Thursday, 31 May 2018

Big challenges, bigger results

United Nations Association International Service. Rwanda Cohort IV. Blog lll.
Big challenges, bigger results

By Ramona Roca & Gitego Kizito Samantha

What a busy and exciting week we have had;

v Nutrition demonstration
v Building a new drainage system
v Building toilets

We are here to give our support and contribution as volunteers and as part of the community (this is not a holiday indeed!)
The 4th week started in the best of ways - a delicious breakfast made by our host family which was composed of tea, fruits porridge and bread - we were ready to kick it!

The task everyone was most excited about was the Nutrition demonstration in the local district of Sure, Rutsiro, as malnutrition is one of the main issues for many families. We cooked meals for around 80 families, which consisted of carbohydrates (rice, potatoes), proteins (beans, boiled eggs, nuts), vegetables (spinach, carrots, peppers, egg plant) and fruits (bananas). The aim of this was to show local mothers what a balanced diet is. Half of our team (along with some of the local community) started by peeling and cutting vegetables, while the other half (the chefs) prepared porridge for the children. While the adventurous chefs - surrounded by smoke - were preparing the delicious lunch, we went to have a talk with the families about what a regular and balanced diet should be. We also gave some interesting tips; the importance of porridge for babies (contains many nutrients) and the restriction of avocadoes to pregnant woman and children under 2 years old as it contains fat components that are hard to break down.

Potatoes peeled by the volunteers
We challenged ourselves by doing things we are not used to (peeling with blunt knives, lighting stoves with firewood and ikibiriti (box matches) and preparing food for 80 people but in the end everything went well, everyone got served and it was a day well spent with those families and the whole team. The day was long and tiring however, it was very rewarding at the same time. Afterwards, we all enjoyed some Rwandan music with a cold Fanta Citron and the view of one thousand hills (literally). There was no time for chilling too much though as new challenges were waiting!

Balance diet lesson

Rainy season; such a big problem!
It lasts for an average of 5 months throughout the year, damages many things and in particular, it has damaged the main street of our village. One rainy night whilst walking home, we noticed that people couldn’t get home safely and were struggling to walk up the hill through the rocky wet street. So, eureka! An idea came to our mind - building a new drainage system (water channels)! We were very excited about the idea and we started interviewing the community straight away; we made a project brief ready to present it to the sector Leader.
Digging for the water drainage
On Monday morning we got an appointment with him; we were anxious, nervous, but positive and after 30 minutes in his office we could happily say that we had done it – he had accepted our plan so the work could start. The work started after one week, during Umuganda - where the community meets on the last Saturday of every month to voluntarily work fr a common need - we had our shovels ready and started to dig. An average of 70 people came together for our project, working for 6 hours under the hot sun but our/their passion was undeniable. Within three days the project was complete and the community was visibly happy and thankful for the change we had helped to make, they even rewarded us with a Fanta citron!
Community and volunteers on the final day
Our exciting week ended by building a toilet from the foundations up to the roof with our own hands. The toilet was for a lady called Nyirabahizi, who is a single mother with three children and who have been without a toilet for the past three years.  This gave us a real insight into true poverty, something that none of us were prepared for. We will never forget the look of happiness and how grateful Nyirabahizi was when we had finished; it was a fantastic way to end our busy week.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog!
Volunteers with the built toilet
Nyirabahizi with her new toilet

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