Sunday, June 24, 2007

Update for final full week

We have reached the end of our time in Rwanda, and it has come too soon. This past week our professor Judge Lange, who originally got us interested in doing human rights work in Rwanda, flew into town to see our progress.

Kelly and I were invited back by the school’s principal to work with the teachers and students one last time. We went through another human rights lesson, and it went wonderfully. The teachers were very accommodating to structuring the teaching in the only way that we believed it would work well. Working with a couple hundred children in a field as large as two football fields is next to impossible (this was proven last week). The teachers split the children up so we were working with 30 – 50 students at once in a small corner of the field. Because of the smaller group and more seclusion we had a much easier time keeping all the children involved. We were thrilled at how the lesson went with all three groups we taught. In the end, the teachers were so appreciative and sad to see us go. We are touched by the sincerity of their complements. There were emails and phone numbers exchanged so we can stay in touch and send them more lesson ideas.

We were so fortunate to meet with the US Embassy in the early portion of our time here. Because this past week was a full week of meetings with NGO’s thanks to the wonderful, the lovely, our new best friend, The Embassy Intern (she knows who she is, THANK YOU SO MUCH!). We were able to meet with LDGL (largest local NGO serving Rwanda, Burundi, and Congo), Haguruka Association (women’s and children’s rights legal advocacy group), UNICEF, and the Red Cross. There were a dozen more contacts with groups that we were given but simply did not have the time to squeeze in before our flight home. With UNICEF and Red Cross Kelly and I perfected the technique of walking through the front door and waiting in person to make an appointment. We learned that when working within the human rights community it takes much initiative, directness, and patience. Everyone is so busy and short-staffed because of lack of substantial resources.

Other contacts we made this week included: the designer of a Professionalism Education Program with the National Police Headquarters; Jean Baptiste, an activist for children; Never Again, a non-profit founded by Rwandans that promotes genocide prevention activities and outreach for youth; and the Acting Director of American Refugee Committee (which has headquarters in Minneapolis).

Because we have been working so hard networking and running around Kigali for meetings we have yet to SEE Rwanda. Kelly and I decided to splurge for the safari experience at one of Rwanda’s wildlife preserves. We shopped around for a great deal to have a driver take us out to Akegara National Preserve on Friday and Saturday. By watching our spending and being frugal we thought we could treat ourselves to this amazing experience. Hope to see lots of giraffe, elephants, and zebras!!!

38 comments:

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