Kirkcaldy High School Rwanda Links

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January 20, 2020
by P. Murray

KHS in Rwanda 2021

Muraho and Happy new year!

We are delighted to announce that the provisional dates for our 2021 return to Rwanda in association with Comfort International are 7th-18th October 2021.  We are welcoming applications from anyone in S3 and S4 at KHS (who will be S5/S6 during the trip). You can find the application form at… (Microsoft Word document – editable) (pdf – not editable)

If you have any problems our questions the please see Mrs. Cunningham (English dept.) or Dr. Murray (Science dept.).

Gira amahirwe!

October 12, 2019
by P. Murray

A Post from Comfort Susan

Some of the blogs have mentioned Susan, who accompanied KHS and represented Comfort. Every day she likes to write down things she’s thankful for…

I am thankful…

  1. for the opportunity to return to The Land of A Thousand Hills, and to introduce KHS to Rwanda.
  2. for Suzie’s (Ms Mahr’s) passion for Rwanda, and for wanting to share it with her pupils and fellow teachers.
  3. for Gillian’s (Mrs Cunningham’s) giving up time with family to bravely take her pupils to an unknown land.
  4. for Paul’s (Dr Murray’s) willingness to wear his kilt and play his fiddle anytime and anywhere!
  5. for Esha’s gift of the gab (I’m going to have to revise my image of dour Fifers) both in chatting to everyone (the drivers, the kids at the Street Kids Rescue Projects, the mums at Comfort Babies…) and learning the Kinyarwanda language, which built bridges with the people we met.
  6. for Ben, who gave everything a go, even holding babies!!
  7. for Gavin’s good humour and perseverance when Rwandan folks refused to believe how old he was!
  8. for Lauren’s boldness in dancing on the world stage (or Rwandan stage or grass or yard…)
  9. for Sophie keeping a straight face when others were telling Callum how there was a giant beehive that you can see from the guest house at night (cos if she’d grinned I wouldn’t have been able to keep a straight face…).
  10. for Hannah daring to do the first of many ukulele solos at Nduba.
  11. for Kieron’s example of how to be a gentleman.
  12. for Dominika joining in everything even when it was hot, she was out of her comfort zone and she was tired.
  13. for Zaynah going everywhere despite that knee!
  14. for Rene, Poupoute, Chris, John the chef, and the whole team at Good News Guest House, for patiently graciously smilingly serving us.
  15. for Ben, Clement and Jeanne introducing us to survivors’ communities, and the challenge of hope.
  16. for David, Jessica and the team at each Street Kids Rescue Project, and the kids at each one, for showing us that joy isn’t based on how many possessions you have!
  17. for the mums and babies at Comfort Babies, for letting us hold your wee ones, and your amazing generosity!
  18. for Justus, our guide at Akagera National Park, for his sense of humour and ability to find all the wild animals on our wish-list.
  19. for Callum for the lift to Kigali airport, and asking me to lead this trip in the first place.
  20. for Emma G and my Whatsapp support group back home.

October 9, 2019
by P. Murray

Reflections on Rwanda 2019


Most concern for the health and well-being of our drivers.

So this trip has definitely changed me, without a doubt. I can’t really explain how but I 100% feel more grown up. In some forms more independent, but my teamwork skills have grown as well, and I feel more confident with my self and my ideas.

This trip has definitely been a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m glad I took it. Every single person we have met and interacted with has been more than welcoming and meeting all these people has been an experience and a half. Seeing them all smile even though they’ve probably not got much to smile about. It’s also such an amazing experience hearing wee kids shouting “muzungu” (white people) and waving with a smile reaching ear to ear.

This country and culture is beyond beautiful and we can all learn a lot from it, and after learning about the genocide 1994, there is a lesson in that too. Like forgiving and forgetting, because if u don’t, the problem will never end and not to hold grudges and seek revenge on those who have done you bad. Because after you do, you’re just as bad.

And to anyone who has the slightest feeling that this trip is for them, go for it, because you’ll regret it if you don’t. If you’re not to sure but want to learn more, slip and application in and go ask one of the teachers about it, and if it’s not for you just say, and if it is, well, your application is already in.


Most likely to get involved without any persuasion.

I can’t even begin to explain how my time in Rwanda has affected me so far. I know people say that traveling changes you and I never believed in it much however I’ll be leaving here tonight and bringing home very many valuable lessons on the way. First of all I can’t get over how welcoming the people are. It’s something you aren’t really used it in Scotland, for people to just walk up and hug you or hold your hand as if you have been friends forever. Secondly, exploring a new culture has been so rewarding as I’ve learned many new things I just can’t wait to share with home, especially the racing game called “agati” which I’m sure someone else has wrote about as we all enjoyed it loads. The biggest thing I can take away from this trip is the lesson of forgiveness. It’s insane to see how after the genocide this community continues to blossom and help one another. When I get back I certainly want to be putting forgiveness into practice so that I can move on in my life from past events that affected me. I am beyond great full for my lessons and experiences learned here. Rwanda, you will be missed – Dominika x


Most likely to become fluent in Kinyarwandan in minutes.

I was reluctant about coming to Rwanda, with so much going on. But these past two weeks have truly taught me so much about who I am as a person and about the world around me.

My favourite part of Rwanda is definitely the people; they are soo welcoming. I have fallen in love with greeting everybody, everywhere I go. With hugs, high fives and handshakes.

Sitting at the front of the bus when travelling has gave me a perfect chance to practice my Kinyarwanda with Zaynah and the bus drivers. The language is so beautiful and the drivers have been really helpful with learning it.

In my time at the partnership school here and at the street kids projects, I got to participate in various sports such as “agati” which was extremely enjoyable and one of my favourite things about Rwanda. Alongside dancing, which has been a lot of fun – everyone participates in Rwanda and nobody is shy.

Through coming to terms with how the Rwandans forgave so easily for the genocide – it has taught me a lot about forgiveness. I will try and implement this into my own life by forgiving those around me more easily.

I will always have Rwanda in my heart and cannot wait to return in 2021!!


Most likely to be miss-aged.

During my time in Rwanda many thoughts and feelings have come across my mind.  To start with, the street kids projects we went to in the first week showed me how caring and nurturing the teams are at these places such as David has helped these kids back into a happy life and has also encouraged them to be better.  This determination to get children back into education has made me understand how lucky these kids are to have David and comfort international to help them.

The Genocide memorials has completely changed the way I see the world as so many people had been butchered in such a short time, the many pictures I saw were horrifying and the many mass graves I’ve seen which has thousands of people within scared me and made me think about how the country is trying to rebuild its economy but not forgetting what happened 25 years ago.

Groupe Scolaire Bumbogo has been a different experience as each class I walk into greets me very formally, it was very sweet and to see all these kids enjoying school and being taught with barely any resources was fascinating and brilliant.  The determination of the teachers to make sure that these children have a better future is astonishing.  They loved to ask a lot of questions, some a bit more personal but they were all respectful and kind towards us all.

This trip has caused me to think more of how these countries recover from terrible events and how they cooperate and forgive those that done those atrocities, I have more of an understanding about The Genocide and how many innocent souls were slaughtered. I will make sure to forgive others for what they’ve done and I will keep working hard.  Their love and kindness towards every member of the KHS team will always be remembered and cherished by all of us.


Most likely to topple a parasol.

Rwanda – Land of a Thousand Hills

Rwanda is also the land of a Thousand emotional ups and downs it would seem for our KHS group. One minute, we can be singing and dancing, the next we are remembering those impacted by the horrific events of the genocide. Rwanda does not shy away from these atrocities, but instead learns lessons on how to move forward as one United people.

We have a similar ethos in learning in our own school community. How can we overcome barriers, differences and difficulties in backgrounds to all achieve our best? We have learned many things in a short time here in Rwanda that we hope to implement in our own way.

Key thoughts I am taking away on the flight to chilly Scotland are forgiveness, joy and hope. These are words we hear over and over, from the busy built up city to the dusty trails in the mountains. Many of the Rwandan people put their faith in to God. I am not a religious person, instead I see this hope and joy in people.

I hope that our bairns come back and share the stories of Rwandan orphans, street kids, widows, poverty stricken families with Kirkcaldy. I hope that maybe, we can learn this act of forgiveness and that maybe we can focus on the important things in life like family and friendship and all the joy those two things bring.

I hope that I can learn to let the little niggles go, and learn to switch off more. This can help me see the little acts of joy taking place around me.

Today, we helped as first responders to a road accident; the joy here was KHS pupils offering up chocolate and water and back packs to hold up a fractured leg. Their parents should be especially proud of their humanity today.

My joy has come from Kirkcaldy High School pupils playing, singing, bickering, competing, pushing themselves, facing fears, working together, screeching and all the other chaos that comes with young adults. They have been an absolute credit to Kirkcaldy, and I hope my own wee Kirkcaldy bairn will grow up knowing people like them.


Best student in a crisis.

I truly don’t think words will do justice to all the incredible things I’ve experienced whilst visiting Rwanda. it has been an honour to have been so welcomed by everyone we’ve met here. I cannot begin to explain how truly wonderful the people here are, not only did they truly come together as a group after The Genocide making sure everyone is cared for they managed to forgive, forget and move on as a whole.

i think since being here I’ve learned to not hold on to the negative things in my past but to use them as a way to move forward and change for the better as a person. I’ve also learned to be more grateful for everything I have, I’m so spoilt compared to the people here. I have so many wonderful things in my life that I feel I take for granted.

My favourite thing about being here has been working with the kids, being someone who wants to work with children I think my time here has made me realise how happy I am with my career choice. whilst visiting different street kids projects, the school and other places children based I have met so many wonderful children. one baby girl in particular Ariella who is three months old was truly adorable, I love spending time with her and seeing her giggle.


Most likely to swindle someone out of biscuits playing cards.

I think that going through this unique experience of a 2 week trip in Rwanda has left me with a lot of new things learned and a lot to think about.

One thing I noticed most is how welcoming and warm everyone is to each other no matter of disability, race or gender. This encourages everyone to jump out their comfort zone and try new things, whether it’s public speaking, performing in front of a crowd or even just meeting new people. This has taught me to always push the limits and not look back.

Also the joy of knowing that what I was doing was helping other people in whatever way I could, brought more happiness to me on the inside as I could see a smile put on a child from my doing, it was absolutely amazing to be able to build relationships and connections with all the amazing people I’ve met across the way and I will never forget the journey with them. Helping kids forget about their unfortunate circumstances through dance, sports and games means so much that I can put my skills to use to benefit a much greater cause.

I think one of the most eye opening sum of moments has to be the multiple visits to the different genocide memorials. Each one of them had a little something that was more hard to take in each time. Seeing the brutal things that happened to the children really made me step back because of the fact that children are perceived as the symbol of innocence really puts into Perspective how young a lot of the victims really were but that’s also carries on to the fact of how forgiveness has been taught across the years and how strongly implemented it has been put into place that I think there is a lot to learn from that and how revenge is not the answer.

In conclusion I am leaving Rwanda with an improved way of thinking towards all sorts of situations and realising how little they have but never fail to smile will definitely stick with me on not taking things for granted. I have learned a lot and even now I am still processing a lot but for sure I will have plenty of stories to take back.


Most likely to push herself out of comfort zone.

I feel that from being in Rwanda I have learned a lot about myself. I have realised I don’t need to worry about what people are thinking of me all the time, I can do anything no matter what people think of me. I now also feel like I am more confident after being brought out my comfort zone and seeing that people in Rwanda expect you to get up and dance. This has made me more able to just go with it and challenge myself. I have also seen that Rwanda as a country is very beautiful and the culture is so different compared to Scotland.

After meeting many Rwandan people over the two weeks here I have learned that many people aren’t lucky enough to have clean food or water which is terrible as everyone has the right to clean food and water, but even if they are in a lot of poverty they always have a smile on their face when they see muzungos. They just get on with their lives and don’t moan about the poverty they’re in, unlike in Scotland where many people will complain about the things they lack. In Scotland we have a very different standard of living and take things for granted. We also have many more opportunities than in Rwanda. So many people get things given to them without effort but yet don’t seem grateful and expect more. In Rwanda people don’t expect a lot so they are happy with what they have and are always very happy for little things.

They also showed that forgiveness is a big part of Rwandan culture after The Genocide. many people don’t want revenge they want to remember their loved ones in peace, which I think many people in Scotland could definitely use. I think it’s amazing how people can forgive the killers of their loved ones even after knowing the cause of their death too. I think I will definitely take this as a lesson to remember that forgiveness is important even though I am forgiving normally I know many people could use this. Also people in Rwanda are very respectful of others, they love to make small talk and hug you. They also love to smile which has made me want to be a smilier person as I often don’t smile a lot, not because I am unhappy but because I am perhaps worrying what people may think of me or being anxious about some other thing in my mind.

I feel as though this has changed me as a person as I now feel as though it doesn’t matter what people think of me. People in Rwanda definitely proved this by just doing what they like and not being afraid. I will definitely be more grateful for the things I have, even if I think others have it better than me people in Rwanda have it so much worse and are so happy with what they’ve got.

My favourite part were all the street kids projects at Batsinda, Gazanze and Nybasindu. I enjoyed meeting all the children and finding out where they came from and how their lives have changed for the better. I also loved teaching some of my dancing even though it was a challenge and difficult for me.


Best New Artist in Rwanda.

Prior to coming here nearly two weeks ago, the only words I would have every connected with Rwanda were “Genocide” and “Comic Relief”.  My vision of this country was as a dry, dusty, sad place where law and order don’t exist and violence is the order of the day.  Modern Rwanda could not be further from that.  This is a progressive, peaceful and forward-looking country that knows pain and suffering and is determined that no-one else should be put in that position.  Yes, extreme poverty exists here but that also exists in so-called “developed” countries like ours.  Here there are many, many initiatives to try and solve that problem.  Many of them way further forward and ambitions than any I’ve seen back home.  The countryside is beautiful, the animals incredible, the culture superb, and the food munchable but most of all, Rwanda must be defined by the people.  I have had more hugs and more handshakes (some mildly complex) here than I’ve every had.  People here are naturally gregarious and have no qualms about giving you a thorough grilling to find out who you really are.  I like that very much indeed.

I can see that Rwanda has a bright future and to a great extent, I feel it is progressing in a far more positive way that the UK, the USA or any of the other countries that wee traditionally see as doing rather well.  I look forward to my next visit to this wonderful, wonderful place.

I want to say finally a huge thank you to all the wonderful members of the KHS Rwanda 2019 team.  You have all been amazing in your own individual ways.  You have made me laugh and you’ve made me think and you’ve all supported me to explore the ins and outs of this whole experience and I needed to. You are all a fabulosa bunch of stars.

Murakoze cyane cyane cyane Rwanda!  See you again soon.


Most likely to smile.

I started off this trip not knowing what to expect. I found myself a little nervous before coming as I didn’t really know much about Rwanda or what this whole experience would involve. It’s fair to say this trip has included negatives but very many positives.

My favourite thing about this trip was probably going to our partner school, Group Scolaire Bumbogo. I really enjoyed seeing how the lessons were taught and the differences between our school and theirs. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the pupils and learning things about them and telling them about Scotland.

There has been sad moments on the trip. Going to the genocide memorial sites and museums was really tough although it was enlightening to see how it has changed the people of Rwanda today.

I think I have came away from this trip with a different mindset than what I came with. It has made me realise how lucky each of us are for having basic things and also for having a loving family as some of the kids at the street kids programmes were abandoned by their families. I am very grateful I got the chance to have this life changing experience.


Most likely to face-plant (thanks for the change of words to face-plant Dr M!)

As I sit here writing this on this beautiful evening I cannot help but feel a huge amount of inner peace and pride about how KHS have gone to the southern hemisphere and really left its mark upon Rwanda.

Our team is eclectic for sure…we have some individuals who have been very outgoing and those more reserved. But they have really pushed themselves to the limits with the trip. They have shown themselves as kind and compassionate individuals who work well in a team and work incredibly well in a crisis, as today’s first aid at the roadside showed.

I’ve always thoughts trips like these are three-fold; there’s the before, the during and the after. The trip is important and central to this process but I do believe the ‘after’ is the most important. I cannot wait to hear how these fine young people share the stories of Rwanda’s people; their struggles, their joy and their massive focus on forgiveness and reconciliation. I have no doubt that many of them will find they now have a passion and a ‘voice’ they didn’t know was actually there, this is such a beautiful thing to see happen in young people.

My 6th trip to Rwanda has taught me a lot, every trip does; from staying calm and collected during the multiple catch and release of cockroaches on my balcony (I did this myself, just for the record) to learning to let go and dance however awkwardly I can with my problematic leg (this would NEVER have been an option before my operation last year so I’m so thankful for this). Rwanda’s spirit always stays true to giving me a slight wake up call though, back in Scotland and the UK I think we do have a lot to learn from Rwanda’s ethos of harmony, peace and forgiveness. It’s not always practised that well back home…

My final thought? I could not be more delighted to be handing over the baton for our next trip to Gillian and Paul. It’s been an absolute dream to work with the past two weeks and I cannot wait to see what the group does to follow up this trip and to start the ball rolling for the next one. I told them once they had been here this country would get under their skin, I don’t think I was wrong…murakoze cyane you two!


Most likely to be pleated.

Overall this trip has changed my life in many ways. Firstly it has made me see how amazing Rwanda is as a country, and how developed their population is. I must say I have never seen so many female builders, it was truly amazing to see how everyone is an equal and that the gender doesn’t matter as much here as it may back home in Scotland.

My favourite part of this trip was the Batsinda street kids project. I loved how excited the children were to see a ‘umuzungo’. I loved driving past the children and then shouting it into the bus windows, and also leading some Kinyarwanda with Esha.

It was great to visit GS Bumbogo for a few days and see all of the pupils. It was good to sit into their classes and see the different styles of teaching. However it was not fun when you were constantly stared at as it did feel uncomfortable at times. I think our school can learn so much from their school and I hope it does.

On this trip o have learned not to take anything for granted, after meeting the genocide survivors especially. I saw how they possibly watched family and friends die and how forgiving and happy they are now. So I hope that I will get better at forgiveness in the future.

Top tip for the next team – take Nutella, and use Morgan in Africa to learn basic words. Such as ‘ubururu’.

Murakoze cyane!

October 9, 2019
by P. Murray

KHS in Rwanda – Day 12. Bandages and Bye-Byes

When Dr. Murray (Uncle Paul) is on away from home, he writes letters to his nieces Heidi (6) and Morag (2).  A letter from Rwanda is unlikely to get home so he is posting them here instead so the girls will get them and others might enjoy them.

9/10/2019, 3.59pm CAT.  Good News Guest House, Gikondo district, Kigali, Rwanda

We had kebabs last night – much enjoyed by everyone.

 This morning on the way to Bumbogo we had a rather exciting encounter. Two moto taxis crashed into each other just as we were about to pass. As we did so we could see that there was a guy at the side of the road looking like he was in a bad way.  Now, I’m not one to walk by while others suffer and I’m also the Group fist-aider (complete with kit) so I went to assist. One driver was ok with just a couple of grazes but the other clearly had an open fracture of the lower left leg. The bone was sticking out and his foot was at a funny angle. As I was trained to do, I created a “ceiling” over the wound and bound it with a couple of folded triangular bandages. I patched up the other guy with a couple of plasters. Our driver ‘phoned for an ambulance. The ambulance arrived after about half an hour or so by which time we had quite an audience. Usually I’d try to clear the crowd but it was obvious that that would never happen no matter how hard we tried! Gillian, Hannah and Ben all helped out in various ways and were total calm and controlled legends. I was quite proud of myself as I’ve never actually had to do proper first aid before. I would never have predicted that the first time would be on a moto taxi driver at the side of the road in Rwanda! It was the right thing to do.  I reckon mind that the guy must have thought he’d reached the other side when a guy who bears a striking resemblance to traditional pictures of Jesus with a rainbow hat and a kilt was trying to fix his leg!
As a result of our first aid adventure we were a bit late to Bumbogo but no one minded as we’d ‘phoned ahead. First we toured round some classes. We introduced ourselves and I played some tunes and sang. In the final classroom we sat with some of the senior kids and they totally grilled is. The Rwandans still can’t understand how I can be 39 and not have a partner or a family. They were saying that here by the time a man is 25 he will be expected to prepare for marriage.
We played agati and volleyball and demonstrated that we weren’t particularly good at either. I think we gave the school (as in about 2k folk watching) some real entertainment.
Afterwards we had a whole school assembly in honour of us and the fact that we are heading home. The Bumbogo Gender Equality Group sang and danced, I sang “The Freedom Come All Ye” and “The Element Song” and Hannah sung a lovely song as well. We danced a “Flying Scotsman” before grabbing some Rwandans and doing a kind of “Orcadian Flying Scotsman” which was a huge amount of fun.
Jean gifted me, Suzie, and Gillian some wall hangings and a wallet each and each of the KHS pupils got a wallet with a Rwandan bracelet in it.
Eventually it came time to say cheerio so after some more dancing and lots of “hi-fives” we boarded the bus. On the way back to Good News we visited the local market were you could buy pretty much anything including various vegetables, spoons, nail brushes, and live chickens and rabbits. I think the KHS team were a little shocked by this but in reality the best way to keep meat fresh is to keep it alive. It was a fascinating but crazy place and I cannot think of any shop that has a more beautiful view.
11/10/2019, 7.48pm BST.  Aberdour, Fife, Scotland
In the afternoon we chilled and packed before a dinner of scotch eggs, biscuits (in the North American sense of the word) and samosas.  Our journey home itinerary was as follows…
9.45am (CAT): Leave Good News Guest House, Kigali
10.15pm (CAT): Arrive Kigali Airport (KGL)
12.35am (CAT): Flight leaves Kigali Airport (KGL) – 1 h flight time
2.35am (EAT): Flight arrives Entebbe Airport (EBB)
3:30am (EAT): Flight leaves Entebbe Airport (EBB)  – 6h 20min flight time
09.50am (GMT+03:00): Flight arrives Istanbul Airport (IST)
12.35pm (GMT+03:00) – Flight leaves Istanbul Airport (IST) – 4h 15min flight time
3.35pm (BST) – Flight arrives Edinburgh Airport (EDI)
5.00pm (BST, ish) – Arrive Kirkcaldy High School (KHS)
The first flight was very odd as the plane stopped in Entebbe (Uganda) but we didn’t get off.  Instead, after a few passengers had left, the ground crew cleaned around us before more passengers got on and we headed on-wards to Istanbul.  I had coffee and a “latte cake” at IST and very much enjoyed it.  I also watched “Yesterday” on the flight and would recommend it, particularly  if you’re a Beatles fan.
For my final thoughts on my trip, you’ll need to consult the reflections post but I can safely say this trip is one that has changed us all and I know is one we’ll never forget.  I hope you have enjoyed my missives.

I remain as ever your very good and loving friend.

Paul ♫ xx

October 9, 2019
by P. Murray

Day 11; Gillian

Today was our second day at our Partnership School Groupe Scolaire Bumbogo. Again, we were welcomed with smiles and inquisitive stares. We are getting used to being minor celebrities in Rwanda.

Our first stop was to a satellite school, located 3km away from the primary and secondary site. Here, we met over 150 nursery and primary 1 aged pupils who would normally find it difficult to make the journey to the main site. Distance can often be a barrier to accessing education, so Jean the Headteacher was keen to find a solution to this. There are currently three classrooms, with three more under construction and plans for even more in the near future. This is one of the many ways this school strives for equity, and whilst our school doesn’t face the same difficulties, we do have our own barriers to overcome in Scotland. One of many similarities between our two schools.

After a wee song and dance with the littles, we paid our respects to the local memorial of those lost in the genocide. We were taken in to the crypt, where the remains of loved ones lie together with those from the local community. The sheer amount of memorial sites, each housing several thousand victims is a sobering reminder of just how many lives were lost during the terrible events of 1994. Our pupils, as always, showed the greatest respect despite the harrowing stories and sights they have encountered.

Afterwards, the teachers met with Jean and three other teachers to discuss groups running within the school, with a key focus on gender equality. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised on how forward thinking the school is in addressing the barriers young women can face in education and training. We plan to discuss these further tomorrow in more detail, which I am very much looking forward to. There have also been discussions regarding early childhood experiences, and the after shocks of trauma. Again, a real focus in Scottish education at the moment.

I’m very excited about this partnership. We face many of the same triumphs and difficulties, we teach many of the same subjects, and their S3 are just as full of characters as ours. I really think this will be a real partnership of learning, beneficial to both pupils and teachers.

After lunch, we visited a community near Kabuga to meet with a group of genocide survivors. We were treated to a song, introductions and then we were privileged to hand over ownership of 12 goats. This was a project close to my heart as I had partially funded the purchase of these from a sponsored fire walk earlier this month, and partially funded by the pupils’ earlier bag packing efforts. I am also a fan of goats in general. It was wonderful to see exactly where this fundraising had gone, and how beneficial these animals will be to these families.

October 9, 2019
by P. Murray

KHS in Rwanda – Day 11. Goaty Times

When Dr. Murray (Uncle Paul) is on away from home, he writes letters to his nieces Heidi (6) and Morag (2).  A letter from Rwanda is unlikely to get home so he is posting them here instead so the girls will get them and others might enjoy them.

8/10/2019, 8.00pm CAT.  Good News Guest House, Gikondo district, Kigali, Rwanda

I very much enjoyed the beef and cheesy tatties we had for dinner last night. This morning we awoke to pancakes so that made me very happy indeed. I’m going to miss the food here a lot!

It was back to Bumbogo today. Jean took as to a satellite primary school that is in progress. It’s about 3km from the main building and they were finding that kids from that area weren’t attending school. The building of a new school was the solution and so far it has p1 kids (aged 4-5). We introduced ourselves to the three classes (~80 in a class) while they were on their tea/porridge break. In the third class I played some fiddle and wandered up and down the isles, sitting next to the kids from time to time. They seemed to be amused by the sight of the hairy man strolling round the room while playing an instrument they’d never seen before!
Afterwards we visited a special building for kids with disabilities. It’s common for families with disabled children to be ostracised from the community so this was about helping the kids but also their families. There’s a strand to the project whereby the mums are trained in various useful skills in order to help bring some cash in. The families we met were lovely and I could see how much they’re gaining from being involved.
While the KHS pupils played with the Bumbogo kids, Jean and his colleagues met with me, Suzie and Gillian to discuss the various extra clubs that run at the school. They have a Gender Equality Club along with a Farming Club and a Business Club. The sort of issues they were highlighting were similar to those in Scotland. Kids don’t engage with education for various reasons and if those barriers can be removed, society benefits no-end. It was inspiring to see the extent to which the school in Rwanda does so much with so little available in the way of resources. The staff are so passionate about doing the absolute best they can for the kids, despite adversity. The fact that we have the same ethos at KHS is most likely the reason that we feel so much in common and are very much kindred spirits.
We meet back with the KHS students after our staff meeting and they’d had a lovely time playing “agati” and other games. I was particularly pleased to see that Hannah had befriended some teachers and was giving ukulele lessons in the staffroom! I really like it when students take initiative and just fire themselves into situations.
Lunch back at Good News was pumpkin soup. How am I going to deal with making my own food again?!
In the afternoon we visited a community on the eastern outskirts of Kigali. There were a number of widows, orphans and survivors of the genocide and our job (believe it or not) was to give them goats. This was the money that had been raised at KHS before we came to Rwanda combined with money from Gilliam’s fire walk. The culture is that adult goats can have baby goats to be distributed to other families so it is a very sustainable way to donate. The goats can of course be used for meat or dairy. The community were very welcoming and after a prayer and he introductions we handed the goats over officially on behalf of KHS. Many of the goats were given names including “Geoff” (with a “G” of course), “Pie” and “René” (after the lovely duty manager of Good News). There were more songs outside and lots of thanks given. I felt we made a real difference to this community.  They were so lovely.
Dinner was kebabs.  I don’t think they were goat.

I remain as ever your very good and loving friend.

Paul ♫ xx

October 8, 2019
by P. Murray

KHS in Rwanda – Day 10. A Teacher Born and a Teacher Bred

When Dr. Murray (Uncle Paul) is on away from home, he writes letters to his nieces Heidi (6) and Morag (2).  A letter from Rwanda is unlikely to get home so he is posting them here instead so the girls will get them and others might enjoy them.

7/10/2019, 3.13pm CAT.  Good News Guest House, Gikondo district, Kigali, Rwanda

Last night after dinner (chicken, rice, tatties – much enjoyed) we shared our thoughts on the memorials we’d visited.  There were a variety of opinions around the table and it was agreed that they were very harrowing and the stories horrible.  It was commented though that it was less harrowing than the museum we’d visited previously as the people were more unknown and the stories less personal.  I also commented that because Suzie had described it all so well before we arrived that I was not shocked by anything as I already knew it would be there.  This gives me a little tip-off to myself in future in that it seems in order for me to get the most out of a potentially harrowing museum or tribute site, it’s good for me to research what I’m going to see before I see it.  This could explain why I had an odd reaction to the 9/11 museum in NYC.  I didn’t know how it was going to be laid out or how it would convey the story.  I will know for the future.

Suffice to say the thoughts and opinions shared were well-considered and genuine and an absolute consensus  was the disbelief as to what humans were and are capable of doing.  It was a wonderful discussion.

Breakfast was eggy bread and maple syrup before we headed back to our partner school at Bumbogo.  Today was the day that we were to join classes so I was paired with two science teachers, Moses and Grace.  They were leading a chemistry lesson on alcohols and carboxylic acids and after discussing the effect that alcohol has on the body, they asked me to teach about carboxylic acids.  This was a bit of a surprise but I rose to the challenge first talking about how ethanol is oxidised to ethanoic acid (and commenting on my hobby of wine-making) before looking at some examples of how carboxylic acids are named.  As it happens, this is one of my favourite areas to teach as I love exposing all the potential pitfalls such as chains bent around corners, counting from the wrong end of the molecule etc. etc.  I gave them some non-branched examples before we headed in to the world of branched carboxylic acids.  The students at Bumbogo are taught via English medium and picked up well on the lesson, despite not being used to my accent or teaching style.

The lesson continued with a challenge to me – they had to draw a complex structure for a carboxylic acid and I had to name it.  This ended up with the Bumbogo teachers having to “Google” the prefixes for twenty (eicosan-) and thirty (triacont-).  It was a lot of fun going round and talking to the students and they picked up well on the “fun” aspect of the way I run my lessons.  They came up with good advice when asked “what advice would you give to a friend trying to name carboxylic acids?” so by that I reckon the lesson was well received.  Afterwards, they asked me to play so I played a few tunes on the fiddle.  I also had a go at the “Element Song” by Tom Lehrer.  I do this fairly regularly back home but I’m used to having a piano backing track (recorded by my late dear friend Alasdair Slessor) so here, without Alasdair’s help I made a bit of a dog’s breakfast of it.  I don’t think they minded though.

Some of the students sang and danced a welcome for us which I’m told also wished us peace – a lovely sentiment.  Hannah sang too and played her ukulele and they clearly loved that.  Before we departed we sang “500 Miles” and again, the repeated refrain was our friend in working the crowd.

Back outside in the playground I noticed that we had quite an audience of the primary school students watching us and in particular, taking an interest in my fiddle.  I decided to take matters into my own hands and walked round the playground, in my kilt while playing the fiddle and chasing the students.  They loved it and Suzie commented that this incident is now up there with the most surreal things she has ever seen.  I had a wonderful time and it was so nice to be a teacher again.  Teaching is one of my central passions and without a classroom of folk and a topic to ruminate on, I’m a bit lost.

We had the afternoon just to chill back at the digs as a few people were suffering from travel tummy.

I remain as ever your very good and loving friend.

Paul ♫ xx

October 8, 2019
by P. Murray

Tenth Day in Rwanda – Ben’s Thoughts

So today we were at the Bumbogo school. We split up into wee groups and went into different classes. Me, Ms Mahr, Lauren and Sophie ended up in history. The lesson was all about the genocide that took place here in 1994. Having been to a few of the memorial sites we weren’t all just blank pages, we had some knowledge.

Even though we knew that it was going to be taught in English, I think we were all surprised as to how much of it actually was in English. Both the teacher and the pupils spoke and wrote better English than half of my pals. The class was taught very similar to a KHS class, there was the topic question, there was photo copies of books given out, discuss in pairs and share to class. Even without a smart board and a computer, and braw new books, the task still got done to same extent as back home. The best part of the lesson was probably when all the kids would come up to the window squishing their noses up against the window trying to get a look at us. When the teacher went out and they all scarpered, that was the funniest.

October 7, 2019
by P. Murray

KHS in Rwanda – Day 9. Memorials.

When Dr. Murray (Uncle Paul) is on away from home, he writes letters to his nieces Heidi (6) and Morag (2).  A letter from Rwanda is unlikely to get home so he is posting them here instead so the girls will get them and others might enjoy them.

6/10/2019, 9.41pm CAT.  Good News Guest House, Gikondo district, Kigali, Rwanda

Last night a second team of Scots arrived at Good News. They are from Brechin and have a history of running visits to Rwanda. They seem very nice and I hope they have as good a time as we have had.

After dinner last night we sadly had to say “cheerio” to Susan. She’d been our guide through all the Comfort Projects and had been an absolute star. It was so sad to say goodbye. She’s very much become part of the KHS family.

This morning was restful. We could see that everyone was flagging a bit so we took the morning off. Sleep was had, “UNO” was played and TV was watched. I managed to catch up with a bit of “Strictly” and felt quite at home.

After a soup and roll lunch, we headed to Ntarama, a genocide memorial site. Suzie made sure we were all well prepared as this was to be more harrowing than the museum we visited last week. This more more like a “this is where it happened” visit.

There’s is no easy way to describe what we say at Ntarama and Nyamata, the two sites we visited. Both had been Catholic Churches where people had sheltered to avoid the killers during the genocide in 1994. Prior to the genocide there had been sporadic massacres around the country due the anti-Tutsi propaganda being promoted by the government of the time. At this point, Churches were thought to be safe spaces so sheltering in one was a way to avoid the Hutu killers. By 1994, the prejudice was so strong and the propaganda so powerful that all the rules were forgotten. The word went round the killers that people were sheltering in the churches so the killers decided they were fair game and made their way straight for them.

People were killed in the most horrific ways possible. Rape was used as a weapon and subsequently, women were infected with HIV and/or became pregnant with babies they had not chosen to have. In both churches we saw clothes, personal possessions and the bones of those who lost their lives and from the skulls we could see clearly how they had died. I feel terrible having to pass this information to you but I believe that it is important that you know and you understand so that together we can all prevent this happening again. Even children were killed – as if they could be any kind of threat.

I wondered about the guides in that they have to tell these horrible stories every day. How do they go home to their families, eat their dinner and sleep at night? Rachel, our guide at Nyamata answered my question by confirming that she had indeed had episodes of trauma and flashbacks but the fact that she was able to pass on the stories to people from all over the world was a healing process in a way. That way people would take these stories wherever they went and new stories like these would not be created.

In a way I feel in Rwanda they way I felt when I visited Hiroshima, Japan in 2011. The people in both these countries have seen true horror. They know the lengths the human race is capable of going to in terms of the cruelty that can be shown and they are determined to be peaceful and pass on the story. I have more respect for them than I can possibly express by any medium I have available to me.

As you would predict, the bus home was very quiet.

I remain as ever your very good and loving friend.

Paul ♫ xx

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