My Other Home

Impact: 8
Support: 10
Fun: 10
Value: 9
Safety: 10

I highly recommend this program to everyone. Rwanda in itself is the most beautiful country I can imagine, both in terms of landscaping and most of all, the people. Innocent, the on-site coordinator for this project, met me at the airport and immediately made me feel extremely welcomed. All of the leaders of this program are caring, respectful, fun, and kind. I still keep in touch with everyone I met in Rwanda, and consider them dear friends for life. I am even currently looking into returning after I graduate in May so that I may help run the school. Whether or not this happens, it is a testimony to how much this experience impacted my life.

On an average day I would wake up to the sound of children laughing and sun streaming through my window. After some morning porridge and listening to the Rwandan national anthem at morning assemble, my teaching day would begin. The school day was very long, from about 7:30 am to 5 pm, but there was a break for morning tea and a two hour lunch break so this helped greatly. I taught English, Reading and Writing, and Mathematics to some beautiful (and sometimes naughty!) first and second graders. The children are eager to learn and value education greatly, and this made every moment rewarding. During my lunch break I would catch up on grading or lesson planning, enjoy the company of the other teachers, or play with the children outdoors. Then back to teaching until evening assemble when the majority of the children go home, except for about a dozen boarding students. At this point, it was time for fetching some water, my favorite part of the day. I would grab my jerry cans and make the breath taking walk down to the watering hole, the social gathering place, as the sun was setting golden in the sky. Then I took a little personal time before supper, which was eaten around 7 or 8 pm. After supper pretty much everyone goes to bed because it is dark outside and we must wake up early the next day. On weekends, I usually went into Rwamagana, the nearest town, and went to some internet cafes to email friends or go to the market to buy food and socialize. Within two weeks of being in Rwanda, I couldn't go anywhere without running into someone I knew. Even the language barrier didn't prevent friendships, partly because many people know a little English, and partly because I knew a little Kinyarwanda.

As a side note for people worried about safety, I never felt even a little unsafe in this country. I walked around by myself and talked to total strangers all the time and didn't bother taking my malaria pills after the first week seeing like one mosquito the whole time I was there. Not everyone will feel exactly like I do, and I am not suggesting that anyone not take health or safety precautions, but I would say just don't let any kind of safety factor deter you from visiting Rwanda.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would