Rwanda 2012: The Journey

This space is for students to share, publicly, their observations, sound, images and reflections before, during and after the Harwood High School trip to Rwanda in February 2012.

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Rwanda Experience, Final by Lauren and India

India Harvey and Lauren Alexander dived right into video on their trip to Rwanda. Their final piece, Rwanda Experience, is a unique retrospective of their trip around the country. Using some cutting edge video production, the piece invites the viewer to examine their expectations and presumptions of Rwanda. Watch closely, enjoy!

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Hands by Haley

For her final project, Haley Cleary chose to focus on a unique subject: Hands. Here it is!

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Teddy’s by Ashley and Jordan

Harwood and Woonsocket students visited a preschool in Kigali, called Teddy’s. This video, by Ashley Nelson and Jordan Iannuzzi, leads us through a day at Teddy’s, exploring what education means in a Rwandan context. Enjoy!

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What makes Rwanda, Rwanda. By Yuka Oiwa

Find a comfortable seat, lean back and watch Yuka Oiwa’s piece, What makes Rwanda, Rwanda. Her piece combines photos taken by the Stories of Hope team and excerpts from her journal. Enjoy!

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Mzungu dancefest!

Today we headed to the National Museum of Rwanda, where we watched a traditional dance performance before touring the exhibits. The dancers were amazing. When they invited us up to talk and try on their costumes at the end, that was amazing in a different way:

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2/29/12 by Tracy

I see you from across the field,
carrying the sun on your shoulders.
You raise and swing, raise and swing,
cutting away the weeds.
I watch as you eliminate the weeds one by one.
A job to be done.
They say the workers who wear pink
have committed crimes.
They say some of the workers
were killers during the genocide.
Did you raise and swing
eighteen years ago?
Did you believe the people were
weeds to be cut?
One by one,
a job to be done?
I see you from across the field,
carrying more on your shoulders
than I’ll ever know.
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Bats at Ruhango by Ashley

We arrived at Ruhango, a religious sanctuary, so that Justyna could meet her uncle for the very first time. When we were sitting in the bus waiting for them to have their introductions we heard a faint echo of what we thought were birds, but as we took a closer look we realized not only were they not birds but they were bats, hundreds and thousands of bats.  There were so many and the trees were covered with them, hanging upside down off of every limb. The bats were swarming the area and it was an unreal sight, like nothing I’d ever seen before. 

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My Uncle Stasiu by Justyna

My entire life, I had heard stories about my uncle Stasiu.  He moved to Rwanda in 1980 as a missionary from Poland, but he never really knew what brought him there.  After the genocide, however, he understood.  He had been in charge of protecting over 500 people during the Rwandan genocide.  Though I had never spoken to him before this trip, he is a hero to me. He risked his own life, faced personal attacks, and worked selflessly for the good of others.  I had never thought that I would get the opportunity to actually meet him, and getting the chance really struck me.  It was amazing to hear about someone who had actually succeeded in helping others during the genocide because every other story I heard seemed to end in tragedy.  I had heard some amazing stories of bravery on his part, but more than any of the details, I wanted to hear about why he stayed in a horrifically war-stricken country when he had every opportunity to leave, and when just about every other foreigner fled.  His response to this was simply that it was the will of God for him to help those people.  I really wondered how someone could work so selflessly.
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A Wave Muraho by Jules

Who would have thought that a simple wave hello could brighten your day. Rwandans have shown me this. They put the biggest smile on their face and wave to you like you’re a long lost friend. Sometimes people will jump up and down, dance or wave with two hands! It gives you such an amazing feeling to see someone so happy to see you when they have never seen you before. I love to wave hello to the people of Rwanda. Who would have thought a simple wave could brighten your day.

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2/25/12 by Darby

It’s so hard to wake up knowing it’s going to be a hard day. Knowing you are going to visit two churches where many people lost their lives during the 1994 Genocide. Thinking they would be protected by All Mighty God but the militias were too powerful for God to protect the million people. As we drive from the first Genocide site to the second I feel nothing. I saw bones, bloodstains, and ruined buildings from the bombings. The second church, I walk in and see a room full of clothes. These people once sat on these benches and now it’s just their dirty clothing piled on them. I walk deeper into the church listening and watching the flies hover over these clothes that seem to never end. The smell is like one I have never experienced, before now. It smells old, musty, deep sadness, and fear. On a shelf, people’s necklaces, pipes, and identification cards lie on top of the glass. As I sit to write I get the thought that I am sitting where there was once a dead body.

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Ntarama by Anna

Bundles of fabric

Dirty from Rwandan dust

She walked down the aisle of the Ntarama church.

A fresh new casket, from last week a new sleeping soul discovered.

Stomach churning sharp wounds bending in half and spinning victims.

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Another Excerpt from Yuka’s Journal (2.25.12)

(2/25~ Umuganda in Kigali. First day with our host families.)

Woke up after a sound sleep in a very comfortable bed and then ate a breakfast of:

+ Bread and real butter! + More passion fruit juice + Hot cocoa

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Daria by Kory

Yesterday we visited Les Enfantes De Dieu which is a rehabilitation center for street boys. The program is set up to give kids who were on the streets due to the genocide or other reasons off the streets and give them an education so they can make a better life for themselves and become a part of society. They get taught English skills and daily skills that would help them for life after the center. After work was done we got to play games. This is me playing catch with Daria who is the chefs daughter. She is 3 years old. She hangs around the center from time to time and has become a tough little girl from hanging around with all the boys. There’s no doubt in my mind that she will some day be in charge of this center if she chooses so.

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Excerpt from Yuka’s Journal Entry (2.23.12)

(2/23~ Emotional visit to the National Genocide Memorial in Kigali)

Mankind has deemed our attributes of being ‘humane’ as what sets us apart from animals yet the antithesis is not within the wild kingdom but within our own human race. We can be humane yet we can also commit acts insurmountably worse than anything in the wild. We create genocide, rape, mutilate, scar, and burn. To be human is to be both morally good and immorally cruel. How do we deal with our duality? How do we end genocides? What a terrible future knowing such terrible acts will recapitulate. Is our kind and compassionate side enough when some come away from such violence unable to love mankind again?

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The Clothes by Haley

This poem was written after our visit to the Nyamata genocide site.

The Clothes

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Hey everyone by Darby

Note: This post is a couple days old. Our apologies for not posting sooner!

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My new best friend by India

My new best friend. I miss you a lot mom and dad but I never want to leave.

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What you bring to the table by Jordan

Written Feb. 24, 2012

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Big Questions

As we think about media projects, we want them to be not so much assignments as opportunities for members of the group to get answers to some of the questions they are asking during this trip.

This evening, we had each member of the group write a question or an overall theme on an index card, then hand them in. After reading them aloud, we noticed that many of the questions did fall into some major themes, so we grouped them accordingly. The group’s questions were as follows:

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“Buckets” of fun by India and Jordan

After three days without a shower I decided it was time for a “bucket bath” at our home stay. Little did I know, I was in for quite for the experience. I did not want to go through this alone, so I asked my fellow bunkmate Jordan, who insisted to wait til’ morning. Keep in mind it was pitch black outside. In an effort to convince her otherwise I stole and threatened to eat her salty African peanuts. These were supposedly a gift for her father, but I didn’t care. After much screaming, I forced her into a game of rock, paper, scissors: 2 out 3. She won the first battle and my odds were bleak, but then I beat her with “Paper.” As the final round went down I proceeded with a victory of “rock.” She screamed in defeat while I laughed evilly. My plan had prevailed.

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