Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When we first arrived back in Bwiza on this trip, we received a royal welcome. We heard the flute song long before we arrived at the main town square, The singing and shouts announced our arrival. As soon as we stepped into the clearing, we were swarmed by well wishers who reached out to shake our hands and hug us in greeting, saying "Amakuru" and "Yego, Yego": "Hello" and "Yes, yes ". They greeted each of us and swirled about in the traditional dance form with arms outstretched and faces raised. It was as though we were their own flesh and blood, as if they were welcoming us home agian.

A few days later, I was walking in the village to assist our survey teams when I came upon the man in the photo in front of his hut of sticks and leaves. He was using the blade of a hoe to scrape the green, exterior leafy material from what appeared to be a stack of leaves from a yucca plant. After discarding the green matter, he smoothed and straightened the remaining white fibers. Then he took three strands of the fibers and wrapped them in his left hand. Only then did I notice that his thumb was contracted by a deep scar which had obviously deeply cut his hand long ago, severing his flexor tendon in the process. Quickly he began to braid the strands and before long, he had made a sturdy rope of about eight feet in length. One end was braided into a loop which could easily be slipped over the other free end to make a sturdy and adjustable noose, perfect for controlling a runaway goat. For his craftsmanship, he asked 200 Rwandan francs-about 40 cents. Now I'm looking for a goat.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Karl and now our son Derek are in Rwanda. Just before Karl left for Rwanda, he got a generous donation from one of our patients who saved her pennies in order to help the Abatwa. She touched our hearts because it was truly a sacrifice for her to give any money. It made us so grateful to all of you who have helped make this possible.

Karl sends this message:
"The photo shows a Bwiza child with severe malnutrition that makes his hair look very light in color. We are trying to figure out how to provide supplemental feeding but are not sure how to get food to the infant, since what we provide may be eaten by the family members, because they may only eat a meal twice a week! The other photo shows how the plastic tarps that we have distributed have been used to provide a better roof for the huts. The last photo shows our village health worker, Eddy, standing by a newly-built latrine that was built by villagers from local materials using the tools we provided, which cost about $16--another low cost, high impact intervention. We are conducting a program evaluation and a village health survey this week."