Day 9 & 10 (the weekend!)

After the very late night, the team were excited to get a lie in, getting up around 9 as opposed to the usual 6:30am.

In Rwanda, there is a tradition called Umuganda, which roughly means “coming together for the common purpose to achieve an outcome”, in which on the last Saturday morning of every month, Rwandans gather and work on community projects and cleaning. Businesses are closed and transportation is limited as the communities nationwide come together to make Rwanda the cleanest country in East Africa. This is not mandatory, but several of the Rwandan girls took part.
Many of the girls travelled home for the weekend, so after a lunch together, the Glasgow team were free to choose how to spend our weekend days off, so naturally we went and got our nails done! While waiting at the salon, it was interesting for the Glasgow girls to watch the styling and braiding of African hair. The salon was pretty busy, so by the time all six of us finished, with colourful nails/toes, it was time to start thinking about dinner.

Instead of visiting our usual restaurant, we decided to explore a new area. Unfortunately, after quite a long walk to the restaurant we found online, we realised it had closed down! We soon found a little bakery, and bought samosas, bread stick pastries and mini pizzas, and sat on the side of the road enjoying these delicious pastries, before returning home for the night.

On Sunday, after an 8 am breakfast (many of the Rwandan girls attended church), the Glasgow team set off for our treat day. We walked to the Hôtel des Milles Collines. This hotel is famous for sheltering 1,268 Tutsis during the genocide in 1994. The hotel became the basis of the film, “Hotel Rwanda”. Using our personal spending money, we enjoyed the all day brunch buffet and relaxing by the pool. We all were a bit more tanned, filled up with dessert, and relaxed, ready for a new week of school and site visits.

In the evening, we travelled to a suburb of Kigali with Lydie, the Rwandan team leader, as her family had invited us all over for dinner. Her dad is a TV journalist in Rwanda, and her mum an ex school teacher who now runs a small shop. Two of Lydie’s 5 siblings also joined us in the living room for food and good conversation. Lydie’s mother had prepared a huge number of dishes, including avocado salad, peas, cassava bread, fish, finishing off with a bowl of fresh fruit for dessert. It was explained to us that in East Africa, the person hosting the dinner should make way too much food, and if all the food is eaten, it is a sign that they didn’t make enough. It’s also common to make a variety of dishes in case the guests don’t like something.

In Rwanda, the national language is Kinyarwanda. Due to the colonisation, schools were taught in French, another official language of Rwanda. In the early 2000s, English was added to the schooling system, and in 2008 it fully transitioned from French to English. This means the younger population, and all the Rwandan team, were taught in English and are fluent in our language, with varying levels of French. This is the opposite for the older population, who speak primarily French and Kinyarwanda, and varying levels of English. While Lydie’s father understood a lot of English, he preferred to speak in French, while Jeanne translated. The rest of us ~tried~ to use our National 5 french to identify a minimal amount of conversation (basically bonjour, merci and anything to do with food). The conversation was very interesting and we learned a lot about Rwandan traditions, and ideology. At the end of the night we all took the bus home, tired and full of good food, ready to fall asleep.

The FemEng in Rwanda Team 2019 🙂

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