We piled into the car, excited at the prospect of an outing. Life behind walls, while safe, can be a bit dull. With our local helper Moses as our guide, we headed out of town on a dirt road, eagerly anticipating seeing some of the countryside on the 20km drive to our destination. Before long, the road became uneven and cratered with holes. Good thing we were driving a small 4WD, able to handle the rough terrain. We drove through a forested area, over a small creek, and through some simple villages. Everywhere we drove, people stopped to look at us. Occasionally we heard the cries of "Muzungu!", white man, or had children run after our car. We continued on through banana plantations and farming areas, with crops, goats, cows, and the occasional pig. The road became rougher, and our speed lower. Soon the kids running beside us could keep up with the car. Eventually Moses pointed to a small town ahead of us. We had arrived. The air was hot and still, and as we drove into the dusty town, children ran beside the car and crowded around us as we stopped. A crowd gathered quickly around the car, and we got out. Our girls were afraid, and wanted to be carried. The crowd was thick and tight, and it was difficult to move, but we pushed forward and came to the small market to find what we had come for - a barbecue. We looked it over, noting the ingenuity of craftsman working with what they can find, and decided we liked it. Through a gap in the crowd I noticed a small wooden table and some benches. Ready made furniture! We pushed our way through the crowd so we could see it. It was the perfect size for a table for the children. Christian looked over the workmanship and found the most stable table and bench. We mentioned to Moses that we'd like to buy it, and the barbecue too, and headed back to the car with the crowd following us, leaving Moses to pay. The children, exhausted from the attention, and having people touch and pinch their white skin, sat quietly in the car while we waited. Finally the car was loaded and we were on our way again, back over the bumpy roads and through the villages. As we approached the forested area, we saw them. Baboons! They had run out of their forest home and were drinking water from the puddles on the road. We stopped the car and pulled out our mobile phones, hoping to get a good photo. We watched for a while, then started driving again when they had left. Our excursion had taken three hours and all our energy. We collapsed in a heap, exhausted. After a brief nap, Isabel woke up and cried hysterically and uncontrollably for close to an hour before she would talk to me. "I...didn't...like....being.....pushed!" We succumbed to sleep, too tired to cope with more for the day.
The reality of life here is so different from what we are used to. We are used to managing ourselves, finding what we want easily, and buying new things from the nearest shop. Here, we are helpless without someone to help us. Help us find the way, help us communicate, help negotiate a reasonable price, help finding what we need, help ordering furniture from the local carpenters, so it's what we want. Having help is a part of every day life here, and not just for foreigners like us. Being willing to ask for help, to employ someone to help, to accept help, to wait for help, is one of the biggest lessons we are learning right now. Moses is an invaluable help. He's employed by our friends, who we are currently living with, to keep the garden, wash their clothes, and do the grocery shopping, which is an all day job. He saves us so much time, and invariably money, as the colour of our skin raises prices. We have slowly started to employ our own help. A young mother of two comes twice a week to wash our clothes, while her two year old stands shyly under the tree and the baby crawls on the grass and splashes in the water. In a society where many people work from day to day, not knowing when the next job will come, our income can mean the difference between eating or going hungry for this little family. Half a day washing our clothes pays her the same as a full day of hard labour in the fields, giving her more time to care for her young family. It's a joy to know that we can help each other this way.
We have otherwise settled quite well into our new home in Nyagatare, and look forward to our new shelves being finished next week, so we can finish unpacking. The children and I have created a good rhythm with homeschooling, doing school work between 8 and 12 every day, and using the afternoons playing or joining Christian. Christian has used the last week getting things organised for the project building, buying necessary items and having meetings with a master builder. We have also employed a building helper, who has good knowledge of building and excellent English skills. Together with our teammate Christian, they are discussing and planning the project building, and the possibility of starting up vocational training in construction as soon as possible. It's quite exciting!
Hugs, Fiona xoxo