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People of Rwanda and their everyday life
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 Written by Maksimilijan Šimunić

People of Rwanda and their everyday lifeI come from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. My friend, Filip and I had thought about visiting Africa for a long period of time, but we never actually clearly defined our goal. Through a family friend, Filip found out about Padri Vjeko Centre and that is how we ended up here in Rwanda.

Before our trip, we had some expectations, based on stories we had heard. Our expectations were formed, mostly based on stereotypes that society had instilled in us over the years. I expected obvious hunger, thirst, woe and misery. I expected crime. I have, in fact, seen the hunger, but it was manifested in an entirely different way than one that we expected. And, as it turned out, Rwanda appeared to us to be one of the safest of the African countries if not the safest one. I have been traveling alone with Filip in the local area quite a lot. We even went around 100 km away from Kivumu, to a place called Kibuye, and we haven’t had any bad experiences while here.

Coming to Rwanda, I realize how many things I take for granted... things like food, water, education and clothes... things that I have never asked myself where they come from or who provides for them and how. Of course, Mom has always told me that we need to save money; that money doesn’t grow on trees and that somebody has to earn it for the things one needs. I never thought about it deeply.

However, here I have seen what is it like when somebody REALLY doesn’t have any means. How it is to think where even the next glass of water is coming or when the next meal will be. Statistics suddenly turned into reality. All those unimaginable numbers that we hear about on television suddenly made sense. How many times have you heard about millions or even billions of hungry people and how many times have you stopped and actually thought about the magnitude of these numbers?

I see what has been given to me and how I behave towards it. People in Rwanda aren’t as miserable as you might have concluded by reading the text above. They are not miserable although they have to struggle against the current situation; instead, they make the most out of the situation in which they are placed. What we consider working and hardship they consider opportunity because work translates directly into benefits. We don’t see that because the work we put into something will translate into results only later since our basic needs are being met. That’s one of the reasons why we consider it hard work in the first place. I would say that one Rwandese will make more out of a situation, whatever the situation is, than would a man in my community could ever do.

Their struggle and different view of things is what puts a smile on their faces, and trust me, there is no shortage of smiles here. I have seen more smiles here in this school where so much depends on donations and their futures are largely based on hope, than I have ever seen at home where most kids wear designer clothes and whose parents can afford to pay large amounts of money for them to attend school.

I have to admit that I have been ungrateful towards my mother. At the end of the month she has to pay bills, my school fees and credits. She has to pay for my clothes and to put food on the table. Next time I ask my mother for something, I will ask with more understanding. I realize now that while she tries to provide me with everything my heart desires (and I must admit that she has been successful in that so far), I am still a rebel with a frown on my face.

I can only imagine what is it like for her to deal with a son like I am and what it feels like to provide for a child. Don’t be fooled, people in Rwanda are not as miserable as you may think, they are not even sad. They are happy! Happy because they have been given opportunity!

Edited by Valerie Kae Ken

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