FFA GO: Africa – July 18, 2011

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Orientation and Dinner with Gaelle’s Family

By Teams A and B

Murakoze is the Kinyarwanda word for ‘thank you,’ and after last night and this wonderful day filled with the love of Rwandan family’s, nothing will embody the emotion we feel quite like the words thank you. We might have ended last night’s blog a wee-bit too early. You see, we finished our post before we knew that our night would only exceed to impact our lives. We spent our dinner at Papa and Mama Gaelle’s house, Ashley’s roommate’s family. Within seconds after we arrived we met Bosco, Jean, Michael, Eve, David, and Junior and were welcomed into a beautiful home full of life, and our favorite, coke-a-cola. After a two hour chat that involved politics, family, schooling systems, and our favorite music, we ate a wonderful dinner that had every flavor known to man (well, all the good ones). We will never be able to drink coke or eat bananas in the United States after this meal; it was ‘c’est trop bon!’ (It’s too good!)

Right as the night was allowing the powers of sleep to beckon us away, Ashley asked them about music. What a can of worms! The immediate action by the family was to clear the table, remove all furniture from the room and proceed to ‘teaching us how to dougie.’ We were slow to join in but after the ice was broken the flood of dance moves erupted and propelled us into the night exhausting our muscles. After learning the traditional Rwandan moves, we explained the Cupid shuffle, the electric slide, and about an hours’ worth of boogieing.

We have never felt more at home.

The night ended in tears though. You see Ashley is obsessed with soccer and in a frantic need for information she ran to the restaurant just in time to see the US Soccer team miss three penalty kicks, making them the first US team to lose a World Cup in the finals. The staff at the hotel was not helping since they were cheering for Japan to spite her. But personally, we supported their jeering.

On to today. What didn’t we do today? We keep saying it feels as if we have been in Rwanda for a very long time, it’s weird in a good way. However, it might be better to tell you what we did do… it uses less web space. Frist we ate a beautiful breakfeast, filled with fresh fruit so flavorful it was almost life changing. It was not to long before we were shuttled off to the CRS main building where we worked with the CRS Staff to become intergrated and updated on all of the NGO’s (Non-government Organization) projects. We cannot describe all the work these dedicated and amazing people complete. The country is being changed every day because of their selfless actions. “Murakoze” doesn’t begin to cover it.

We were enticed to learn about the wonders of CRS’s work in the agricultural systems. They are working to increase the popularity of sweet potatoes, size in Irish potatoes, health of cassava, and incorporation of coffee. They do all this by educating farmers through trainings and giving out micro-loans. The volume of work here isn’t the only astounding action; it is the desire to better the country through education. This organization is revolutionary and truly making an impact.

Lunch was enjoyed on a beautiful balcony with fresh crepes served to us by the chef. Dinner showed us how comical, crazy, fantastic, and loving the staff at CRS is. We had a barbeque with the, with traditional foods overflowing the tables, that we ate till we were ready to burst. During the night, we practiced Kinyarwanda (a highlight), but the best part was making connections with all the people. They are amazing, some have seven kids like Samson, others are Human Resource workers with Master Degrees in Finance, but all of them have huge hearts that give all they have to others. It is nights like these that make us want to stay here forever. Who knows maybe we all might come back here one day, but until we finish our degrees, we will just enjoy the next 12 days knowing that we will never be the same. Murakoze to all Rwandans, you have forever changed our hearts with your love.

We are off to the country side to start our tour of the crops to lend our help and education as best as we can. Till then live each moment to the fullest!

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