We went to a cool restaurant for lunch and then afterwards we headed to our first village. This village was the Kiboga (Widows) Village, created post genocide for the women who were left widowed with a few surviving family members. It took us a while to get there but we enjoyed spending some time listening to their stories, watching the kids and taking in that all of these women had suffered such a loss.
There was a water well there too, a couple in VA had paid the $15,000 to dig a deep water well. It provided this village with water saving their kids an estimated 5hr hike for water. Could you imagine spending most of your day hauling water? That is what these women and children do….and you wonder why the kids can never go to school. They are responsible for helping their mom get water, so education is pushed down the ladder of priorities.
The houses were so bare, lacking the family portraits that are so common in US homes. These women really did not have much at all but they smiled so beautifully! You have to ask yourself…how can these women smile after what they experienced? How do these women wake up every morning after they experienced such horror. I could see the effects of HIV/AIDS in several of the women and the children….it breaks your heart to see that these women are tied to the genocide even now 17 years later.
The kids were precious, you cannot really put into words watching kids just be engaged with you because you speak another language or because you have things they have not seen before. To open the kids up we had colors and coloring books. Many had never colored so that was fun. A small group of us were able to break off and go with translators to the homes. I was touched by how you were always created with a hug and warm handshake. You absolutely cannot find such warmth in the US, in fact if you were to drive into a new town you would probably be stared at or ignored. It is sad how far America has come, you really have to search to find a place where you are created so warmly.
We were at the village until late, talking and learning from these women. They have strength I hope to one day have, strength to face tomorrow despite how awful the day before has been. We have so much to learn from this population, they have sustained a horrific past but are working so hard to have a hopeful and promising future.
We made it back to the Bloom Hotel in time for dinner and time to spend in our de-brief groups. I then stayed up talking with my roommate before we finally called it quits. We were tired and jet-lagged but ready to get out into more villages..what we did not know was what Day #2 would have in store for us. It would be something that probably none of us will ever forget.