Today we were fortunate enough to travel to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. During our journey we observed the surrounding countryside and the disparity in living conditions not only between it and the village, but between urban and rural residents. Rural homes in Rwanda lack basic amenities such as running water and electricity. On the other hand, Kigali showcased the significance of urbanization in Rwanda’s ongoing economic development. Upon arrival in the city, we visited the Kigali Genocide Museum. The exhibits demonstrated in powerful terms the country’s history leading up to the events of 1994, as well as the genocide’s effects and impacts on present-day Rwanda.
Following our visit to the museum, we drove to the Union Trade Center in order to exchange money and buy sorely needed groceries. On the way there, we were able to see more of the city and the inequality between newly developed areas and the shantytowns that dot the hills of the city. After visiting UTC, we had our first meal away from the village, and then we began our trip back home. Overall, our visit to Kigali was short but sweet; the city presented itself as surprisingly clean and peaceful, and as a beacon of development for the country.
We returned to the village in order to relax and celebrate Shabbat. Ish, Anna, and Erica Tooch led a relaxed reform service on the grass outside our guest house. We shared in singing, guitar playing, and an inclusive atmosphere enjoyed by Jews and gentiles alike. Following services we went to the amphitheater for “village time,” a weekly community showcase. Student groups danced, performed plays, and showed student-made videos. One group discussed their recent trip to New York City, where the rice was too sweet and escalators proved challenging (everyone laughed at that one). Following village time we ate dinner with our families and returned to the guest house for a quick group reflection on the day’s events.
Ben and Rayn