June 30th: Today started at 7:00am with a fulfilling breakfast from our hosts from our Beausejour hosts.
By 8:00am, we were dividing up the never-ending but thought donations to go to today’s cooperatives.
At 10:00am, Justin arrived in a new van (the large bus we rented for the airport pick up and previous day was returned) that ended up being just a wee bit too small.
Mary Jo Terrill, retired OBGYN nurse at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital who has moved to Rwanda to work at birthing clinics here, met us at the hotel and was able to take a few of our travelers with her to free up some space. We invited Mary Jo to come with us and give the women of Komera and Umunezero a short, but invaluable, women’s health course.
After a 90 minute drive into the rural areas outside Kigali, we arrived at our destination: a meeting hall with bright orange walls filled with celebrating women from both the Komera and Umunezero Cooperative.
We met with Jane, the Komera President, and Alphonsine, the Umunezero President. There were many speeches, countless photo ops, and, of course, indescribably exhilarating dancefests.
Our new musical trio, “Tres Muzungus” (Jeremy, Bryan, and Brett), were having the jam session of their life taking turns pounding on the drum.
Mary Jo delivered her education talk, which was mostly devoted to breastfeeding and infant health. She stressed how important it is for mothers must avoid giving their newborns bovine milk or formula until at least 6 months old. There is nothing more nutritious or crucial to infant development than breastmilk.
After more talks, gifts were exchanged. The women balanced tall baskets on their heads while they danced into our arms and presented the beautiful crafts to us. In the baskets were endless sorghum and potatoes.
We distributed bras, toothbrushes, reusable shopping bags, and more menstrual kits, which were the biggest hit of all. Thank you Direct Relief International and donors!
Before we left, Katrina, Jeremy, Bryan, Brett, and Genevieve joined in a little soccer in the streets with the local kids. Next, we drove a bit to visit the two new calves of Umunezero! Mama cow “Debra” had two calves which the co-ops requested we name in a traditional Rwandan naming ceremony.
With much fanfare, and yes, more dancing, the first calf was named Devon, in honor of Debra’s sister, and the second was named Genevieve!
After many goodbyes, we hopped back into the van and continued to our last stop – Komera’s new land donated by a World Dance for Humanity supported.
Oh my… what a day we had!
Thoughts from some of the travelers…
Danna: So much driving, so much dancing, so much sweating! So much happy to be with these people!
Olga: Another extraordinary day number 2. These beautiful women have been through so much pain during the Genocide in 1994, however they haven’t extinguished their passion for joy and happiness. Their faces hide so well the torture they endured…as you scan the crowd you can see slight glimpses of sadness for the losses in their lives. People to people connections, living together in total harmony! Embracing different cultures from across the globe, understanding we are one people! I feel so honored to stand side by side with these women of courage, endurance and perseverance!
We have over 5,000 photos but are having trouble uploading them to this blog due to weak internet signals.
Some of the travelers have been posting photos on Facebook – see them here! (Remember, you do not need to have a Facebook account to view World Dance for Humanity’s page): https://www.facebook.com/WorldDanceForHumanity
Turabakunda!! We love you all!!