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Lo's Rwanda Vacation

Lauren Galbraith
By Lauren Galbraith
September 27th, 2010

Lauren Galbraith of Nelson is currently in Kigali, Rwanda on a six-month placement in the land-locked, east-African country of Rwanda.

From September to February, she will be teaching, working and learning in the Biomedical Laboratory Sciences department of the Kigali Health Institute in the capital city. It was through the Coady International Institute and St. Francis Xavier University that she received this internship, which is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.

Galbraith, 22, graduated from L.V. Rogers in Nelson in 2006 and St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The former Nelson Youth Soccer star and all-round athlete at LVR, will be blogging about her adventures for The Nelson Daily. Check Galbraith’s thoughts about her Rwanda vacation on the blog page.

Lo’s Blog:

While writing this I am sitting on my front porch, sans internet, running water or a flushing toilet, and I couldn’t be happier.

This feeling is a result of food (as usual). I’m eating crackers topped with fresh avocado picked up from the market down the road, and I suddenly hear a pleasant surprise.

My landlord Pascale, who I knew was a painter, also turns out to be a musician. Right now he is singing a melodic minor-tone ballad (that one is for you Anne MacDonald!) called ‘Rwanda Mon Paradis’ accompanied by a Spanish guitar with an amp that is loud enough for the surrounding neighbourhood to enjoy.

The songs sound like they could be background music for a Kill Bill movie.. and are soo relaxing.

I haven’t mentioned our friend Hilaire yet, a young man C met when she was here in April who is a long-time friend of Elsa’s, a nursing prof at StFX.

He, along with many of the other friends I’ve made and even strangers along the way (aka when C and I took a matatu 30 minutes out of town in the total opposite direction of home), would give the shirt off of his back and maybe even his pants to you if you needed them.

Even though his English is sometimes hard to understand/absolutely hilarious (‘Okay, tank you!’, and when he answers his phone ‘Hi, I’m good!’ without me even having asked ‘How are you?’), he has been such a good liaison to the community and source of laughter.

I expressed my interest to Hilaire in playing soccer while I was here, and although it was fun playing with a bunch of kids last week (whom, yes, the majority were better than me) I was hoping for a more organized type of thing.

The connections people have here are mind-boggling, so somehow H saw a lady on the street who he knew plays for a premier team here in Kigali (I had been looking for a league online and just assumed there were no women’s leagues around).

One thing led to another and I found myself at a scrimmage on a beautiful turf field, in a stadium that’s a 7 minute walk from my house, playing with Association Sportif Kigali (AS Kigali).

It was kind of a throw back to my StFX days, feeling extremely nervous and having no idea what the level of soccer is before stepping on the pitch, except now every single person was staring at me as I warmed up, and when I made my first play in the game, there was whooping from the bench.

They were definitely thinking: People, even women, play football in Canada? WOW it was a surreal experience trying to communicate on the field in three languages (Kinyarwanda, Swahili and French), none in which I have ever learned to use football terms.

All I know is ‘Umva!’= hey!, ‘Sawa’=that’s good, ‘ici’= here! and a hissing noise that is interchangeable in Rwanda for calling motos, signaling to a waiter and asking for the ball.

What also didn’t help is that I had just suffered from some moto-exhaust-pipe-burn about an hour before the game and it started to blister (sorry for those of you who don’t like to see stuff like this, but I do haha!).

There were probably about three hundred people watching! The coach jokingly told me to go get a Rwandan Citizenship so that I could play with the national team for the next year but I think playing with AS Kigali for 3 months (season doesn’t actually start til December) will give me my soccer fix. Plus I have to come home sometime, right?

And to think I was contemplating leaving my Copa’s in Nelson…

C invited some friends from Butare and Kampala to hang out last night as a sort of preliminary birthday celebration for her and we had a good ol’ fashioned round of Waterfall (or Sociables for all you easterners) while listening to Ja Rule and Celine Dion.

The Rwandese love this Canadian drinking game and one of them even brought the rules back to his university in Uganda, bad influence we are. Everyone seems to enjoy our little house. Concrete floors are a great idea for housing said celebrations as many a Primus/Mutzig is bound to be spilled.

FOOD pictures are still on their way, as well as some more info about what I do Monday to Friday at KHI. Who would’ve thought that, after reading my blog, I actually have work to do here?

My roommate from four years at university is also on her way, she will be teaching and organizing a nursing workshop in Rwamagana. I’m sure this Newfie’s three month stay will be accompanied by many a story…

Much love 🙂

PS. On Friday I was asked by my beautiful friend Charlotte, who I grew up with in Nelson, to be a part of her wedding party next August… SO EXCITED!!


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