’s visit. First she was swamped at work before her departure but still found time to reach out lots of people who graciously filled her massive boxes with supplies. From 31 sets of sheets, to educational games and toys she certainly did not come empty handed. Prior to her trip, one day I said…”Oh I just can’t wait to see both of us with kids piled on top of each of us playing.” Her reply – oh wait, didn’t I mention, I would rather focus on transformational things like building the chicken coop or painting things or other things that can have a long term impact on them. I’m not really into having a pile of kids hanging on me”. Ahh, that was then. This is now. I giggled when I saw Kristen usually 5-6 kids deep sitting on her lap or trying to hold her hands or sitting as close as possible working on a puzzle as she dished out oodles of love and hugs. One of the best images was 3 kids surrounding her trying to braid her hair into endless cornrows or snotty runny nosed kids slathering all their love on her and she them. Kristen she made very special connections with lots of the kids, most especially Esther and Lionel. Esther was never far from her side or lap and Lionel loved that she would spend hours reading to him or letting him read to her. All the kids adored her but special connections are special connections. And of course Sande’s relationship with her husband Ian was also with Kristen. She also embraced the transformational things like sorting through clothes, restructing the supply rooms to make more sense and helping with the clothing cubbies that were in the process of being finished when we left. Let’s not forget her beautiful spirit on the crazy road to Kibeho. Not many people I know would have embraced it as such. It’s possible that Kristen’s next journey to New Hope Homes will be without me as she and her husband Ian may try to go together. While I would hate to miss the opportunity to spend time with our kids together, I love that she too has fallen in love with these kids and is committed to help seeing them through. It indeed takes a village.

Some thoughts on Liles.

Liles was a very very special member of our traveling team. It is so important to have our kids, especially the boys, to have access to good men and Liles is one of them. Through his actions, he demonstrated how to be a good leader by always jumping in to help on EVERYTHING. The Mama’s made special note of it in our going away ceremony when they spoke about how much physical work Liles had done and how they so appreciated him. He also played like only boys can play. From setting up a basketball net made of a wash bucket and teaching them how to play to taking tag and hide and seek to faster levels. He also demonstrated how to boy how to be good leaders by carrying chairs at church to hauling water each morning and everything in between. Liles was the very first to say “I can help”. Of course one of the most wonderful things that he did for our kids was to bring computers. This gift is sure to have a lasting impact on our kid lives. He also took the time to make sure they were each loaded with the right educational software etc. The life long skills that our kids will now have access to is sure to give them a jump start and we are grateful. Liles also has great respect for and sensitivity to the culture. Two things we especially noteworthy. One was his active participation in all Praise and church related things – even if that meant spending 5 hours at church on Sundays – he graciously sat with the kids and participated in the singing etc. The 2nd happened the day we left. I had shown Liles a few days earlier that the men who are friends in Rwanda hold hands and even sometimes sit on each others lap. These are straight men who do this. It’s a lovely part of their culture that is foreign to so many who visit. On our walk up the hill to church on Sunday, Pascal reached for Liles open hand as Nshimiye had his other. As he reached out he said, “Liles is my enshoo-tee…my friend”. Pascal is the person that Liles had helped carry water each day. Bless Liles heart as he walked up the entire hill holding his hand and part way down the street. My already great respect for Liles soared to another level as he made Pascal feel like he was indeed his friend. Liles also loved to explore Kigali. Each day he took a 1-3 hour adventure just walking around. He covered lots of territory and met lots of people as he set our to learn more about these beautiful people. It was wonderful to see someone so eager to understand and explore. He also maintained his training schedule by running each day or via his long walks. As you read in one of the earlier posts he actually ran along side the Van when we were driving the bumpy roads in Kibeho. His morning water runs were about as tough as it gets. Liles was also committed to having the most minimal impact on the Mommies, Aunt and Uncles by always eating whatever was served and never asking for hot water at night. Thankfully they never quite understood that so Liles would give me his share of hot water as he wanted to live that they did. All in all, Liles you made a real difference. One of the things Mama Immaculee said at the Celebration/Going Away event was to praise the parents of Kristen, Liles and Donna as surely our parents taught each of us well to care for those in need – Rox and Will, indeed you have. Thanks for sharing your son with us.

Will you come back?

Will you come back? As orphaned and abandoned kids, the words – will you come back – hold special significance to our kids. They have all experienced permanent loss of some sort at very tender ages. They have all loved people that touched their lives and disappeared. They want to know if we will be the next people that do that. It’s important the visitors to New Hope Homes be honest in their answers. No, not cruel if they don’t expect to make the journey again – there are ways to say it. But if you promise to return it’s important that you do as a promise is a very important thing to our kids. The words, will you come back were repeated non stop over the past 24 hours as the kids prepared for Kristen and Donna’s departure. In the ceremony that Kristen referenced from last night, one of the things I told the kids was that many of them talk about coming to America as they think it’s so wonderful, but I haven’t found more love and faith and service than I have found in Rwanda and that is why I will ALWAYS COME BACK. I treasure the photos I have of the kids over the years to show – look how little you were in the picture or that – to demonstrate that I will always be there for them. Now Kristen joins that list of promise makers. She has promised to return and there are shouts of joy to this idea. A special new connection and promise has also emerged in that Kristen’s husband Ian is now committed to coming too. Ian made some powerful connections with many of the kids but most especially Sande. Sande and Ian are super football (aka soccer) fans and given that we’re in the middle of the African cup they would both watch the various games and have daily skype chats about it. Sande grew to eagerly await the chats and since they are fans of archrivals (Chelsea vs Arsenals) there was great teasing going on. I listened from afar and tried to sear the joy on Sande’s face each day into my heart as he chatted with Ian. Thanks for being such a special part of our trip Ian. Today, Sunday morning was Kristen and my last day. We went to the compound with some small amounts of money for each of the adults who helped take such great care of us and the remaining items from the Market that we did a few weeks ago where people could pick one item. We gave each of the women a scarf and the boys and kids could pick ONE thing from the grab bag. It was a great way to start the day full of joy. Normally the kids would greet us in tears knowing that today was the last day for us. After hearing stories about how emotional the kids get on departures, Kristen was determined to make our departure a different. Joy and laughter was her mandate and I tried my best to support that vision as my gut and heart were all mixed together and were being ripped apart. Of course I know that she was right, it’s just way too hard for me. We don’t know if the women really liked the scarves that we presented to each of them but Mama Imaculee took the lead and pulled off her scarf and replaced it with ours to great shouts for joy. The other women followed suit. Kristen and I came dressed in the local traditional clothes that we had planned on wearing the party the night before but never got the chance to change given the chaos. We were greeted with “very smart”, “very smart” Miss Donna and Mrs Kristen. We needed their help to create the headwraps so the aunties jumped in and divided up with about 2-3 people working on each of our heads. They then told Kristen to come see herself in a the mirror. A mirror? There is only one in all 3 homes so Kristen was shocked to have access to the one that was available. (Liles has been able to shave each day thanks to a small cosmetic mirror that Sarah had left). The kids were all dressed in their Sunday best and Kristen was pleased to see some of the kids wearing the clothes that she sent over last March when we did a drive to get new Sunday/dress up clothes for each of the kids. After goodbyes to the kids who are too little to make the walk to church and the men who still had work today we began the parade to church singing along the way including a belated Happy Birthday to Kristen. It was also another opportunity to let the kids take more pics with one of my 5 cameras. They are learning a lot about how to shoot and making great progress. They love love love to take photos and take pride in seeing the pics uploaded to the computer. We arrived a bit late for the English service as our group photo at the house and all the goodbyes had taken up some time and as we started walking towards the gate Claudine had come running up with a plate of pancakes for Kristen. Yes, pancakes. She shared them with some of the kids and off we went. I took some time with each child as the preacher did his thing and some songs were sung. I prayed for safety, good health and that they would grow to be the best that God had in store for them. Then I whispered into the ears of each of the bigger kids all the things that I wanted them to know. Things like how proud I am of them, what fine leaders they are becoming and how much I appreciate what a great sister or brother they are. Each got a slightly different messaged tailored to their unique personality. They each beamed as I tried to uplift their spirits. Kristen kept giving me the evil eye if she sensed that I was going to break down and cry. It worked for the most time. She kept saying to the kids “today is a great day, God is happy today” as we would be coming back. Her approach even worked with Esther for the most part. Esther had sat in Kristen’s lap for a portion of the morning trying to go to her normal sad and crushed face and tears when visitors she had made special connections with leave. Kristen allowed her some grief but ensured it was short lived and she returned to happy. In our efforts to create an easy goodbye we realized that had never fully explained to the kids that we would be leaving at the of the English service. So when I grabbed Kristen and said it was time to go, some hadn’t noticed that we were leaving. Others just returned the blown kisses that Kristen and I sent. Everyone was doing quite well as Kristen headed for the car. I turned to say my final goodbyes only to find Isaac with his head in his lap. I thought he was resting until I leaned down and saw the tear stains on the floor. Isaac is one of the smarted kids we have at New Hope Homes and is between 10 and 11. He also often holds in his emotions and replaces them with intellectual understanding and growth. Sometimes he likes to give me little jabs like he doesn’t care if I come or not as she stares me down when I ask him to do something out of his comfort zone like – you are so weird Miss Donna – but funny. So, to see the tears flow so much from his sweet face was so heartfelt. I bent beside him and whispered in his ear that “I love you Isaac. I am very proud of you. You know I will ALWAYS come back. You are stuck with me for life”. The you are stuck with me for life is a line that came up a few days ago when I asked Lionel if I could be in his life forever and ever and he said yes. Then I asked if he would cuddle on my lap as he was doing at that moment when he got bigger – this he couldn’t promise ☺. Isaac had teased me that he didn’t care if I was there forever, but now the tears reaffirmed that I would be welcomed. There are very few things that these kids could really count on. I plan on being one of those things as they grow to be adults. We blew kisses to Liles who now will be the solo visitor with all the kids for 3 more days and still had another 2.5 hours of a Kinyarwanda service to set though. Yikes.I got to the car and burst into tears only to have Chantal say “oh Miss Donna, we love you”. Kristen smacked me back into plan A and tried my best to wipe away the tears but they were oozing from my heart if not on the outside. Chantal and Mbanda drove us to the airport, unloaded the car and walked us to security. As Kristen thanked them for letting us come and inquired if she would again be welcome they of course said yes yes yes I reached for Chantal and buried my head on her shoulder and sobbed like a baby. After a few minutes, Kristen said. “oh great, thanks. Now I get to deal with this for the rest of the trip back…thanks. “. To be clear, it’s not the Kristen didn’t fall in love with these kids – she surely did. It’s just that she was already looking forward to her next return so she was full of joy. I was still focused on how long it would be before I got to hold them in my arms or speak directly with them. I think it’s the difference between having kids to come home to in the states vs knowing that my kids live in Rwanda. We hung out at Kigali airport for 2 hours, then flew to Nairobi and killed 6 hours, then Amsterdam with a 9 hour layover where we got showers and a back massage – ahhh, I like traveling with Kristen. We skyped with Liles from Nairboi and learned that some of the kids were asking Liles were we were as they didn’t realize we had left…and when would we be back. – whoops – in our effort to create a fun goodbye I guess would should have been specific about the departure. Ahh, no worries, Liles will be GREAT fun for them. We went our separate ways in Amsterdam but our lives our now joined in finding ways to help get our kids access to all the key things that they need to thrive. We’ve made notes for the next set of visitors in march. Our kids need PJ’s. They each are bathed each night but then climb back into their dirty clothes that they played in for the days to sleep. We need more quality shoes and lots more underwear. If you want to help, please contact Kristen or Me and we’ll tell you the specifics. I will also do a post in a few days to list the specific needs. We are also trying to start a medical fund for two of our special needs kids – Deborah and Desami who need PT 2x a week and will need life long care. This trip now comes to a conclusion, but the journey continues.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A blur

Today was a blur. Donna taught school. She focused on body parts and words to describe ailments (cough, headache, fever etc) so that the kids can help the adults determine the correct medicine needed if they get sick. She also taught them how to cough into their arm vs hands. They giggled and laughed. It was a new concept, and a good one. Kristen organized and reorganized clothes with Chantal for the kids leaving for school. They she played, and played and played with the kids. She and Donna trekked back and forth between houses to get pictures and to work with the carpenter. The carpenter is building over 90 cubbies, in addition to a computer table and chairs. His day was busier than ours. Liles carried water (no doubt the hardest activity of each day) and made a scrumptious dinner for everyone! Quite a feat. He cooked spaghetti and pasta for 44 on a coal stove, with one pan and one pot – and delivered it EXACTLY on time! Amazing. We ate dinner in the schoolroom, using candles from Kibeho and table cloths Donna made from fabric. Their addition transformed the room. Chantal brought homemade doughnuts and Mbanda brought bread. Claudine ran to get Fanta for all. The babies sat on floor mats with the mama’s and aunties. The kids (4+) sat at the tables. The rest of us meandered and served. After dinner the kids took turns thanking us individually, and then the mamas/aunties said wonderful prayers for us in Rwandan (I know they were wonderful because Chantal and Mbanda translated for us!). Claudine played the drum and everyone started singing and dancing, thanking us for coming and praying for our safe travel home. The program lasted for over an hour. It was so nice!! Donna had a wonderful tribute to her second family and didn’t become a complete blubbering mess. (She tried but I did my best to make her laugh frequently.) We ended the night with ice cream and balloons for each of the kids. They loved them and played for hours. Donna and I left the house at 11 pm and everyone was still awake! Even the babies!! We were up late packing and then up early for church this morning. No worries – we’ll sleep on the multiple planes. I am trying to talk Donna into a trip into Amsterdam during our 10 hour layover. She’s being reluctant but I have time to work on her!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So much to share

Today began the long good bye and so much work yet to be done. We'll update the blog in the next 48 hours. The kids send love and lots of tears as we depart in the next 12 hours for the long journey back to America. I'm not ready to go.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Productive Day

The carpenter came to deliver the cubbies for each of the kids. As some of the children get older, they are wanting someplace for letters, photos or their own shoes. We are also surprising each of them with new sheets. They will be so thrilled. The Carpenter miscalculated a few things so he promises to be back at 7 AM. No time wasted. He delivered a new computer table today for the school. Liles brought three used Dell laptops and he’s led daily classes in preschool computer games, how to Skype and basic Word. It is a highpoint in their day. We have set up a Skype account for the home and added ourselves into their contact lists. I am anxious to see if it works. We are teaching Esther (7) everything as the older kids are off to boarding school on February 1. We took tons of photos today! Many special donors sent photos of themselves so the children could put names with faces. Donna “introduced” each child to the person, family or group that sponsors them and took a photo. The kids and adults sat on the porch and passed around the photos for a long time. The children especially loved the drawings or personal notes sent to them. What a treat. Kayetasi still felt a bit nauseated so we gave her Tums, then Pepto Bismol. Afterward, we introduced different types of medicine to the adults. Donna and Kristen organized a closet to have a medicine section, starting with things for the babies up to the 12 year-olds. We taught Claudine and the social worker how to determine the appropriate dosages. Lastly, we tried to explain the difference between congestion, cough and cold, and flu medicine. Frankly, it’s a bit confusing to me too. We had Alice (6) translating for us. I think tomorrow in school we will go over these as vocabulary words. Liles took a four hour walking journey and found a place that served hamburgers! He went to the city center to see the UN headquarters, Parliament and the soccer stadium. He came back and organized another rousing game of basketball. John Pierre (the house nightwatchman/handman) played soccer with the children. They LOVED it! As an aside: when he “mows” the lawn he whacks the blades of grass with a machete. It takes a long time and is a tiring process. But you wouldn’t know it as he sings and whistles while he mows. I saw our new cloth diapers being dried on the line today. The Mama’s are so appreciative. Here is something amazing. I didn’t notice this until I’d been here about 2 or 3 days but the homes generate no waste. None. There is no packaging on their market items - soap is cut into a bar as you buy and fruits/vegetables are carried home in baskets or reusable handled bags. The rinds of bananas or potatoes become compost for the yard. Rice/flour/tea leaves are kept in canvas reusable bags. When you buy a soda in a bottle, you drink it at the store and leave the bottle to be recycled. Diapers are cloth and washed. Vegetable oil does come in plastic jugs, but they are cleaned and used to carry water every day. There is no trash service. No trash cans lining the streets. No trash on the streets or sidewalks for that matter. The water for our hot bath is heated on the stove after dinner and we carry it home in a thermos or plastic jug. One per person. We combine it with cold water collected from rain or bought at the market. The kids are bathed every night. Their shoes are washed by hand and dry in the air. Their clothes are washed each day in plastic tubs outside and hung on the line. This process takes awhile. There are 28 kids, 10 of which are young (under 3) and many in cloth diapers. Sit down meals are made for all children and adults 3x a day. Plus two snacks. Usually tea with fruit or cookies. The Mamas and aunties work from early morning until late at night. They love the children and treat them well. Tomorrow is the last full day for Donna and Kristen. We have a treat planned – we bought Ragu and ice cream and will make spaghetti for everyone. Liles is taking the lead on the cooking while Donna and Kristen help set the tables and assist. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Road Trip (by Kristen)

Today we took the 7 older kids (Isaac, Fabiola, Innocent, Sande, Lionel, Kayitesi and Marie Rose) on a road trip to see Kibeho. It is a site where The Virgin Mary appeared to three young adults twelve years prior to the Genocide and foretold of its coming. It is considered a blessed site. It also happens to be a four hour drive from Kigali, each way. It also happened to be the day after a torrential rain storm, meaning the last 27km of dirt road would be tough and precarious. Have I mentioned the kids are never in the car more than in 10 minute increments? Despite all these red flags, we ventured off anyway. Might I add, with minimal supplies (two pineapples, 10 mini granola bars, 2 boxes of raisins, 3 bottles of water and a batch of mini bananas. We figured we’d eat along the way. More on that later. In the first 20 minutes, we’d stopped 4 times for bathroom breaks and gas. To fill a quarter tank cost $65 US dollars. Nature supplied the toilets. The drive was beautiful. The farm land is terraced up the mountains and everything is green as we’re in the rainy season. The primary crops were corn, bananas and chai tea. The rural people were thrilled (I think) to see us and would literally run beside the van laughing and yelling. They call us Moozoongoo (white person). In one village the kids had homemade scooters. They were crafted from wood and a grocery cart wheel. Really impressive creativity. We saw many goats, some pigs and a few cows. The pigs live in mini huts (like dog houses) in rows on stilts over water in the middle of crop fields. I asked Sande “Why do pigs live on stilts over water?” and he replied “Because that’s the way it is.” He looked at me like I was stupid. Good answer, I said. The first 2 hours went smoothly, except for one child who unexpectedly vomited in the car on my foot and Donna’s leg. Bless her, she smiled right through it. I, however, dry heaved a few times. Then there was the mad dash for the side of the road for a potty break. Liles couldn’t understand why it was such a stunning revelation that the kids had to pee, but we were never given more than a minute’s notice. Their bodily functions were always a surprise to them and us. After 2 hours of paved roads, the last 27 kms were uphill, windy, muddy and with steep cliffs. Large cavernous holes were abundant. Bridges were crudely built from a handful of logs. I won’t lie. It was exhausting. I don’t know what we were thinking. Keep in mind we’re in THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Being stuck means…being stuck. Kids did seem to materialize out of the forest whenever it happened. It was oddly reassuring. Once they helped us by laying logs and stones in the holes to help us navigate through. It worked. We were all cheering and high fiving. It was as good as any winning pitch day. Liles decided to get out and run in the mud at one point. I think he was just antsy. Many people smiled but some thought he was odd. Our car cheered him on. The kids loved it. Donna’s snow experience came in handy when she asked the driver to get out so she could maneuver once when we were stuck. We passed prisoners (called Genocide Heirs) working in the fields. They wear bright pink coveralls. Four hours later, we finally arrived. I must add, the kids never complained. I tried to compliment them on that, but they said they didn’t understand the word ‘complain.’ I just smiled. What an amazing thing. They also shared our minimal food so willingly. The two boxes of raisins fed 10 of us. I’m not kidding. Everyone got 5 raisins and said they were satisfied. “Thank you very much” was echoed 7 times. I’m sure the kids were starving as much as we were, but not a peep from them. Liles mentioned it about 15 times though. The Holy site was interesting. At its high point there were many pilgrimages and hundreds of people there with frequency. Today it was mostly deserted. The mission long ago left behind. The church and memorial were beautiful. For Donna this was a special experience. She spent a quiet moment in the chapel saying thanks for her father’s healing two years ago. She got amazingly close to talking to one of the three people who “met” Mary, but the woman had just left. There was a clinic there for those who came for healing. The people were nice and I sensed we were the most exciting thing to happen in quite a while. Liles trekked to find a restaurant and our hosts were gracious. They brought out a plastic basin with a bar of soap and water in a jug. We washed our hands and said a prayer. Then we bought everything. I mean everything. We ate 20 Samosa’s and bought the remaining 18 for the ride home. The chai tea was warm and sweet. The rice and sauce plates were spicy and good. The chips (fries) were yummy. It was a feast for kings.To feed all 10 of us cost $20 US dollars. That included a generous tip. The bathroom out back was another thing all together. It was basically a hole in the ground in a hut. It creaked and the planks were unsteady. It smelled awful. I dryheaved about a dozen times and Donna laughed so hard she nearly peed her pants before entering. Upon departing, we met the owner, who showed us his plans for a new bathroom and outdoor kitchen. They were hard at work. I didn’t have the heart to mention he’d placed the bathroom hut upon higher ground, draining into the kitchen as the waste water flowed down hill. Our last stop at Kibeho was a gift shop. Donna bought a ton of rosaries, candles, charms and other holy items. Kristen bought 4 packages of chocolate cookies and some toilet paper for the ride home. Clearly only one of us is guaranteed a spot in heaven. The ride home was faster. We found a new road down the mountain which took an hour off the trip. I kept wondering where this road was all along. The mud on the road was literally being smoothed by Catapiller machinery on the way. It was as different as night and day. The first road could have been in an episode of Man Vs Wild, while the latter road was nearly civilized. We stopped one last time for chicken feed on the way home (I’m skipping the 5 potty stops bc you get the idea by now). The chicken coop workers live at the coop with the chickens. Not surprisingly, we spotted lots of wine bottles. I’d drink too if surrounded by 2000 chickens for 24 hours a day. Liles pulled a bag of feed from a building with no lights. Dark and remote. Luckily Donna had a headlamp. I don’t know anyone else in my life with a headlamp. While it’s not fashionable, it has come in handy more often than I’d like to admit. After another potty break and a third vomit experience (“are you ok?’ “yes” “are you sure?” “yes…blaaah”), we were back in the car for the final 30 minutes. We couldn’t get the air to work and the car smelled. We were all sweating. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life. Donna and I broke into a fit of giggles. We were both crying from laughing. The kids didn’t understand but were relieved when we explained that we were ok. Ahh, it was a good time had by all. Quite possibly the high point of my day was driving into New Hope Homes at 8pm at night. The gate opened and we were greeted with cheers from 21 kids and 10 adults, all standing in the driveway. Hugs followed, as if we’d been gone a year. We danced to the car radio and shared the remaining chocolate cookies with the smaller kids. It was an outdoor party for 40 minutes. The mommies gave us each a jug of hot water for a bath tonight (Yea!!) and some warm tea. What a homecoming. (See photos below)

Road Trip to Kibeho, Rwanda

The kids run along side the van welcoming us.

The rural views are stunning

Assessing how best to get through this muddy trap and paying some kids who helped push

Baby chicks where we got the feed for our chickens

Very cool bikes ....very inventive

Liles gets in his morning workout by running aside the car & a Local wonders about the moozoongo

A young boy explaining to our kids about Mary's appearance and Donna with a shop keeper from the foundation

Kibeho. The location where Mary appeared and asked people to pray. She foreshadowed the genocide

The Exterior of Kristen and Donna's Bathroom in Kibeho

Kristen and Donna's toilet at the restaurant

Kids working so hard.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fun and Games

Fun and Games Kristen here. The days start early and end late. Today started at 4:15 am for me. I awoke to someone singing hymns. It was nice. The roosters chimed in around 6 am. By 8:10 the kids strolled in laughing and kicking the Kittleson’s balls. I taught school today. We unscrambled words, learned to multiply by 5 and 10, and talked about the earth’s core being hot (it was a surprise as most assumed cold). We then spent about 30 minutes going through the Encyclopedia – they wanted to go page by page. Snakes and geckos and tigers were all known. There was delight about the Earth rotating around the Sun, volcanos and the way the brain looks inside a skull. Donna went with Mama Vestine and Sieba (social worker) and Desami to the physical therapist to check on Desami’s foot. We have a plan: 2 days a week for 3 months of therapy ($2 a day). After that a plaster cast, then a good shoe and maybe a brace. They believe he will walk. The doctor said it was his brain, not his foot, that needs to be retrained. This afternoon was spent skyping with Ian/Matt/Kate, Sue Whitehouse, the Kittleson’s and Tina. It is a high point in their day. It is fun to hear how conversations have evolved during the week. With frequent skypers, they have moved beyond hellos to talk about the soccer game last night between Nigeria and Egypt, and Isaac and Ian even spoke in French. Liles built an airplane out of sticks and paper with Innocent and Nshimye. Kristen started an insanely tough puzzle with Esther, Kayitesi and Betty. After 4 hours we still have a long way to go. Grace beat Esther, Kristen and Marie Rose at back to back games of Memory, while Esther won two games of Go Fish. The Playdoh continues to be a big hit. Donna found that Prince stashed it last night out back with the chickens. Luckily it came back today. Lastly, we helped make dinner by spreading beans out on bags to dry in the sun. We also spread out flour to warm in the sun. Donna, Isaac, Kristen and Claudine ventured to the market in the late afternoon for pineapples and traditional dresses. Donna was a pied piper with her camera. She had a line 5 deep at all times asking to have their photo taken. She indulged each and every one. They loved being photographed and seeing the photo in the display screen. Isaac translated the nice comments and left out the not-so-nice ones. Ever the diplomat. It was a fascinating experience. On the way home Donna and Claudine took taxi bikes for the adventure (20 cents each), while Isaac and Kristen walked. Isaac played with my iPhone and had lots of people smiling as he walked by. He now has the top 3 high scores on Bubblewrap. He wanted Matt to know he bumped him to 4th and 5th.  Off to dinner, English lessons with the mamas/aunties, and dance time with the kids. Whew.

Innocent helping dry out our casava (flour like substance) in the sun

Ester helping sort through our beans to help them dry in the sun

A new bday dress for Kristen

Kids making dinner along side the road near our home

more photos from the market - including a womam i met a year ago.

Market our Home

Desami's Doctor Appt