AvaK's blog

Volcanic Glow

The past few days have been spent at a religious center at Lake Kivu, called Kigufi. The last time I traveled here, the Congo was more of a word used to describe what lay beyond the boundary of the lake. Several days ago, however, the fog had lifted. There were hills, closer and larger than I had thought possible. The lake suddenly seemed less like an ocean full of unanswered questions, and more like something I would expect to see clearly defined on a map. 

I sat and watched the sunset that night. Beams of light streamed through the crags at the top of the mountains, and the clouds rolled into shapes seen only in Renaissance paintings. The whole thing was entirely unreal. Every few moments, the view shifted into different shades of cotton candy and gold. It seemed like we had reached an entirely new plane of existance. 


(I forgot to post this a while back, sorry!)


I've never before been


so it's interesting to see the stares.


I've never had people look at me

solely because of my skin.


Its odd being new.


People slow down their cars

if we're walking on the street 

so they can get a better look.


People laugh with excitement,

and gather in crowds

and point us out to their friends.


It's odd being new.


Children stand in clusters

More Than Just a Charity Case

Ever since I was little, I've had the mental image of Africa as a crying little child, sitting naked in a dusty street, their stomach enlarged with hunger. As I've gotten older, a lion and a giradde have ben added into the background, and maybe another child or two. Up until just a few weeks ago, even though I knew that this wasn't all there was, this was Africa.

When I traveled to Rwanda this past month, I was amazed by the color and vibrance I saw around me. Even as the plane landed, the landscape was sparkling with the metal roofs dotting the leafy greenery of the hillside. The people were what really amazed me, however. I became captivated with how their serious faces could crinkle up into the most beautiful smiles I had ever seen in. From the more well-off children in their school uniforms to the old women in the countrysides to people of all ages balancing unimaginable loads on their heads, these people completely shattered the mental stereotype that I had.

Going Home

I’m excited to go home today.

Not really today,

it’s just airplanes this evening for me.

But still, the sentiment is there.

I am ready to get home and hug my parents

and see all my friends and tackle my sister

and hold hands with people I know.

I am ready to return to the “real world.”


I’m not excited to go home today.

Not really today,

I’m only on airplanes and in airports this evening.

But still, it’s not really HERE.

I don’t want to leave the smiling faces

and the welcoming arms

and the honorary sisterships.

I don’t want to leave these stories.


I am excited to go home today.

I want to cuddle my cat

and snuggle my dog

and curl up in a pile with friends.


I’m not excited to go home today.

Going away from the bartering

and the shouts of muzungu

and wonderful weather makes me sad.


I’m so ready to go home,

and I’m not ready at all.

The Concept of Forgiveness


The concept of forgiveness... I've never thought about it much before now. I never understood why my teacher said that he came back to Rwanda every year because he is fascinated by foregiveness. In all honesty, I thought it was a slightly lame reason to keep flying to Africa.

Of course, now I understand. I too have caught the foregivness bug. I too want to know how it is done. I want to come back here again and again, to talk to as many people as I can and tell their stories. I want to understand how they can look someone in the eye who killed their sister/brother/father/mother. I want to understand how they can live next to someone who killed. 

I want to figure out how someone can smile at someone else who looked a child/adult/woman/human in the eye, and beat in their skull. 

I want to know how someone could get so caught up in the mob mentality that they couldn't snap out of it until they had done unspeakable things.


It's interesting, being new. Walking down the street, having all the people stop and stare and even shout with delight. It's not a feeling I could easily get used to. I've had people reach over and touch my skin, just to see how it feels. Little kids run up and watch us with startled eyes, eager and scared at the same time.

Everyone likes to wave at the bus as it passes.

It's interesting to see how friendly people are, to watch their expressions change into ones joy and bewilderment as I try to communicate in their language. It just goes to show how they come to expect us to expect them to speak english. Many of them can, but it is way more fun to pull out the phrase book and stumble through.

I've found that being new is strange and confusing and sometimes annoying, but being new is the biggest part of the experience.

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