The other three are watching “The Vow”. If I watch “The Vow” I will probably ruin it for them. So, in what will be an inevitable futile effort to postpone making a remark which results in things being thrown at me, I’ve decided to write this. My blogging still needs work.
It’s Thursday afternoon and our last day in Muhanga before we go home. The last two days have seen more language lessons and more details on the projects we will be working with. The Moucecore team will be working on two projects: working with villages on water sanitation issues and educating children on their rights. Both sound awesome and I am left even more eager to get to Kigali. We will work on the two Moucecore projects Monday- Wednesday; on Thursday we will help Moucecore in another area or work with another local charity in an area that interests us; Friday will see us research and present on particular development issues in the morning and then do some sort of sport in the afternoon.
Yesterday, wanting to get a good look round Muhanga before we left, we went for a walk . It was great to see the town and meet the people, particularly because we’re leaving tomorrow. On the walk, a man started to follow us, asking for money. After 30 minutes it became clear he wasn’t going away. Not wanting to go home and show him where we lived, we called Joan who picked us up. This man was likely mentally ill; he was shoeless-something that one can go to prison for in Rwanda-, he was rambling and was laughed at by those we passed.
It’s hard because that man did have very real needs, very real needs that we could’ve gone some way to alleviate, at least in the short term. It’s hard because if we gave him money, he might’ve gone away, leaving us to enjoy our walk. But the fact remains we’re not here on holiday and we’re not here to do things to satisfy some guilt.
It gets harder when it’s kids.
Today, we went to a charities fair in Muhanga market. It was incredibly valuable to see the different charities and the approaches they used. More valuable was getting the opportunity to talk to people and see the community in action, dancing and all. Surrounded by kids at all times, the group was bombarded with requests for money or plastic bottles. Most difficult was walking away from a young girl who had followed around the group for the whole of the afternoon. At the sound of “mwirirwe” (goodbye), she started crying. She didn’t ask for money, didn’t engage us in conversation- answered nervously and quietly when we tried to talk to her-, just stood near us.
I hope it will be easier when we start at Moucecore but it might not be. I don’t know.
The last thing I want is to be desensitised. A lack of compassion isn’t what is required. But equally simplistic narratives about starving kids in Africa and short term aid help no one. I pray that these weeks will see a balance between skepticism and sentiment emerge.
Break my heart for what breaks yours.
Anyway, I’m off to make unhelpful comments about Channing Tatum and memory loss.