Monday, 14 April 2014


the rainy season has started. who knew rain could be so much fun?
sometimes you just need to block those little sisters out to get anything done.
walking around the "neighbourhood" to get some exercise and fresh air...and to get outside the walls.
garden tea parties are the best of all, with rock cakes and the queen as a guest.
trying to get some sewing done. i'm so happy i brought my machine and iron with me!
"swimming" in the backyard...there's nothing better than having your own swimming pool (no fights that way!)
stealing a moment of quiet to ponder on the depth of donald duck comics.
learning about vikings, and drawing them in our free time. 
reading donald duck (again! it's a family thing) at bedtime.
sisters holding hands while they sleep. sometimes, as a parent, you need to see this to remember that they actually do love each other!

life here in rwanda is a bit like a roller moment you're up, the next you're hurtling towards the ground at high speed, but you always manage to pull up right before you hit the ground. there are ups and downs, good times and hard times, joy and pain. sometimes i wish we could just go home again. some days i can't remember why we're here or what we're doing. that's usually a good reminder for me to get out from behind my walls and get amongst the people. 

and see them. 

see them working from dawn to long after dusk, trying to earn enough to feed their family and send their kids to school.
see them wearing worn and threadbare, yet clean and mended, clothes, holding their heads up high.
see them walking from field to field, looking for work for the day.
see them trying their best, day after day, to get ahead.

most days it doesn't feel like we do much here. but then i remember that the transitional process can take a while. and i remember that starting something from nothing also takes a long time. especially when you don't know how things work and it takes a whole day to figure it out.

and i remind myself that this is an adventure we're on.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

kcw days 2 & 3

 I made this sweet dress for Isabel using a simple Danish pattern from stofogstil (which I also used a year ago) and some lovely cotton fabric I picked up at the market in Kigali last weekend.

It ended up taking a little longer than I expected as I kept making all sorts of silly mistakes, so I had to unpick and do some of the seams again.
The fit is really nice, and Isabel just loves it. It's nice and lightweight for the hot weather (umm...we are currently experiencing our "winter" here) so it should get lots of wear.
I haven't even looked at getting anything sewn today, but there's always after bedtime!

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 7 April 2014

kcw day one

today is the first day of kcw (kids clothes week), which i have participated in several times before. i started out the week with an easy project - a half finished one! i started these shorts last october (as pants!), but with the packing and moving and lack of sewing table, i just haven't gotten around to finishing them before now.
 these camo cargo shorts were not an easy sew...i don't know how many seams i unpicked and sewed again, but they turned out really well, and alexander was happy that there was something for him this time :) i used a pattern ("viktor") and fabric from stof2000, the last of my fabric i bought in denmark. from here on it's only what i find locally :)
of course, i forgot to track down buttons on my trip to Kigali on Saturday, so these shorts are missing a few decorative buttons, but at least they can be added easily later!
love those big pockets! these shorts are perfect for treasures,
and perfect for tree climbing, too.
we just managed to get a few pictures taken before the rain came.
the rainy season has well and truly begun here!
this week also marks the 20th anniversary of the rwandan genocide and the beginning of the annual memorial week. with such a sombre atmosphere, it seemed only fitting that the skies were grey and overcast, and eventually yielded their own tears.
happy sewing!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

moments {week 10}

1-5. Celebrating Fastelavn (carnival). Even without Fastelavn buns, we still celebrated with costumes and a "barrel" of sweets!
6-7. Making our own maths manipulatives. Alexander is learning about units and tens, so these should be very helpful.
8. The most beautiful sunset. The tall mountain in the background is in Uganda.
9-10. Friday night movie night. Our friends have a projector, so it's like going to the cinema every week.
11-12. Duplo city fun.

I'm trying to start capturing our weeks again. I've gotten out of the habit, after our laptop hard drive got fried. It's been a bit unmotivating, taking photos but not being able to look at them together or use them. Finally, last week I bought a little gadget so I can put my photos straight on the ipad. Joy! I'm looking forward to sharing more images from our new home and life here in Rwanda over the next week or so, if the internet co-operates.
(Edited: it just took three days for me to upload this. Yikes!)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

An Outing

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'!" 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

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Settling in

One week ago, we stepped off the plane and into the warm afternoon air in Rwanda. We were met at the airport by good friends and colleagues, Christian and Anne, and we headed off for the YWAM training centre in Kigali, where we've been staying. It has been a week of many changes and challenges, but also a week where we've been able to see how well our kids have adjusted to all the changes around them. 
At first, the differences between life here and the life we left behind in Denmark seemed overwhelming. Sleeping under mosquito nets, while romantic the first night, got claustrophobic very quickly. The food is so very different, and most days the kids just eat rice for lunch and dinner. The much higher altitude here gave me dizziness and headaches for the first 2 days, but I was thankfully the only one who seemed affected. Most of all, we had to change the way we relate to water.
Around here, we need to fetch our own water. We use that water for flushing our toilet, washing our hands, bathing (we heat some up in the kettle), washing our clothes by hand, and washing our dishes (which are then washed in bleach). That's an awful lot of water! We have two buckets, and usually have to fill them 3 times a day. Thankfully, we only have a short walk to get the water, and there is also clean drinking water available. Even so, it certainly makes us rethink whether we need to use so much water, if it's really neccesary to clean something, and if we can reuse the water. Fetching water is also very time consuming. Living like this really helps us to understand what many people in Rwanda, and other places in the world, are living with every day, often in conditions worse than what we have now. 

It's been great for us to see how well our children have responded to all the changes. They have taken it all really well, asking to help carry water, trying all the unfamiliar foods, remembering not to throw toilet paper in the toilet, and being the object of interest of lots of strangers, even when they didn't feel like it (side note...Christian and I are no longer interesting!). They have made friends with some children here already, and have (mostly) happily shared their bikes and balls with them. All of us are learning that you have to say a very firm no if you want them to understand, but the interactions with local kids has been positive.
We've had a great start to homeschooling, starting with Alexander's school books he was using in Denmark, and a bunch of fun preschool printables for the girls. Tomorrow we are heading north, where our box of school supplies is waiting for us in the house we'll call home for the next little while. We have done all we need to do in the capital city for now, applying for our longer term visas, and buying necessities (mosquito nets, water filters, bedding, and pretty fabric!), and we are now ready to move on to a more permanent location, where we will have the opportunity to make our own food, get unpacked and get settled. We're excited about what lays ahead!

Sorry for the poor photos, but our laptop hard drive died two days before we left Denmark (typical!) and we are waiting for a new one to be sent to us. In the meantime, we are just super thankful that we have an ipad, so we can keep in touch with the outside world, and all the photos here are courtesy of the ipad. Yes, it's very unhandy for taking photos, but I have no way of getting my photos from my camera onto my ipad, boo hoo!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

moments {a weekly collection}

a collection of small moments from our week:

1. packing is in full swing 
2. SNOW! an excited boy, rolling in the snow before it melted again
3. uno moo made an appearance. lucy's new favourite game
4. and 5.  taking a baking break to make cinnamon rolls
6. saying goodbye to oldemor
7. riding snow horses
8. time for a tea party!
9. - 12. time with family, a golden ending to our week. we'll miss them!

in one week's time, we'll have just arrived in rwanda. we are looking forward to some warmth and sunshine, and to starting on the next chapter of our lives. in the meantime, there is packing and saying goodbye, and the tears that follow. it's hard to leave our life here in denmark, but we are looking forward to what lays ahead.

om en uges tid, vil vi har ankommet i rwanda. vi glæder os til sol og varme, og til at begynde på et nyt kapitel i vores liv. indtil da, er det tid til at pakke og sige farvel, og de tårer der hører til. det er svært at sige farvel til vores liv i danmark, men vi glæder os til det der ligger foran os.