RWANDA ORPHANS PROJECT
Started back in 1991, the Rwanda Orphans Project has helped children from over 200 families and currently supports around 500 orphans in the capital city of Rwanda, Kigali. www.rwandaorphans.com
Well, were still waiting for our Rwandan outfits to arrive We heard on the grapevine that they were on their way yesterday afternoon and got excited every time someone knocked at the door, but our hopes were dashed - No Hurry in Africa!
Yesterday morning we took the keyboard that Drybrook Ladies Choir had donated money towards to Mugambazi Church, which is in a district north of Kigali. The ride up there was a bit hairy, to put it mildly!!! There had been enough drizzle to make the road slick and with a sheer drop on the one side, scenes from our lives flashed before us as the land rover slipped from side to side. On the way back down Peter told us that a truck had once gone straight over the edge, killing all passengers - yikes! The congregation were very welcoming and their choirs uniform was very similar to that of the Drybrook Choir; they were amused by the photo of the choir that Lin had brought for them! We had to sing a couple of songs to them, which seemed rather sedate after their exuberant performance, but they seemed to enjoy it and were apparently mesmerised by Ruth playing the keyboard using sheet music. Following this we bought some craft items that the women in the church had made and then we wined and dined in true African style: brochettes, rice, CHIPS, peas, beans and cooked bananas. Tim even braved some chai (VERY sweet African tea)!
We are now the latest singing sensation in Kigali- GET THIS! (Lin). The song (Proud) that we recorded with Rapper Preston (Gasangwa) was played on Capital FM Radio just before 4 oclock yesterday afternoon!!! It was surreal hearing ourselves singing away over the crackling Rwandan airwaves Were hoping it might make it to Number 1 (LOL!) You never know, we might even go global. Tim thinks were more likely to go viral. We think hes just jealous!
After wed heard ourselves on the radio one of the sponsored young people, Gaudence, brought her laptop (which had been donated by Glebe Chapel) over so that Microsoft Office could be installed. Its all up and running and shes really pleased as shes studying IT at university. Our evening culminated in watching a comedy DVD. Peters attempting to get us addicted to One Foot in the Grave - he does a great impression of Victor Meldrew (and Mr. Bean, for that matter)!
This morning were going to visit the Gisozi Genocide Memorial here in Kigali. Were then going to meet up with the three sponsored children (Gaudence, Magnifique and Abraham) to have lunch and go swimming in a nearby hotel. Were hoping the outfits will arrive before we leave tomorrow - were learning to practise patience
Thanks so much for accompanying us on our Rwandan adventures. Its been great to receive updates from home and were hoping that the return journey will be smooth and uneventful.
See you soon,
Katrina, Tim, Lin and Ruth xxx
Todays update .
Well yesterday was an interesting day! In the morning one of the sons of Francoise, a social worker in the Orphans' Project, came to give us some words which he wanted to incorporate into a rap that he was recording in the afternoon. The idea was that we would compose the chorus using the words he gave us and he would add the rap verses. He had already done a recording with some friends previously and had taken the stage name Preston we were able to watch a video clip of his recording on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9N_jsVpfWc ). We then came up with a simple tune and at 4pm we found ourselves in a recording studio in a district of Kigali where we had to record our piece. It was surreal! We had to record our parts one by one so that the music producer could layer the sound it was fascinating watching him add the 40 or so layers of sound on the computer. We never in a million years imagined ourselves as rap artists! The music producer kept saying that we sounded sweet and invited us to his church! There was a powercut halfway through before Preston even got to do his rap bit so hes currently at the studio finishing it off. CDs of Proud will be available on our return price to be negotiated (lol). Hes still trying to persuade us that we need to be in the video but were not quite so keen on that idea and think he would be better off featuring his young and trendy sisters. Lin says Billy and Andrew are never going to believe this!
Other not quite so random events have included going to buy a keyboard yesterday with the money donated by Drybrook Ladies Choir. We will be taking this to the church in Mugambazi tomorrow morning at 11am where we hope to sing them a song with Ruth playing it.
This morning we went to Gihogwe where Tim spoke to pastors in the Leadership Training Centre and Lin, Ruth and I taught 2 lessons in the nearby secondary school. We did some general greetings and conversation plus singing and games. We gave the students the opportunity to ask us any questions and the two most common ones were Has Ruth got a boyfriend? and Why has Katrina got no children? In the second class, one boy stood up and said that any of the boys in the class would be happy to volunteer as Ruths boyfriend so would she like to choose one of them. It was the first time during this trip that I have seen Ruth lost for words!!! One of the girls was very upset that I didnt have any children to help me with the washing, cleaning, cooking and general household chores.
Tomorrow (or possibly Thursday) we are hoping to collect our tailor-made Rwandan outfits so we will look resplendent (or something like that!) We are also hoping to meet up with the sponsored children again before we leave on Friday. Today we have confirmed our flights home much to Peters relief! He cant quite remember having had a missions trip team like us before and he certainly hasnt been in a recording studio with one!
Well, what can I say??? I asked you to keep us up to date on what's happening back home and when I checked my e-mails this morning, I had 15 waiting for me!!! What a lovely start to the day. I read them all out loud so that everyone could get an update and they made us laugh and filled us in on what's going on at home. Thank you so much x.
We had a late breakfast this morning at 9am after a long day yesterday as we journeyed back from Cyangugu. Ruth is now waiting expectantly for her rapping lesson but she isn't hopeful as she thinks they say things just to be polite - the rest of us however think he was pretty keen so will be here in due course (lol).
On our journey down to Cyangugu on Saturday we stopped off at the National Museum in Butare which was very enlightening. It covered things such as traditional housing (we went inside a reconstructed hut), clothing, weapons, musical instruments (Ruth's favourite - she liked the zither), agriculture, native wildlife, banana beer making (Tim's thinking of taking it up as a hobby!) and bee-keeping etc. We then went on to Butare where we met with Janvier who is being supported by the orphan project. He is studying Pharmacy at uni and Peter passed on some text books which we had brought with us from the UK. We had lunch with him and his friend who was interested in cows and so lunch time conversation revolved around semen and artificial insemination - very edifying!!!!
From Butare we continued on through the Nyungwe Forest where we saw some monkeys but unfortunately no chimps! The road was rather bumpy in places so there were a lot of numb bottoms at this point. After the forest we passed through some huge tea plantations until we finally arrived at the church in Cyangugu at about 6pm. They had been expecting us from about 4pm so they were very pleased to see us and lots of hugging in the dark ensued (there was no electricity in the church!) We had the choir serenade us and then drank the obligatory bottle of Fanta by candlelight before piling back into the pick-up to reach the Catholic Guest House. The rooms were basic en-suite but had a stunning view of Lake Kivu which we were able to appreciate the following morning. Our double bed was more like a hammock and so we kept rolling together which wasn't conducive to sleep! We were awoken at 5.30am by enthusiastic drumming and then the church bells joined in at 6am - a special Easter Sunday treat!
After breakfast we set off for the island of Nkombo where we were taking the service. We arrived at the lakeside and took a small wooden motor boat across along with a motorbike which made getting onto the boat a bit of an obstacle course. We were grateful it wasn't a cow however as Peter has experienced that on previous occasions! Once we landed on the island we had a trek uphill to the church feeling like the Pied Piper with a string of African children following us and demanding "Give me money!" which Ruth found rather off-putting. She said she would have been more inclined to oblige if they had said "Please".
The service was very lively and we were given seats of honour at the front like royalty. The children's choir sang (and danced) and the ladies choir sang also and then we did our piece de resistance - The Lord's My Shepherd. Peter followed it by saying that singing and dancing at the same time is beyond the "muzungus" (white people) which caused a laugh. After the service we had lunch provided which was fresh fish and chips with cooked bananas - delicious! Ruth couldn't face the fish' eyes and so stuck to chips and bananas - different! We then started the trek back to the boat and since our motorboat had been hijacked we took a rowing boat instead (minus motorbike or cow) which was rather slower until Pete took over the rowing like a man possessed!
We commenced the 5 and a half hour journey home which proved to be rather eventful in more ways than one!!! Firstly, my knee started aching badly so I opted to stand on the back of the pick up to stretch it. Within 2 minutes of enjoying the peace and tranquility of the Nyunge Forest, Pete was pulled over by a soldier and 5 Rwandan men climbed in with me! One stood behind me with his arms either side holding on to the safety bar, pinning me to the back of the pick up cab! Interesting! It was at this point I started telling them about my husband in the pick up and how we'd been married for 18 years! I think he understood because he sat down after that! Black clouds were now looming ominously.
Up front Ruth was leading the team in singing "Land of Hope and Glory" and "Jerusalem" as the heavens opened and the rain started. Suddenly the vehicle veered violently to the left and stopped. I thought it was because they had taken pity on me and were stopping to let me get in out of the rain but as I leapt off, I passed a very focused Lin who was making her way speedily into the vegetation at the side of the road! There had been a rumble in the jungle during their singing session and she had felt it wise to vacate the vehicle post haste! So in full view of 4 musungus and 5 Rwandan soldiers Lin did what she had to!!!!!! (in a very ladylike manner I might add!) She says next time she hears the resounding refrain of "Land of Hope and Glory", her thoughts will go back to the Rwandan adventure. Peter says it was more like the 1812 overture!
Thankfully there were no further escapades other than the constant mellifluous (tuneful) singing which included every conceivable musical song from South Pacific, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, etc which helped the driver stay awake. Lin was able to join in heartily this time as there had been no further rumbles in the jungle! We arrived back at Pete's house at 7.30pm, had a light supper and retired to our hotel to spend an uneventful night.
We have all enjoyed compiling this e-mail this morning - everyone has been contributing and it's caused a great deal of hilarity! Today we're having a quieter day. Someone has just been sent off to purchase the keyboard which Lin's choir have donated money to and we will deliver this to the church on Wednesday. Tomorrow we are visiting a secondary school and the Skills Learning Centre again. Thanks again for all your news - love to everyone back home.
Last messages from us:
Lin says: Billy, have you managed to get the Landrover looked at? I'd be grateful if you could sort it out for me. Also, love to Hannah and Thomas.
It's just coming up to 9am, we've had breakfast at Pete's house and we're about to set off for a trip down south to a town called Cyangugu. We will stay the night in a Catholic guest house tonight and then in the morning we're travelling by boat to a small island where Tim will preach in a church service. Today we're stopping off at a town called Butare where we will visit the National museum before continuing on through the Nyungwe Forest where Pete says we may even see some chimps!! The journey will take 6 hours and then we'll be returning tomorrow after lunch so we'll be covering a few miles.
So far the hot water and electricity in the hotel has been in constant supply which has been good. We continue to have torrential rain storms on a fairly daily basis - this morning the noise of the rain woke me at 7am and it kept raining steadily until 8am when we walked down to Pete's house for breakfast.
Last night we spent the evening at one of the social worker's homes. Her name is Francoise and she invited us to join her family for dinner. The family made us feel very welcome and afer we had eaten they asked us to sing them a song. That started an evening of music (and dancing) and much laughter - Lin captured the moment on video! Lin and Ruth did a rendition of most of the well known songs from musicals and kept everyone entertained. One of Francoise' sons is a rapper and has arranged to come to Pete's house on Monday morning to give Ruth a lesson in rapping - that should be interesting!! We'll have to start thinking of a stage name for her as she starts this new career - Glebe Chapel Choir will have some interesting new repertoires I suspect.
Yesterday afternoon we were given a tour of Kigali by a lovely enthusiastic Rwandan called Jano. We saw the start of the 2020 vision for the city which hopes to transform the shanty parts of the city into new and modern residential areas. It was very impressive. People are being paid by the government to sell their plots of land which are then being re-developed with new roads and sewage systems. The money they are given then allows them to buy a plot of land elsewhere and have a new, modern home built. This is transforming the look of the city.
One of Ruth's highlights of the trip so far was the visit to Gisenyi on Thursday when we took 9 of the orphans with us to Lake Kivu. It was lovely to see them all in the water - some for the very first time - and they absolutely loved it! Just wait for the photos!
It would be great to hear any news from home - we feel a bit out of touch with what's going on.
Lin says hello to Mark, Lil, Alex and Michael - hope they're enjoying their trip to the Forest.
Love to all and hope to hear from you soon.
We've just had breakfast at Peter's house and soon we will be off to visit the Skills Learning Centre here in Kigali where the older orphans can learn life skills such as welding, catering, tailoring, carpentry etc.
Let me update
you on the last couple of days. On Monday we started at 9am at the first
of 9 orphans' homes. We visited all 5 areas of Kigali where there is
a social worker in charge of different families of orphans. We did a
lot of walking up steep, rough paths to get to the various homes. Some
were very basic with mud floors and no electricity. Most did not have
water inside the house but had to get water from a stand pipe nearby.
They were all very welcoming and we stirred up a lot of interest as
we walked around - we felt like the Pied Piper with hoards of children
excitedly following us and all wanting their photos taken! We aimed
to spend an hour for each visit and this included time to get there,
park the vehicle as close as possible and then walk the remainder to
the house. We took photos of each family and gave them a gift of £40
which was a huge blessing to them. We also took presents for the brothers
and sisters of the sponsored children. Bubbles were a huge success!!!!
Yesterday we had an early start as we visited a Game Park. We had to be at Peter's house for 3.45am in order to be at the game park early to see the animals before it got too hot. The 3 orphans that we are directly involved in sponsoring; Magnifique (Tim and I), Abraham and Gaudance (Glebe Chapel) were able to come with us. They stayed the night at Peter's house in his spare room and were very excited to experience a game park for the first time. We had a guide who gave us information about the animals and we saw giraffe, zebra, Cape buffalo, impala, water buck, warthogs, baboons, vervet monkeys and hippo. I think I even caught a glimpse of a baby crocodile. We stopped and had a picnic lunch at 10.30am!!! and also had a cup of tea at the nearby hotel (very posh!) before coming back to Kigali. The kids had a fantastic day as did we.
After the Skills Training Centre today, we are going to a craft centre where they make cards from banana leaves so we will have the opportunity to buy some. We have all fallen in love with the traditional Rwandan dresses which the women wear and so Peter is arranging for one of the social workers to take us shopping to choose some material this afternoon and then have our own dresses made up - headdress included!!! We are so excited! Apparently it costs about £8 for the material and not much more for it to be made - I might even persuade Lin to get her hair braided! She'll really look the part :)
Tomorrow we are taking all 9 orphans with us to a town called Gisenyi where there is a pool for them all to go swimming. Most of them have never been swimming before so that will be a new experience and it will be lovely spending the whole day with them again.
I think that's all for now. We are all well and have even caught a bit of sun yesterday when stood for 5 hours on the back of a pick-up clinging on for dear life! I will never complain about British pot holes again. Peter is looking after us well and "The food is good" says Ruth. Lin is "Just loving every minute" and we're all happy bunnies.
We all send our love to our families and friends and thank you for your prayers.
Lots of love,
We made it and we've just had a late lunch at Peter's house and in a short while we'll be walking down to Chrissie's home for the evening. The hotel is basic but we all managed to have showers (Tim's was a bit cold!) so we're feeling a bit more refreshed now. We didn't manage to sleep much on the plane so were all feeling pretty tired by the time we got to Kigali. It didn't help when we were woken at 2am for breakfast and then had a second breakfast on the next stage of the journey from Nairobi to Kigali!!!!!
It was wet underfoot when we arrived but the sun has come out and it's a lot warmer now. Tomorrow we will meet the sponsored children after a 3 hour church service beginning at 9.30am - Tim all is forgiven!!! We will never complain about the length of your sermons again :) No sign of any mozzies yet but we all have mosquito nets over our beds in the hotel rooms. Lin hasn't spotted any cockroaches yet but we will not be surprised to hear a frantic knocking on our door in the middle of the night as she is looking for her knight in shining armour to come and remove any unwelcome creepy crawlies!
Everyone has made us feel very welcome and it looks like we have a great itinerary for the next 2 weeks including lots of travelling around the country. We will try and keep you updated and appreciate your prayers.
The main purpose for the trip is to visit sponsored children at the Rwanda Orphans Project in Kigali and to see the project in operation (see above).
you hear from me it will hopefully be from the warmer climes of Kigali!
A small team went out to Rwanda from 18th - 31st July 2009 to support the work that Peter and Jenny Andrews are involved in across the troubled country. This was an opportunity to explore areas that we as a Church can get involved in for the future.
Activities we managed to do:
the sponsored children in their families
Photos from the July 2009 trip:
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