Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Bakiga Window: My Rwandan Home

"All I need is room enough to lay my hat..."
The number of quotes that you can find for homes and houses is endless. Most of them comprise of tired clichés and revolve around 'a house not being a home' or how housework can be the death of you. In the case of Youth for Christ in Kigali, Rwanda, a dormitory can make for a rather strange home.

We stayed at YfC last year and had a more than pleasant stay. The hostel is set high on one of the milles collines that give Kigali its interesting layout and Rwanda its nickname. Awe-inspiring views roll off into the distance in almost every direction - even the old German radio masts don't take away from the pleasant location.

Today is Saturday 9th April and we've a busy day ahead of us which involves taking in a few Genocide memorial sites in and around Kigali before heading to the One Love Café for relaxation. Needless to say after a long flight I was exceptionally tired last night - we had set off on Thursday from London, via Addis Ababa, to Kigali arriving yesterday afternoon.

My travelling party this year consists of eleven students, eight current members of teaching staff, two retired members of staff, one former member of staff and a former student - and three midwives. The usual group leader is getting married next weekend and so the responsibility for the whole trip, not just the students' welfare, falls on me this time. The result of this? I have to stay in the boys' dorm, and Hanka in the girls' dorm, while the rest of the staff enjoy the peace of the staff quarters.

The relative peace of morning in the dorms.
Needless to say, I am tired, but the students are hyperactive. As I am settling down to sleep - in an area of the dorm away from the boys - I become suspicious as I can hear no noise coming from the hitherto noisy boys. I go investigating to find them outside the dorm block shining a light through the window of the girls dorms to try and scare them. After telling them that this behaviour doesn't become sixteen to seventeen year old boys they retire to bed a little crestfallen.

All is quiet until around two in the morning. At this time someone starts talking loudly in Arabic before saying something about their mum. Not long later someone falls off the top bunk of a bed, before giggling breaks out and someone starts shouting, "shut up". It would appear that the anti-malarial drug mefloquine is kicking in, what with its side effects of strange dreams and hallucinations.

The next morning the students seem confused about everything that had happened the night before. One has a sore knee from their bunk-bed base-jumping, one has been bitten after apparently telling another student in their sleep to remove the mosquito net and two others look shattered from giggling all night and trying to irritate the girls.

Oh well, just one more night in the dorms and then I get my own room in Uganda. Let's hope our last night at YfC is more peaceful.

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