Burundi Part II
Yesterday was a beautiful day! One of the best I’ve spent in Africa for scenery. Probably The best if I don’t consider airplane vistas. Driving away from the city, the air cleared and cooled and the countryside was transformed into a kaleidoscope of greens. I was surprised by how many eucalyptus trees we passed. Seems like they’re taking over! There were lots of lime green tea fields, green green beans and green baby corn, frosty green cabbages, meadow green elephant grass, two eucalyptus greens- the grey and the emerald and red (they were eucalyptus, right?), some dark green pines and monkey puzzles with cedar, too and plenty of other things I’m sure I’d never even notice. Gorgeous!
Of course I noticed the cattle along the roads. They are gorgeous!
We passed [but did not have time to stop at] a farm which was purchased for 30 Batwa families. The land is fertile, they have homes and education available. Perfect solution. Except purchasing a large plot of land and all the construction required are not cheap. It took an hour and a half to reach the school and we were not spending it stuck in traffic. It was, dare I say, Gorgeous.
Rusaka Shakinah School Center is on 2 hectares (almost 5 acres) at the top of a beautiful hill. There is just one building with 5 classrooms and one “reception” area which is actually being used as housing for the staff of 4 women. 30 kindergarteners, 21 first graders and 13 second graders. At the beginning of each school year, they open enrollment and any local 4 year old is welcome to apply. The neediest are accepted and start into their personalized education. Class size is limited and the teachers are completely dedicated to their students, making house calls when necessary to ensure each student is performing to the best of their abilities.
Each class sang at least two songs to us. Along with the “Good morning, Teacher. How are you? I am fine, thank you” they all chorused. You would not believe the pitch twenty tiny little bodies are capable of hitting in unison. Their enunciation is impressive to say the least.
We toured the three classes, the room for Sunday school, the storage room. The land is large enough to allow for a garden where they grow enough food (potatoes) to provide meals. Not sure if the meals were just for staff or for all the students as well.
After classes were completed, all the students gathered outside to pray before going home.
They scampered away home in tattered clothes. The last of the One World footballs that had been brought were dropped off as well as some books and about fifty school uniforms from Oregon Episcopal School in Portland who changed styles.
As we were leaving, the tropical weather was rolling in. And the gym class rolled by. Apparently Fridays are for physical education. A hoard of at least a hundred teenagers was shouting across the valley and it took a bit for us to realize what was happening. It was something to be seen. Don’t worry, I have video of that to share. We raced the rain down the mountain. It was absolutely perfect! And gorgeous. The air cleared, as well as the streets. Rain showers are short lived, so people run for cover until it passes. Instead of the streets crowded with pedestrians, all the doorways, overhangs, trees and umbrellas are filled.
Flo also was kind enough to take us to the immigration office and obtain visa extensions for us. You are allowed to stay for 3 days at 40USD (it’s called a transit visa), but to stay any longer costs 90UDS. So we came in saying 3 days, then told them we were having such a great time we just had to stay for one more day. The hour and a half wait two separate days may have been worth it. We did have streetside entertainment provided by two little girls.
But, now it is time to leave the humidity behind and go back to Rwanda. I love Burundi so much after just these past several days. And not because of the many military men staying at our hotel. Not at all. Flo called it Rwanda’s crazy cousin. I think I may be a crazy cousin, so we make pretty great company.