March 8th

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

By Melisa Wink

Today was our last full day in Rwanda. We woke up and meet with the Student Union at INATEK University. This was something that I really appreciated because I am a member of the Student Government Association for William Penn University. Roy is also a member of the SGA and I know he enjoyed learning about the way the student government works for a university in Rwanda. Even though we are the only ones on SGA, I am confident that all the students form Penn enjoyed meeting the students from INATEK. There was discussion back and forth regarding general information about the group. Their group has many students and the positions are divided up by the faculty (INATEK uses the term faculty how we would use the term department or school). Roy and I decided to invite some of the executive members to eat lunch with us so we could discuss some things and gain a better understanding of how their group functions. During this lunch, there was conversation regarding developing a partnership between the SGA at Penn and the Student Union at INATEK.

I think that the group enjoyed the lecture that came next. We continued our lecture on the reconciliation process after the genocide. We had a history professor explain some really neat facts such as the 8 steps of genocide and then went on to end the lecture by providing to us, from a citizen’s perspective, some things the government could do to help with the reconciliation process. This was beneficial to the group because it added to our knowledge of Rwandan history. Aside from the great information we learned, I think the students enjoyed passing notes back and forth with the members of the Student Union. It was here that we learned even more about the people of Rwanda by getting to know individuals.

The next portion of our day was spent traveling to the boarder of Rwanda and Tanzania. We took a “Stella” bus/taxi to see some waterfalls. It was about an hour drive and along the way we were able to see some rural villages of Rwanda.  There were a lot of people of all ages walking alongside the road carrying fruit baskets on their head, traveling to fill the little yellow water jugs, or walking to and from school. I think my favorite part of this trip, so far, is seeing the people and the way they live. I enjoy seeing the homes and stores in Rwanda. Seeing all the culture that Rwanda possesses makes me appreciate it more. The little children playing in the front yard, or the women walking with her baby wrapped on her back have e in awe as I witness a completely different way of life. As we arrived to the boarder, there were many trucks waiting to cross the one road bridge leading into Tanzania. The smell was awful; it was a mixture of garbage, fish, and sewage. There were some men washing their clothes in little buckets of dirty water and others were hopping out of the truck to stretch their legs. The fumes from the exhausts were making it hard to breath, but nothing took my breath away quite like the sight of the waterfalls. The rapid water flowed from the river down this enormous drop. The brown water reminded me of watered-down chocolate milk and formed a cloud of mist at the bottom. I could feel the mist hit my cheek from the bridge. Our good friend Theophile brought us to the falls with his beautiful wife and two daughters. We were able to take many pictures of the falls, which were surrounded by banana trees, and lush, green tree covered mountains. The view was outstanding. Those twenty minutes that we were standing on the shaky bridge I could not help but think that I was imagining it. Words cannot describe out majestic and gorgeous the view was. This is truly something that I will never forget. After admiring the beautiful falls we walked back to the bus and headed home.

We passed many fields and saw smoke fill the mountains as families prepared dinner. There were little Tigo shops and Primus advertisements covering the stores in the center of the towns. The bus passed by rice fields and shared the road with motorcyclists and bike taxis. We arrived to St. Joseph’s Center and some of us decided to walk to get some snacks. Initially, we were going to walk to a store that was a 30 minute walk; however, once we stepped outside we realized just how dark it is once the sun goes down. Very few buildings have light and the streets are completely dark. Instead, we walked to a little store about 5 minutes down the road and headed back for the night.

Today was a day where the students on this trip were able to build relationships with Rwandan students, attend a lecture at INATEK University, experience a true wonder of God’s creation, and attempt to experience Rwandan “night-life”.  Like every day on this trip thus far, I will never forget this experience. I am so grateful to everyone who made this trip possible. I am so fortunate and bless to have this opportunity.