Yesterday my program went on a field trip to a village called Azizi in Gitarama, Rwanda. We got to experience a day in the life of the local women. We began by peeling cassava, a potato-like vegetable grown in the village. After peeling, we put them over a fire to cook for lunch. While our lunch cooked, we went out to the field to cultivate land. One of the women had a nine-month year old daughter whom I got to hold on my back while I gardened. I told them that in America we hold our babies in front of us, and they were surprised because you can do so much more physical activity with the baby on your back. She even fell asleep while I was working.
After cultivating, we cut grass to feed to the cow. We carried the grass on our heads up a hill to the cow. Not too far from the cow, we collected clean water in jugs to carry back to the house. Once we returned to the house, our lunch was ready. We ate cassava, beans, and fresh avocado. The women taught us how to cut fiber from sisal leaves. We died the fiber and then wove bracelets together. They sang and we joined them in traditional Rwandan dance.
The women we visited with were not only mothers and cultivators, but artisans. They hand-made bowls, decorations, and jewelry. Everything they sold was fair-trade and the money supported local families. I bought a beautiful pair of traditional Rwandan earrings and some gifts for my sister.
This was my first day leaving the city since arriving in Rwanda. I felt like I experienced a truly unique and beautiful culture different than anything I’ve seen in the city. One of the women asked me if I would ever want to live like them. I struggled in considering this because I enjoyed my Azizi experience and I love being so close to nature, but now that I’m back in Kigali, I can’t imagine living without the comforts of warm showers, our big house, and coffee shops. I loved exploring the village, but Kigali has captured my heart.