Alexis’ corner of Rwanda
October 7, 2010

Kirehe is the driest district in Rwanda and although we are in the ‘short wet season’ (September to December) there has been precious little, much needed, rain until yesterday when the heavens opened with two short but torrential storms accompanied by rolling thunder.

Luckily I managed to avoid both of these on my moto drives to and  from Nyamateke, where I spent three hours or so with the  headteacher, Wellars,  sorting out an  Action Plan for the remainder of my placement.  It looks like over the next three weeks I will be providing him with management support for writing a new school development plan and possibly some help with ICT if he can get his laptop up and running.

That will take us up to the end of the school year. Thereafter, during the month of November, I will spend the final four weeks of my placement providing in-service training sessions for his staff, a mixture of education methodology and some English sessions based on themes of their choice.

Today I go through the same action planning process at Nyabitare but I suspect it will be a much slower process as Flora, the head, speaks French but very little English.

Daniel, my usual moto driver, got a puncture yesterday so I was picked up by Alex (Alexis). I had met him a few times but only been on his bike once before. This was a free ride he gave me one evening when he saw me walking into Nyakarambi. As he was headed in the same direction direction he kindlystopped to give me a lift, insisting there would be no charge. 

Alex is very proud that he owns two cows. Cows are extremely significant in Rwanda. They are tangible assets, a sign of prosperity and of course a source of milk.  As we were driving along he suddenly pointed out a small clay brick, cement rendered property with a corrugated metal roof. Next to it stood a rustic wooden  shelter, home to his pride and joy.   

This was Alexis’ corner of Rwanda, just off the dust track, part of a small settlement on the edge of a banana plantation, with wonderful views across the valley.   

He pulled over, parked up his moto and led me across to take a look at his long horned cow and calf. I was taken into his house and introduced to his wife and two young boys. The oldest of them had recently started school in Nyakarambi.  Alex explained who I was in Kinyarwanda and primed him to greet me in English which he did with, “Good morning teacher!”   

Alex’s wife then appeared with two jugs of piping hot boiled milk, from the family cow, and a plate of rice and beans which Alex and I shared. The milk was served in large mugs with a heaped spoonful of sugar.

Alex passed me the family photo album, largely pictures of his wedding and some of him going through exercises in combat gear. He told me had been in the army for 15 years and is now 30. It is therefore highly likely that he was a boy soldier with the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) during the aftermath of the genocide, which was probably borne out by another photograph in the album, that of Paul Kagame.    

It was a very kind of Alex, who I barely know, to take me to his home in this way and I felt very privileged to have met his family and to have shared lunch in this way. I took a few photographs of Alex and his boys. He is very relieved to have sons as apparently girls are too troublesome!

With this most unexpected and enjoyable interlude to my journey over we carried on to Nyakarambi.