This morning, we were able to sleep-in to a late 8 am after a big day yesterday. We prepared for our 2 hour trek to Lake Mugesera with hats, granola bars, bug spray and an obscene amount of sunscreen. 15 minutes into the walk, we already needed to buy more water and stopped in the village of Rubona. In a place rarely frequented by outsiders, we became the center of attention while being watched closely by the villagers. As we were leaving Rubona, groups of children with ragged clothing flocked from their houses and started to follow us. Some of us made friends with the children and enjoyed learning from them, and many of us were strongly affected by their visible poverty and the amount of attention they were giving to our group.
Even after seeing a view of Lake Mugesera from afar every morning from our guest house, the sight of the lake up close was even more striking. It was beautiful. Although we were told by Health Services not to swim, we watched with envy while the kids jumped into the water while we sweated through our clothing under the hot sun. We walked to a patch of shade, still accompanied by the kids, and were led by Charlotte and Paige in a variation on the Protestant Compline service. As the children watched our service, we were curious to know what they were thinking of our presence in their home. It was unsettling to see such disparities between the wealth in our own lives and the lives of these children, particularly after our discussion yesterday about what is our responsibility to help others.
The sun took its toll on us and we were particularly exhausted on the way back to the village. Although the thought of goat skewers waiting for us in a restaurant in Rubano motivated a lot of us to journey on, it wasn’t quite enough for all of us. A few lucky ones got rides to the village on motorcycles called “motos” after feeling not so great from the heat. Once the rest of us reached the restaurant, we were glad to see that they were fine, but pretty jealous of Shane and Natasha who got to ride along.
After a lot of hype about the goat skewers, there were mixed reviews. About half of our group were huge fans, while the other half either indifferent or flat-out refused to eat it. The hot commodity was the citrus Fanta but the sambusas (a Rwandan version of the Indian samosas) were also a big hit. We walked away from the restaurant and the trek fully satisfied but desperately in need of showers.
This afternoon we attended the Catholic mass in ASYV. After a long wait involving some interesting “organ” music (we may have arrived a little too early), we enjoyed the service led in Kinyarwandan. Although most of us did not know really what was going on, partly because of the language barrier and partly because of our different faith backgrounds, we still found the music and the spirit of the mass to be uplifting. Emily was told by a student that they were impressed that our group attended the service. After, we had an impromptu discussion involving the structure of the mass and faith in general. We feel like our group is becoming closer and more cohesive every day.
We ended our day with a nice meal in the dining hall with the ASYV students and a reflection on our day under the moonlight. Our reflection was filled with insight and laughter—we truly are fully enjoying our time here.
Charlotte and Emily (newly deemed “Emlotte”)