Kigali, Rwanda:
I remember reading my email that said, "You never know unless you ask. Do you guys want to go to Rwanda with me?" This was a question that was asked to us by our friend, Frank Pollari, from Thunder Bay, Canada. Frank was going to Rwanda to build a library at NuVision Ministry High School. The High School was scheduled to open in two months (the beginning of January, 2008). We were in France at the time. We talked it over and said, "yes". Within three weeks we were on a plane with three other Canadians heading down to Kigali, Rwanda. Rwanda is trying very hard to rebuild their country after the 1994 genocide.

Thunder Bay has been sending NuVision Ministry cargo shipping containers filled with needed items throughout the years. The most recent container that was delivered was filled with text books, library books, computers, desks, etc. Our job was to complete the library within our three week stay. What did this mean? It meant building and painting 60 shelving units, dewey decimaling 90 percent of the 3,000 library books, creating forms, setting up a basic library procedure, writing policy and procedures, etc. We were ready to take on this challenge. Frank headed the library project and assigned Ward and I to the shelf building. This turned into quite a project as Ward had to go and procure the lumber from the lumber yard and then bring the wood to a work shop to be cut in the right dimensions. The work shop was a large area filled with cutting machines. From there the lumber was transported out to the school. Ward says that of one of his scariest moments on our world trip so far was when they were transporting the lumber in a small truck which was grossly overloaded. As they were coming down a hill, towards the intersection with the red light, the driver was frantically pumping his brakes to the floor with no sign of the vehicle slowing. Luckily, the light turned green as they zoomed through the intersection.

We overcame the challenges of few or no tools, flat headed screws, and sporadic electricity. The 60 shelves were built, painted and ready for the books. Assigning dewey decimal numbers to individual books was a tedious task. Our head librarian, Frank (we named him that) was very good at keeping the process going. When it was time to leave Rwanda, the empty room that we intially entered now looked like a library. We felt really good about our accomplishment and the long days were definitely worth it. Lacey, a young woman that was with us, was asked to return and be a teacher at this new school. She did return to Rwanda and was the Science Lab teacher for the January - May semester.

In between work times we were able to explore Kigali and its culture. Contrary to belief, it is actually quite safe. It is a fantastic place with a well respected leader at this time. The people are incredibly friendly and very appreciative that you are there to help them. They are making an amazing come back! I'm excited to return some day.


To see more photos from Rwanda,
click here.