Written by: Hailey Pewtress, Canadian SportWORKS Officer, Rwanda
Blake, the other Canadian SportWORKS Officer, departed back to Canada this month. For Blakes’s farewell, our supervisor invited us to a ‘car-free zone’, which is a street blocked off to cars and completely lined with restaurants and cafes. We had a delicious plate of East African pilau rice and chatted over tea all evening. On Blakes’s final evening we invited friends and colleagues over for dinner and taught them some popular Canadian card games. Most gatherings here include a healthy dose of food, which is something I can definitely get used to. Now on my own, I embarked on the next two months of my journey.
At AKWOS, I have been helping around the office and designing a new organization website. The sports tournament has been planned almost to completion and as soon as the funding is received it is all hands on deck!
October 15 was International Rural Women’s Day, which AKWOS celebrated with a community event in the northern district of Musanze. The day started bright and early at 7:00 am with a 3-hour drive to the football pitch. Rwanda is known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills”, and the countryside exemplifies that. The roads are steep and winding, gravel should have been on the packing list. The event began with a soccer game between AKWOS athletes and the local Musanze team. After the game, there were speeches given by local officials and local groups performed traditional dances and songs. The day finished with a traditional dinner in town consisting of beans, rice, potatoes and stew. I got to try a new vegetable, which Rwandans call dodo. Dodo is the leaves of the amaranth plant and tastes similar to spinach but a bit harder and a little bitter. It holds up amazingly in stews.
At the office, I have the pleasure of eating Rwandan food for lunch each day, but I wanted to learn how to make these delicious dishes for myself. A friend took me to a cooking class offered at the Nyamirambo Women’s Center. This centre aims to promote and empower women through vocational education and community support. The class was taught by Amanantha, a woman from Congo that moved to Rwanda over 20 years ago, she taught us how to prepare popular produce like cassava, dodo and green banana. By the end of the class, we had a feast that consisted of rice, Rwandan beans, stew, cassava and sweet potato. They even gave us a little cookbook for the dishes we created.
Kigali is a large city full of hustle and bustle, but it also has a unique blend of natural landscapes. The city is made up of 11 main hills, each with a patch of green space in their valleys. Some of these spaces are used for agriculture and others are for recreation. You don’t have to travel far in this city to find natural spaces. As an ecotourism major, I was delighted to find an ecotourism park right down the hill from my apartment. The Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-tourism Park opened up earlier this year. Bringing nature into the city of Kigali, creating the park involved the planting of over 17,000 trees of 55 different native species. The park provides important protection to the surrounding ecosystem and neighbourhoods, acting as a refuge for local wildlife and flood prevention during the rainy season. Inside I found 10km of walkways and bike lanes, five catchment ponds, three recreation ponds and a medicinal garden housing hundreds of native plants traditionally used for medicinal purposes.
The past two months have flown by and I am excited to see what the last 6 weeks have in store for me.
Until next time,