georgebrose2008

July 27, 2008 

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Yesterday, as every last Saturday in the month, was a national service morning for Rwandans. Nothing opens until 11 am, as at least one person per household is expected to do some kind of community service. Shops don't open, buses don't run, restarants don't serve until the proscribed hour. It gives people time to think who they are, where they live, and what they can do for others. As a result, my bus didnt leave until 11AM, no biggie. I got into Kigali at 2PM and bought my ticket for Bujumbura for Monday morning then took a mototaxi back to where I stay in Kagarama, a suburb on the south side of town. Quite a ride with a full rucksack on my back and the driver having my smaller duffel bag looped over his neck and resting on the gas tank. We passed every car on the way out of town, as they get bogged down in bottlenecks. Even passed a Hummer. God knows who could afford to drive one at $6.50 a gallon, but they deserved to be passed. The motos pass on both sides of the vehicles moving ahead of them. Usually there are oncoming motos in the middle of the road. I had hoped to meet Br. Statton, a Marist brother who I had met in Yellow Springs last year. He is a school director at a secondary school thirty miles south of Kigali. I had seen the brothers´ house on a walk here last week. I went down there on the chance he might be home, but he had just returned to his school five minutes before I knocked on the gate. The upside of that missed connection was that in walking back to my residence, I heard an angelic choir practicing that Saturday evening. I went to where the music was coming from and there were about twenty people including 4 men singing. I introduced myself and asked if it would be ok for me to sit and listen. They were happy I asked and agreed. Then I realized I had a video cam at my house and asked if it would be all right to go and get is and record them. No problem. That was an event to behold and I hope that some of you will be able to see this incredible tape. I got four beautiful songs. They use a synthesiyer for music, but know a lot of songs and it was just going on and on . I went this morning to watch them perform at the quaker church. There were four choirs, but this one was the best of the four. The first 90 minutes of the service were music only. Then came a number of warmup preachers before the big guy got his turn, and for all I know, he is still going. I left two hours into the service because I wanted to try to call home before Marie left Montreal this am. Could get to an internet that had the software installed to do that. My best cafe Zawadi was closed. 

Sunday evening July 27 Two deaths in the afternoon

Im back at the internet this evening. David and Gladys Zarembka , the coordinator of AGLI, the organization that brought me over here came in from Bujumbura along with John McKeney from New Brunswick , also up from Bujumbura. I met John last year down there when he was volunteering building a health clinic, and he was doing similar work again this year. John is a professor at a university in New Brunswick. He is on his way home and came up to see Kigali for a few days. We decided to take a walking tour and David also wanted to see the site of Zawadi internet cafe. He knows this neighborhood well. But Zawadi is new since the last time he was here. We walked the highway down to the commerical district. It is a long downhill bending to the right and then to the left. Recent improvements included a well engineered drainage ditch on each side of the road. There is an eight foot berm and then the ditch. It is over four feet deep, steep side, masonry lined with rocks projecting out of the masonry. At one point about ten people were looking into the drainage system and talking and there was some loose dirt in the bottom. As we talked to the folks they said that a bicycle rider and passenger coming down the hill lost control and went into the ditch and were killed. The dirt covered the blood that was spilled, then I noticed two blood stains on the outer wall of the ditch where their heads must have struck. There was still a pair of sandals at the bottom. On the way back up here this morning after writing the earlier emails, I saw a man coming down the hill with a woman passenger and remarked to myself that he must have been doing at least 35 miles an hour. It is not hard to see how those fatalities occurred. Most cyclists ride on the road util a car, bus or truck comes up on them and honks and they usually move on to the berm if they value their lives. This may have happened to these people or they may have just lost control because of the speed and a little steering error. Many of these ditches have slabs over them with enough holes to allow water run off into the ditch. That might have saved them. Who can say.


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