Monday, November 19, 2012

After IST

The two weeks I’ve been back at site since our In-Service training have been uneventful and rather depressing. With my roommate gone at trainings, my counterpart teaching Community Health Workers, and the secondary school students heading back home after finishing their term, it’s been rather dead around here. Because of this my focus has been mostly on preparing for the future and tending to Operation Home Beautification. Because, simply put, I have a really ugly house which is why you haven’t seen any pictures of it on the internet…yet.

During our training in Musanze we invited some of our coworkers to join us for the last few days. These sessions were dedicated to project design and management, and I found the whole experience to be extremely gratifying. My coworkers and I seemed to be all on the same page and we actually came up with some great, albeit very ambitious, project plans. My one coworker is just awesome. She’s incredibly feisty and not afraid to tell it like it is, and possibly a little crazy. Which I fully admit I am too, so we seem to work together quite well. During the training one of my friends ran up to me during a coffee break and told me my coworker was in the hotel courtyard digging up plants. Baffled as to why, I ran into her as she was hauling away the booty and asked what she was doing with all of the hotel’s plants. ‘Taking them back to our house, duh.’ I watched her walked out the friend door, right in front of the hotel staff, with a stack of exotic plants in tow. Seeing as we live next to each and these new plants would undoubtedly make my home look a little better, I really had no problem with her plan. I was just amazed at how ballsy it was. The day after we got back we planted some of the plants she stole borrowed, and I took advantage of the colorful new flower pots I bought in Kigali.

Plants from the hotel courtyard.
My next order of business was to turn my entire front yard into a garden. We are currently in the rainy season and the soil is nice and fertile and just waiting for some cultivating. One morning I woke up early, grabbed my hoe, and began tilling the yard to get it ready for a garden. I quickly caught sight of the umucecuru peering at me through the window and I knew there was no way in hell she was going to let the skinny American boy work in the front yard without a comment. Before long she was heading out, hoe in hand, and began helping me. After a few grueling minutes we both stopped, ready to pass out. She told me this is some of the toughest land she’s ever worked (she’s a farmer, and pretty old so I guess that means something) but for one thousand Rwandan Francs (roughly $1.50) I could pay someone to do it all for me. I told her to make the call and I’m currently interviewing applicants.

See the small patch of dirt in the corner?
That's as far as I got...
My other big project has been turning the abandoned storage space across from my house into a patio area where I can entertain guests. The space, which I didn’t pay much mind to originally, has become the de facto dumping ground for the Health Center and Sector office. Amid agriculture equipment and broken chairs, one can also find unburned boxes of used syringes and bottles of expired pills. My goal to turn junky haven into Ian’s Heaven hasn’t been easy. It took no less than two weeks of prodding for the Sector office to come get their stuff, and I am still waiting on someone from the District Hospital to come and dispose of the medical stuff. I’ve already purchased some buckets of paint and I’m hoping to paint a mural on the back wall with a Rwandan imigongo design.

My future patio, complete with used needles and expired pills!
So despite the relative boringness of these past few weeks, the rest of 2012 is panning out to be quite busy for me. I’m leaving tomorrow for Kigali where I will attend a pediatric conference on working with children who suffer from HIV/AIDS. After the conference I’m heading to Rwamagana (a town about an hour outside of the capitol) to work at a boys camp for the weeks. I’m going to be teaching lessons related to good decision making skills and am also in charge of the monitoring and evaluation of the camp. Which, basically means I’m the guy who is going to be constantly testing the kids and recording the results, I’m sure to be everyone’s best friend. After ten days away from site I’m going to return home, but just for a few days because then I’m heading to the South Province to attend the wedding of the host parents I lived with during training.

The good news about slow weeks is that so far they have few and far between. Time is flying and I’m sure that before I know, it’s going to be the New Year!

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