Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Carrol,
    I love the receiving line image. I recall being in Guatemala and kids were afraid of me. One little girl ran up to touch me and then ran back to her mother as though she would melt from contact.
    I'm teaching community health in a RN-BSN program here in Cincinnati. I'm going to post a link to your blog on our blackboard so my students can keep up with your activities.
    Thank you for sharing and giving us a view to your new world.
    Be safe out there.