Umuganda and Canopy
This morning our team headed out to do some work in the community. The Rwandans have a good system going here. Once a month, since shortly after the Genocide, on the last Saturday, all the people of Rwanda do some type of community work together- umuganda. It starts at 8am and ends at 11 am. The shops shut down and everybody gets to work. As we drove to Shangi, where our work project was, we saw the Rwandans at work, they used branches to sweep the streets and machetes to chop down the growth on the side of the road. Many different types of work was taking place. Once we arrived to our work site, we learned we would be helping to build a road from scratch. We used hoes to dig out the ground, axes to chop down the trees (there was one fellow who I called the Rwandan chainsaw, he just ripped through these tree trunks!) and shovels to get the dirt out of the way. It was hard work but doing it with so many seemed to give us strength.
As I was taking this experience in, I really felt the sense of unity. The Rwandan army, the folks of the village, World Relief and us from Crossroads all pitching in to improve the community. God has made this land fertile, so much grows here! But as we worked the land together I knew that we were making a difference in a bigger picture, growth was happening in unity, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, sweating, laughing and getting to know each other better. What a blessing to be a part of Umuganda!
The afternoon gave us a chance to enjoy a local tourist attraction- Nyungwe National Park. We haven’t seen that many Mzungu (white people) in one place since we left Canada! Once we were greeted and briefed by the guide, we were given walking sticks and hit the trail. This is a rainforest which we drove through on the way to Nyamasheke last week. It was so good to be able to soak it in this time during our hike vs simply driving through. After hiking a while through the lush rainforest we came to the first of three suspension bridges (engineered by Canadians). The first was 45 meters long, the second 90 meters and the final was 25 meters long. At the highest point we were 60 meters above the ground.
The bridges allowed us to walk over parts of the canopy, bringing us some amazing views. Beneath us we could hear streams flowing, there were birds and insects making noise all around us and there was a constant search going on for the monkeys. Finally, near the end of our hike we were blessed to find a few monkeys! Some were scampering around the path ahead of us while others were eating berries in the trees around us. After we hit the road again we found quite a few monkeys to enjoy.
We are now back ‘home’ in a new guest house (since we were kicked out of ours to make room for the President’s advance team). We are tired but satisfied from another great day. Tomorrow we have an early morning and one more time to worship with our Rwandan Brothers and Sisters.
Thanks for your prayers and interest- Darlene and Tracy