Today was our 2nd week of work on our community project at the Covaga Innovation Centre in Gashora. But enriching our experience today was a ½ day of Government initiated “umuganda” community service that occurs once every month in the district. On this day the entire community pitches in to work on roads, fields and anything else to benefit the residents of the community.
This was the most amazing experience, because we had the opportunity to work with everyone in town! Women, children and men alike, all sharing tools and working side by side. Members of other cooperatives, Government workers, shop owners, families and everything in between. I would like to see this activity at home – a chance for the community to come together, learn from each others skill sets and to find out who our neighbors are. Rwanda may not be a developing country after all!
Today we also had the opportunity to try our hand at weaving, thanks to the wonderful, talented weavers at the Covaga Co-op. Braiding and weaving headbands, flip flops, baskets and some things we're not even sure what they were to start! It amazes me that these women, some of them in their 50s and 60s, sit on the floor hunched over their projects for hours on end every day, without any ill effects, and then jump to their feet to sing and dance.
The remainder of the day included lunch (shockingly, rice, beans and potato again – but today a new feature – baked sweet potato) while getting to know my fellow travelers and another ½ day of working on the Covaga kitchen walls. Team work abounds between the Rwandan skilled workers we work with, the Covaga co-op members, the children and the DWC volunteers. I’m continually amazed by the fact that it matters not what language we speak – somehow we’re able to laugh, learn and build together towards a common goal. It’s a small world.
Rwanda, October 2012