After almost 30 hours of travel, we arrived at the Kigali airport on Monday night at 1:30 a.m. It is always such a strange phenomenon to arrive somewhere new at night—when all you can see is dots of light along the hillsides and the air is a thick, cloudy mixture of burning trash and dust. It was very disorienting but also familiar at the same time (perhaps because of similar experiences in both Uganda and India).
One of GHI’s full time staff members and one GlobeMed volunteer met us just beyond baggage claim where they had been waiting for almost two hours (we appreciate them sooo much!). Luckily the airport is both very close to the staff house and also has one of the best, most reliable internet connections in the city. The drive to the staff house was a short ride along a semi-flattened dirt road. We arrived at the house around 2:30 and quickly crashed in our beds.
Yesterday, after a brief introduction/orientation at the GHI office, Aaron took Hannah and I into Kigali, about a 45-minute car ride from the staff house. He gave us a tour of the central business district and helped us change money, purchase SIM cards for our cell phones, and buy a new light bulb for our room (did I mention that Hannah and I are sharing a room with bunk beds—obviously). Only being able to use Kampala (where Hannah and I spent time in 2010) as a comparison, here are some of my first impressions of Kigali: 1.) it is so clean 2.) it is so much more manageable of a city than Kampala 3.) everything about it is up-and-coming (arts scene, museums, nice restaurants, etc.).
Today, we have been working in the office, preparing for a presentation that we will give to a few of the staff members tomorrow. We hope to do some brainstorming with the staff on what some of the possibilities are during our time here. Mostly, we hope to gain a sense of how we could be of most help to GHI—whether that means making maps of where their clients live, the local water resources, a route map from the office into town, or all three!
All-in-all, our first two days have been so wonderful! We have mostly been taking it easy (slowly, slowly as they say here) and trying to get acclimated. All of the staff members at GHI have been unbelievably welcoming and accommodating. AND Rwanda is breathtakingly beautiful—hills for days and days.
More content/updates/photos/reflection soon.
Have a happy world!