Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Getting Back Into a Rhythm & Claudia Ryan-Mosley - The Woman, The Myth, The Legend

Although I suppose we're finally going to get a semblance of normalcy around here, with no more guests and no more visits, I'm going to miss having a million things to do. It's good and bad that Tate's mom is gone; when she came, it was just the pick-me-up that Tate and I needed to break the tedium we had settled into, but now, it will be good to really get cracking and blow through the checklists of what needs to be accomplished before we leave. 

I feel really lucky to have met Mrs. Ryan-Mosley. She's such a mom, always making sure that we had enough to eat and that we were comfortable, and when Tate and I wanted to act like the children we really are, she let us be kids. But she's also really adventurous, like I assume not many mothers are. Although my own mother is (similarly) a walker, a hiker, a doer, I don't think that the majority of moms out there are quite like that. She wanted to ride in the bed of the truck; she hated being treated like the "grandmother" they called her; in general, she came to Rwanda just to see and experience the country and the culture - that's a pretty big commitment. 
And if you're reading this, Mrs. R-M -- thank you for EVERYTHING. I loved having you here, and I think it goes without saying that Tate appreciated having you here more than words can say! Love ya!

At any rate, I'm writing this on Monday night. We slept in this morning after our exhausting trip to Akagera Park on Sunday. Waking up at 4:00am, on the road by 4:45am, at the park by 7:00am -- all to see NO LIONS, I might add! -- was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I was happy to be asleep by 9:30pm after getting just three hours of sleep the night before. 

After going to work a few hours late and working until we were called into Pudentienne's office, we spent about one tear-filled hour listening to "goodbye"s and "thank you"s from YWCA members and Mrs. R-M alike. Once again, I was struck by how thoughtful and utterly welcoming my coworkers are. They're all just giving people, to their very cores. I'll admit that I teared up, thinking about how much they all mean to me. Each and every one of my coworkers are amazing people; Mrs. R-M's leaving made me think about the 19 (oh my GOD, 19) days that Tate and I have left in Rwanda, and I can't believe that time has gone by so quickly. I cried, because I will miss Tate's mom dearly; I cried, because I saw how much she had become accepted into the hearts of YWCA members in so short a time; I cried, because I couldn't believe that the week and a half had flown by so swiftly; and, I cried, because sooner than I'd like, I'll be heading home. Granted, I miss my family and I miss Notre Dame and I miss the United States and GOODNESS GRACIOUS I miss Jimmy John's sandwiches -- but I have a family here in Rwanda, too, who I know I will miss with all of my heart. I never expected that.

In any case, we ultimately went to lunch, did a bit of work in the afternoon, then went home to retrieve Mrs. R-M's bags and take her to the airport. We arrived in Kigali around 5pm, and, after a bit of a scuffle with the airport workers, we sat down in the airport coffee shop for a snack and a beverage. In the Kigali airport, the security gate comes before the check-in area (not sure what the thought process was behind that one, guys...!), and obviously Tate's mom didn't want to say goodbye two hours before it was actually necessary. The security and other workers repeatedly told her that, no, she could NOT come back out to say goodbye after she had already gone through and checked in to her flight. She had to finagle her way into being allowed to come back out the gate to eat with us and hang out for a while before she actually got on the plane. Ernestine came to the airport to see her off, bearing gifts of tea and coffee for her to bring back home. Rwandan coffee, guys... there's nothing like it!

Following a tasty dinner/snack, we had a (surprise, surprise!) teary goodbye. 
I feel like I have to talk about me crying wayyy too much on these blogs. I'd like to think that in daily life, I'm not so much of a crier, except when it comes to goodbyes. (Although, you should have SEEN me on my 20th birthday! In fact, I guess some of you did...) However, trying to avoid the cliches, this is something else. I have witnessed some intense things while I've been here. There have been some major ups and downs in emotion.
Next, Tate and I headed back to Gitarama, with Nepo driving. I was sitting in the front seat, and spent the entire hour back to Muhanga trying to figure out the language of the road. I kid you not, there is an entire language behind flicking on and off the brights and the blinker (shout out to Archimede for recently learning the word "blinker" !! haha), which I may or may not have gotten some insights into throughout the trip home. 
Speaking of Nepo driving, though, I've got to just take this moment to talk about how awesome this man is. I would let Nepo drive me anywhere, at any time. If it were possible to take my life literally into my own hands, I would give it to Nepo to hang onto for safekeeping, when I wasn't using it. He's just this solid, calming guy. It makes sense that he's a social worker. I totally get it. Except sometimes, when he accelerates to about 60 miles an hour around hairpin turns on the mountainside, I swear he's thinking to himself, "I'm about to scare the #@*$ out of these white girls...!" Hahaha.

Well, it's now the end of the night and I'll be heading to Tate's room in a bit to watch some Greek. Our power just ran out again -- literally just now -- so, remind me that we have to ask Jeanne for some more electricity when Tate and I go to work tomorrow!

Goodnight, world. 


My next portion will actually be a "guest blog" from Mrs. Ryan-Mosley. She wrote a bit about her experiences in Rwanda, so in case my blog and Tate's blog aren't enough for you people, we're throwing one more perspective at you. Check it out!

This is Tate’s mom and I have never blogged before so this may be more special for me than you.  I arrived last Wednesday in Kigali and today is the following Thursday already!!  How did that happen?  First time in Africa.  If you have been reading both Carolines and Tates blogs then you know the details of this last week so I won't replicate that.  If you have not read either or both of their blogs, I highly encourage you to do so.  They have poured out their hearts in writing and this blog will serve as their journal for a lifetime.  Same days it is hard to write for them and some days they can hardly wait. Grab a glass or wine or a cup of tea and enjoy their journey through this blog!

I arrived at the airport, without my bags I might add, to a sea of African women smiling at me with two white girls in the midst.  I had not met Caroline before and I was struck with the similarity between the two "muzungus", tall, blonde, beautiful and smiling as well.

After handshakes, cheek kissing, hugs and tears, we were off to begin my exposure to Carolines and Tates life here in Rwanda.  My three, yes three, checked bags finally joined me on Saturday.  For the record, my personal clothing could have fit in the small one.  The others were jammed packed with things the girls had asked for as well as some materials and gifts for the nursery children.  Just as an aside, the United Agent saw the 3 heavy bags and after hearing where I was going and what I was bringing over, she waived all the baggage fees.  We are surrounded around the world with good and kind people.

We spent my first night together with an amazing family, Ernestine and Eugene and their 4 kids along with at least 10 other people who were related somehow.  I now know that they all come from Eugenes side of the family with his three sisters a brother and their spouses, all of whom I have now met and now love.  Kind, gracious, curious, loving people.  They all talk at the same time and they all have fallen in love with Tate and Caroline.  They are their families in our absence and they have done well.  If any of them are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

The days have gone by fast.  We have seen and lived with the very wealthy and seen and lived with the very poorest of poor.  We have spent time with women with HIV/AIDS whom are beginning to emerge from their cloistered and segregated lives due to their involvement with the YWCA, and with women who run companies, high positions in government, heads of schools and families and are extremely talented, articulate and impressive to say the least.  We have spent time with children of the upper class, whom go to private schools here in Rwanda in preparation for boarding schools and universities in America; and children whom don't have enough money for their basic health needs, no less schooling.  (Tate has fallen in love with one of those children, Grace Freida, who was abandoned in Muhanga and found and taken home by a Batwa family who does not have enough money to feed their own children. This child cannot walk nor speak so she is working with the Y to get her medical attention as a start).

I have seen gorgeous landscapes and views that are unmatched in the US; and I have seen the devastation of a generation from the genocide through the work at the genocide museum. 

We were all able to watch in person and read about President Paul Kigame, elected with 97% of the peoples votes at the last election, clearly a dictator but from what can be seen and read, a benevolent dictator at his core.  The country clearly was in need of strength and clarity, and the success is obvious and tangible.

It is now Saturday and the internet is back. We are now up in the Northwest part of Rwanda on a "field trip" where we have visited 3 "vulnerable" families where the eldest child, 17, 16 and 13 respectively, is raising their family.  Unbelievable, heart wrenching.  Above all, reaffirming ones ability to survive in the worst of circumstances.

We have seen the border of the Congo, the Primus brewery, the hot springs and the volcanoes.  We are hopeful to do a safari tomorrow and I leave on Monday.

I am so appreciate of this time with both girls and their Rwanda families.  Most 20 year olds, (mine is not quite their yet but will be soon) are not focused on issues like this during their summer break.  Caroline and Tate have been living this world and are able to do it for three more weeks.

They are truly and inspiration for me as well.  Thanks for reading…

Claudia (Tate’s mom)

1 comment:

  1. Claudia, I don't know how to reach you directly so I hope you read this comment. This is Caroline's Mom and I wanted to thank you so much for being such a support for the girls. Thank you for asking about safety near the Congo! The blog is interesting, but I am anxious to get Caroline home to hear more stories. I look forward to meeting your wonderful daughter (and hopefully you) in August in South Bend.