A problem that has been stressing me out lately is my trash situation. Many of the volunteers in my group are facing a similar challenge- what do we do with all our trash? During training I simply threw it down the latrine. But the convent does not use latrines, we have toilets that you pour water down to flush. While many people are jealous and consider this a luxury, I find them to be more disgusting than latrines. Considering the fact that you need to pour a bucket of water in the toilet to flush and water is sparse during dry season… it can be gross. So the moral of this introduction is that I have no “safe” place where I can put my trash without everyone seeing it. The nuns have a system where you dump it in a field and burn it, which would be fine, except I have way more trash than the average Rwandan. I also know that the workers would be snoopy and go through it to measure up what all I have which to me seems a bit of a security risk. So, I started to think of alternate solutions to this conundrum. Then one day I was on the phone, whining about the enormous amount of trash that had accumulated in my rather small room, when I had an idea. A wonderful, brilliant, and sneaky idea. My friend was sympathizing with my problem but said she just used her latrine for trash. I realized that while I don’t have a latrine- the school has quite a few. So began the development of my trash removal plan.
I decided to leave at 6:30 pm. At this time the nuns are in the chapel for their evening prayer, it is dark enough that people might not recognize me but light enough you don’t need a flashlight. So tonight, at 6:33, I headed out with my enormous bag full of trash. Right away I ran into one of the workers and it was pretty awkward because she looked at me like I was crazy. In her defense, I was leaving the convent, at night, with a huge bag that I was awkwardly doing my best to conceal in the shadows of the night. Once I got out on the road I was pleased to see only a few people and made my way to the school. There were a few men sitting outside the gates (that were luckily open) so I didn’t know what to do. Do I turn around? Do I acknowledge them? Do I ignore them? After a second of contemplation I decided I had come too far to give up so I greeted them as casually as possible and continued on. I cut across the volleyball field and decided to hide behind a building before making my way to the latrines in case the men were watching me.
After loitering around in the shadows like an absolute creeper for a few minutes one of the students, who lives at the school, came around the corner. I had no idea what to do so I greeted her like it was normal that a teacher would be sneaking around the school at night with an massive bag of trash. She looked at me like I was a weirdo and continued on her way. Hopefully she doesn’t feel the need to share our encounter with the whole school- it might be bad for my reputation. I decided it was game time- now or never. I made a dash for the latrines, climbed up the steps and then realized, much to my horror, that I had made two grave errors in judgment.
1) The holes for the latrines were not as big as I was expecting and the latrines were not very deep (so it took me longer than I had planned and had to spread the trash out between multiple latrines)
2) The kid’s latrines are DISGUSTING– so very gross that I almost threw up- multiple times
So there I was, shoving trash down the kid’s latrines at the school. I am not proud of it, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Once I finished disposing of all the trash I made my way back across the field, discovered that there are mice that build their homes in the grass when I almost stepped on one, said goodnight to the men hanging out by the gates, and walked home.
It was then that I discovered another significant flaw in my plan. In my absence, the gates to the convent had been locked. Apparently since nuns don’t have many outside engagements after dark the worker had locked things up for the night. It only took a few minutes of knocking for a slightly peevish worker to show up but luckily I didn’t have to call one of the nuns. I don’t think I will be resorting to this system of trash removal frequently but it is nice to know it is an option. I have more space in my room and, besides the fact that I had to take an extra long bucket bath to finally feel clean afterwards, I would call this adventure a success! 🙂