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Jarod here. So, once again it has been a while since we have written…sorry.  It seems that lately not too much has been going on so I will see what I can conjure up. 

Oh, first of all, yesterday I was inside while Sarah was outside trying to soak up some rays of sun when I suddenly hear her say in a very much concerned/freaked out voice, “Jarod come here now.”  It seems that during her tanning session one of our little mouse friends decided to share the mat with Sarah and then ran across her leg.  When I made it outside I saw the little dude hunkering behind some nearby rocks.  The little guy and I had some words and end the end…it is sad to say…but, he is no more.  I am not one for hurting animals but when it comes to them keeping us up all night running in, around and all through our house making all kinds of noise…they gots to go!!!

I don’t know if we have mentioned this in any previous blogs but our organization is in the process of starting an Eco-Lodge here in our village.  There is still much fund raising to be done before any real construction takes place but recently the money was raised for the land and it is in process of being purchased right now.  The land is a beautiful 6 or 7 hectares, maybe bigger (I think a hectare is quite bigger than an acre) which basically consists of two mountain sides.  Once of those mountains overlooks the beautiful rain forest while the other overlooks the village with views all the way to the picturesque Lake Kivu…some 30 – 40 kl away.

However, there have been people living on that land for many years now and since the lodge will be built where they now live…they have to move.  This may sound unfortunate for these people but I can assure you, this is God send for them.  Some of these people are living in the worst houses I have yet to see in all of Rwanda…6 or 7 in one house…not to mention the goats, guinea pigs and rabbits they share it with.  As you can see from the picture of the house (which has 7 people living in it and not including the many animals) these are not the best conditions to be living in. 

So, these people are very excited as they will be getting a rather large chunk of change, especially by Rwandan standards to rebuild further down the mountain and closer to town.  With the money given to them for their land and house, they will be able to build a house 2 or 3 maybe 4 or 5 times nicer than their previous one and also purchase a good piece of land to farm on which as you probably know is basically the only source of income for our village.  If you don’t have land here, you don’t have anything.  Let me relate that to American standards…not having land would be like someone not having a job, car, phone, etc.  But, since giving a Rwandan 2,000,000 francs (roughly 4 thousand USD) at once can lead to bad things: a lot of banana beer purchased for one, it being stolen from thieves, as Elise our counterpart always says, “they can eat the money and have nothing left,” their money will be deposited into a bank in the Sector office and small withdrawals will be able to be made.  I think it will be good for everyone.  One thing is for sure, I am happy to see these families get a nicer home for themselves…especially because we know many of these families well as they are some of our sponsored children.

Umm…last but not least I will leave you with a funny story.  So, a month or so ago we were sitting a wedding when I notice an old man sitting across the way from us.  I could not but help notice that he looked just like a chimpanzee.  I didn’t say anything at first but as I kept looking, his facial hair around his mouth, expressions, everything kept drawing me back to that thought.  I told Sarah and she instantly agreed.  So, we decided to ask Elise our Rwandan counterpart, “what does that man remind of you of?”  Without hesitation Elise said, “A chimp”.  He said, “We even call him chimp” and then he proceeded to tell us another interesting story about the man.  Elise told us to look at his hand.  He said that several years ago a chimp came to his field to steal some crops and the man tried to fight him away but the chimp grabbed the mans hand in his mouth and bit off his thumb.  As we looked over, sure enough, the man was missing one of us thumbs.  Anyway, I thought that was interesting so I hope you enjoyed that story.   

I think that is all I have for now…if there is anything anyone would like to know or anything you would like us to write about while we are here…just let us know.  Email or Facebook us and we will be happy to do that.  I wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Be blessed! 



So much to be thankful for.

Man. It seems that so much has happened this week that I want to write about! First of all…Happy Late Thanksgiving to all of you. I hope that you had amazing feasts and wonderful time with family or friends. Jarod and I had a wonderful thanksgiving! There is a volunteer here from New York and I cook up a scrumptious meal for the 3 of us. We had deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, cabbage salad, cinnamon glazed carrots, pork and a YUMMY pineapple upside down cake. I cooked ALL of this on my camp fire stoves. I tell you…I’m becoming quite the little betty crocker. J My nanny will be proud. 

Then, we went to Kigali to spend some time with other Peace Corps Volunteers. It was the best thanksgiving we could have asked for complete with homemade sweet rolls, pumpkin and pecan pie and MANY other fabulous dishes!!! We ate so much AMAZING food that I literally thought I’d die of fullness. I laid on the floor for like an hour recovering. It was heavenly. We also had unlimited internet and hot showers. It was the perfect relaxing time. We talked to our families on skype and the phone…it was just more than we could have hoped or asked for.

 Today, our health center finally treated kids for worms!! It was so wonderful to be a part of it. Jarod and I handed out 391 pills for worms to children aged 6-16. We (our health post nurses) also probably treated between 100-200 children aged 0-6 with worm medicine, vitain A supplements, and the polio vaccination. It was so wonderful. We have it again tomorrow and Thursday. It feels so nice to be helping change childrens lives. I felt like we were making a difference today by giving out medicine. These children have worms so badly with generally no access to worm medicine…it was a breath of fresh air for us.                                   

Also, I wanted to list some books for a good read. Jarod and I have read many books while being here and I definitely recommend them!
·         A Thousand Hills by Stephen Kinzer (Rwandan/Kagame’s History)
·         We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gouravich (Rwandan History)
·         In the Kingdon of the Gorillas by Bill Webber and Amy Vedder (Rwandan History) DEFINITELY A MUST!
·         Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
·         Dead Aid by (forgot her name but it something like Mambosa something)
·         The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz
·         Shaking Hands with the Devil-documentary
·         Sometimes in April-movie
We’ve also been reading just random books and I finally read Wuthering Heights! It is a classic written in the 1800s. I loved it. Tragic but good.  We’ve read many more but they would probably be boring to you guys.

I know it’s the last day of the month but I forgot to do November shout outs! So…
November 9th Happy Birthday to my little sis. 20 years old!! Also Happy Birthday to my father-in-law Terry. Jarod and I hope it was awesome! November 30th, my bestie….Julie. Happy 26th-as everyone told me…it only goes down hill from here. J  We love you guys all so much and hope your special days were wonderful.

Ok…I think that’s all for now. I hope that everyone is feeling the Christmas spirit and listening to their Christmas music. Jarod and I have been rocking out for a while. We love you all and thank God you’re all in our lives!! Until next time…


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Hello everyone.  I hope this blog finds you all well.  I seems it has been several weeks again since I have written, so I am due.  Anyway, nothing too exciting has been happening in our world…as Sarah mentioned in a previous blog…the crazy and awkward things just seem to be part of life now and not worthy of writing about.


Let’s see…our house lady, Louise, has now successfully made it past the Bermuda triangle time line (which is 1 ½ months) where the other 3 girls disappeared.  She has made it almost two months.  We really like her and she seems to enjoy being with us as well.  And, as far as we know, she has yet to steal or lie to us…sounds like a keeper! 


So, the other day I was sitting by a lady I have met a few times while she was holding her little baby.  I remembered she told me last time that she had six children so I said…how are your six children?  She responded…I have 7 now…then looked at the 2 month old in her arms.  I began to ask her questions about the little one and soon she said, do you want to take him?  Just to make sure I heard her correctly I asked her to repeat several times…I heard right.   When I said I don’t think we can do that right now she then asked…what do you want…a boy or girl…I have several of each?  I laughed and told Sarah who was standing a ways away what the lady was telling me.  I told her that 7 kids is a lot and that it must be tough to raise that many children.  She then proceeded to tell me that she wants to have 5 more…12 in all.  I told her that it would be very difficult to feed 12 children don’t you think.  She said, I have many sweet potatoes (which is pretty much the only thing many children eat…enter malnutrition).  I told her that it’s not good to eat just sweet potatoes…the kids need other things, specifically protein.  She didn’t seem too concerned and told me that she also had beans planted.  I would like to say this kind of story is rare to hear in our village but unfortunately…it is more of the norm.  But, at least I got a free child out of it…just kiddin…or am I???


In other news, our first real Holiday away from home is coming up.  I don’t things will be quite the same seeing as we are 10,000 miles away from our family.  We plan on going to visit a friend in Kigali for Thanksgiving who has an oven and so we’ll be able to cook some food at least close to real Thanksgiving food.  We are pretty pumped about that.  Christmas on the other hand…not quite sure what we are going to do there…that’s still a ways away…or at least it seems.  Oh, we are planning on going to Uganda over New Year’s and going white water rafting on the Nile and then crapping our pants before bungee jumping into it…that should be fun…not the crapping our pants part…it seems that is just part of the experience.  We will be going with two other PCV’s from Rwanda


It seems there is not much more to talk about…I think I am boring myself just trying to think of things.  So, this is all I got.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone…eat lots of turkey, stuffing and all that other great holiday food for us.  Take care and be blessed!





Tis the life of Africa....

I am writing to you now…I know, it’s been a while but I feel like all those weird awkward situations have become, well normal and it just doesn’t seem good enough to write about anymore. Let’s see, life in Rwanda has been a little more challenging lately. In fact, the last 2 weeks have pretty much been a total vent fest where Jarod and I come home and talk about how angry we are about everything. Completely unproductive, but totally helpful! Jarod even said “I even hate my chocolate right now” the other day. Although later, he corrected himself and said “don’t stop sending chocolate…I can’t go on without it…I might spontaneously combust into a million pieces”.


Work has become more and more challenging. We’re feeling completely defeated as so far, 6 months and counting, every single idea we’ve had has been DE…wait for it….NIED! DENIED! So we’re pretty much questioning even our existence here. We hate going to church here because we can’t understand the preacher and sit completely bored for about 3 hours. Everyone is constantly staring at us, no matter what we’re doing and the list could go on. AHH!


Instead of venting I’ll tell you about our latest visitors. This week we had 4 Belgians and a Norwegian come to Banda for something called a mobile cinema. They travel Rwanda showing health related movies to Rwandans in hopes of educating them. We were so excited about this and requested they come here. They agreed. The trip started off interesting. First of all they got here and the house lady at the guest house hadn’t boiled water as asked. So therefore, they were exhausted and thirsty with no water. Then, she kept asking us for more and more money to purchase food for them although we knew it was basically impossible that she had already spent all we’d given her. We took them to the market because they wanted to buy some crafts from our village and surprise…they were closed! On Monday, the last 2 people of their party showed up and they absolutely wanted to walk up to the top to pick them up…which we tried to tell them was a bad idea as we live in the rain forest…so um rain happens. Well, they went and it rained.  They were soaked. This then caused one of them to have awful blisters. So as they arrived at the guest house, because they were a little later than planned, their food was cold, they were soaked and we were rushing them to get ready because we had to start the movie in less than an hour and all the equipment was still at the guest house, not set up. So then, it started pouring. I mean, pouring its heart out and we had to carry all this equipment in the rain. We were so afraid it was going to get wet…but we made it.  No worries! We had borrowed a generator from a local person to power the equipment, this however was a terrible idea! I know nothing about generators and as soon as we plugged it up, it shot so much electricity through the wires that it completely fried their expensive surge protection equipment and the DVD player as well as the projector started smoking!!!! SMOKING! So, we had to tell everyone that showed up to go home. As we’re tearing everything down, it’s pitch black dark and pouring rain we decided to carry some things back to the house. For some reason, I said “this is ridiculous, I mean nothing else could go wrong!” IDIOT. I was leading the group home and somehow as I was staring at the ground and falling in puddles I turned right instead of left. Yea. I know. Then, I walked them almost all the way to town without realizing it! I mean, an umbrella over my head + this tiny little green keychain flashlight (because I was unprepared to be out at dark), + staring at my feet = me walking 20 minutes out of the way. As we’re turning around to go back, one of the guys laughs and says, “yea, nothing else could go wrong!” What!! His shoe then breaks and he falls…his blisters are bleeding and we’re all soaked to the bone! We finally make it back to the house and we tested the DVD player and projector on the battery we had here. Supposedly they’re fine! We celebrate!!! I say supposedly because the next morning we plugged them up again and only the DVD player was fine. The most expensive part, the projector was broke. We nearly cried! Then, we go to the community center to pack everything up since we obviously won’t be showing the film that night either. Somehow on the way back, the key to the bedroom with all of the guests things gets lost. We search every where for a key. Nothing! Finally, several hours later one is found but geez!! As we’re walking to town, the other guy slips on the mud and his shoe breaks. He just laughs at this point! We get to town to pick up the skirts the girls had decided to have made and much to our surprise she had confused the directions and made a wrong skirt that was so small it didn’t fit anyone. We then tried to explain we obviously didn’t want it as no one could wear it and she said she’d fix it. Ok, we agree and come back later. She had bought new fabric and made the correct skirt. Woo hoo, we celebrated. Then she told us we had to pay for all 5 skirts as well as the new fabric she’d bought. Say what??? Yea. So then we argued for a while and she finally agreed to only let us pay for 5 skirts because she had “finished” it and not the extra fabric. We didn’t ask her to mess up but still somehow paid for it…hello customer service??? Finally, we go down to the community center to have a dance party since well what else are we going to do with these giant speakers they’ve brought. A staff member had forgotten to bring the battery or the light. So we used the speaker’s tiny battery and danced in the dark till it died! Thank God that was over!!


Finally, we sent them on their way this morning. As far as we know…they’ve made it safely up the mountain but well let’s be honest…they’re probably having issues.


Oh, tis the life of Africa. Until next time…..



Shake Shake Mango Tree

Hello All...Jarod here.
Once again, it's been a long time since we have posted...sorry about that.  Let's see...I know Sarah told the story about Porina and Jeanvier and their mother the prostitute.  So, I think it is only fair to tell you how the story plays out.  Unfortunately, I can't say that it is a happy ending.

So, as Sarah mentioned, there were several nights that Porina was left at our hous at night while her mother was out about town doing whatever she does.  Once we returned from South Africa, there were two more occasions.  The first, and I don't remember if Sarah has already mentioned this, Porina ended up staying the entire night with us as her mother never came to get her.  After waking up the next morning and after she had soiled the bed tremendously, we gave Porina some food and walked her back to her house where her mother was still yet to be found.  This was the 3rd or 4th time something like this had happened and I was getting very frustrated at her.  We had told her she has to take care of her children and she just never really seemed to concerned about the fact.

A few nights later, the same situation played out.  Porina showed up on our doorstep just after dark and said she wanted to stay.  We asked her where her mother was and she said in town.  So, we decided to go to her house to see what was going on.  Once we arrive in the house, which was about the size of a single car garage...or smaller, we found her 2 year old brother, Jeanviear laying on the ground asleep with the mother once again nowhere to be found.  This time I became furious at Chantali (the mother).  So, I told our faithful nigthguard Sab, who was close by what was going on and he was pretty upset as well.  I called a co-worker who was in town and asked him to find her and bring her home.  Ole' Sab (pronounced with a long A like vase) was so worked up he didn't want to wait and decided we should go meet them on the way.  So, we start walking at a very very brisk pace.  At some points, Sab started running and I had to keep up.  How this 65 year old half blind man can run down the terrible rocky road in the dark of night is beyond me.  But, it was all I could do to keep up with him and several times I had to tell him to slow down and walk or I was going to pass out!  Once we were about 5 minutes from town, we met the moto with Chantali.  At this point she had had more than enough banana beer.  But none the less, I tried my best in my limited Kinyarwanda to tell her that this was unacceptable and that she must take care of her children.  I explained that I understand she must work and provide for her family but she can't be leaving her 2 and 7 year old by themselves throughout the night.  I also told her that we loved her children and what to help when we can but it is not our job to take care of them and they can't be showing up in the middle of the night and staying with us.

Anyway, Ole Sab had his say to her as well and by the time we reached our house where Jeanviear and Polina were sound asleep on our kitchen floor, Chantali had said nothing.  She abruptly woke them up and said lets go.  Then the weirdest thing happend and I will credit most if not all of this to the extrememly fermented banana juice she had previously consumed.  As she didn't have fabric to put Jeanviear on her back, she took off her skirt which had nothing underneath, decided to do some form of a pelvic thrust towards Sarah so that she would see, laughed, then did it once more to make sure she had been taken notice of and finally left.

I had also told the local authorities about the situation as I felt it important that they know.  After hearing about the situation they decided to have a meeting early the following morning to discuss what they would do to take care of this issue.  So, the next morning, Sarah and I get up and walk to Chantali's house where the meeting was to be held.  Upon arriving there we found that around 4am, Chantali decided she was calling it quits and left town.  We called for her and nobody at the time knew where she was.  This was about a month ago and she still hasn't been seen since.  So, the local leader told the father of Porina who is married to another woman (and supposedly Jeanviear too) he must take responsibility of raising her and a lady nearby said she would watch Jeanviear for a few days until they figure out what to do.

So, at this point the children have now been given to the grandmother (who is supposedly a witch) and they living behind their house in a tiny little room where it seems they keep animals.  It really is a sad thing and we were so torn by the thought that us getting the authorities involved led to the abandonment of the mother and now the bleak and sad situation they are living in.  Sarah spent a lot of time in tears wondering if we did the right thing.  So, that is the story up until now...not a great ending but unfortunately the reality of the tough life here with so many families. The sad thing is this is not the case with just this one family...there are several more cases like this in our village.

Anyway, in other news, we have planted our first garden and are hoping we will start having some crops in the next couple of months.  We have planted: corn, green beans, squash, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli and salad...let's just hope they actually grow.  The hard thing is keeping the goats and chickens out of the yard...they enjoy munching on the leaves of the squash and green beans.

Also some friends from back home just moved here in August with their entire family...A mom, dad and three kids.  They are working with MANA, a product designed to help alleviate malnutrition in acutely malnourished children.  They have taken it upon themselves to basically be our parents/friends away from home.   They are great and take such good care of us.  It is so nice to know that when we come to the city, we have a nice place to stay, good company to spend time with, some wonderful food to eat and a hot shower to basically set up came in.  Thanks you guys are amazing!

I know this is getting long and I could write a lot more but I don't have the time and I am sure you are tired of reading...will try to keep this updated more often!  Thanks to everyone for your prayers, care packages and thoughts.  We miss you all.  Take care and of course...GO HOGS!  


Questions Answered

We have received a list of questions from family and friends and we are going to answer them here…incase others are wondering too. Hope you find them interesting!  If you have any more, please let us know and we will be happy to answer them.


  1. Can you explain the condition of the water and the filter system? The filter system isn’t necessarily a filter system per se. It is a rain catchment device in the rainforest. It catches the water and then sends it to 4 different locations around our village. It isn’t really filtered…it simply runs at all times through these spigots. We then go and fill a 20L jerry can and bring it to the house where we dump it into a 120L trash can. We then boil the water and put it into our filter. It is a stainless steel filter with 4 candles on the inside. (Not candles you burn, but filtering candles). Eventually, we drink it.
  2. Why do you cook on wood or charcoal when you have a kerosene stove? Well, we bought 2 stoves but weren’t really knowledgeable about how to use them and used up all the wicks.  We re-wicked the smallest one but it is very different from the larger one so we can’t figure out how to re-wick the large stove. Therefore, we use the small kerosene stove for pretty much anything small and the charcoal for anything requiring a lengthy cooking time.
  3. Exactly what does it mean when you say you have a full kitchen if you don’t have electricity or running water? We have a charcoal stove, a kerosene stove, a shelf that holds all of our food and a table for preparing food. That’s a pretty full kitchen. Full, not complete. L
  4. What is a “shower room” since there is no running water? We have a room that has a pipe running out of it. We literally shower in there. We stand in buckets, dump the water all over us and then squidgy the water into the pipe. It’s literally a room that we shower in. It used to be a tiny bedroom.
  5. Are candles beneficial and if so are they easy to get? Yes, they are beneficial. They are available in the capital. Yummy American candles, absolutely not. But we obviously are managing just fine.
  6. Is it safe to catch and eat fish from the lake? It is not close. We could catch and eat them, but it is too far to go and transport them back.
  7. The animals in the forest, can they be killed and eaten? Um no. Yes there are many animals in the forest and yes, we would go to jail if we killed one. Almost went to jail for stepping foot into the forest without paying. So that’s a big fat no!
  8. What does your “house girl” help you with? Obviously, the simplest things are hard here. We have to walk over 10 minutes one way to get water. Then the jug is about 40ish pounds so it’s tough to carry back. She gets water. She cleans the floors. She kills the spiders, because I HATE those. She pulls weeds in the yard. She helps cook as beans and such can take well over 3 hours. She washes dishes and all of this is literally a full time job. She gets here at 8:00 and leaves around 6:00.
  9. How many people attend the church you go to? Is it structured like ours? Probably close to 1,000 people and definitely not. We come in and sing. And then sing. And then sing some more. And after about almost 3 hours of singing the preacher preaches. Then, they give offerings and then they make announcements for what is happening in the village that week. It generally takes about 4 hours. We sit on a bench that is about 5 inches wide with no backs and want to just fall over by the time we leave.
  10. How is it going with the language?  Umm…it is going good I would say.  We are both able to express basically all our concerns and communicate about most things with the locals.  However, the difficulty comes when they are the ones initiating the conversation.  It is very difficult to understand them when they start speaking fast.  But, we are getting there and I suspect by the time we’ve been here a year we will be able to understand them much better.  It was also asked if we can understand most of what the preacher says during church.  Umm….this is a definite no.  For those of you who have heard my father preach, I think it is difficult to understand him when he gets worked up and gets going.  The same applies here, but in one of the most difficult languages on earth.  So, that is a resounding NO.  But, give us time…we will get there.
  11. Can you have a lengthy conversation with the Rwandans in your village?  I would say yes we can as long as we are the one leading the conversation.  When they are the ones leading, then it gets a little tricky and we have to ask them to speak slowly and repeat what they said many times.
  12. Could you please take a picture of a moto?  Ok I am sorry to inform you we have no picture of a moto but just imagine a scooter or for the nicer ones, a street and trail bike.  The one Kageno owns is basically the same as the one I had when I was 14.
  13. We would also love to see some pictures of the variety of lotus/orchids in the forest.  On this subject, sorry but we don’t have pics of this as well.  You have to pay to enter the forest and even though we do walk through a portion of it to get to our village, the orchid species is rarely if ever seen on that path.  Looks like you will just have to come visit for yourself to see them…I hear they are amazing!!!
  14. How do you keep things cool that really should be refrigerated such as Velveeta and jelly?  Well, I think you would be surprised with how many things can go a long time without refrigeration.  Velveeta has lasted us 4 weeks.  Jelly has lasted much longer than that and is still lasting, eggs seem to be fine a month later and the mayonnaise is still kicking nearly 2 months later.  But in the future we may make a make-shift fridge if we see it is necessary or needed.  You can dig a hole in the ground, place a clay pot inside, fill it with water and it is said to keep things as cool as a refrigerator as long as the pot stays covered in the shade.



back to banda


Well, I’ve decided I’ve put this off long enough.  Plus I’m tired of Sarah saying, “you haven’t written a blog in forever.”  So, here goes. 


First of all, sorry to the readers if you have actually been looking forward to reading a blog from me.  Thankfully, Sarah is doing a good job of keeping the blog updated.  Anyway, a lot has happened since I last wrote and if I mention some of the same things she has, I am sorry.  Since returning from South Africa and In-Service Training, I would say we’ve hit the ground running.  Work is continually proving to be more and more promising and that does wonders for my “feeling helpless” feeling I seem to get so easily.  


Sarah has begun teaching English to the nursery school teachers and working more with them in getting a curriculum into place.  I have started teaching English classes to the Primary School teachers in Banda.  This has proved to be an interesting activity even after one week.  In my second class with a group of about 14 teachers I somehow found myself trying to explain the difference between the verbs to have sex and to make love.  I have no idea how and why we got to that point but for some reason I went right along with trying to explain the difference…not sure if it ever got through to them.  Now that I think of it, I’m not sure I could explain it even in English!  Anyway, that was fun. 


Also, the rainy season (which is September-November) has come.  And although it is supposed to start at the beginning of September, it seems it decided to wait until the afternoon of the 18th when we were walking back down to our village from in-service training.  The usual 1 hour and 15 minute walk down took us 3 hours.  And unfortunately for us, we didn’t have an umbrella with us.  By the time we had made it down the mountain (the whole time carrying all of our stuff from the past 3 weeks away from site) it was dark.  Our fearless night guard (a 65 year old man with a dead flashlight, machete and cataracts…it’s okay, I am laughing too) sees us or should I say hears us trying to get in the gate and shouts out, “who is it”?  After we explained it was us he was happy to see us.  Besides, knowing him and how hard he works, he probably hadn’t slept much if any since we left site nearly 3 weeks ago.  Wow…just realized that.  Because of that, this blog is dedicated to Sebahoro…our fearless, old, tough, sweet, nearly blind night guard.  Thanks Seb for all your hard work! 


We recently found out some sad news.  Our counterpart and supervisor were scheduled to go to New York at the end of this month to be a part of the Kageno big fundraising event.  However, it seems it is next to impossible for a Rwandan to get a Visa to visit America.  I had no idea how grueling, demanding and time consuming the process was.  And after all the preliminary work was done which consisted of many, many hours of paperwork and emails, the interview was conducted and for some reason the embassy did not see it necessary to let them go.  We were very bummed for them as they were both so excited to see America.  Plus NYC is basically the exact opposite of Banda, so that would have been an amazing experience for them.  It really frustrates me to know that it is so difficult for someone to visit our country…especially when they are doing it on grounds of helping to develop their own country…not sneak across the border and squat somewhere.  What is so great about us that we can’t even let someone visit us for even a week?  Anyway, I am done ranting.  Oh well, they were not too disappointed and we are hoping they will be able to go next year some time. 


In other news we recently hit our 7 month mark in Rwanda…still hard to believe it has already been that long.   We want everyone to know we are just as happy here as we were the rainy night we got off the plane in February.  Things are starting to fall into place and although we do experience tough and emotionally draining experiences weekly, neither of us would change a thing.  Keep us in your prayers and know we are thinking about you!  Until next time, take care and be blessed!


Before I go, I need to give a quick shout out to all the October birthdays and what not.  Happy Birthday to Natalie on the 4th, Uncle Gary on the 6th, Aunt Debbie on the 11th, Scott Houck on the 15th, Levi on the 26th, Aunt Pam on the 27th, Mrs. Laura Houck on the 28th, Cortney on the 24th (sorry if this is the wrong date Cort, this is what Sarah told me) and I think that is it.  Sorry if we missed anyone…it is hard to keep up with this stuff when we are so removed from it. K Bye! 


The Rings





One of those days.



So I knew it would happen. You know, one of those days where everything is just stupid and you just wanna go home. Not just any home, your home…the one where you have all these comfortable things and hot water and a refrigerator and electricity. Well. It happened.


It actually started off well. We got up, after we’d slept in. Went to work for a couple of hours. Came home for lunch and well since everything stops here for the rain, we took about a 3 hour nap while it poured its little heart out. Then we woke up and cooked smores! SMORES! As we’re sitting there, we jokingly made the comment… “how are we going to readjust to the American work lifestyle? 8-5 or more?? I mean working a couple of hours and napping 3 and cooking smores.” It was as if karma wanted to slap our faces. The rain picked up and started just dumping buckets! It started dripping through the rough into our living room. Then, I heard it in the hall. Then the back bedroom. Then, I realize it’s also leaking into our bedroom. Not just anywhere….the middle of our bed!


On top of that, we found out that our newest house girl had been stealing from us the entire time we were gone. When people asked where she was getting it she replied “if I don’t steal from the muzungus what am I getting from them?” Um…let’s see…10,000 RF to start with. Generally people make less than 500 on an awesome day in this village. Most of the time just a couple hundred francs and we were paying her 10,000 RF!! She’s an idiot. What is wrong with girls these days?? Seriously?


While the rain was trying to huff and puff and blow our little house down, we had 5 kids sitting on our porch waiting it out. While they’re sitting there, every time I walked outside to check the sky they threw in, Sarah we’re hungry. Our belly hurts. I want food. So adding all that together, it was just a crappy all around day. The first of which Jarod and I have seriously just sat and moped saying….we want to go home. We miss the luxury of a non leaking home. All the wonderful amenities you seriously take for granted living in the US.


So there it is. It’s better now. Nothing’s wrong, no one’s hurt…mom. Don’t stress, mom. Just a bad day.


I also wanted to give a shout out to our September folks. We definitely got so busy we forgot to do this at the beginning of the month. I’m sorry.


September 12th-Happy birthday Marissa! September 15th-Happy Birthday Cat! We hope it was wonderful. September 16th-Happy Birthday Caleb. September 27th-this is a duel day. Happy Birthday Breanne…15! You’re growing up so fast…sorry we’re missing it. Also, Happy Anniversary mom and dad! 29 years!! Holy cow. That’s awesome. We’re so proud of you guys. I love you both soo much!!




Warning: The Following Material May Not Be Appropriate For All Reading Audiences

So when you move to Africa, it's just a given that things inside you will change. This is a story of that change.

Yesterday, there were several of us volunteers that had some time to kill. As we were sitting there talking about what to do we see this giant beautiful rainbow lizard run across the ledge in front of us. So here's the scene. About 7 volunteers sitting with their feet dangling off the balcany staring at the amazing lake that is in front of us. We see this lizard. Ooh. That's so beautiful we all agree. Then, we realize there is another lizard running out in front of it. This one isn't so pretty. It's just a blah camoflauge greenish color. Then, we notice that the beautiful rainbow lizard is doing this interesting motion where he pumps his upper body up and down as he chases her. Then it becomes obvious, this is a mating dance. So we watch for a few minutes as he chases her and she runs and hides and then comes back and is just playing with his heart!

So this is where it gets interesting. All of a sudden I realize we're all cheering the rainbow man on."Get her" we say. Then she disappears and we all sit there waiting for her to come back. Of course, she does. He does his dance and she plays hard to get. We then really began cheering him on. We were singing things such as "Lets get it on" and various sex songs we've heard through the years. We really were cheering this on.

Then, another lizard comes on the scene and starts trying to get the lady. It was crazy! They were just running back and forth and biting each other and we all just sat there, watching. We even started getting mad at the new lizard as he had not been trying for as long as rainbow man and it was making us angry! "Leave her alone!"Of course, this is the clean version as some other volunteers were screaming vulgar profanities at these lizards, but seriously...we sat there, watching. Then, someone pointed out that we'd officially been watching and cheering these dudes on for over an hour.

I couldn't help but laugh because where in the US would someone just sit there and cheer on some lizards trying to get it on. I really couldn't do anything but laugh at us because...This is Africa. What else is there to do?


Oh South cut to the core of me

This is a waterfall at the botanical gardens

This is our room!
Well well. Here I am. South Africa. Man. I love this place. I think I've officially decided I like being a girly girl. I had almost forgotten that I do. I like HOT showers. I like being clean everyday. Washing my hair and knowing it's clean...instead of seeing dirt wash out. I like being able to see a movie when I want. I like the convenience of restaurants. I like air conditioning. But, I guess that's just not the girl I am these days. Instead the new sarah is a no electricity, no running water, no girly shoes, purses and makeup kinda gal. ahh. sad day.

Anyways. So South Africa is gorgeous. They have these amazing trees that line every single street. They are a florescent purple from what we've been told. It's just wonderful. I'll post pics. Also, already posted 57 on my facebook from this trip. I'll take more as I can.
This is a gorgeous African tree

I am all finished with my dental work. Thankfully, it wasn't too bad. My jaw is extremely sore right now but not from the dental work on my teeth...apparently my jaw (TMJ) is really bad and once they applied the shots to numb me, my jaw stopped working properly. So, I am getting this really great tray that will hopefully help heal the problem over time. I have to wear it for sure every night. Maybe every day. We'll see once I go back on Thursday.
I love bathrobes!

Does this really need a caption?
oh wow.
This bed and breakfast is unbelievable! I mean really. I'll post pictures. The breakfast is AMAZING. I'm definitely putting on some weight here. Also, the internet is a whole other level. I mean, wow. I put up 57 pics on facebook in 5 minutes. That's gotta be an African record.

Oh...very sad news about a Peace Corps Volunteer that was recently killed. His name was Tom and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Apparently it was a mugging and we don't know the details but he was shot in the chest and passed away before the girl with him got to help. I just feel so bad for his family. I know these things happen in the states every day but it still is very sad.

What else? We went to the Botanical gardens here. Very beautiful. I posted those pics on my facebook. Besides the fact that I've eaten about 5 pizzas. A 20 piece mcnugget. Sandwhiches and lots and lots of cold lipton ice tea...I think that's pretty much it. Oh yea, and we went to 3 movies. I miss 1st world countries!! Ok ok. I am going to upload pics and go enjoy some more yummy food. Woo!


Can I just have one drama free day? No, that’s what I thought.


So where to start? I know it’s been a while so this might be really long. Let’s see, we went to Kigali for some much needed rest and relaxation for Jarod’s birthday. It was wonderful! We had hot showers, chocolate chip cookies, good food, cold sprites, and again, hot showers! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We returned to site on Saturday the 21st. This is where it gets fun. At least for me, anyways.

Sunday morning I wake up and go about my rat killing and realize somehow my tooth is chipped. Not just any tooth, my crown. Of course, my crown. You know the metal one I had for 10 years and then Peace Corps made me replace with a fancy new porcelain plated one…yes that one. The one I paid $800 bucks for….yes, that one. It’s chipped less than one year after being put on. Right down the middle. So I call the PCMO and talk with him about what I need to do. Of course, it required me to come to Kigali. So off I go first thing Tuesday morning. I arrive and find out that the dentist doesn’t work on Tuesdays, naturally. I then get an appointment for the following day at 2:30. I go to this appointment and she tells me that the crown needs fixed or replaced but either way she can’t do it here in Rwanda. In the mean time though, she spots two teeth that are just sitting in their little holes, minding their own business and rotting out all by their selves. What does she say?? They gots to go! They are not bothering her in the slightest but she wants ‘em out. 2 root canals. YAY! I go back to the PCMOs and they are in total agreement with the dentist. I am officially being “medevaced” to South Africa. The first in our group actually. I always thought I was pretty tough but give me 6 months in Africa and my teeth start falling apart! Literally.

From here it gets really fun. I go home on Thursday. Spend a couple of days with my community and then the PCMO calls (on Monday) and says you are leaving Wednesday morning first thing so you must come tomorrow. We both desperately want Jarod to come with me but Peace Corps obviously can’t pay for him since he doesn’t have any issues. So with much drama we get him a ticket purchased and are currently flying over the Congo/coast of some country….woo hoo! This morning was so dramatic with purchasing a ticket (Jarod can explain all this) that I was literally shaking and crying because I thought I was going alone without him. Now I know I am a big girl and can do this all alone, but geez. I’ve been with him every single day from morning to night for 6 months. I’ve become a little dependent.

But wait…. My friend Jenn…she has a boyfriend and he came from America last week and when they visited us…he had a gift for me. That’s right ladies and gents. Prepare yourselves! A 20 OUNCE DR PEPPER!!! Now with me being a bundle of nerves and sitting in the airport alone waiting to find out whether Jarod is coming with me, what do I do? Oh yes, you know it baby. I pull out the Dr Pepper. Ryan buddy…you saved my day. I sat there crying to myself and drinking my Dr Pepper. Telling Jesus how good he was to me. Now that’s a true pity party if I’ve ever seen one. Guess what, lo and behold I look up and there is my hubby walking through security. Peace Corps saved the day.

Now if I haven’t already mentioned, all joking aside-I absolutely LOVE the Peace Corps Medical Officers. They are MORE than amazing. I mean, if I could ever have picked two men in the world to have on my mental/physical/emotional/anything else a doctor does, side…these two men would be it. Dr Elite and Dr Laurent are the most amazing men! They care about you as a volunteer and I trust them 100%. It’s so nice to be able to know if I need something…they are there. So mothers…please know that we are being taken care of by the Peace Corps.

Last but not least, I think this is the last week for our current Country Director, John Reddy. Jarod and I are extremely sad to see him go. We liked him a lot. Our new country director is named, Mary Abrams. We have yet to meet her but are looking forward to that.

And of course…here’s our monthly shout outs!

September 27th-Happy Birthday Breanne. 15!! You’re growing up so fast. Jarod says “holy crap.” Also, on the 27th –my parents anniversary. 29 years!! WOW. Mom and dad, you are amazing and a wonderful example to look up too. Jarod and I are so blessed to have you in our lives!

I think that’s all for now. We love you and will be in South Africa for me, at least 2 weeks. For Jarod…a week.

What I’m learning in Africa


I could really list about a billion things but I just have one story.

I have a little girl who I really really like. Her mother is a prostitute in our small village and her brother is very sick. He potentially has HIV but all in all they are mostly just neglected and malnourished.

She seems to latch on to me every time I’m around and I think that maybe is because I am the only person that shows any interest in her. For instance, about 2 weeks ago her mother was beaten by the local authorities for being out and doing her business and leaving the little girl, 6, and her brother, 2, alone and outside at night, by themselves.

Today I looked out the window and she is standing in my front yard staring through the gate. I naturally tell her to come inside and she spends the day with me. (She lives in town so at least a 20-25 minute walk from my house). I feed her and play with her and give her all sorts of fun things to do. We had a great time. She ended up falling asleep about 4 hours after she got there so I let her sleep. About dark Jarod and I decided to take her home. We walk her to town. Her mother is no where to be found and we tell her over and over to stay there. Of course, she doesn’t listen. She follows us all the way back home. I made dinner and she hung out for a while longer. Jarod kept saying she needed to go home but I just kept insisting that her mother would come get her. I knew she wouldn’t leave her with us. Wrong. About 8:30-mind you she is sound asleep on our floor for the night…she’s made a little bed, I decide he’s right. We took her a few houses down to her grandmother’s house and asked if she could stay there. They seemed bothered, but agreed.

My heart broke. I went back to the house and naturally had a few tears to put out. It absolutely broke my heart. No one came for her. No one checked on her. No one even wanted her. I am learning that children here are not children, they’re just products of two people having love or lust for one another. Most not even wanted. It breaks my heart. I can’t stand it.

The story doesn’t have a happy ending. She will go back home tomorrow to her mother who didn’t even bother to come looking for her and will continue to be neglected.


Saga of Betty...continued

Hello All,

Jarod here again. So for those of you following the Betty story, I am sorry to inform you that Betty no longer is employed at the Ring house. After being caught in a few other lies and things that just didn't seem to add up, we had to let her go. Well, actually our counter-part let her go without really asking us even though we would have done the same. The sad thing is, for the next several days after the whole debacle, she was waiting outside our gate in the morning to ask for her job back. She apologized many times, said she wants to start over and try again, that she is sorry she lied and will do better. The even more said thing is...we will probably end up taking her back. To be honest with you, it is probably just foolish but we really like having her around. She is an amazing cook, amazing at cleaning, is always happy and fun to have around and she understands our sketchy Kinyarwanda as well as we can understand hers because she talks slow for us. Who knows...we will see what happens. So for those of you rooting for Betty, don't give up hope an she still has a fighting chance. Okay...that is all for now. Later!



Hello all! Sarah here. It's 1:14 am and I should be sleeping but it's Friday and I took my malaria pill today so that means no sleep for me! I just wanted to update everyone on the package situation. First of! You guys are insane. We are so blessed to have all of you in our lives.

Today we went to the post office to get our packages. Another PCV called and said she thought we had 2 at the PO so we needed to go and get them. When we arrived they were trying to charge us this huge amount and we were really confused so we went and got our supervisor. After they explained to him what they were charging us for he said...they are 600 a piece and we were like ok but we only have two...and he said no you have 6. That's right. 6. I just stood there and I was like no we aren't taking all of the PCVs boxes...just ours. The lady said "ok but you have 6." I said ... no, you are mistaken...we have 2. She said no, they are all Jarod Rings. I just stood there. I had my hands on my face and I was almost in tears and I said "WHAT". We have six!! Seriously. We are TOO blessed by you guys. I had packages from people I didn't even know had time to send packages!! I am amazed. an update we got packages from the Strieglers, family worship center, my grandparents, and jarods parents. wow!! You guys are so good. We haven't opened them all yet as we are saving most of them for opening in Banda. :)

I also wanted to update our list...we do NOT need anymore spices or seasonings.I mean wow...we have ever spice/seasoning known to man! I've been cooking up a storm with them all. Also, we have enough deoderant, toothpaste, toothbrushes and chapstick to last for at least 6 least!

We decided to add a few things to spice it up. Any kind of nutri-grain bar. Wasabi peas. Salsa. Rechargeable batteries (specifically AAA and AA). The church got us this handy dandy solar battery charger but we can't buy rechargeable batteries here! So any of those will be helpful. I think that's all for now. You guys already do sooooo much for us.

We are so thankful for everything you guys have done for us. I can't even put it into words. We love you all and realize more and more everyday how incredibly blessed we really are!

Also...little update for anyone with an iphone...turns out it isn't free for me. So....unfortunately I won't be texting really anymore. I will text our parents but that's about it...sorry!!!

Ok...I love you all but should really get some shut eye! Have a wonderful evening.

Again we're alone...


Man! Once again, we’re the only white people in our village. The group left this morning. They were pretty awesome. It was a group of 10 students from the US Virgin Islands. They have been fund-raising for 2 years to come year and they were so helpful. I really enjoyed getting to know them. They were aged 16-19. They helped the community so much. Just the smallest things. They bought ALL their food here which helped the market tremendously. They bought ALL their fabric here and had dresses and skirts made which helped the vendors so much! They also bought lots of souvenirs from our small gift shop which is always something they need. They helped paint the walls in the nursery, plant trees in our agriculture fields, and so much more. It was really awesome. We thoroughly enjoyed their time here.

On a personal note, one of them totally surprised me when she gave me a pair of 7 jeans. Those jeans are soooo expensive and she just gave them over. They fit perfectly too. Oh happy day. I was sad too though because the girls were talking about watching Eclipse… and of course I haven’t seen it so it made me very sad. All the little things I’m missing makes me a little sad but I know I’m helping so many people that makes up for it. The rumor around the mill is one of the girls here had her brother send Eclipse as well as a million other movies that are brand new on a hard drive and it should be here soon so we can watch it. And of course, as soon as my movies come out on DVD I’m going to be buying them!! I can’t wait.

Man, nothing really exciting has been going on. Well, I think I have bed bugs. I’m not sure because I wake up every night itching TO DEATH and Jarod is sleeping away. He hasn’t been bitten by a single thing the WHOLE time we’ve been here and I am bleeding from whatever is sleeping with me! It doesn’t make sense….we wash our sheets every week, and put our mattress out in the sun frequently (which is a requirement here in Africa). It doesn’t make sense because if it was really bed bugs…Jarod would be bitten but NO! Just me. Who knows. Maybe I’ll claw myself until I have no skin left….maybe not. My counterpart says I have parasites. Maybe? Who knows! Oh the perks of Africa.

We are actually leaving here soon. By the time you get this, obviously we’ll be out of Banda but we have an In-service language training the 14th-18th so we’ll be back in Nyanza where we had our 10 week training. Maybe we’ll have a good internet connection…but also we’ll be in Kigali that weekend because of Jarod’s birthday. I haven’t the foggiest what I can get him here in Africa. It’s so different! Ok, I think that’s enough for now. I’m gonna go cook or something. Have a wonderful Sunday and I’ll talk to you all soon. I love you guys!

A Bunch Of Randomness and A Whole Lot Of Nothingness....


Packages!! Woo hoo. We got some packages today from the church and from nanny! They were amazing. I can’t even tell you how exciting it was to receive 3 packages at one time. They had the most scrumptious items in them! We got some really delicious and yummy things from the church. We got books! We are SOOO grateful but I know Jarod wanted to write about those so I’ll talk about my nanny and papaws package…we loved it!! We are so grateful. It was amazing. My supervisor picked it up and was like, “what is this? It is so heavy? Who are these people who keep sending these boxes?” My nanny packed over 20 pounds into one of those boxes! We had pens, paper, balloons, crayons, stickers, a jump rope, Frisbees, etc. It was incredible. I can’t believe so much fit into one of those boxes! One of the other PCVs called and said we had more packages too at the Post Office! You guys are spoiling us rotten!!!! We can’t even express how grateful we are to be receiving these packages. We miss everyone and every package is like getting to talk to someone or be close to them even if only for a short time. Thank you thank you soooo much!!!! We love you all.

Oh…funny story of the day. So Sunday, we were sitting in church and I felt something crawling up my arm (under my cardigan) so naturally I think it’s a spider and start slapping at my arm. All of a sudden, right below my armpit something starts BURING like crazy. Of course, we’re sitting at the FRONT of the church over looking everyone (because we’re always considered the guests of honor) and I’m like what do I do, to Jarod. My arm is on FIRE! Finally I can’t take it anymore and I rip my cardigan off and there sitting on my arm is a bee. What! I know. How in the world a bee flew up between my shirt and cardigan, I can’t understand but he did and then he stung me.  It wasn’t fun. So now I’ve gone from never being stung in my life to being stung 2 times in 2 months! Man, so after I squirmed like a little girl and I saw EVERYONE was staring at me….I just got up and walked out. Man. It’s always something here! Ha.

It’s time to do a shout out to all our Augusters…..
Happy Birthday to my Laila Bug! August 2nd….I can’t believe you’re 6 years old. Dassah. Happy Birthday on the 5th….1! Aunt Dana and Uncle Gary…congratulations on 18 years. It’s wonderful in todays society to make it past just a few!! We’re proud of you. My amazing hubby! August 20th, happy birthday! I love you soooooooo much and wouldn’t want to be spending this time with anyone else. Dustin…happy birthday on the 20th as well. Hope it’s great. We love you guys and think of you so much.

Let Us All Take A Moment...


Today is a sad sad day. We need to all take a moment and remember today. It is a day of great loss and tragedy. We all have these days in life where we lose something or someone that means everything to us and we must take the time to slow down and remember. Remember what they meant to us and how much better our life is because of having them for whatever amount of time we did. So with that being said…let us all take a moment to remember.


Thank you! What you may ask are we remembering? Today, on this 29th day of July…I consumed the last of my vanilla oreos. May they rest in peace. They brought so much joy for the 2 weeks I had them. I stretched those dudes as long as they’d last and man were they ever so delicious!

Ok ok maybe that was a bit dramatic but lets be honest…did you expect anything less from me? So wow. Life is insanely busy these days. We actually are working. I think pretty hard. We have started updating the sponsorship program which has proved to be a pretty large challenge because so many of these people don’t know their own birthday or even birth year. Many of them have never written their names either, so however it sounds….that’s how they spell it-phonetically. So it’s a process but we’re working away. I can’t believe it’s already August! Wow. We haven’t been able to update since June so I apologize for the delay in posting the blogs. As soon as we get internet…you’ll be reading this! 

We have a group coming from the US Virgin Islands soon. It should be pretty good and I’ll let you know how it goes. I miss you all and hope you haven’t forgotten us! We love you….

Work Has Finally Arrived!


Hello All…Jarod again. I feel like all that we ever talk about are our awkward situations and funny predicaments we routinely find ourselves in here in Africa. I have totally forgotten to mention the nature of the work we are actually starting to do. Besides, I don’t want you to think the only we do here is play with the children and make blog stories produced from our daily weird situations.

As I mentioned earlier, a few of our bosses visited from America a few weeks ago. During that time we really began to see the nature of the work we would be doing. After they left, we sat down with our counterpart and supervisor and made out a list of things to start working on so that we would at least feel a little productive.

Side bar: During training we were repeatedly told that the first 3 months at site, you will be doing a lot of watching, listening, learning and pretty much being the target of weird stares as to why we are here. We were also told not to plan on having any big projects within the first 3 months and possibly within the first year. Rwanda is a very complex country yet simple at the same time. The life of the people seems simple but they seem tough to figure out on the other hand. The first three months at site are designated to integrating into the community, improving language skills, trying to understand the community, their way of life, learning about your communities needs, assessing how you might be able to help the community meet those needs and also allowing them to learn why you are actually there, a foreigner, in their land. And also to convince them you are not a spy (don’t laugh, many Rwandans think all white people are spies).

Anyway, some of the things we already are and will be working with include: tracking the progress of the malnourished children on the feeding program to see if the program is running effectively, updating all of the information for the sponsored children, conducting routine home visits of the sponsored children to see their status, new needs and/or concerns they may have and conduct an overall assessment of their condition, Sarah will be working ironically enough with the Kageno Nursery School for vulnerable children, one of the only 2 or 3 nursery schools in the country (definitely the only one for vulnerable children…I think). The school has 300 3-6 year olds (4 classes of 75), has only been open around 5 months and has no curriculum in place yet. She has already stolen the hearts of the kids and they much more hers. She will be helping implement a curriculum in assistant with the 4 teachers and 4 TA’s incorporating things like sanitation, environmental protection, nutrition and health into lessons and nursery rhymes. We will also be helping with surveying, selecting and enrolling the upcoming new class of 75 students that will start in January – all 3 year olds. We are also both teaching various health lessons at the community center several times a month; family planning and nutrition are big ones. The other day we met a lady that had 12 or 13 children and 5 have died of malnutrition, and she is pregnant again. It seems the average mother in Banda has 4-8 children, sometimes more, and they are trying to feed their family on around $1 a day…crazy! We are also responsible for updating the Kageno blog, teaching computer skills to our staff, collecting newsletter and grant related information, teaching English to the Primary school teachers so they will be prepared for the children who are more educated than they are used to coming from the nursery school, working with the crafts cooperatives and a few other minor things.

So, now I hope you can see that we actually do have some work to do and are excited about doing it. But I don’t want to leave you without at least one funny story. So here it goes, the other night we were walking back from the guest house, around 9:00pm, the night sky pitch black from the lack of the full moon and of course, street lights when we stumbled upon a man laying motionless in the road (a very eerie thing at the least). We were with another volunteer who was visiting and her boyfriend who just recently completed medical school. The man was conscious but barely. We tried to ask him what he was doing but he was clearing not responding to my sketchy Kinyarwanda. He tried to answer the questions but his answers had no relevance what so ever. Then, the doctor friend starts doing some doctor things on the man to see how he responds, like pushing on certain pressure points. After much concern and after one of our fellow staff members walked up, we determined that the man clearly had a little too much banana beer. We tried to help him up to his feet which was a chore in itself and we quickly realized that he could by no means stand up, let alone walk anywhere. We lowered him back down on the side of the path where he seemed very content and comfortable. He told our co-worker that he would just sleep there for another couple of hours and then get up and walk home…so we left him be…peaceful, quite and tucked away on the side of the road as we walked home and had a few laughs at the whole situation in the process.

Okay…that is all for now…oh wait, I killed another rat the other night…the end!!!

Drama In The Jungle...


Jarod here…So, in usual fashion, this week has presented its fair share of awkwardness and now drama. This story may take awhile so hang with me. Also, I want to preface this by saying that before Rwanda, I would have never in my life considered having a house lady or “umukozi”. Sarah and I had decided we didn’t think we would even need one. Well, when we arrived in Rwanda, both our perspectives changed. We quickly realized that to get any work done, you must have…well…time to work. And, time is few and far between when you have to wash clothes by hand, draw water from a well 10 minutes away, cut fire wood to attempt in building a fire to cook or boil water to drink…not to mention all the other things that Rwandans deem important, like having clean shoes (which in the dry season requires washing them every couple days), keeping the weeds pulled, washing the floors, washing dishes, etc. Also, having a house lady in Rwanda is not seen as an occupation that is looked down upon by any means. It is simply a means to an end like any other job. Also, we took it as a chance to help out a family that we knew deserved it and could use the money. Okay…continue…

As you may already know, we recently let our first house lady go to hire another one because we knew that her family could much more use the money. Also, the new house lady has done this type of work for 7 years and is very good at what she does while the old one had no idea what she was doing. She was pretty much placed at our house and told to work and we had no say in the selection. Plus the new house lady had been building herself up to us since we arrived. She would sometimes come over and tell Sarah about all the plants in the yard, what vegetables were doing well and what ones wouldn’t produce, how much she enjoyed cooking, cleaning and washing clothes, etc. She also mentioned on a few occasions that our current (at the time) house lady didn’t know all these things like she did. Needless to say, we could see that she really wanted to work and both of us really wanted her to work as well So, we let our current one go on good terms and brought on Betty. Although we had sensed a tiny hint of something mischievous about Betty, we new she was well qualified and would be an excellent worker. 8 days into the Job Betty was an all-star house lady…everyday she would teach us something new or find a way to impress us and go beyond our expectations. She found lemon grass growing nearby that Sarah had mentioned she loved but didn’t have it here in Banda. Betty quickly plucked some out of the ground nearby and before you knew it, she had cooked us probably the best tea I have ever tasted (outside of good southern sweet tea of course). She was happy, always laughing and cutting up with us. She was more of a friend than a house lady although she worked very hard each day. It wasn’t uncommon for her to be at the house from 7:30 to 8:00 that night. We gave her the option of how often she wanted to work and she said every day, all day. I told her that she must take Sundays off for church but that she could work the other days if she wanted. We also quickly raised her salary by nearly 50% in the first week because of how good she was doing and hard she was working. Plus, Betty’s 63 year old father had volunteered to watch our house every night even though we told him that wasn’t necessary. He is the most precious man.

Anyway, things were going great until a couple nights ago when we noticed some things were moved around and out of place. No big deal, we have American food and I am sure she was just curious and wanted to see all we had. Then the next night, we noticed that she tried to sneak an empty bottle of water out and we said nothing trying to give her the benefit of the doubt (oddly enough, empty bottles are a hot commodity here and if you have one every child in the village will ask you for it). I mean why would she steal from us, we already increased her salary tremendously, constantly gave her things like American food, Sarah gave her some shoes, anything that she asked for or we thought she needed. Then came yesterday. At this time Sarah was very curious and concerned about Betty stealing from us while I tried to stay optimistic (some might say that I am the definition of naïve but I say that I just always hope for the best in people until they prove me wrong).

So, yesterday we had a visit from our Peace Corps Assistant Country Director as she made her rounds on site visits. She seems pleasantly surprised to see our site and seemed very happy about the work we and the organization are doing in the community. Upon arriving back home is when things got sticky. As we walked in the house, Betty quickly picked up a rag that was lying on the table. Sarah noticed that two plastic baggies fell out and that she tried to scoot them out of site with her foot. She then put the bags under table and proceeded to tell us she found the bags in some other bags while cleaning. The problem was what was inside the bags. The bags were clearly PC medical pill bags and had our names, the medicine and dose amount typed on it. So, we called the APCD and asked if they had left some Mefloquine (malaria meds) for us. She said she hadn’t and had no idea where they came from. Also, the pills in the bags weren’t mefloquine pills so something was up. Finally Sarah pieced it together and realized she had taken some vitamin pills from the bottles and put them in bags (which was not smart to begin with because she has no idea what the pills were). So, at this point, Sarah was furious because she knew now she was stealing from us and also lying about it. So, I went to get our counterpart so we could have a talk and we could tell her effectively what we wanted through him. After much time, she finally caved and admitted to taking the pills. She said that her period pains her and thought they might help.

Ohh…what to do know? My initial reaction was okay, you are done, you can go now. We explained how disappointed we were and how tough this was for us because we loved her and wanted her to be there. Sarah explained to her that she rarely trusts people (a trait I can only imagine passed down by her father) and that she was one of the few people she really felt she could trust. Now, it would be very hard for her to trust again. After all, we would leave and Betty would be at the house all day with our stuff. She could take anything at anytime. But, stealing and lying is just unacceptable. She apologized many times and we could see from the look on her face that she was very ashamed of herself especially when she found out how disappointed Sarah was. After much scorning and what I can only imagine for her was humiliation it got even worse for Betty. We called her father in to the house so that he could know what was happening. Our counterpart explained the whole ordeal to him and you could see the disappointment come over his face. Then her father explained how disappointed he was, how nice of people we are to come here and work, we greet everyone, have fun with everyone and to know that his daughter would steal was unacceptable. Then it got weird. Her father insisted that she, in traditional Rwandan history, kneel before each of us and apologize. We told our counterpart that it was unnecessary and would be a little weird but that we wanted to be sensitive to Rwandan culture and if the father insisted, we would allow it. So, Betty kneeled before us and apologized sincerely with tears in her eyes. This whole thing was especially hard on Sarah because she absolutely loved Betty and Sarah was devastated. At one time she had to leave the room because she couldn’t stop crying.

Betty proceeded to ask our forgiveness and said she wanted to continue to work for us and that she deserved a punishment. After much thought, and probably against everything a normal couple would do, we decided to let her stay after reducing her salary back down to what it started at with the possibility to grow once we feel we can trust her again. We really feel and hope this was a changing moment for Betty and that she will never try something like that again on us. Call us stupid, naïve, gullible or just plain foolish but we wanted to give her another chance. Besides that is what forgiveness is all about.

On another note, while Sarah was feeling concerned that Betty was stealing from us, that same morning, before all this happened, she opened up the Bible to the passage she was scheduled to read for the day. It was the passage where Peter asked Jesus how often you should forgive a person who sins against you…7 times he asked, thinking he was already going beyond the norm and was being gracious…to which Jesus replies no, 70 X 7 times. So, this decision to keep her just seemed right. We all deserve another chance sometimes right? Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes…big or small.

Anyway, sorry that story was so long but thought you might enjoy it. We will continue to keep you updated on the status of Betty throughout our two years of service. Be blessed!

The Rings