Monday 2nd March
Hello friends and family from a very humid and sticky Peace Guest House. More thunderous rain today, after a bright and hot start. This has become the regular pattern whilst we have been here.
Our dear companion, Mary Ogalo, has completed her time with us and is on her way home to Kenya early tomorrow. We have had a very fruitful time together. There is a clear need for a project similar to the one she is running in rural Kenya. This need has been endorsed by various meetings, interviews and questionnaire results, completed by both teenage girls and teachers. Mary is working on a project proposal for Rusizi District, in collaboration with the Mothers Union and District Education Office. We hope this will lead to a 6 day mentoring programme for selected teachers, MU and National Women’s Council reps to be held possibly in August. This will enable participants to mentor girls in life skills to help them stay in education and develop a plan for their lives. This all graphically underlines the significance of both free education to the age of 16 and supportive parents, something these girls do not have by right and which propels them into many life threatening difficulties.
Meanwhile, Rob has been busy progressing the next large scale rainwater harvesting scheme. St Peter’s Technical School, Cyimbogo, has been selected as the first of 6 proposed beneficiaries. This scheme will provide clean drinking water for 200 students and provide a supply to the local community too. He has also been investigating the water quality of Lake Kivu, with the help of an ex-SWA colleague in UK, thanks to modern technology. We are hopeful that the lake will be safe enough to provide clean drinking water, with the help of aquafilters, for the population of Nkombo Island (20,000). There are presently no safe sources of drinking water on the island, no rivers or springs.
We complete our adventure and return to UK on Fri. Between now and then, we hope to award the rain water harvesting contract here in Cyangugu and, on return to Kigali, finalise the budget for the aquafilter studies.
Needless to say, Rob is busy…even on Sunday and in the pouring rain. Whilst the rest of us are dodging the heavy rain in the restaurant with wi-fi, tea and the Archers Omnibus! He’s gone off with one of the PGH workman in blue overalls and a ladder…..hope he comes back intact.
We value your thoughts, encouragement and prayer.
Love from Rob & Jan.
Friday 28th February
Our final day in Kigali was really memorable. The Executive Secretary of the Sector was true to his word and he arranged for all necessary people to gather after Umuganda on Saturday. There were over 500 people present to hear him extol the virtues of good hygiene practice and the Aquafilter study. He even drank the first bottle of water filtered during a demo from a ”swamp” created in a bucket! He reminded the people of how John the Baptist had sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the promised Messiah. Jesus sent them back to John, instructing them to tell what they had seen. Similarly, the Kanombe crowd were instructed to go home and tell what they had just seen. Twelve Aquafilters were then symbolically presented to twelve health workers who had already been trained in their use. The remaining 425 filters were then taken to the two Cell Offices for wider distribution to the people on Sunday.
Our journey to Cyangugu was long and uneventful. There was a noticeable police/military presence along the way and we were flagged down twice for what appeared to be an amicable exchange between the bus driver and police. We have been joined on our trip south by Mary Ogalo who has come to share her experience of a project she has developed in Nairobi with local schools here, youth workers and the Mothers Union. The project involves mentoring young girls in life skills which will help them to complete their education, avoid unwanted pregnancy and bad decisions which trap them into poverty. We have been amazed by the number of people we now know, who are in just the right jobs to facilitate both Mary’s and Rob’s projects! Mary is to give a presentation on Friday to a selection of 12 education officers and teachers facilitated by Damascene, now Education Officer for Rusizi Sector and who previously was Director of Studies at Jill Barham School. Rob should soon have the analysis of the Lake Kivu water sampling authorized by the General Manager of EWSA in Rwanda who Rob met 3 years ago in Kigali when he was doing a different job. Also involved is the head of EWSA in Kamembe, previously a chemist to whom Rob gave a demo of the first Aquafilter brought here, back in 2009. He remembered going with Rob to the Rusizi River to collect water for Rob to filter. An unknown man rushed forward from the gathered crowd to gulp down the glass beaker of crystal clear water held high by the EWSA Chief Chemist.
Raining is POURING down, hammering on the tin roof, thunder banging and crashing, rolling around the mountains. We are drinking African tea in the dry and comfort of Peace Guest House….Rob is out somewhere visiting Mastaki, the diabetic builder, with a bankrupt phone. He won’t need a bath tonight!
With love from Rob & Jan.
Thursday 20th February
I knew I should not have mentioned rain!! The forecast is a very wet couple of days, clearing by Sunday, which is handy because that’s when we will be travelling south by road.
Of course, yesterday did not pan out as expected. We were all ready for the distribution of the final batch of filters in the community served by Busanza Clinic at 10am but after a game of bureaucratic ping pong, there was no distribution! Meanwhile, we were taken to the office of the Executive Secretary of Kanombe Sector to discuss this. It transpires that Kanombe Sector has won first prize out of 35 sectors, complete with 3 certificates and a cup, for improvements to public hygiene and environmental issues. His target for this year is to further improve public health by reducing the incidence of diarrhoea in his sector. Whilst he is pondering this little challenge, we knock on his door, armed with 437 Aquafilters to provide the solution in 2 cells within his sector. We hope this is a “win:win”!! Certainly, he could not have been more helpful and encouraging in his comments. So, his suggestion is he contacts all the appropriate parties on our behalf, and we distribute the filters at the end of umuganda on Saturday and he will be there to assist. Umuganda is a monthly event when the community works together (for 2 hours) on a project which will benefit everyone. Great concept which would be worth transferring to UK.
Budget planning is today and the meeting with Gasabo Rotary to present the detailed budget is now planned for Friday. So although the uncertainty of Wednesday was tiring, the outcome looks much better. So, once again, thank you for your prayerful support which we thank God for.
Back to the figures ……
With love from Rob & Jan.
Saturday 15th February
Greetings from warm and fairly sultry Kigali, but most importantly, no rain – yet! Having driven through a raging tempest to reach Heathrow, it was wonderful to be greeted by all the sights, sounds and smells of Rwanda and the warm smiles and hugs of everyone we met. The blossom on all the trees is very striking after coming from wet and bleak England.
On Fri we spent the day meeting our key partner (Solace Ministries) who is overseeing the water filter study. It was encouraging to discover good progress has been made in one area where all the filters have been distributed, are in use and monitoring has begun. Source water sampling has also started. Progress in the second study area is not quite so far advanced. It has taken longer to get the necessary approvals to commence this part of the study but we are hopeful that towards the end of next week permissions will be given and the filters will be distributed.
On Sat eve Jonathan Lamb arrived from Kamembe with the group from Peterborough, having facilitated their visit – lots of laughter and stories to overhear which brought back the memories of our first visit in 2007/2008. So looking to next week, we hope to agree the project budget, meet with the project partners in the area yet to start the study and get the filters distributed into that community. More news on that front later…
Thank you so much for your interest and prayerful support.
With love from Rob & Jan.