(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fast Times in Rwanda

I'm currently in Rwanda. It's a new country for me and it's good to finally be here given the amount of time I've spent discussing the place with colleagues and reading about it in briefings. Now it's all Rwanda, all day. Our program in the country is at a crossroads and there's a lot to do to sort out what we're going to do.

Kigali from the vehicle (didn't have time to take any decent photos - maybe next time)
I arrived in Kigali on Monday after the half-hour flight from Bujumbura. The early morning drive from the airport to the hotel consisted of moderate traffic and signage that reflected the national language transition from French to English. The densely populated hills that make up Kigali reveal another transition – the older cheap housing being phased out to make way for the new, modern construction. There's no question that Rwanda is changing and it's happening at a rate faster than anywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa.

The West generally knows little about Rwanda. People have some awareness about a tragic genocide and possibly a bit about AIDS and poverty. Some, with a bit more knowledge about the country, generally fill the air with accusations regarding the authoritarian nature of the government. It's unfortunate. There's an amazing transformation in the works and regardless of what many say about the past or the present, it seems that insufficient recognition is being given to the progress that has been made in the past 15 years in an often delicate environment.

My small room in Ngoma; fold-fest
My entire week has been spent in meetings with government officials, international organization representatives and staff. By Wednesday at noon we'd fit in 15 meetings. I realized that there are few countries in the world where cultural norms and infrastructure would have allowed for such an aggressive timeline. I also fit in a trip to our field sites in the eastern part of the country which afforded some nice views of the countryside and the affirmation that the cleanliness and organization is not restricted to Kigali.

So my head is completely full. It's an awful lot to fit into a very short period of time. It's now time to process it all and catch up on things in Bujumbura.


Julie said...

Rich, Rich, Rich! My how things change so quickly for you. I love keeping up on your latest and greatest. Keep at it, my friend. I look forward to getting to hear the "real deal" at some other point in our lives...but in the meantime, I'm super stoked on your blog.

migisi said...

Hope you got to eat at the Greek resto too! Say hi to Anne!