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TRAVEL REPORT RWANDA
Travel Report Rwanda December 4th to 15th, 2007
This trip was organized by Mr. Weingartner, Country Manager, Brussels Airlines in collaboration with Michael Grosspietsch (NDA) and Greg Bakunzi (Amahoro Tours) with the goal to present Rwanda to some of the larger travel agencies in Austria. Our contribution was to give some insight into our Endangered projects and to offer background information.
Again we went to visit “our” hospital. This time we brought a baby scale, 2 stethoscopes, blankets, and toys for the sick children. While touring the hospital, the head of the hospital thanked us for the mattresses we donated at the beginning of the year. A patient suddenly got up and thanked us and Endangered in the name of all patients for the much-appreciated aid.
The small pygmy village we have been supporting for over a year is slowly developing. Since it is still rather cold, it becomes more apparent how bad the general living conditions of this minority are. The children lack clothing and there is not enough food and firewood.
A man was introduced to us, who had been sick for 8 months and did not have enough money to pay for medical examinations. We paid all his medical costs and organized enough meat and vegetables for a few substantial meals.
We visited the pygmies twice and always brought food that had been financed by the sale of CDs containing music from this village.
In the near future we plan to organize a pottery course from other pygmies as well as to buy some land for farming. Against the advice of the ADA and our own better judgment, we brought clothes and blankets meant for the orphanage, since our children are well supplied. We felt that the cold temperatures in the Virunga Mountains called for immediate action.
We were naturally very interested in the progress of the new house and it is amazing how fast the building is taking shape. The walls of the first 3 houses are up and the roofing is beginning.
While talking to political leaders of the district, we were asked to move the younger children from the care of Mama Deo to the new orphanage as fast as possible. The government is not permitting any more orphanages in the future, and we are the only legitimate authority in the district. After calculating the available space, we found that a 4th house would be necessary to provide enough room for all 52 children. We immediately planed this with the abbot, financing should be possible after the successful “Night of the Gorillas”. The building could be completed by the end of February, so that the children could be moved to the new house by our next trip in March.
Next, we plan to complete the building for the Education Center and adjoining library, as well as a type of presentation room to address wildlife conservation topics for the population.
Since it’s vacation time, we were finally able to spend a lot of time with all the children and could ask them about their plans and expectations. When 34 adolescents and teenagers are living together, there are, of course, some disagreements. We kept up the Rwandan tradition of a “court discussion” and tried to solve some of the problems. Especially the adolescent boys need a male figure around them, so we hired an English-speaking teacher, who will move in next week with his wife and 2 children and will always be present. Besides Marie Claire, who sleeps on the premises at least 3 times a week, and the teacher family, we also have Lilliane and Henriette as “Mamas” and our trusty cook Jeanne.
As a special surprise we brought sports shoes for all the children, organized by Dr. Andreas v. Beringe and donated by company Otto Versand. We arrived with the first part of 115 pairs of shoes and distributed the shoes, which was, of course, extremely exciting.
The children performed their newest dances and songs with which they will be competing in March at the “Dance Competition” against other local dance groups. The sponsor of the “Rwaza Dance Group”, Claudia Hochleithner, bought over 100 meters of fabric, so that our seamstresses could create beautiful traditional ouitfits.
Upon our departure, the children sent heartfelt greetings to Austria. For over 2 hours, each child held a short speech, in which they wished us happy holidays and thanked their friends and “families” in Austria for their support!