Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mayor, Immigration, Process, Crash, Macarena....what a day.

It started out simple enough. Yes, another trip to the Mayor’s office. Thankfully it’s just a short walk. Now I am a regular so many people greet me. The Mayor’s committee approved the recommendation for me to become a Citizen which is great! However, it still requires the Mayor’s signature. This requires the Mayo to actually be in his office.

His wonderful assistant played my paper at the top of his things to sign, but he was not yet in. After about 2 hours, we decided I should go back to New Hope Homes and stay put as she would call me as soon as he arrived and signed. Hours later I phoned and he had reviewed but decided that he didn’t need to sign it and I should use the paper I got 2 weeks ago! Wah. He said it would be fine. Please, could he just sign it for me.

His Assistant Louise assured me it would be fine.

As we chatted this morning she offered to share more of her story about the “war” (genocide) with me if I would like to learn more. She could see that I was moved yesterday and while she has forgiven and forgotten, I think she feels safe with me and it’s probably still good to process. The bomb shell she dropped on me this morning that to fully live her life of forgiveness she has adopted a child of “those people” who killed her father. I presume she meant what used to be referred to as Hutu people, not the actual killers as this boy is only 7 years old. She has grately moved my heart. She asked if I could help with funding that this boy might be able to go to Sonrise School where our kids go. Imagine the power of what she was asking. That this child. An offspring of people whom most would go to the grave hating be given the greatest gift that Rwandese children can get given. The Power of a great education. I explained that we didn’t have funding for it and it would be $1300US per year plus $200/term in supplies. She acknowledged the size of that expense. If you are have been moved by her story and would like to help, I will ensure funds get to her.

Then off to immigration. Or so I thought. Cars and Motos (motorbikes) share the roads in crazy close proximity here. Today is was too close. My driver (20 year old Joesph) got a little to close to a Moto. He did the customary ‘beep beep” but the Motor turned into us. Down they went. The Moto driver and his passenger. We weren’t going fast, but they took a tough spill. Like a fool, I opened my door to check on how there were. This of course quickly established that a Moozoongo (white person and thus presumed rich) was in the car. This created quite a stir. The crowds built and the yelling was loud. Witnesses came and took stones to use a chalk like on the front and back of the tires to demonstrate where we stopped. Robert went out to attempt to handle the angry crowd. He returned to announce that they wanted to go to the hospital. I agreed we needed to make it right. The two men approached my passenger door and began yelling at me. Once I spoke a little kinyarwranda and saying it was an accident and we were sorry and yes yes, let’s to go the doctor in the market (my new friend from a few days ago with Rebecca. ) and we ensure it was all taken care of.

They climbed into our van and I directed the driver to the Doctor.

The Doctor examined both men, put some light bandages on them and gave them some antibiotic to ensure they would be fine. Then the fun began. They started negotiating with me for money. The first man who spoke a little English said that he was too injured to work. I countered with I can’t imagine a job that couldn’t be done with the small bandages. The conversation when like this “ So what is your job?” He replied after pausing for a long time “ I don’t have a job. You give me a job.” “You give me money for food”. Me “ What does food have to do with the accident”. Reply “well….I can’t work”. Around and around. Then he said he needed money for the ongoing Doctor treatment. I told him I would definitely give the Doctor whatever was required for their treatment. The Doc returned and basically said they would need their bandages changed. Then came the offer. “You give me $5000 franc and all will be forgotten. “ $5000rfranc is just about $10US/each but I simply did not want to be taken advantage of as it was an accident. Around and around. Then the crowds in the Doc office grew with the men shouting at our driver and at me. Whenever I would speak Kinyarwanda the meanest of the two would start laughing and I knew he thought this was a fun game.

Finally I called sweet Milly , Mbanda’s assistant to sort it out via phone. She agreed with me that I sound not pay. It is a bad precedence when they are simply trying to take advantage of white people. I returned to the men and asked again for the Doctor to come forward to meet us. He said the treatment would be $2500rf each so I said I would pay. The men were delighted….until I told them I would give the Doctor the money and he would give them a credit.

Game Over. Moozoongo wins.

Defeated I told them we would give them a ride back to their Moto, but they could not yell any more. The issue was closed. Or they could walk. They stared at me knowing it was done and thus…they chose to walk.

Phew. Exhausting.

Then off to drop off paperwork to prove our girls Esther and Grace are of age to attend Sonrise. We got to the express bus to the Volcanos who took it there for us.

Next up Immigration. There are literally hundreds of people in line. I know my way around know and know that I should bi-pass this line and go through a back door to speak with the Naturalization people…but each time I pass, I feel terrible – like they think – I think – I am special. Thankfully when they see me gently push through the line and then go through another door the tension eases.

Immigration will be another fun adventure. He reviewed all my paperwork and tried to get me for a loop hole. I knew the background and assured him that it only applies if I have been here less than 5 years and now I have been here longer, so we should be good. With the best Kinyarwanda, friendship, charm I had he agreed to begin the process.

Next step – they must approve the proposal for naturalization. Then I will be notified. Then I must come for a written test about the country and then oral. Needless to say, this won’t be done on this trip. Hopefully next. The people actually love that I want to become a citizen, but process is process and the process here moves slowlyyyyyyyyyyy.

Then Nakumatt…the most wonderful thing that happened to visitors in the past 2 years in Rwanda. A large Kmart like store with 24 hours operation. They have everything. And I mean everything. From food, to wine to buckets to washing machines and toilet paper. I needed to get a few more things for the homes.

Exhausted we headed for home and some fun with the little kids. OMG, they are so cute. They all come running. Missy Donna, Missy Donna. They were all in their little plastic chairs eating when I entered. Again the power went out, but this time they had my solar lights and they continued on with ease. Sweet. Need to keep advancing the ball on these lights.

I had my iphone with me and I recorded some of their songs. Once they got the concept they they sing, I record and play back the fun got intense. I just kept asking them to sing and the results were so random including Jingle Bells..which sounds something like bingle jells. At the end the started humming the macarina that I had taught the older kids a couple of year ago. Then they started with the motions. It was crazy funny. I made each Auntie and Uncle get up and do it with me while the y hummed along. Ya, I luv this little squirts.

Tomorrow. Finally. I get to walk the little kids to school. It’s like a pre-school. I have no idea where it is, I only know that we will leave at 7:45 which could be anywhere between 7 and 8.

Oh my, the most important thing. Rebecca is feeling better, but Mwami is still in need of medical care. Gonna get on that tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What great things you are doing! We hope to see more updates of all the good things happening in Rwanda!