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Published: April 13th 2007
I have arrived home safely from a wonderful week in Rwanda. My life continues to be bursting with goodness. I found out today that I got into UVM. I have decided that after all this traveling I am ready to settle into a community and become involved with a life consisting of a stable bed. This year has been the most incredible, life-changing, fun, challenging, experience of my life so far and as it winds down I really recognize my need for a stable home (at least for a little while.) Burlington is where I want to be. Funny, looking back a few years, I scoffed at my friends for staying in Vermont and look at me now. Back to my roots.
These past two weeks have brought a plethora of experiences to my life. I spent a few days in a village playing with duck duck goose with beautiful children and explaining why it’s important to wash your hands after you go to the latrine. Then, I took my first group outing with the other volunteers. 15 people from around the world headed up to Kyzanga, Uganda to take part in Orphans Day at House of
Hope. Once again, my direct relationship to joy became clear as I pretended to be a train while 50+ children trailed behind me in a line shouting "CHOO CHOO!!!!" Every so often, I was reminded that these children were dying of AIDS, starving and living in the most destitute conditions possible. Every time this happened I felt my heart seize up and my mind would go blank. Looking around, I couldn't see the pain, I could only see the faces of children who were overjoyed to spend that very minute alive with us. So as beach balls flew wildly and I painted stars on faces, by heart released its grip on pain and I drifted into the pure bliss of children's joy. The realization that I am meant to focus on the worlds simple pleasures rather then the suffering has been a re-occurring theme for this year and I am amazed every time I find my self sitting right on top of it and if you could only see their faces when they found out they were going to get two meals that day you would have melted too. It’s an amazing program they have started and if you want
more information on it, email me.
From Kyzanga, my friends Molly and Ally joined me on the seven hour bus ride to Rwanda. Rwanda was the perfect half-way mark for my semester. One might think Rwanda is not really your typical vacation land, but I must be quick to inform you that I have never felt more spoiled. My trip consisted of one stroke of good luck after the other. I am beginning to really see the effects of focusing on bringing positivity into my life. Starting from catching a direct bus into Kigali, to the very end when a found a veggie burger to eat, my Rwandan experience was filled with wonderful people ready to make my day with simple pleasures. I forgot to mention in my previous entries that Mukono, Uganda does not have running water and the power goes out like every other day. If you couldn't guess, a hot shower feels like a gift from the heavens after a month and a half of cold water in a bucket. I ate cheese, sat at tables (yes dinner tables,) ate dessert, watched monkeys in the Nyungwe National Park and rode in vehicles that were on paved
roads and actually regulated the number of passengers allowed in the car. Luxury, I am telling you.
On the few days that I was traveling alone, I managed to steer clear of all the Genocide memorials. Instead, I took a three hour bus ride, which wound high into the mountains and I went on a hike through the park. I never thought I would choose to go hiking, especially by myself but I loved it. I think I'll go hiking more often. When I was waiting to hitch a ride back to Butare, it suddenly dropped like 30 degrees. I was soaking from a serious rain storm and felt like I was going into hypothermia. Hard to believe in Africa, but I swear I was soooo cold. No cars were going by and finally a Mini bus came by. I ran out and tried to flag them down. They didn't stop because they were full. I trudged back to my spot underneath a sign with a few other Rwandese fellas and sighed. The sound of reverse beeps reached my ears and I ran back out into the street. Yes! sure enough, the mini bus was backing up the mountain
House of Hope
Amanda and Usher
for me. I ran down to meet them and out popped the conductor who had given me the ride up there. "Ehhhhhh!" he shouted and slapped me high five and shoved over to make room for me in the packed van, even though it was illegal. Satisfied and warm and snuggled comfortably into the warmth of these African bodies and enjoyed my relaxing ride back to town. It was a good day to be a Muzungu.
I think I might go to the movies tomorrow! Whew, am I not living the easy life these days? I think so.
I love you all,
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