Sunday, November 22, 2009

I think I may soon be involved in my first charitable collaboration with an NGO. I was recently put in contact with a friend of a friend who will be travelling to Rwanda soon. She’s working with some variety of NGO that is focusing on Rwandan youth and the promotion of the living situations of children in orphanages. As I’m sure many of you can imagine, there are many orphans in Rwanda, but the government has done a spectacular job of finding homes for many of these children for at least portions of the year at a time. This way, those who have lost their parents generally don’t have to spend holidays by themselves. I’m not entirely clear on how finding permanent homes works, though. In any event, she seems interested in having the chance to donate to a smaller village outside of Kigali, because Kigali already gets a lot of traffic from aid groups. Tomorrow, I’m going to talk to the Nyanza Orphanage director and see what we can organize. Hopefully this goes over well.

I don’t want to sound overly enthusiastic, but I am beginning to think that I’ve adjusted to the lifestyle of a third world country. Simplicity is intensely underrated. I’m not saying that I’ve become a monk since my departure from the United States, far from it. There are several people in my service group who specifically opted against bringing electronics and things that would provide any semblance of creature comforts from home, in order to enforce the adjustment to life in Africa. I, however, am not so infallible. I feel as though my commitment to serve in Rwanda was enough of a sincere gesture that I am here for the right reasons. When I raise the topic of simplicity, I mean more along the lines of the things we often take for granted in the West. The amount of waste there is absolutely astounding. We use so much all the time and never really bother to replace or replenish our resources because we automatically assume someone, somewhere, will sell more to us. Water, for one, is huge in my opinion, especially being from southern California where we repeatedly purchase water from other areas to suit our needs, without any regard for its scarcity as a resource. Now, I have never maintained even the most fleeting notion that I would take bucket baths for the rest of my life, but I feel as though there must be a way to make people at home more aware of their environment’s limitations. In fear of sounding too preachy, I don’t intend to visit this topic regularly, but I think it is necessary to touch on the differences between the lifestyles here and at home.

Speaking of environment, I can’t get enough of Rwanda from an aesthetic point of view. It is ridiculously gorgeous here; so much so that I often find myself just sitting on my porch at home and looking at the scenery. For those of you who know me well, you know I’m not really the sit and do nothing type, but in Rwanda I could probably spend hours just looking at things. This morning I woke up randomly at 5 am and wandered outside for a minute. I don’t know if we have this back in Orange County, but the sunrise was astounding. The clouds were progressively pink, then orange, then yellow, then white, the sky stayed this really rich dark blue colour for a long time, and I could see the stars all the way until the sun had past above the hillside. It almost felt like I woke up on a different planet than the one I fell asleep on. We’re also so high up here that we regularly get what I have come to call “starry showers”. This is probably the little sister of the “sun shower” in that it’s simultaneously clear enough to see the sky, and raining. During starry showers the power is normally out so we can see the stars better, and they are juxtaposed with thunderstorms that periodically light up the sky. It’s something one ought to see for his or herself.

I’ll be going on a site visit next weekend so hopefully I’ll be able to make another update sometime during the week next week. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually know where MY site is going to be.

I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving!