We started our second day of service work bright and early at 8 am. At that point our group broke into three smaller groups which worked on digging a trench, farming, or working in the kitchen. The people who went to the trench continued working on digging a trench that will help divert rain water, and will keep the roads from being destroyed. While this was tiring work it was very rewarding to be able to see the progress. The second group working in the kitchen where we joined the kitchen staff in peeling potatoes. While this was a mindless job it provided for great conversation with the kitchen staff, and particularly with one man who worked there. He told us about his experience in high school, and what he wants to do after he leaves the village. The kitchen was also a very exciting place to work because we got to taste Chai tea, and we were also lucky enough to have waffles and fruit salad. It was delicious! Those who worked on the farm helped to clear a road with hoes. They were working with the farm coordinator the whole morning.
After service work our group took the mile walk to the local town, Rubona. On our walk we were faced with many smiling faces from the elderly on the sides of the road. We also were bombarded by school children as they got out of class. They were all in their blue and gold uniforms and had huge grins on their faces. Once we reached Rubona we went to their local bi-weekly market. This market was filled with fabrics, food, and other items. Some of us bought fabric; however, we were a bit disappointed with the market’s selection, but we understood that its primary purpose was to provide the people of Rubona with their essentials. Our favorite part of the market was the Sambusas (Rwandan Samosas). In order to get the Sambusas we had to walk down an alley way and came across an unexpected kitchen. While this is not how we were used to getting our food at home they were absolutely delicious nonetheless!
Following the market and lunch, which consisted of many Sambusas, sodas, and goat skewers, we went back to ASYV to meet the students for Tikkun Olam. This is a time in which the students go out of ASYV and help those in the surrounding community. The three choices were building a mud hut, teaching English in a primary school, and working in a health Clinic.
I (Erica) went to the primary school to help teach English. My favorite part was watching the ASYV students teach English to the younger kids. It was very inspiring to see the teaching skills that the ASYV students had gained from their time in the village, they were extremely poised, able to command the room, and greatly engaged the students. Near the end we all collected as one big group in a circle and each student and teacher introduced themselves. Then us Tufts students taught them some songs. I taught them “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.” It was amazing to see how quickly they got on, and how with very limited communication we were still able to teach them and interact with one another. When it was time for us to leave the primary students swarmed us wanting to shake our hands and say thank you. It was a very gratifying experience
I (Sam) went to the health clinic. When we arrived at the clinic we saw that the majority of the people waiting in line were either children, or mothers with babies. The health clinic director came and told us that the clinic services many young patients with malnutrition or developmental problems. He then proceeded to take us to the clinic’s garden to show us how the supplement children’s with vegetables. The garden looked dingy and measly, and Daunte explained that they barely have enough water to keep it operational. We then split into groups packaging pills into baggies and cutting and preparing gauze. While this was all going on we were interacting with the students and teaching them and learning many new hand games. After an hour of playing games and organizing supplies we walked back to the village and played catch with a water bottle on the way.
Neither of us participated in the mud hut, but the members of our group who built the huts came back covered in mud and extremely happy.
Our day wrapped up with a lively discussion about who we should help. There was a lot of debate within our group surrounding the question of domestic vs. global service. Members of our group were very opinionated on this topic, and it is something we will continue to think about in the coming days.
We concluded our nights with Family time where our families read and reacted to an article written by Paul Kagame (Rwanda’s president). They students also expressed their dreams and aspirations. It was proof to us that ASYV is doing its job. We hope that many of these students are able to follow through on these goal.
Erica Tooch and Sam Boas