I am thrilled to announce that Covanya, an Indego Africa partner cooperative, took a momentous step forward last Wednesday with the installation of a new office and computer center! Matt, Anaclet (our in-country employee) and I started the day early by hiring a truck and driver to first transport us to The Gitega Carpentry Workshop (a crazy little place) to pick up our pre-ordered desks and chairs. After some haggling over quality - we had the carpenters eliminate the inevitable wobbles in the legs
- we commenced the 45 minute journey to Nyamata. The trip was smooth, despite the many young (and incredibly polite) police officers who insisted that we give them rides to their next checkpoints.
When we pulled into Covanya with the office equipment and laptop computers, the women were overjoyed. We couldn’t even stop them from climbing into the back of the truck and unloading everything themselves! We spent the rest of the day setting up the office, conducting on-camera interviews for our website, and just getting to know the women and their stories better. The women at this cooperative are particularly affected by HIV/AIDS, and their courage in the face of such daunting challenges is inspiring. My favorite part was seeing their beaming smiles when we explained how people all over the world are enjoying their exquisite handicrafts.
I want to also give a special thank you to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP for donating the laptops. Indego Africa harbors no illusions about how difficult it will be to institute effective computer training in such a remote and poverty-stricken area, but we are confident it will happen, and we are off to a promising start. In fact, through the fantastic NGO Orphans of Rwanda, Indego Africa is already in the process of hiring some of the best students from the National University in Butare and the Kigali Institute of Technology to administer the program.
We have had many adventures since last Wednesday. On Thursday we met with a new cooperative just outside of Kigali that makes stunning necklaces out of recycled paper. This cooperative is particularly noteworthy for their own internal schooling system that they run for the whole neighborhood. On Friday Matt and I decided to treat ourselves to a couple of days in the countryside (the 16-hour days were starting to take their toll). Not surprisingly, our car broke down just outside of Ruhengeri (ie, middle of nowhere). But we made use of our time waiting for
a mechanic by giving English lessons to the roughly 40 youngchildren who gathered around to stare at the mzungus. Yesterday we trekked through the thick jungle to see the famous Rwandan mountain gorillas. We were not disappointed.
Until next time, murabeho!