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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