We can hardly believe it, but we have reached the final week of the project. Most of our time outside the centres was spent putting together the resource booklet for staff. We had intended to include illustrations depicting group activities, however our artistic abilities weren’t quite sufficient to convey the message we hoped, so we decided to use photographs taken at both centres! They were delighted with the booklets and we hope they will find them a useful reference when planning sessions the future. We were pleased to be able to give certificates to all the staff members we had worked with, confirming their participation in the six week project.
Just to add to our busy schedule this week, a local teacher training college invited us to a cultural exchange evening, as they thought it would be interesting for the students to hear music from the British Isles, and see and hear their first violin. It turned out to be slightly different to what we were expecting. We found ourselves playing to 500 excited students as part of a variety evening including a Rwandan dancing troupe and a five act play called ‘On your birthday, you can even find a boyfriend’. We could write a lot more about this play; get in touch if you’re curious!
It was difficult to say goodbye at both centres as we had built close relationships with the staff and children. On the last day at Ngwino Nawe, we brought our instruments to play for everyone, and the children put on a display of Rwandan dancing. We were very touched when David (head of Rwanda Aid) made a speech thanking us for all we’d done there. We feel very lucky to have been welcomed so warmly into their family. At Nkanka, we spent the morning with the children and they invited us to join in their songs with violin and guitar. Then the priest, who we have been having lunch with each day, took us off for a drink to fortify us for the goodbyes. In our absence the staff laid out tables and food in the music therapy room for a goodbye meal. Out came the instruments again, and the staff tested us on the Rwandan songs from the morning, so we reciprocated by teaching them the Highland Fling to much amusement!
After saying goodbye at Nkanka, we then had to say goodbye to our friends at Rwanda Aid as it was our last night in Kamembe. They had decided to mark the occasion in style with yet another musical evening! By this stage no practice was required as we had been playing all day! As before there were many different musical offerings; singing, dancing; and we finished with Auld Lang Syne, which we were surprised to find is well known in Rwanda! We really enjoyed ourselves and just as we are leaving, it seems that we have finally mastered Rwandan dancing!
The next morning we took the six hour bus journey to Kigali. The route took us through Nyungwe National Forest. It survived the last ice age, and is one of the oldest rainforests in Africa with many rare and endangered species, and 13 species of primates. Despite not being able to get off the bus, we were pleased to see some black and white forest monkeys eating at the side of the road! Kigali feels very large and busy to us after spending six weeks in a one-street town where cars are an oddity. The heavy traffic at rush hour and casual approach to lane markings has made for some fairly terrifying speedy moto (motorbike taxi) journeys.
Yesterday we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial. It is the resting place for 250,000 people, and has a thoughtful, sensitively presented account of the events surrounding the 1994 genocide, placing this in the context of several other 20th century genocides. We didn’t want to leave Kigali without visiting the memorial, as unfortunately, these events are an important part of Rwanda’s history.
Today, we are preparing for the flight back this evening (we’ve had to buy a new suitcase to transport all the gifts we’ve been given!). We are looking forward to seeing our friends and family, but very sad to be leaving this amazing country. We have had seven full weeks of unforgettable experiences, hard work, unending hospitality, generosity and warmth. The staff and children were incredibly receptive to using music interactively and we look forward to hearing from the staff about how their work continues in the future.
Thank you for all your support.
Nicky and Caroline