Familiar ground


For the past year the Nyamirambo project has been looked after by Steven, our very capable helper and guide in Rwanda. Time then for another visit to the project, and so Gavin is spending the next month in Rwanda catching up with what the children have been doing and looking at new initiatives the charity might take.

At twenty-five degrees and wet, this can't be Scotland. It is almost the end of the rainy season in Rwanda, but the rains are still here in torrents. Even so, warm rain is infinitely easier to put up with than the cold white stuff we are familiar with at home.

Rwanda has been making the international press headlines of late, initially because of the country's alleged involvement with rebels in Congo and the consequential withdrawl of western funding, then because of a bond issue on the international markets to make up the cash shortfall. In Kigali, it isn't obvious that the financial pressure is starting to have any serious impact. Security is tighter than it was a year ago. At the airport immigration there is a new fingerprint system similar to that used by Uganda. In the city centre, the main shopping centre now has electronic scanners across the entrances.

Bronwen's old stomping ground, the Meg Foundation School at Kinamba, was a first port of call. As well as providing education for local children, and just as importantly school dinners, the school helps local women produce crafts to sell. Old friends are still there, and the project continues to attract volunteers to help out. John, from the US is in Kigali with his wife who is a doctor working with a health project in the city. He is teaching English at the school and is introducing the kids to computers. They even have a smart phone running software from the UK Consulate to teach English.

Coming away from Kinamba, on the track leading back to the main road, a small voice asked "Are you papa Sandy? We were taught by mama Sandy." There is something unsettling about flying five thousand miles to be recognised by a child in the street. For the uninitiated, Bronwen's given name in Rwanda, in keeping with local tradition, was mama Sandy after our son. The boy and his pals showed me to a local shop where I was able to buy some lunch. They didn't even ask for money, which earnt them an amandazi cake each. It is nice to be remembered.