Mutual reflection: Reflecting with

Hannah blogs from Gisenye, Rwanda on the mutual day of reflection that members of the Ubumwe Centre and Intercordians shared together!

This past weekend, Zacharie (Intercordia’s host partner in Rwanda) and a few other Ubumwe Community Centre staff, organized a day for the Intercordians and UCC managers to come together, reflect on the first half of the placement time and enjoy a relaxing day together.

The day started with fourteen of us squishing into a safari style vehicle with two benches that run along the back part of the car. We were cozy and bumping along the road! Most of the day was a surprise for us as it had been planned by Zacharie and Justin. We drove along the beautiful lakeside road that rolls up and down the hills. We arrived at a spot and all got out. The hot springs! These hot springs are set up pretty informally and are a place mostly where locals go for relaxing or to receive treatment for minor injuries. These hot springs are said to have healing qualities.

As a group we walked around this small tip of a peninsula and had beautiful views of the lake, different trees and plants (including the famous Rwandan coffee plant!) and then ended by getting to experience the hot springs ourselves, taking off our shoes and getting treated to reflexology, massages and exfoliation!

We then got back in the car and drove to another spot on the lake. This place, called Kifugi, is a guest house for Catholic nuns, and offers a calm and beautiful place to sit and be peaceful and watch the waves. While we were there, there were other visitors as well as nuns gathered in prayer and meditation. We sat as a group just to spend a few minutes reflecting on the experience and learning from the first half of the Intercordians time in Gisenyi, Rwanda. Although there was some shyness and discomfort in sharing, all the words spoken were ones of gratitude. Intercordians shared stories of things they’d learned, experience as UCC and in their host family homes, as well as bigger learning and appreciation for being here. We spoke of welcome, and challenges with new ways of doing things, and of things and people we will miss, as well as hopes looking forward to build on relationships that have really only just started.

It was a gift to have the opportunity to hear reflections from a few members of the UCC staff about what the experience of having this group of Intercordians here has been like. Many spoke of witnessing a real commitment from this group of young people, and of their appreciation for the ways they have been so open to offering help in the places where it is needed. Intercordians have been helping to correct exams (saving teachers many hours), accompany nursery kids on their bus ride home, sit in classrooms and help where they can to keep kids focused. All of these tasks may seem small or at times boring and tedious, but it is the kind of help that is appreciated most.

The thing that stood out most to me was the appreciation the UCC staff, most of whom are not hosting Intercordians in their homes nor do they necessarily know host families, have for the way in which Intercordians come with a desire to live with families, integrate into the community, and work together as a team with the UCC staff. There were many reflections on how meaningful this feels to them and that their greatest hope is that when we return to Canada, we take with us stories of the Rwandan people and the community and country where we were welcomed and lived for three months.

 William, the coordinator for inclusive education at UCC, put it beautifully when he said that it has felt to him like this group of Intercordians knew UCC before coming here and so when they arrived they simply became part of the team.

Posted in Blog, Voices.