Thursday, June 22, 2017

Service Gicaca 2017

We return to Gicaca cell in Gikomero sector in the mountains outside Kigali.  Kigali is a modest city by world standards, with few high rises, no subway but developing quickly.  In contrast, perhaps only 40 kilometres away high in the mountains, Gicaca offers a very basic subsistence.  No electricity.  No running water.  You grow most of what you eat.  

Armed with the experience from past years, AEE set a very ambitious target for 2017: 200+ houses and 6 solar charging stations.  They want to provide electricity for every household in the village selected, instead of only those who are members of AEE.  The Gikomero government officer greeted us in a very simple, 5 minute ceremony, and we are off to work. We told AEE that realistically we can only hope to setup ~100 houses and 3 to 4 stations. In the mean time, a team led by a nursing instructor will help the villagers with their diets, hygiene, exercises and other health issues.  

Faced with such a challenge, we recruited 14 students from University of Rwanda and 7 youths from the villages.  This local contingent strengthen significantly the 38 staff and students from PolyU. 

As soon as the U of Rwanda students arrive on Monday, 7 of them started working with our students in training and preparing to work on the solar panels and electrical systems.  They are mainly studying Statistics and Engineering, very smart, and are able to pick up very quickly.  

The other 7 are from health related disciplines such as nursing.  They impressed our nursing team very much with their knowledge of the health system in Rwanda and their poise.  The economy in Rwanda is growing fast, but the population is growing faster.  Jobs are not easy to find, even for university graduates.  Yet these young people are hopeful.  Many have a strong faith in God.  

There is so much work to do, our students are meeting and preparing until late at night.  They are working continuous for 2 weeks, putting in much more than the minimum 40 hours required.  

There is a strong spirit of wanting to do something for the local community, to get to know the Rwanda students, and in general get to know the country.  Some students are asking questions such as: why did we choose Rwanda?  What do we expect from  coming to Rwanda? What to say to people when they talk about their families being killed in the Genocide? 

We are very proud of these hard-working and thoughtful students.  

No comments: