Best wishes for the New Year

30-12-2010

The sun has gone down and the still evening air is cooling pleasantly. We have a view across the Kigali mountains as the city lights up gradually and the Imam from the mosque issues his haunting call to prayer.

It is time to break the festive quiet and post an update to the blog. We have taken a much needed break these past few days and all systems have been shut down except the fridge which keeps our bananas, avocados and wine all fit for consumption.

Rwanda doesn't celebrate Christmas as much as new year, so their break is only just beginning. Christmas eve in town was like any other although perhaps slightly busier. Shops were open and buses were running, except in the town centre where everything was ground to a standstill.

We spent the evening of the 24th at our local church. It sits beside the small shops near the house where we buy our fresh food. Often we pass and stop to listen to the choirs practicing around the church. The singing is beautiful. Often from the house we can hear Africa as we had always imagined it drifting up the hill. Chants, choruses, drums all intermingle to produce that evocative sound that can only come from south of the Sahara. The church isn't big. They have a small building with a couple of rooms and the services are held under a corrugated iron roof with tarpaulins hanging around the outside. The congregation sit on benches. We were the only musumgos there so could hardly avoid attention and an introduction to the pastor after the service was inevitable.

Santa managed to struggle down as far as the equator (he was maybe passing anyway) and was able to drop off some goodies. An extra special present this year was some intellectual nostalgia in the form of the Dandy comic. He probably picked it up at the Kenyan Nakumatt supermarket in town on his way past. The date on the front is April 2006 and inside is a pull-out reprint from July 1966. Perhaps this is an indicator of how out of sync Kigali is with Dundee, never mind the rest of the world. Even almost five years out of date, Desperate Dan and Beryl the Peril are still good entertainment.

Most of Christmas day was spent with our street children and the mamas we are handing them back to. The children sang songs in English that Bronwen has taught them, and there were more than a few wet eyes in the house. We seem to have surprised the mamas by turning their unruly urchins into well-behaved (believe it if you will) cherubims. After the holidays we will be handing the children back to their mothers to look after, along with a little help from the project.

The rest of the week we have tried to spend quietly, winding up the old year as gracefully as possible, preparing ourselves for 2011 and the next chapter of the street children story. In the meantime, the two of us wish everybody a peaceful, enjoyable and prosperous new year. See you then.