There is a half-marathon in Kigali next year that some of my friends and I are training for. I have never exactly loved running but I figure if I am living in rural Africa with Catholic nuns I might as well try something else new to add to the list! I have compiled a short list of pros and cons that I have encountered during my training for your enjoyment.
|1. Children often run with me which offers a wonderful distraction and constant entertainment||1. Children often run with me and continually ask in Kinyarwanda, “Suzanna, why don’t you run faster?”|
|2. There is a beautiful view of the rolling hills everywhere I run||2. Rwanda is called “the land of a thousand hills”- running down them is fun and running back up really sucks|
|3. It is a great way to get out and meet the community- I am the town spectacle no matter what so I might as well be all gross and sweaty when I meet people||3. A man who lives at the bottom of the big hill by my house appears to doubt my athletic ability and attempts to give me a ride up the hill every morning on his motorcycle (some days it is really tempting)|
|4. There is an adorable group of old lady farmers who sit near the road sorting produce and shouting “Komera, Suzanna”- Komera means “be strong”||4. There is a group of creepy men who sometimes jog with me for a while asking me to marry them (if you happen to meet one please back me up with my story that I have a husband and six children back in America)|
Overall things are going well so far. I had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with my nuns (although I must admit the 5-hour Christmas Eve Mass was a bit on the long side for my taste). The nuns are having another party tomorrow so if you were worried that I would be spending any holiday here alone it is just not the case!
Yesterday I attended a conference on inclusive education that was really interesting. One of the nuns I live with is very involved in the movement to include children with disabilities in the Rwandan school system. She works at one of the first inclusive pre-schools (which just so happens to be right across the street from my house) and I also learned that my secondary school is involved in a pilot program to introduce inclusive education to the older children as well. I am really excited to start working with this program because there are so many people passionate about changing the education system that it will be an awesome experience to help in whatever way I can. The conference started with a sitting volleyball match that was really fun to watch and I was really excited to see volleyball (my favorite sport of all time) being used as a tool to connect groups of children who had once been kept very separate. This movement towards inclusive education is really important everywhere but especially here in Rwanda where the genocide of 1994 targeted people who were different. At the conference there was a group of older participants who had either been targeted during the genocide for having a disability or people who were severely injured (head injuries, missing limbs, etc) during that time. It was an extremely powerful experience to hear them speak and I am grateful to be serving in a country that takes time to recognize the horrific events of their past but is committed to moving forward and embracing positive change.
Today is the last day of 2011 and I hope that everyone back home is enjoying time with family and friends and excited for 2012!
Sending lots of love and New Year wishes to everyone back home!!! 🙂