Day 15

Today Ellen joined us! She flew in to join us for the last week and a bit (unfortunately her suitcase didn’t make it). Ellen started FemEng in Rwanda 4 years ago and participated in the first two years while she was in university. Now being back in Rwanda for the third time, she knows her way around!

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We started our day by getting a bit dirty! Boots, hard hat and high visibility vests on, we were ready for our site visit at the new campus for the Rwandan Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). This new campus is designed by MASS, the civil engineering company we visited last week. The campus is still being built, getting ready for its first group of students in August (including one of our own Femeng Rwanda high school graduates!). One of the engineers guided us around the site, showing us the accommodation buildings, teaching buildings and eating areas. First years are also responsible for a small barn and taking care of the animals inside. MASS focuses heavily on sustainability and giving back to the local market. This is seen by the campus’ huge solar panel system, naturally cooled buildings (no need for air conditioning) and almost all locally sourced material. Dirt from onsite is compacted to form bricks that make up many buildings, and timber from Rwanda is used for several of the roof structures. All in all it was very interesting to see the way the location of a building and campus can determine so much!

After the visit, we returned our hard hats and HI-VIS and piled back on the bus to visit a nearby school, Gashora Girls Academy. Two of the high school graduates on our team attended that school, and were more than happy to help the current school girls give us a tour of the school. Since we arrived at lunch time, we joined the girls in their food hall for lunch before our presentations. We split up between four classrooms, each for a different field of engineering, and presented to the girls. Overall the students seemed very keen, asking many questions.

On the drive back from the school we stopped at Nyamata church. This church has now been turned into a memorial site, and is the location of the killing of over 50,000 people during the genocide. A guide gave us a tour around the site, telling us about the history and how the events transpired. Thousands of Tutsis went to the church in hopes that the holy land would help protect them. Unfortunately this did very little as they were slaughtered, men women and children. The church now has displays of the bones of the victims as well as photographs and clothing worn by those who perished. Displays also show possessions that the victims had including documents, jewellery and photographs. Many of the different church buildings are severely damaged due to explosives and fire. The site also has a mass grave which visitors can go down into and see the coffins of hundreds of victims. The experience was very emotional for all the girls, bringing the graphic facts to this very real event. After a long day and drive back, we arrived back on campus ready for some pizza for dinner and then bed.

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