We’ve been in Rwanda for just over a year, here are some things that we didn’t expect about living in this interesting African city. From time to time people ask us to give them some sense of what day to day life is like, I hope this helps some!
- Going to sleep at least once a week to the sound of chanting and african drums.
- The roar of soccer fans and south african vuvuzelas at the frequent games, just up the hill at the nations main stadium.
- The stories and effects in peoples lives of uburozi, a word that means both witchcraft and poisoning.
- That they would build the first and only movie theatre in Rwanda shortly after we came, and that the movie theatre would be state of the art, and have 3D films.
- Doing 90% of our household shopping at a big open-air african market.
- Just how clean, and organized it is, and on the other side how you need permission to do almost anything from the community, everything is filtered through consensus!
- How rural life still is in the middle of the city, we ourselves now breed rabbits, and keep a small garden, many of our neighbors have cows, big gardens, and its common on neighborhood walks to see chickens, goats and sheep running around on our dirt roads.
- Life is done through cell phones, we can prepay electric, water, even rent by using phones, even deep in the village where there is no roads, you see everyone with a phone. According to the UN there are more people who have access to cell phones than a sanitary toilet.
- The vast difference between rich and poor, when you travel on Kigali’s wonderful road system you mostly see impressive government buildings and private villas that look like they came out of a James Bond film everywhere. But off these paths down in the valleys, people live in an entirely different way, surviving on forty bucks a month, yet still decades ahead of many who live deep out in the villages.
- We recycle EVERYTHING. Being super green for us in the states seemed more like the concern of people often a few pay-grades and a few degrees above us. However here, out of necessity, we repurpose everything and if we can’t, than someone else in the community will find a good use for it.
- We cook EVERYTHING and do everything from scratch. For example, to make spicy peanut sauce you have to make your own garlic chili paste, hoisen sauce, and ground up your own peanuts. Then you mix with all the other ingredients to make the sauce. Every week we homogenize our own milk, make our own bread, cheese and yogurt, disinfect all our vegetables, and filter all our water. We also often cook water on the stove to take an “African” shower from a bucket of both cold and boiled water. When water is gone which it has a handful of times in the past year, it gets more interesting to flush toilets, cook, drink, clean and wash ourselves. We could go on, but we will spare you… 🙂 *Its possible to get most things downtown, totally processed, but not on our missionary budget.
- In this culture you are always considered available. No longer surprised are we, when in the middle of family devotions, in the middle of a shower, or any other time someone taps on the window, and says they need you, and will wait for you until you come. You never know if it is someone selling mangos, a refugee woman whose kids are starving and need help, or just someone from the community coming for the cultural accepted unannounced, and typically several hour long visit.
- The neighborhood never get’s use to seeing a white family walking around on foot, especially at night. It doesn’t matter how many months we’ve been here. The other day I caught someone literally filming us on our way with their phone.
- Its been nearly every day recently, but not a week goes by when we don’t hear of someone close to us dying, often leaving some orphaned children. Usually within a short walk of our house.
- How important this city is to this whole small country. If you speak english, you move to Kigali, about 1 out of 10 people (many who are men) seem to live in the city sending money back to their villages. Just about everyone has a home and a community somewhere out in the country.