Wednesday, August 22, 2012
More cow stories!
Yesterday I went out to converse with the cows. The young man who cares for them was cleaning out the stalls, so they were free within the shed. I got as close as I could and the cow practically ran over to me. I was able to pat her face and talk with her. I moved to another place around the fence and she followed me there. Quite a girl!
Today I asked for help from one of the English-speaking women here; I asked where I could find whole milk. She paused a long time. Apparently it is not easy finding milk. Finally she asked if I would like the milk from my cow. I could hardly believe it! She said she would try to arrange it while I am away in Kigali.
Yesterday I went into the village to buy a couple of things. I also wanted to get up close to the front of the Byumba hospital which is really just around from the school. I walked up the road toward the hospital and was just standing there looking around. Next thing I know a woman approached to shake my hand. Soon I turned into a receiving line of one! A whole line of women suddenly formed, waiting to shake my hand. One elder woman actually put her arms around me a gave me a big hug. A friend of mine here in the compound told me that shaking hands with me was for them something akin to shaking hands with the president. That may be a little hyperbolic, but I am certainly being given a grand welcome. Children persist in coming to me to touch my hands or arms or to shake my hand. I was inside one store recently when I felt a hand caressing my head and hair--sort of petting me like a dog. I turned to see what I thought was a child, but then I saw a little shoe sticking out from her clothing. She was a very young mother. She unwrapped the binder holding the sleeping baby so I could see her. Then I asked if I could touch her hair--she consented and I did.
One of the workmen had asked me if he could bring a woman from England by to meet me. He came tonight with Heather who is working for the Anglican church as a youth worker. She said there may be as many as 5-6 umuzungu (white people) in Byumba. They must all be working when I go out exploring, as Heather is the first I've met. She said they get together occasionally and invited me to join them.
Another encounter. A native woman approached me speaking fairly good English. She also works for the Anglicans. She is a woman of a certain age, and immediately asked me if I had children. I replied I had two, and two grandchildren. Of course, she was waiting for me to ask her how many children she had. She proudly stated she had five. I now realize I am a real failure as a fecund woman. No wonder this is such a populous country!
Here's an interesting fact: In Rwanda in 2000, life expectancy at birth was 39 years; in 2011, life expectancy was 58! It is amazing that could happen so fast. If you saw all the NGOs and educational and medical projects here, you can see there is a basis for the change.
One final report: Yesterday I downloaded my first e-book from the Oak Park Public Library. How amazing is that? I'll never run out of reading material while I am here.
I leave for Kigali tomorrow for some shopping and the big orientation program. I'll have my laptop with me, so can continue blogging and reading your mail.