Amidst the hullabaloo of the second half of our workshop week, it’s been a struggle to muster the energy to sit and write about it. Thankfully we’ve now been able to take a breather in a place called Kayonza, and we are really excited about what the past few days have brought!
Thursday and Friday were surprisingly smooth running – a mixture of timeliness and the fact we had run the workshops so many times already really showed in these two days, and all the team members were well versed in what to say and how to make sure the children were able to engage. It is rewarding to see the Rwandan students taking workshops into their own hands and knowing that we assisted them in reaching this point. We will compile a report with final numbers of the numbers of children we have seen once we return, but it is a lot, and often more than we expected!
A nice touch to the end of the week was also the chances we got to bond with the Rwandan girls. We took it in turns to showcase Scottish and Rwandan traditional dancing, and on Friday we gave the Rwandan team some Scottish tablet to try. Mixed responses! We have been so busy that we haven’t really had a chance to share our cultures with each other, but we plan to do more of this in the last few days before we leave.
On Friday we also got to take over the University of Glasgow Snapchat, and we managed to reach over 1000 people through the little videos we took of our day. Although it doesn’t seem the most professional marketing method, we know that this gave many people a clear insight into what the project is about and we have downloaded a full version of the videos taken that we can upload to our other media.
This morning we had an early rise so we could go to Kayonza in the East of Rwanda. We are staying at the Discover Rwanda Kayonza Eco Lodge, which is linked with many of the sustainable activities in the region, such as cow milking, coffee plantations and basket weaving. The Women for Women centre, which trains women to work for themselves, is attached to the lodge, but sadly was closed for the weekend (although we did get a chance to purchase some of their goods!). We trekked around the countryside in the morning to visit the coffee growers and washing centres, met the women who sort through the coffee beans, and got a look around the different pipes and troughs used to prepare the beans. Whilst waiting for our bus driver to come and get us, we ended up stuck in the centre of a small village, surrounded by what seemed like the entire village population. We got a few low-fives from some of the kids, but most of the inhabitants just seemed to be making fun of us, for reasons we may never know. It was very interesting to be in the midst of more rural areas, and we also got to meet some very cute goats.
Next stop was IPRC East, a technical school and college with many branches all around Rwanda. We had previously had a visit from some girls from IPRC Kigali, so we knew a little about what the school was like. They gave us lunch and then we were taken to a classroom where we could meet some of the girls studying there. Due to altercations in the canteen (?) and a gender-based violence workshop that had happened in the morning, we were waiting quite a while for the room to fill up. However, when it did, we had over 50 girls in this one room, and all were eager to learn more about us and ask for advice about their careers. We introduced the topics we had been presenting in our workshops the past week, and then split the room into groups for us to have more informal chats with the girls. Many of them studied General Mechanics or Motorvehicle Mechanics, and were all very passionate about it. Two girls in my group wanted to own their own garage! The desire for self-employment and entrepreneurship was great to see, and although we aren’t exactly trained in giving career advice, it was nice to have the opportunity to inspire the girls to search more for themselves. We tried to get the point across that they can do whatever they want to, and that they should make sure to really investigate the opportunities that lie ahead of them. With no powerpoints or workshop materials we did initially feel a little lost, but sometimes just having conversations is stimulating enough and the girls we spoke to seemed quite happy about it too!
We returned to the lodge and checked out the gift shop before going to milk a nearby cow. Again it was nice to be amongst the villagers and more low-fives were bestowed. It turns out that milking a cow isn’t the easiest skill! But we got to keep the milk and drink it after our dinner. Our bedrooms tonight are dubbed “Deluxe Tents”, the term “glamping” comes to mind, especially as the tents have bathrooms with running water! After an insightful day, the girls have all gone to bed early to prepare for the 5am rise that awaits us – apparently safari parks have the most animals visible first thing in the morning..
In conclusion, the team are looking forward to (and are much in need of) a day of rest, or at least a day away from the university, but we are also very eager to see what will happen in the next week, with a potential visit from the Minister of Education lined up amongst other interesting meetings. Not much time left now, so we want to make the most of it.
Lots of love,
The FemEng in Rwanda team