November 03, 2009

Muhanga Days

We're in the very nice small town of Muhanga -- "we" meaning our little group of seven muzungus and muzungettes -- treated with the greatest hospitality by our host Costa's brother Leopold, who bought us a restaurant meal and invited us to his home to dinner, and the mayor, who's paving our way with the prison administration, and a couple of Canadian guys we don't even know who are paying our bill at a guest house for five nights.

We're finally getting down to some serious work here, which may make me feel less like I'm sponging off people. We were supposed to do the Work of Byron Katie at the prison yesterday but the warden was away and couldn't arrange security for us. Then we were supposed to assist in mud-brick house construction in the afternoon, but we had a downpour so we sat at a protected outdoor terrace for a long time having good conversation, assorted brochettes, and the by-now-expectable great, homemade fries. In the afternoon, as a group, we did The Work with five HIV-positive Rwandan women of various ages, perhaps helping open their minds to new, less painful ways of seeing their lives, and it was moving experience -- clearly difficult for the women to think about their pain, and they expressed gratitude afterward.

Today we're booked to work with prisoners again and do the house construction. It feels as if my experience is shifting from travel exploration into community service, and that feels exciting and a little scary.

I haven't had many opportunities to sit quietly in places where there's been Internet access, and at times I've been borrowing other people's paid online minutes, so I don't think I'll be able to post more frequently than I have been, but I wanted to say hello and tell you that everything's fine. Did I mention that there's wonderful camaraderie among the seven of us? I've taken lots of photos and written lots of journal notes, so when I get back to the States I'll winnow through them and post them and give you a much more detailed and thought-out picture of this experience, which I consider to be one of the privileges of my lifetime.

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