Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Harsh Realities (repost)

I'm not sure if anyone is still reading this blog now that I have been back in the states for a few months, but I came across something very important that I think I need to share. Current volunteers Bret and Dorota have composed a very frank blog post about the idea of volunteering. It is more of a warning for younger folk wanting to adventure around the world during a gap-year before they settle into college. Please take a moment to read their commentary.

Harsh Realities

I can only speak for myself in this matter, but I know that I was not nearly as prepared for this trip to Rwanda as I should have been. I could not fathom the difficulties or challenges I would face along the way. But I am pleased to say that my two years at St. Mike's did me well as I tried to navigate the complexities of working in a foreign culture. And with the help of my friend Ally, we were able to use our skills (as best we could) to leave our boys with something sustainable that will last long after we have left.

To anyone interested in volunteering abroad, I would say you must be a self-motivated, independent, and a confident person. Your values, your ideas, and your culture will continually be questioned and you must be able to stay focused on your ultimate goal: sustainable improvements.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

And the Beat Goes On...

Despite the fact that I've been out of Rwanda for a month, I still think about the boys and the center often. Many exciting things are happening there and volunteers Bret and Dorota keep a blog of their own that recounts the weeks events!

Check out their most recent post about new mattresses, basketball hoops, and special guests!

Here's a video Bret created about the boys testing out the hoops, some rollerblades, and scooters!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Please check out Ally's Blog concerning our friend, Willy. I've mentioned him many times before. One of his biggest dreams is to visit America. Ally and I are attempting to make this dream come true. It may seem like a daunting task, but Willy is in the process of getting his Rwandan passport and will be able to apply for a U.S. visa in the coming weeks.

We have already raised about $500 for his plane ticket, but we'll need about $1500 more. If you're interested in helping, Ally has a donate button on her blog. All of the money donated will go towards Willy's dream of visiting America.

Don't forget to check out Ally's blog:

The donate button is yellow and is located to the right hand side of the screen!

Home Sweet Home

After 26 hours of travel, Ally and I made it home safely. I have been home for about a week now and I’m still trying to get my feet back on the ground. I wrote the following in my journal while waiting for my flight in Brussels:

Ally and I rode to the airport in the center truck driven by Jean Baptiste. I choked back tears as I took one last look at the Kigali skyline. The place I called home for the past 7 months would become a small dot on the ground in a matter of hours and I tried not to think about it. Even as I sit in Brussels Airport, I’m tearing up. I won't see buses packed with people so tightly that people have to crouch forward and angle their bodies like acrobats to fit; only to file out and pile in when the person in back has to get out. I won't hear the excessive honking of car horns substituting for breaks. I won't be around the smiling faces of my boys or hear their English improve every day. I won't be able to hang out with my friend Willy after work and talk about America, the world, or any other topic he has questions about. Each piece forms my own Rwanda. It was my world and in one day of travelling, everything will change.

Everything has changed. My mind often wanders to Rwanda. I find myself absentmindedly calculating the 6-hour time difference and realize I no longer need to add hours, but subtract in order to get the time in Rwanda.

We left in the midst of big changes at the center and although I know I did the best I could in the time I was there, it is still difficult to walk away. I do find consolation in the fact that two amazing volunteers arrived to take our places and continue our work. Bret and Dorota are working hard as we speak to make sure the center continues to progress forward.

Although I have left Rwanda, the stories of the boys at Les Enfants de Dieu continue. You can follow along with Bret and Dorota on their blog called B,D and the Boys. Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog over the past 7 months. You love and support means more to me than you will ever know. It was one wild ride and an experience that I will hold in my heart forever. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Dancing Adventures of Ally Bataille

Ally and I have a lot in common. One particular thing we both share is our love for Ellen Degeneres. No matter how bad of a day we have here in Rwanda, when we watch a few clips on YouTube of the Ellen show, we can’t help but smile.

If you are an Ellen fan, you know that the show has been asking people to perform “Dance Dares” which entails finding a random person in public and dancing behind them without them noticing. It’s made for some pretty hilarious videos such as this one below:

Ally has taken it upon herself to fulfill Ellen’s dance dare here in Rwanda. Check out the finished product!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Want Some TOMS Shoes?

ATTENTION! Do you like TOMS? Boy, do I have a deal for you! Les Enfants De Dieu received a shipment of TOMS shoes, however, they are impractical for the boys. Now, we are reversing the one-for-one campaign. Buy one pair of these navy blue TOMS shoes for $20, and we will buy the boys one pair of shoes they will actually wear. Available sizes include: 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5, 11, 11.5. First come first serve. Leave a comment if you want one. I must know by Monday!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Genocide Commemoration

This week marks the 18th year since the Rwandan genocide. Genocide Commemoration week is one of the most important times of the year for Rwandans. It is a time to remember and reflect on the past so that tragedies such as this will never happen again.

Ally, Elizabeth, and I decided to partake in one of the many ceremonies happening this week called the “Walk to Remember.” We met at the Rwandan Parliament and were joined by hundreds of others to make the 30-minute trek to Amahoro Stadium. This walk was organized by Rwandan secondary and university students many years ago and has since been adopted by the government as a kick-off to the commemoration ceremonies.

As the rain slowed, we walked with many other purple-clad people up the blocked-off street. On a normal day, the main road to Remera is packed with honking cars and buses. On Sunday, April 7th, 2012, it was silent. I couldn’t help but think about what the road must have looked like on April 7th, 1994 after President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down. Did Hutus set up roadblocks on this road, killing any Tutsi that tried to pass?

Walking down the road in Remera to the stadium

When we reached the stadium, every seat had a candle next to it. President Kagame lit the first candle and soon, everyone in the stadium held their very own flame. It was a very moving sight to see thousands of people, holding a candle in memory of those who were killed during the genocide.

Rwandan students who helped organize the event took
center stage for the candle-lighting ceremony

More people arrived throughout the night

The ceremony was predominantly made up of songs about the genocide with the message that Rwanda must learn from its past. It was definitely an emotional experience for the Rwandans who had lost their friends and family. A few people needed to be removed from the stadium as they were reliving the trauma they had experienced 18 years ago. If there is one thing I’ve learned during my past seven months, it’s that the scars of 1994 are still present in every day lives.

During this week, it is impossible to avoid the past. Radio stations are only allowed to play songs concerning genocide. Purple, the official color of genocide memorials appears on billboards, signs, and clothing to remind everyone of the tragedy. Although this is a painful time for many, I believe it is so very necessary.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Yes, Man!

If you have been following my blog all along, you’ll remember that back in November the center had some very important visitors. It was a group called Catalyst Rwanda and they were here to teach the boys hip-hop and breaking. It was an incredible few weeks that flew by and everyone involved had a blast. Here are my posts from their visit:

New Friends, New Moves
Live 2 Break

It’s the end of March now and with the help of Bret Syfert, a documentary about the experience is finished titled: Yes, Man! It premiered in London this week and the full version is now available online. Check it out here:

Even more exciting is the fact that Bret Syfert and his wife Dorota are coming to Rwanda in a few weeks to take the place of Ally and I as volunteers. I know the boys will be so excited to continue their dance and English education with their help.

Underwear and Glow Sticks

For two weeks, we have been trying to organize a dance for the boys. Last week, we had everything ready to go, only to find that the center had no power. There had been a powerful windstorm a few days earlier that knocked down a tower and the power authority was unsure when they could have it back up and running.

I left a bit disappointed, but not before we distributed a few gifts for the boys. As some of you may remember, I created an Amazon Wish list around Christmas time to give people a chance to donate items to the center. The response was overwhelming and every item was purchased in only a few weeks. Thank you to everyone who bought an item! On this list was underwear, something the boys desperately needed. Although we could not celebrate a dance that night, we did celebrate with new underwear. Every boy received his very own pair. Spiderman was ecstatic when we saw that his pair showed a picture of the real Spiderman!

Getting ready to distribute

Eric receiving his pair!

This week, we were finally able to have our dance. We recruited our friend Willy to DJ and gave out 200 glow sticks donated by the students at Woonsocket High School in Rhode Island. Once the music started, the boys didn’t need any more prompting. They took to the floor and busted a move, and the glow sticks too. Soon the boys and dining hall was covered in glowing liquid and full of 100 dancing boys.

I raced around the perimeter, pulling boys who were standing on the outside into the middle. Some songs they had fully-choreographed dances to show off. Sean Paul’s Temperature played 4 times that night and each time, the dance group took control of the floor. Other times, the boys jumped up and down and cheered. It felt like one of my middle school dances, especially when I spotted a few tears because of stolen glow sticks. But that problem was easy to fix.

The boys and I.
Photo credit: Elizabeth

When it was time to end, we turned the lights on. In protest, the boys turned them back off. It was a night they didn’t want to end.

On our way home, Ally handed out the remaining glow sticks to people we passed and to the passengers on our bus from the center to Remera. The bus conductor and the other passengers thought they were the funniest things ever and laughed the entire ride as they experimented with them. The final consensus was to shove them into their hair.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Rwanda Experience

Check out this incredible media piece created by Lauren Alexander and India Harvey. They were both students who went on the high school trip this year. Great work ladies!

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Big Mess

I did not realize how hard we worked last week until I slept in until 10:00 on both Saturday and Sunday. Usually the hustle and bustle of life outside my window wakes me before 8:00, but I must have been so exhausted I slept through it all.

What have we been doing? EVERYTHING! The new store room is finally ready so we have been moving school supplies in, organizing, and cataloguing them so the new store keeper knows what is in there. This consists of sorting through rooms that have been in total disarray for the past 2 or 3 years.

The old upper storeroom before we attacked it

Today we started to bring all of the clothes from the old store into the new one. The boys swarmed us like vultures, asking for various articles of clothing. It wasn’t easy telling them no, but I am comforted by the fact that I know these clothes will be put to use in the next few months.

One of my main frustrations with the center has been managing donations and other items in the store. I often watched as items, which I knew we had, were bought because no one knew they were in the store. While sorting through various piles of junk, covered in mouse droppings, cobwebs, and dust, Ally and I came across the very same t-shirts our high school donated 3 years ago. This infuriated me to no end, but also validated all of our work. I am certain that once we are through re-organizing and creating our new inventory system, every donation and purchase will be used!

One of the shirts Harwood brought in 2009

TOMS shoes from the Rwanda TOMS drop

A few more TOMS

After day 1 of organizing


Ally has posted her take on our storeroom project and has a few more pictures of our progress. Check it out here:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

An Indian Rwanda

Tucked safely behind an iron gate in the center of Kigali lies a complex of apartment buildings. Standing outside their doors, one can hear the sound of children laughing and smell the spices wafting through the air. Today I found myself inside one of these apartments, learning how to cook a traditional Indian lunch with the help of my friend, Sangita and her family.

I met Sangita at Les Enfants de Dieu where she works as an accountant. She was shy at first and our exchanges were brief during my first few months in Rwanda. But when Ally, Elizabeth, and I decided to move into a house in town owned by a company named Sulfo, Sangita and her family were the first to welcome us.

The family who owns Sulfo also founded Les Enfants de Dieu. The company, started by an Indian man, began producing soap in Rwanda 60 years ago and the company quickly grew to become one of the most successful  in the country. Although Sulfo employs mostly Rwandan workers, they also provide jobs for a group of Indians who are willing to move their families to Rwanda.

The houses I mentioned before are where Indian Sulfo employees live with their families. The Sulfo compound is it’s own sub-culture. Children play cricket and football amongst the many factory buildings, learn to speak their native tongue, watch Indian music videos and game shows on T.V., and grow up tasting traditional Indian food.

It was this food that led to my first day of bonding with Sangita. She invited us for lunch and Ally suggested we come early to help her with the preparations. Upon entering the kitchen, I could smell the combination of spices waiting to be used in the pantry. We busied ourselves peeling carrots, cutting string beans, and dicing onions. Sangita blended garlic and ginger together and added cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, anise, and chili powder. The aroma in the kitchen danced throughout the entire house, making my stomach rumble as I stirred the concoction.

Ally hard at work

Chicken, mushrooms, onions, ginger garlic, chili powder, cinnamon,
and coriander



The final product was vegetable rice with ginger, garlic, mushroom, and onion chicken. When it was time to leave, we decided that during our next cooking lesson with Sangita, we will make an African favorite: samosas. In return, we promised to teach her how to make peanut butter cookies.

There’s nothing like food to bridge the cultural divide! 

A Whirlwind Trip

It has been way too long since my last post! The combination of a bad internet connection and constant traveling is not conducive to my regimented posting schedule. But now that our travels are over and we are back in the house in Kigali, I can finally fill you all in on what has been happening over the past few weeks.

We hitched a ride with the Harwood crew South to Butare, North to Kivu, and East to Akagera before we came back home and bid the group farewell Friday afternoon. I was so sad to see them go. Nothing brings people closer together than an experience such as this one. I was thoroughly impressed with the concepts they discussed during the infamous “Congo sessions” or reflections and with their positive attitude throughout the whole experience. I know that these students will go home and tell the world about Rwanda. Once you have the bug, you can’t shake it.

During our travels we talked with energetic students about the future of Rwanda, witnessed a high school debate, learned about Rwanda’s cultural history through dance, relaxed on the shores of Lake Kivu, dipped our feet in the waters of the hot springs, and drove through the bush searching for wild animals.

Ally sporting some traditional dance gear

Tony (teacher from Woonsocket High School, RI)
doing his thing

Bus stuck at the hot springs. No problem for our driver, Alexis

My feet enjoying the hot water! Note my Chaco tan!




Traditional dancers

Balancing skills

For more about what we have been experiencing over the past few weeks, check out Ally's blog. Also, be sure to check out the Harwood/Woonsocket blog over the next few weeks. The students have been working on some media projects dealing with various topics about the trip and I'm sure they will be finishing them up and posting them there. In the meantime, check out the entries already there! You can also check out Andrea's blog. She is a reporter for the Addison Independent and a part of the Vermont Folklife Center team that joined the group this year.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Java Jive

As I mentioned before, my high school currently has a group of students in Rwanda. We have been hanging out and traveling with them over the past few days. It's great to be around so much energy and we are always so busy! This will be a brief post that I hope to update later, so check back when you can!

On Tuesday we packed onto the bus and headed south to Butare. This region of the country is well-known for it's coffee trees, one of Rwanda's most prized exports. On my trip in 2009, I learned about the process of producing coffee from tree to cup. For the past few days, I've been revisiting the same sites and hearing familiar stories. 

HU and Woonsockett crews on the scene

On the drying rack

Parchment beans and cherries

Maraba Coffee


Children hanging out with us in the coffee fields

Coffee cherries on the tree! Harvest season starts in April.

Although I am not a coffee drinker myself, I can appreciate the amount of care and time the whole process takes. We met farmers who are devoted to producing a completely organic product. They receive a fair wage and are able to support their families. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

And it Begins Again...

It's that time of year again! Yes, the Harwood Union High School group has returned to Rwanda to continue their partnership with the Land of A Thousand Hills! We were so excited to welcome them at the airport on Tuesday afternoon. Despite being jet-lagged and severely sleep deprived, they were energized to finally be here. This year the trip is a bit different as the Harwood group is joined by a group of teachers and students from Woonsocket High School in Rhode Island AND three people from the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, Vermont.

Follow their experiences on their blog hosted by the Vermont Folklife Center here:

UPDATE: The Vermont Folklife Center website is currently offline due to hacking. The Harwood blog has been moved to this new location for the remainder of the trip:

You can also check out Andrea's blog here:
She is a reporter for the Addison Independent and has joined the group on the trip this year.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blue and White

Yesterday, Ally, Elizabeth, and I went to visit some street boys with our friend Willy. We decided that we would go back to the same place we did the first time. For more information about that trip, take a look at my blog: Patience is Virtue.
When we interviewed these boys the first time, they were convinced we would never come back. They told us that people come to hear their stories and often never return. We were determined to prove them wrong.

During our first visit, the boys told us about their lives on the street and the struggles they face on a daily basis. Many of the boys sleep on doorsteps, on top of cardboard, or behind bushes, tying to stay warm and trying not to get caught by the police. We went home that day with heavy hearts, as we could do nothing to help their situation.

A few weeks passed before Ally came up with a brilliant idea. She had brought over a set of long-sleeved soccer jerseys that once belonged to my cousin’s high school, Bishop Grimes in Syracuse, New York. Many thanks to her mom Liz for shipping them to me! We had intended the jerseys to be for the boys at Les Enfants de Dieu, but after helping to re-organize the storeroom, we realized the center didn’t need any more clothes. Ally suggested we bring the jerseys to the street boys we talked to before.

Armed with a camera and a backpack full of jerseys, we caught a bus and met our friend Willy who guided us to a market where he knew we could find the boys. They were busy carrying customers’ bags for a few francs or a piece of food. We sat down with them (and one street girl too!) to continue our conversation. A few little boys whose curiosity was stronger than their shyness joined us. We talked to them for a short time and then Willy suggested we give them the shirts because they still needed to find food before sundown.

Talking with the boys

I'm in the tie-dyed shirt

When Ally, Elizabeth, and I started pulling the jerseys out of our bags, the boys began to clap. We tossed each boy a shirt and they promptly put it on. The blue and white jerseys were a hit because coincidently, a popular football (soccer) team in Rwanda called Rayon Sport has the same team colors. They boys were so happy they could have apparel that supported their favorite team. They thanked us, shook our hands, and followed us to the end of the road to say their goodbyes.

We walked away with our hearts a bit lighter, knowing that a few street boys in Kigali, Rwanda wouldn’t be as cold during that cold night. A big thank you to Bishop Grimes for donating the jerseys and making 14 street boys smile!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dig Deeper

It was almost three years ago to the day that I made my first visit to Les Enfants de Dieu and to Rwanda. I was fascinated by the peacefulness of the country and my first impression of the center was amazement, as I talked with the boys in broken English. They were full of life and interested in our small group of muzungus. It was explained that the boys ran the center through a ministry system. They had the power to decide on the budget and even fire the staff. To me, the concept was brilliant and seeing the boys take ownership of it all made me eager to return to Rwanda to work at Les Enfants de Dieu.

During my first few months in Rwanda, I felt that everything was perfect. I loved going to the center every day to play with the boys. The classes I taught were enjoyable, and I loved discovering the rest of the country on weekends. But as I began to settle into day-to-day life and started to see reality, my perception of things became more clouded. Rwanda is often painted as a pretty picture, an example for other war-torn countries to follow, but that is far from the truth. I soon found that the conclusions I had drawn in 2009 were missing pieces; pieces that could not be gathered by a silly high school girl on a mere three week trip. It turns out that when you scratch the surface, you’ll find that Rwanda’s scars still run deep.

So, what does this have to do with the center? My friend Faraz (overseer of the center) made an excellent point when he said that Les Enfants de Dieu is a microcosm of Rwanda. All you need to do is some digging to find the truth behind it all. I mentioned in my pervious post that the past few weeks have been stressful. This is partly because I have found that the ministry system that made Les Enfants de Dieu run so smoothly has fallen apart. In the past months I have watched boys fall through the cracks because someone was not doing their job. At first, I felt helpless. I had boys come to me with problems that a psychologist or social worker should deal with. This helplessness turned into frustration and soon to anger.

As a volunteer who has been in Rwanda for 5 months now, it’s impossible for me to separate myself from work when I go home. The cogs in my head are constantly turning, trying to figure out solutions to the constant problems the center faces: How can we get more donors to pay the boys’ school fees? How can we best organize the new library? What donations do we need the most? I cannot simply turn a switch and forget about it because these boys have become my life. They are my students, my friends, and my brothers and we have a mutual understanding that we will do the best we can for one another. There are nights when I’ve cried myself to sleep thinking about one boy or another because of the stories they’ve told me.

As you can see, I’ve grown attached. It’s impossible not to once you realize just how special these boys really are. The boys at Les Enfants de Dieu have taught me that children are truly resilient and when given the chance, they can rise to the occasion and take on the responsibility of any adult. So when these boys are hurting or when something is not right at the center, my protective instincts kick in.

If I were to tell this story in its entirety, this blog post would be a mile long. Essentially what happened was Ally and I called for back up. Faraz, overseer of the center, lives in Kenya and tries to visit the center once a month. During one of his monthly visits, we shared some concerns we had about the center. A week later, we witnessed a staff member beating one of the boys with a stick repeatedly. Despite the fact that this type of treatment is common in Rwanda, it’s not okay with me that it’s happening at the center. After a heated exchange with the staff member, Ally and I decided we should contact Faraz.

As soon as I emailed him, he flew to Rwanda to deal with the list of issues we were concerned about. The number one priority was to restore the once functioning ministry system and give the boys their power back. We believed this would help solve many of the other problems. Our weekend was a whirlwind of meetings with Faraz, the ministers, and Rafiki in an effort to try and get the center back on track.

As we entered the center on Monday morning, I could feel the weight lifting off my shoulders. I watched the Minister of Administration strut across the yard up to the offices, documents underneath his arm and a newly acquired bounce of purpose in his step. An hour later, we had our class and the boys were the most enthusiastic and well behaved as I’ve seen them in awhile. It’s probably a comforting thought that punishments can no longer be given by adults, but must be decided upon and implemented by the ministers. EDD is well on its way to maintain its reputation as being the best center for street boys in all of Rwanda. The center will continue to set the bar and be a progressive example for others to follow.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned during my stay in Rwanda is the importance of digging to find the truth. This country is complex and nothing is as it seems at first glance. Just like you must spend time with another to truly know them, you must also spend time in a place to truly understand it. Had I not been here for 5 months, I might not have realized that the center was going in the wrong direction. Had I not taken the time to develop meaningful relationships with the boys, they might not have felt comfortable sharing their problems. There were moments when I felt helpless, but as it turns out they were not worthless. If there is one thing I’m proud of, it is the fact that I took the time to listen and to understand the boys, the center, and Rwanda. I wont pretend I understand any of them fully, but it’s a start.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This week has been particularly exhausting for various reasons. We’ve been putting in long days at work and dealing with many changes at the center. So, it warmed my heart to come home to a surprise Valentine’s Day present from our cook Claire. On each wall in our living room was a flower with a note saying “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

On top of that, our friend Willy stopped by the house to give us all a silk rose with a Valentine’s Day card. It was definitely the best Valentine’s Day gift I have ever received. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

In Other Words...

Ally has had some great blog posts in the past week. Be sure to check these out:

How Would You Feel? A commentary on the word "muzungu" meaning white person.

Run, Forest, RUN! A story about one of our afternoon runs down the streets of Kigali.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One, Two, Three, Eyes on Me!

My time in Rwanda has challenged me in many ways. I find myself drawing upon skills and tools I learned in all different aspects of my life. My education at Harwood first introduced me to this incredible country and taught me about the language, the history, and the customs. My education at St. Michael’s prepared me to be a teacher and at times, a social worker. Not a day goes by that I don’t use a learning strategy, technique, or simply just the kind words of advice from my professors to help me get through the challenges Rwanda throws at me on a daily basis. But in the past few weeks, I’ve been drawing upon my elementary education to help me.

I will be forever grateful to those teachers who subtly gave me the tools to help organize a large group of excited children. When I was younger, I had no idea that the command “One, two, three, eyes on me” would transcend the walls of my elementary school and be put to use in Rwanda. I was beyond excited when Ally and I first introduced it; we heard, “One, two, eyes on you!” and received instant quiet.

Sword fight game

Tools like these have been very helpful in developing the new class that Ally and I started a few weeks ago. The Rwandan Government mandates that students have an extra-curricular class that includes art, physical education, and music. We found out that the boys in Primary 1 and Primary 2 at the center do not have this class and we decided to fill the void.

Practicing the verb "to touch"

This class has become an English/Physical Education class and will hopefully evolve to include music and art in the future. Ally is majoring in Health Science with a Physical Education licensure so she also has many tricks up her sleeve from her classes and internships through Johnson State College. So far, we have successfully mastered different versions of tag: regular, tunnel, and candle and are currently working on blob tag. We also taught them a game called sword fight, which has become a hit even outside of class. For every game, we introduce key English words they have to use while playing the game. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

To Market We Go!

First of all, my apologies for neglecting my blog. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m very much enjoying my time with my new partner in crime. Also, the internet connection has been sub-par these past few weeks which makes the simple task of checking your email frustrating.

Anyway, I thought I would talk about the market since it is the place I go most frequently aside from the center. Yesterday I spent 5 hours there. Yes, you read that correctly. You might ask: What could you possibly do at the market for 5 hours? Oh so many things…

Josephine's fabric selections

I have a fabric woman named Josephine. I only buy fabric from her because she gives me the Rwanda price rather than the muzungu price. She hooked me from the first moment I stepped foot in that market in September, just as she hooks every other English-speaker, I’m sure. Her English skills are unparalleled by any other vender and I just simply cannot say no to a woman who refers to me as her sister. 

Ally trying on a traditional shirt

Some fabric I thought about buying
but resisted the temptation

So for 5 hours, Ally and I hung out with Josephine in her fabric stall at the market while we waited for our clothes to be altered by tailors. We chatted with her and her customers, held some adorable babies, got a few marriage proposals and made some new friends with fellow muzungu college students studying abroad in Rwanda. Just another day at the market I guess!