Monday

Monday - Angela

Our group just returned to the hotel from a family style dinner at a
Rwandan restaurant called Republika. I have to admit that I have been a
little worried about food. Last evening we ate pizza together at O Sole
Luna, which is an excellent Italian restaurant. Today as we traversed
through our day, people pointed out many restaurants – none of which were
Rwandan. I worried that most of my gastronomical experiences here would
default to cuisine from other ethnicities because they’d be more familiar
or conveniently located. Rest assured; I tried new foods tonight. The
most daunting was a little fish about the size of a minnow. It was deep
–fried whole and served with a dipping sauce that resembled tarter. Kari
suggested not eating the tail, but the rest was to be devoured in a single
bite. Thankfully what I’ve heard is true – it tasted mostly like something
deep-fried. And the eyes didn’t have a slimy texture. The rest of the
meal was recognizable – fried bananas and plantain, goat, beef, chicken,
seasoned rice, Irish potatoes, and steamed spinach are just a few of the
dishes we were served. Most things were seasoned with curry or other
spices that are common here. Our meal was delicious and filling.

Besides eating, we spent the day visiting three different genocide
memorials in or near Kigali. At the first site this morning, the thing
I’ve had the most trouble coming to terms with is that at least 500,000
women who survived the genocide are rape victims. I’m wondering what kind
of counseling and therapy is available to these women. How can these women function normally in their lives, without shutting down a part of
themselves and their memory to do so? And by shutting out these painful
memories, can true reconciliation take place? In restorative justice,
there is an emphasis on open dialogue between the victim, perpetrator, and
members of the community. However, if only part of what happened is
acknowledged (I’m not sure at this point how openly instances of rape are
discussed), how can true reconciliation take place? I understand that in
the next several days, we will be meeting with organizations whose goals
are oriented toward social welfare, and I hope to find out more about what
kinds of services are available to the citizens of Rwanda. My interests
include not only how women are being helped, but everyone who has suffered from the violence during the time of the genocide.

At dinner last night, after I had question Rwandan access to medical
treatments, our guide mentioned that he contracted malaria last summer. I
was interested to find out that he quite able to obtain the quinine needed
to treat it fairly easily. It seems that Rwandan national health care is
quite helpful. Yvan went on to say that being ill for two weeks wasn’t a
picnic, but that he has no lasting effects of the disease and that there is
no preventative medication that citizens here take. He said that cases of
malaria in Kigali are only about 5-6 per year and, in the country as a
whole, the worst areas are only at about 1-2 cases per month. These
numbers are significantly better since the government has given out
mosquito nets and regularly sprayed in most areas.

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