Monthly Archives: August 2013

Joyful Visit to a Primary School

August 10, 2013 | Janie

Unreliable Internet in Rwanda and a busy schedule (team members have to be quite tired in the evening) has meant that individual blog posts and photos have been somewhat slow to surface. I am grateful that we continue to have Kent’s journaling and the Kirkeide’s great photos (with captions) to make these next posts possible.

Kent had this to say about the team’s visit to the Cyintare Primary School:

…we headed to our next destination, which was a primary school. The students and teachers were on their two-week break so the World Vision people weren’t sure how many would be there, but they had notified the school. Another bumpy trip on a long, winding, mountainous gravel road. As we got closer to the school, we heard children singing. When were in sight of the school, we could see a couple hundred young children in blue school uniforms singing and dancing to a welcome song on the hillside. We stood and listened to them for several minutes, and they were not shy about singing loudly and enthusiastically. It was incredibly joyful!

Visit to the Cyintare primary school

The team is joyfully greeted by the students.

Joyful singing and dancing welcomes the team

Although the kids didn’t have school that day, they still came and greeted us with song and dance and joy and energy!

At this point we were directed by the headmaster of the school to follow her and we walked up a hill to a classroom. There she took care of introductions with several members of her teaching staff in attendance. The classroom had a chalkboard with the yearly schedule on it and a couple of fluorescent lights. They were very excited about having electricity. I noticed several hornets buzzing around the ceiling and an actual hornet nest in one of the corners of the roof. They discussed some of the challenges of teaching in the primary school—specifically that they had so many students that they had two shifts of students per day, a morning shift and an afternoon shift.

A view of the Cyintare Primary School from a distance

Their school has seven classrooms, nine teachers, and 600 students. Because of the huge population of students, they either attend school in a morning or afternoon shift.

We talked for about 30 minutes in that specific classroom and then we walked up the hill to a newer classroom where several kids (probably about 6th or 7th grade equivalent) were assembled. At this point, the Kirkheides were asked impromptu if they would teach a lesson to the students. Shawn started with a discussion about where we lived (Minnesota) and if they knew anything about where we were from. Students raised their hand politely and when called upon they would stand next to their desk to answer. They mentioned the Mississippi River, the fact that our country had tremendous resources, our President, and several other little factoids.

Spontaneous teaching about geography.

We also had a chance to meet with the teachers, discuss education in Kivuruga, and even teach a lesson to a classroom of 6th graders. Wow. Huge highlight!

Shannon then asked the students to share about their country. It was a neat moment, with lots of hands raised and enthusiastic answers given.This went on for about 25 minutes.

After this we went out to the athletic field. As we walked down the hill, we saw several students in new uniforms. The kids told us they were bought with World Vision funds and that they just got them.

When we got to the field, Steve brought out a bag of balls we had brought for the school.

Presentation of soccer ball.

Thanks to many people who donated soccer balls, we were able to donate over 20 balls to the school. I’m not sure who was more excited–the kids or the teachers!

Several of us had the opportunity to trade new soccer balls for the homemade soccer balls made out of plastic bags.

Exchange of soccer balls

Exchanging handmade soccer balls for new ones!

We traded five or six balls, and then several of our group played volleyball with several of the kids that were assembled. The rest of the kids huddled around the court and on the hillside. When the kids scored, the crowd was very supportive with cheers. When our group scored, not so much. lol

Volleyball teams at the school

Our team photo after volleyball. Guess who won? Hint: not the mzungu (white people)!

The Cyintare Primary School was built in part by World Vision in conjunction with the Rwandan government. Amazing work!

The Cyintare Primary School was built in part by World Vision in conjunction with the Rwandan government . Amazing work!

After the game, we left the school and people lined the little gravel road and said farewell.

The Crazy and the Good

August 9, 2013 | Janie

The crazy

“Crazy” is Steve’s word for what happened when the team tried to fly out from Kigali to Tanzania via Nairobi. The end goal? A safari to cap off their trip!

To back track just a bit, the team left Kivuruga on Wednesday morning and headed back to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. They first stopped by the ADP office to say good-bye to the World Vision staff. When they reached Kigali, they had lunch and then checked into the Umubano Hotel. The remainder of the day (and part of the next morning) was left open for sight-seeing and shopping, followed by dinner and de-briefing in the evening.

It was when they arrived at the Kigali airport Thursday afternoon, that things didn’t go so smoothly. Steve sent out this email:

“What an adventure. We are waiting for a flight now that hopefully will fly soon to Nairobi. We are already three hours overdue and have been at the hot airport for five hours. We will likely miss our connection to Tanzania and not sure where that leaves us. Logistical nightmare and no one has answers. Totally like the amazing race with the language barriers and lack of information. Some are starting to get weary.”

Steve’s next email:

“Made it to Nairobi. Flight to Tanzania cancelled. Spending night in Nairobi. Crazy but ok. Fly out tomorrow morning. All are ok. Crazy time.”

The good

There is a silver lining for those of us back home who are following the team’s adventures. The long wait in the airport gave Kent Viesselman some time to catch up on his blog. I wanted to be sure to include his commentary because he fills in all the beautiful details from our last post. What follows is Kent’s moving account of the team’s visit to the Pentecostal church in Kivuruga.

“…as we approached the church we could hear singing. As we parked our vehicles on the road overlooking the church, a procession of teenagers clothed in orange came out singing and clapping a welcome song for us. The translation for the song was, “we are very happy to see you… we are very happy to see you.” More people started coming out so we went in a side door… they had designated seats for us up on a platform…. it was very humbling. The whole congregation joined in a raucous rendition of a song I was unfamiliar with that was sung in Kinyarwandan. They were taking turns, in age groups, dancing in front of us. It was unbelievable.

Children outside the church in Kivuruga

Adults and children alike were eager to greet the team.

We were joined by Jimmy, our interpreter, and the pastor greeted us enthusiastically as Jimmy interpreted. We were also greeted by a number of local dignitaries. Jimmy enthusiastically preached a sermon for the church in their native language. As the service went on, several children kept taking my picture and tried to shake my hand and greeted me with smiles. Shelby Swanson shared a very short message just about our gratitude and how humbled we were by our reception.

After that, I sang “Give me Jesus”… I sang the song acapella with the verses in English and the chorus in Kinyarwandan. As I closed, Jimmy came up and the entire congregation and myself sang the chorus. “Umpe Yesu, Umpe Yesu, etc”… it was very moving and their were shouts, claps and arms raised enthusiastically as we closed the singing.

Even the youngest dance at church

Even the little ones get up and move during the singing.

The service closed shortly after this and we were escorted out the side door of the church. The service took a little over two hours, which I was told was very short for African church services, but they did it as a courtesy to us….. As we made our way to our vehicles we were mobbed… Our 100 yard (30m) walk to our vehicles took about 20 minutes due to all the well-wishes and people wanting to greet us…. it was absolute bedlam. It was an incredibly emotional time for all.

Post church chat with young man

Steve chats with a young man outside the church.

We drove back to our hotel and had lunch. After lunch we returned to the Kivuruga area for a briefing on a specific aspect of the W.A.S.H project in which the government of Rwanda and World Vision have partnered. At this point, I should probably mention what an incredible working relationship World Vision and the Rwandan government have together… it’s amazing to see how well they work together….very inspiring. The project deals specifically with clean Water And Sanitation and Health…We took a long drive up a winding, mountain gravel road at about 10-15 mph…. no guardrails…. nothing. FYI, this is the norm for all of the roads we traveled on off the main road. Also, as we drove down the road we startled a young man and a cow walking down the road. The cow bolted and ran in front of our vehicle on the road for about a mile with the poor young man running behind our vehicle trying to catch the cow.

Shannon's photo of the cow capture!

Shannon’s photo of the cow capture!

Eventually, we parked on a very steep hill and about a half a mile way down in the valley we could see a group of about 100 people singing and dancing…waiting for our arrival. We worked our way down a treacherous dirt path…. it took about 10 minutes to get there. The group sang the entire time and sang and danced another 5 minutes after we got there. We stood in front of a concrete slab with a pipe coming out of the hillside with water flowing out of it.

Artisan well in Kivuruga

After they stopped singing, several local leaders spoke of how grateful they were for their safe water and how they now only walked an hour or so instead of 3 or 4 hours for their water. Each of the leaders also wanted to know how they could bless their neighbors on the other side of the mountain with clean water. They discussed at length how they wanted to build a “pipeline” to transfer water to their neighbors. After the talk, several members of the group filled up water jugs and carried them up the hillside for the community people. What an amazing experience… and an amazing day. We spent much of the supper hour sharing and discussing the day.”

Thanks, Kent, for this update. How we would have loved to heard you sing “Give Me Jesus” with our brothers and sisters in Kivuruga!


Worship and WASH

August 8, 2013 | Janie

Before the Our Response team attended Kivuruga’s Pentecostal Church this past Sunday, Steve wrote, “I’m so excited to have people experience this beautiful gathering of worship; it will forever change how each person thinks about worship going forward.”

Remaining quotes and all photos are from team member, Shannon.

Kivuruga worship time

“As we arrived, the singing and greeting began. So very, very welcoming!”

a warm welcome

“Seriously… ENERGY! Dancing, singing, jumping up and down. Not quite like the typical Minnesota church service!”

Worship in Kivuruga, Rwanda

Clint and Shelby shared during the service, as did Kent and Steve.

Clint and Shelby share at service

Kivurugan girl in orange skirt

Later that day the team went to view the results of Our Response’s efforts to increase clean water access in Kivuruga. Below you see an artesian well that the WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) project helped install, with cooperation from the Rwandan government. An artesian well is one in which water rises under its own pressure, without needing to be pumped.

Artisan well in Kivuruga

Amy tries her hand at collecting water.

Amy fills her canister with water

The children raising their hands are responsible for fetching water each day from this well.

Water carriers raise hands

“Look way, way down there. You might catch a glimpse of the artesian well you just saw pictures of. It’s a hike!”

A hike to the well

Loving Shannon’s Photos!

August 6, 2013 | Janie

Finally…we have photos! If you follow Shannon on Facebook, you may have already seen them. I have selected out some of my favorites and I think you will enjoy them as much as I do. She has included captions with many of them.

Shannon and her husband Shawn both teach in Cambridge. Shawn teaches sixth grade at the Cambridge Middle School. Shannon teaches Spanish at the Anoka-Ramsey Community College. This shot was taken when the team had lunch at the Des Milles Collines Hotel (Hotel Rwanda), in Kigali.

Teachers from Cambridge

Then it was time to head for Kivuruga. There were some interesting sights along the way!

Bikers hitch a ride

Hitch hiking on the back of a truck in Rwanda

Shannon wrote, “We see this all over… Kids carrying gas cans for collecting water.”

Children seen everywhere carrying water cans

You will often see children caring for children.

Children caring for children

Shannon and Shawn meet their sponsored children

Captions above the remaining photos are in Shannon’s own words.

“Honestly, we had the most amazing day, one that will go down in our history as one of the best!!”

Shannon and Shawn meet their sponsored children

“Eric, one of our sponsored children, so sweet, so happy to play with his new soccer ball.”

Sponsored child with soccer ball

“One of my absolute favorite photos of the day, Shawn and Marie Aimee, our sponsored daughter. Her soul was SHINING through her smile! When we first met her, she didn’t smile at us at all. This was after we played soccer with her and shared a snack.”

Shawn with his sponsored child

“Marie Aimee’s mama and papa in their home, sharing their stories and hospitality with us. They were so kind, so warm.”

Shawn and Shannon meet their sponsored child's family

OK, I don’t know about you, but that’s about all my heart can handle for today. More photos tomorrow!