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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rwanda trip Journal, part 2

Part 2: Working on Clean Water in Kibuye, Rwanda on behalf of No Thirsty Child. and
 Great thanks to my wife Lisa, Mr. and Mrs. Larry McBride and Bill and Karen Cass and Candi and Bill Chavez for making this possible and also to my teammates Joel Lautenschleger and Peter Hoffman.
a new email from Rwanda:" Dearest Larry
I am very glad to inform you that today :Pentecost day we had the tank fulL of rain water everbody at Free Methodist church was shouting of joy I trust that It was the same at Assembly of God church.
May God bless you dearest Larry and all the Team Pastor Léonidas " 6-13-2011

A huge collection of photographs from the trip is HERE.

We scouted our two locations. I guess I am in charge of the installation at this point. Joel is the team leader but I am the technical expert, at gutters lol, so I am making the bulk of the decisions on how the gutter installation is going to go but there is no friction or competition at all. Joel is team leader and managed the project funds and Peter took care of the logistics such has paying for our drivers, rooms and whatnot. We all worked together on the installation and training. The ever present children, sometimes begging and usually pointing and waving at us when we went anywhere and shouting the word for white person. Larry cracks me up, he points back and shouts “ black child “.
We in our world can see the pictures, but you have to come here to see the life they have. It is inconceivable to us. You cannot imagine the conditions some of these people live in, yet most

everywhere we go we are greeted with their lovely smile and “ armakuru? “ to which we reply “ ne meza “, which means we are fine. Americans could learn a lesson from these people, but we won’t. Or at least, the ones who have never been here will not.
Peacewater is Larry and Carolyns baby 100%. He is probably the closest thing to a saint I have known.
The remains of the stadium.
I could write for hours, but I am toast. The Kibuye stadium is being torn down; the walls are gone and only a portion of the stands remain. It is best that the horrible place be replaced as it is; with a hospital. A thousand or so feet from the stadium where some 10,000 were executed over the course of two days is yet another Catholic church where yet another congregation was butchered.  There are gutted structures of churches that we see pretty frequently. I don’t care to imagine the horrors that those walls witnessed. In Rwanda the Tutsis were about 10% of the population but here in Kibuye they were about 20%. The beautiful lake that my room overlooks still has ( according to Larry ) the bones of unknown thousands that were killed and tossed into the water.
Today we started the gutter installation on our first location. It went well enough. We went to the lumber yard and got our wood. The men here make about 2000 francs per day if they are lucky, or about $3.00 u.s.
They are in a mixture of rags, dirty clothes and failing coveralls with flip flops or leather dress shoes. Some have rubber rain-type boots and I can only imagine what their feet must feel like after wearing them all day. The electrical panel is open, sawdust is a foot thick on the ground in places and the machines are at least as old as I am. I guess that tarp covered workshop is home to four different businesses. They make attractive furniture that will be  exported to the Congo twenty five miles across the lake. I negotiated a price for eighty feet of hardwood 1” x 6” and eight pieces of rafter material, cut to our specs, planed smooth and delivered for the equal of $37.00 U.S. dollars.
A curious group watched us work all day. We had to break to get one of our “ ladders “ welded. It was hard dirty work. The pastor showed up and despite what we were expecting he was grateful for what we were doing, however we were doing it. At first he had said, “ I have a metal roof, I want metal gutters and two tanks, and gutters on both sides of the building. Larry, the consummate negotiator and diplomat fixed that and we asked the pastor enough questions that he felt like we were respecting his church and opinions, then he left.
We finished the day at the Bethany Hotel sipping coffee and chatting with our various families via skype and now I am in the dining room awaiting the dreaded Sombasa diner. Sombasa are little sardine sized fish that you eat whole with the head tail guts and all. The sunset was spectacular and once again electrical storms light the sky over the Congo. ( ps, the sombasa were great. They are deep fried and tasted like sweet French fries )

I sit in a restaurant in downtown kibuye with the workers that are helping that are helping us install the rain harvest system on the first church. The food is served buffet style and there was some excitement when we pulled up as our driver knocked over a motorcycle trying to park. The owner ran up to the window and I had a brief moment of terror, not knowing if I was about witness a battle or what. This is my first time away from the team and on my own. I got sent with the crew to get them lunch and buy some more water.  Our friend Jados looks over my shoulder as I type watching every word. This is such a strange experience. Aside from one Chinese person I am the only non-African around. Jados is on staff at Saddleback as the in-country staff person, but I guess he only gets paid when there is a clean water team in Rwanda, so he is very happy to see us.
The first location completed with the foundation for the rain tank, the fascia board and rain gutters installed. First Assembly Of God Church, Kibuye, Rwanda
It was a long day.
We got the first system pretty much done. We went into town to purchase another ladder today. The ladders we have to use are the most ridiculous thing you could imagine. The picture of the ladder to the left is part of the good ladder of the two we had. :)

When you purchase a ladder in Kibuye that means going to the local welder and having one made. They close their eyes when the arc lights and the transformer is a open spool of wire. To get the right voltage the wrap, or unwrap a few strands of wire.

The second site is going to be more difficult, just because of the kids mobbing us. They are mostly the abandoned children of the local prostitutes. Filthy, and often in rags they gather to watch us work. Yet always, that easy smile and joyful greeting for us. There is a lot of alcoholism here. Many stores sell beer and hard stuff. The poor drunks drink homemade banana beer. I am now showered and waiting for diner in the common eating room. There is not much to do in the room beside sleep.

Today we started work at our second location. It is going to be easier, although it is in the direct sun all day. We called it a half day as we are all exhausted. We will go this afternoon into the countryside to visit the site where Immacule hid in the bathroom for three months with eight other women as the genocide raged around them. I am really looking forward to getting out away from the city of 30,000 where we are staying and into the remote areas.
My body clock is finally adjusting to the time difference, which is about nine hours. I have been skipping the morning walks that Larry, Pete and Joel take every morning as I am the one doing the bulk of the installation as I am the only one with previous experience, but I guess they saw otters in Lake Kivu which is about a half mile from where we are staying. The sunsets over the lake are spectacular every night without fail. The Catholic girls’ school below us finishes their day with a song every night a nine o’clock and it is a sweet sound that makes you instantly feel relaxed. I am kind of surprised that there are Catholic churches anymore to be honest. Jasque, our interpreter was raised in that faith but after the war, as Rwandans call the genocide, he will not attend a Catholic church anymore. He says they cannot be Christians as some of the priests were participating in the murders. To me, that some of the worst areas of mass killings were inside the Catholic churches defies understanding. It is easy from a distance to say that all Catholics suck but the Sister that runs the hotel where we are staying is a sweet and caring woman. They are not charging us to do our laundry as they know we are volunteers working in the community. Lunch is now being served.

We finished the day as usual, at the hotel Bethany where there is wireless internet and we drink coffee with hot milk. It is such a bizarre thing to get the wife and kids on skype on a video call here, half way around the world. Another oddity about Rwanda is that you can be deep in the country and there is cell service. There seems to be nowhere you can go that you cannot get a call. They don’t drop, they don’t garble. I guess that there never were land lines so they just erected cell towers everywhere. After we went to Immacules house we stopped by some of the wells that are leaking or not working. These wells were put in by another NGO and the problem is educating the locals to not let the children abuse the wells, to keep their cows away so they don’t poop where it can run into the well head and contaminate the water supply.  The NGO is called Living Water and they too are doing important work. Now there just needs to be some maintaining and repairing of the wells. There seems to be quite a lot of them. One problem I can see with groups coming in to give stuff to the people is that they have no investment, no ownership ( as Larry says ). We are hoping to change that with what we are doing by insisting that the churches we are working on provide volunteers to assist with the installation of the gutters and rainwater harvest storage tanks. That way, if the gutters get damaged, they might have some knowledge about how to fix them. By investing in at least the labor they may be more inclined to keep the children from damaging the tanks.Larry wanted the churches to pay for the foundations for the tanks which cost about $180.00 U.S. for the cut stone and concrete, but when you are at a church where people tithe with lemons and bananas, or a few pennies there is simply nothing they can do besides provide the sweat equity which is more than they are doing with the wells, where a drilling truck comes in, the crew lays a foundation the drilling happens, the well is dedicated and its “ see you later. “
I had a nice chat at the Bethany Hotel with a man from Burundi who is a nutritional specialist who has been working here since the genocide. His job is to go into the refugee camps and deal with the rampant malnutrition and getting the former Rwandans to repatriate. I guess many of the perpetrators of the genocide fled and they are in limbo in camps along the borders surrounding this country. They may face trial and prison time if they return, but the penalty might be as little as ten years, even for those who may have killed hundreds. The main goal is reconciliation. My friend from Burundi ( I couldn’t  pronounce and will not even attempt to spell his name ) says that something like the genocide could happen again if there is not continuing efforts at healing. He says that in perhaps fifty years the memory will have faded enough that it would finally be over.

We got the second rainwater harvest system installed. I felt confident enough in our Rwandan assistant that I stepped into the church ( EDIT; to be honest, I had a moment and found myself cursing at the absurdity of the ladders, having no tool bags, poor communication, so I needed a break ) for a half an hour to work on this and let them finish the installation.
We took a motorcycle taxi through downtown Kibuye ( #27 on the list of things I never imagined I would do ) and went to the Congo market. The scene probably hasn't changed much in two thousand years except now the oarsmen are required to wear life vests. Bananas and plantains are brought to the shore of Lake Kivu where they are traded for avocados and other misc. locally grown produce. I saw children with bundled firewood that were carried in balanced on their heads to be traded. On the other side of the road hundreds of pigs, goats, cattle and chickens were gathered waiting for the end of the day where they are herded onto the boats and taken back to the Congo.

The second team that is in Rwanda right now is focused exclusively on hygiene and they met us today here in Kibuye. It was nice to see them again after a week apart and we all had diner of barbecued goat, fries, pasta and passion fruit at our hotel. They want to visit the sites where we have done our work and then we will all recreate and go visit two islands. I asked the driver to stop at the site of the former Kibuye soccer stadium where about 10,000 people were massacred. The politicians and police told them to gather there so they could be protected. Then the soldiers began throwing grenades and machine gunning them. Those not killed that way were finished with machetes. It took about three days to finish the job. I guess the killers would keep regular hours; in the morning they would gather, set up road blocks and do their business. Come five o'clock or so they would clock out and go home. If they encountered potential victims after hours they would let them go. " We'll get you cockroaches tomorrow. "
Our friend Jados was a student at the catholic school right next to the stadium and stayed home during the one hundred days of carnage. Our interpreter Jasque escaped with his older sister; they were hunted like animals the whole time; moving and foraging for food at night and hiding in the forests during the day.

Tomorrow will be our last full day in Kibuye. I guess I will go out with just our interpreter deep in-country to scout churches. Woot!
Next Up: Free Time, House Visits and Hygiene Training Observations


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  2. Is it possible the rain water collected in the Rainwater tanks can be used for drinking because there are so many ways in which rain water can get contaminated

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  7. Rainwater harvesting is the accumulation and deposition of rainwater for reuse. Rainwater harvesting offers an individual water supply throughout crisis such as droughts as it is frequently used to supplement the primary supply.