Written by: Blake Nouwen and Hailey Pewtress
Welcome to our life in Rwanda. We are Blake and Hailey, Canadian SportWORKS Officers from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. We are beyond excited to share with you our impressions, experiences, and work from Kigali, Rwanda.
We started our journey going from Calgary to Portland, to having a 24 hour layover in Amsterdam. We landed in Amsterdam just before noon and spent the remainder of the day exploring around downtown Amsterdam. Our activities included, a boat tour of the canals, about 21,000 steps, and half a million bikes seen. After our time exploring Amsterdam we quickly realized we should head back to our hotel after we both almost fell asleep eating dinner. We headed to bed in preparation for our 11 AM flight to Kigali. Three flights and 49 hours later, we arrived in Kigali.
After our first couple days in Kigali, we slowly started figuring out where to shop, how to barter, and found out that the fastest way around the city was on a moto taxi, a taxi where you rode on the back of a motorcycle. We also quickly figured out that pedestrians do not, in the slightest, have the right of way. Even for drivers and motorcyclists, the right of way is more of a feeling. If you wish to cross the street you don’t wait for drivers to stop, you find a break and run. Our work is about a five minute walk away from our apartment, so we have gotten used to this ‘right of way’ dilemma.
Our apartment is beautiful. It is a modern building with all the expected appliances and amenities. The city’s water is not potable, so every week we must get a water jug called a ‘Jibu’ to supply our drinking and cooking water. The food here is also delicious, with most dishes building off of simple carbohydrates like rice or potatoes. It is very easy to go out for a meal and spend less than $10 CAD for a filling meal with a drink. We eat at various restaurants once or twice a week. We also have the luxury of having our ‘man of the house’, Danny, that lives on the AKWOS property making us lunches daily.
The organization we are working with is the Organization of Kigali Women in Sport (AKWOS). AKWOS’s mission is to get more women participating in sport and use sport as a tool to create social change. Created in 1998, AKWOS has been working with women and girls throughout Rwanda to provide access to sports and education. While at the organization, we will be assisting with youth sports leagues in a project partnership between AKWOS and Association Internationale des Maires Francophones (AIMF). The project we will be working on is using sport as a tool to prevent unwanted teen pregnancies as well as using sport to provide education on reproductive health. Our initial role will be to create a tournament between 3 of Kigali’s youth centres in 3 disciplines; football, basketball, and volleyball.
Our time here has just started and we are excited to see what’s in store over the next three months.
Until next time,
Blake and Hailey