Getting to know the Community

The ICS programme involves many things but one thing that was stressed that we believe we’ve fully embraced (not saying we haven’t embraced all things 😉 ) is building  strong relationships within our community. We have met some incredible people and have fully embraced the Cyangugu way of life; wearing chitenges, welcoming unannounced visitors -this happens frequently, participating in Umuganda, trying to speak the language, spending time in the villages and even attending the wedding of one of our partners. 


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A snapshot of our last three weeks!!!




One of RDIS’s projects that we are involved in is the building of energy efficient cooking stoves in the villages of Cyangugu.

In preparation for this, we helped to test the efficiency of the traditional three stone stoves which are currently used by the future recipients of the cooking stoves.


Measuring time to boil water


Weighing the firewood









Once the stoves had been delivered and distributed, it was time to start building!

Splitting into two groups, each with a trained stove builder, we have spent several mornings helping to build the cooking stoves in the kitchens of village members. They are made with bricks, stones, and a lot of mud!


Ready to flex those muscles?


Mixing mud pies!


Getting stuck in the mud…


Shaping up to be a cracking cooking stove!



Just a concrete cover away from being a shiny new cooking stove!


One of the projects we love continuing to be involved is the feeding programme on Mont Cyangugu. One session, we got out the crayons and let loose their creative sides!



Elysée and Sarah have been helping in the Sunday School: doing some Bible verse teaching, playing games – leading to the whole group shouting “harashyushye”(hot) and “harakonje”(cold) at the tops of their voices, as they tried to ‘seek’ the Bible – poster decorating and bracelet making.

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We have made great progress with our Sunday Youth Group. Our initial sessions were led by Ruphina where various issues affecting youth today were discussed.. some of the  topics we discussed were: the roles of men and women in relationships and does the music we listen to affect our relationship with God. At first it was challenging holding a group discussion where 90% of the group spoke Kinyarwanda and understood very little English but with God’s grace we’ve found a way to communicate with each other and last Sunday we had our first  Rwandan youth member lead a very interesting discussion on living as a Christian teenager. We are so glad that the youth have adopted this group meeting and really hope it continues after we leave.


For the last couple of weeks, we have started to teach at Jill Barham Secondary and St. Matthews Primary and Secondary. Our lessons have spanned English, French, History, General Studies, Debating, Drama and dance, and Nursery – showing our many talents! With chalk in hand (and on clothes and faces!), some of the things we have enjoyed are: getting to know the students; practising conversations; doing sketches and dancing; teaching vocabulary; discussing issues such as women’s rights; development and mental health issues; debating rural life vs urban life and the harms/benefits of colonisation; and of course introducing them to some good old fashioned ice breakers!

Dude… look at where we’re living!!!

To go with our snazzy new background picture and seeing as we are halfway through our placement, we thought its only fair to share more pictures of the amazing district we are living in. It’s LITERALLY so beautiful and we are so lucky to have been given this location as our base for 10 weeks.



Our amazing garden


On Nkombo Island

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Full credits go to Sarah for the gorgeous final picture!

In case you’re worried, we didn’t go to Congo, it’s just a sign that we pass on many of our journeys. It’s nice being close to the border though. 🙂

Enjoy our pics and don’t be too shocked if we decided to stay in Cyangugu, I mean seriously… look at the views!!

Murabehoooo x


Halfway through…

Coming up to the half way point of our time in Cyangugu has made us think about how blessed we are with all the projects we have become involved in. This is some of what we got up to this week:

Youth Group

We believe that building up young people in the church is really important, so we were keen to get involved with some of the youth work in Cyangugu. With this in mind we met with some of the church’s teenagers and talked about setting up a regular youth group, an idea which went down well. Then we played some ice breakers including ‘Last night I went to the disco’ which meant showing off our dance moves!

Kitchen Garden

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KEYHOLE is one kind of kitchen garden.  Cyangugu team made this KEYHOLE because was needed in Peace Guest House.  It will help Peace Guest House to get easily aubergine onion and green piper.

For us (Innocent, Lucy and Jean Baptiste) it was a hard work, we sweated we became tired but we finished our work. With the help of Jean Baptiste who is a gardener in Peace Guest House, we finished our work between five and six hours.

Murangi Farm

Friday turned out to be a very different day for us. Instead of having our usual more relaxed Friday afternoon we spent some time with pigs and chickens at the Murangi Farm which is owned and ran by RDIS. Our task for the afternoon was to wash pigs – 5 moderately big pigs that didn’t particularly enjoy being scrubbed down by 4 unfamiliar people. After a lot of ‘oinking’ , endless running and hard scrubbing all pigs were clean and we had a really fun afternoon; We even got to name the pigs; Luphie and Amahoro (Peace)!

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Here’s to the next half of our life in Cyangugu!

Here are some of the new exciting things we got up to in our third week in Cyangugu…

Sunday School

One of the aims of ICS is to connect with the local community, and so Ruphie, Elysée and Sarah stayed after the English service on Sunday for the beginning of the Kinyarwanda service (where we praised God with lots of lively singing and dancing!) and for the Sunday school. After the children had learnt their Bible verses, we taught them the chorus of the English song ‘Our God is a Great Big God,’ complete with actions. We hope to continue to become more involved in the Sunday school in the future.

Feeding Programmes


Feeding programmes for malnourished children are one of the biggest programmes that RDIS operates and is run by the Mother’s Union. There are a few in our area and we have become very involved in the feeding programmes on Mont Cyangugu and on Nkombo Island. Large quantities of a nutritious porridge made of Sorghum, sugar and maize are made and given to up to 300 children a session. Mont Cyangugu is behind our house and is slightly smaller but we have built such good relationships with the mother’s who run it and it has helped us feel really part of our home community. On Nkombo Island, the need is far greater. The Island has thousands of children as polygamy is the common way of life and the poverty is more extreme than Cyangugu as the soil is unfertile so nothing can be grown as being an Island, there is very little possibility for businesses. Each week we take the boat across to the Island and feed the children and play games with them for the morning. They speak Mashi on Nkombo Island so even the boys struggle to communicate which has lead to many unusual versions of well-loved games!


Gatovu Village



We went to Gatovu village to play with the children. We played football and frisbee: now we are all friends!


Ever since the end of the genocide, Rwandese people have gathered on the last Saturday of each month and worked as a community on a project which benefits the community. It is an important part of  building unity in the country and we were honoured to participate in an Umuganda at the Genocide memorial here in Cyangugu. We were part of a team which formed a factory line to move bricks into the memorial as it is being reconstructed  into a bigger and more significant memorial. We were part of a team of about fifty who spent their morning getting filthy and games out of passing bricks down a line (and throwing bricks instead of passing them!) all for a wonderful cause;  it was so great to participate in such a significant cultural event for Rwanda and we look forward to visiting the completed site knowing that we helped in our very small way!

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Who Said We’d Get Bored?!?!?!?!

As you can tell from our title, we just can’t get enough of Rwanda!! Have a look at some of our highlights from Week 3:


Lucy’s Highlights:

My birthday was fantastic, the team were amazing. They got me a goat as requested (in card form). We had a full day’s work, and then in the evening, dressed to the nines, we headed to a restaurant on Lake Kivu with our local partners and other staff members. We had a great evening, dancing to Congolese music while the lights from homes in the Congo shone down on us. At home, a cake was waiting, and with my mouth full and my guard down, they poured flour all over me!

Each week we have a structured learning morning where a team member shares on a particular topic, and this week, we learned about crimes against humanity. We visited the Rusizi Genocide Memorial with the head of the village, and had the honour of meeting and hearing the story of a genocide survivor.

Flour BOMB

Sarah’s Highlights:

Our first Sunday in Cyangugu meant our first visit to church – which happened to be a grand ordination service. Although all in Kinyarwanda, everyone was dressed their best and it was lovely to join with the Church community. Afterwards, lunching at Peace Guest House, we found ourselves in our first Rwandan rainstorm – thunder, lightning, and buckets of rain… the works!


We also spent a morning with the Mother’s Union learning how to plait dried banana leaves to be made into hats, which will be sold to raise funds for their work. We may not have been as skilled as the Mother’s Union ladies, but I think we can say we got pretty good by the end!

Ruphie’s Highlights:


3 weeks in and I’m still buzzing at the fact that I’m in Rwanda with ICS!! Week 3 has been a week of many firsts for me; I can no longer boast about having never been stung by a wasp because my day finally came on Tuesday.. A merciless wasp stung me whilst I was working in the tree nursery. I’m just glad I survived to tell the tale.

I FINALLY GOT TO WEAR A TEACHER’S COAT (this is legitimately one of the things on my bucket list) when we visited the various schools in our community that we plan to work with during our placement. Personally, being given the opportunity to work on a marketing project for the Peace Guest House has been my favourite part of this week, although it is very challenging, its also incredibly rewarding to know that what we are doing is making a massive difference to many people in the Cyangugu community.

Elysée’s Highlights:

We taught English to eager Peace Guest House Staff. I enjoyed teaching them about the IMG_0356different parts of the body it was also very funny. One evening we hosted a bible study with members of the church and just like true Christians we had cake and tea! 🙂




Innocent’s Highlights:

Team Cyangugu visited the RDIS farm. On this farm, there were animals being reared, like chickens cows and pigs. Boss is a male pig and was given that name because it has a weekly income of 20,000 francs. Also on this farm there are agricultural activities, especially a banana plantation. On this plantation, there is one big bunch of bananas which will weigh 100 kilos when it becomes mature! Briefly, it was amazing.IMG_0395

We also visited Gatovu Village to seek information about Darfur cooking stoves; their advantages and disadvantages. These have diminished the fire wood used by the population by 70%, and diminished the smoke as well. So, there are no serious problems



We already knew our team was so blessed but what’s even better is the multi-lingual aspect of our group. Between 5 members, you can regularly hear conversations in 4 different languages; English, French, Swahili and Kinyarwanda.



Conquering the hills of Cyangugu

Welcome to  Cyangugu! Karibu! Bienvenue! Murakaza neza! We are finally in the beautiful land of Cyangugu!! There are literally no words to describe this place, hopefully our pictures do it justice over the next few weeks! As promised, we are going to try and keep our posts #shortandsweet so here is an exciting run down of the phenomenal first week we’ve had.


Lucy and Sarah working hard

There is no rest for the wicked and we got started with our projects immediately. Our partners RDIS have launched a fantastic scheme building energy efficient cooking stoves enabling families to save on firewood and/or charcoal. We were able to help build a cooking stove for one family and I can happily say we all got stuck in -including the princesses of the group.  Sarah and Lucy had the opportunity to work and spend time with the local Mother’s union arts and crafts shop which was a blast! We helped RDIS gather some information regarding starting a water sanitation project. We spent most of our week working in the RDIS tree nursery weeding plants, planting and sharing stories with the various workers.IMG_0233For most of us, planting and field work turned out to be incredibly therapeutic and great exercise.



Speaking of Exercise… it has come to our attention that without it, we are all going to be going back home very obese because our adopted African mother Speciose is a fantastic cook and doesn’t hold back on the oil and sugar. Thankfully, Rwanda and most importantly Cyangugu has many hills (HELLO HILLS) so getting a small workout is not too difficult. Our eager exercise bunnies, Ruphie and Lucy, have taken up running laps round the local stadium. If we survive the Rwandan hills, we can survive anything! So far we’ve met Jonathan, Bonnie, Michael, Jonathan (our in country partners) who have all been amazing and we are excited to continue working with them.


The boys in their element

Growing together spiritually has been the core element of our group thus far and we hope to continue this. We even managed to snag a spot in the church choir!

Fun Facts of the week

1 – Got invited to our first African wedding (BRING ON THE GITENGES)

2- Elysee now sings Cornerstone better than the original artist

3 – Innocent hopes to get bigger muscles than Ruphie

4 – Sarah speaks better Kinyarwanda than the ICV’s

5 – Lucy believes she is getting a goat for her birthday next week. Believe being the key word here. Loool

6 – Ruphie genuinely thinks she’s a doctor.


Until next time, Murabeho x

Taking on Kigali!

Our first week in Rwanda involved all of us staying together on Tearfund’s premises. We had such an amazing week: A picture tells a thousand words so we thought we’d SHOW you what we got up to:


Sarah’s Highlights:

  • Dancing for hours together on the last night


  • Trying lots of new foods including ibitoki.
  • Learning Kinyarwanda – Muraho, amakuru? 
  • Visiting Kigali, and seeing the beautiful landscape
  • Getting to know our amazing team



Ruphie’s Collage of Memories:


Me and my girls after church 🙂


Walking round Kigali




Just chilling with ma boo


Lucy’s Highlights:

I got to meet the rest of my amazing team, our In-country-Volunteers. Elysee and Innocent are the best, they add an incredible new dimension to the team. We bonded and worked so well as a team so quickly that when we had to build a bridge, our team won! We even had road safety, thanks to Ruphie!IMG_0054

We had so much fun as the complete Tearfund group, seeing a bit of Kigali including the genocide memorial which was incredibly moving and preparing for our projects. We loved learning Rwandese dancing and Kinyarwanda and playing games for hours on end.








Although orientation was great fun, by Monday we were ready for Cyangugu; we couldn’t wait to get started! A minor car accident, a few pick-ups in Kigali and we were on our way!!   



When the ICV’s met the UKV’s


Muraho! Nitwa Innocent. After the recruitment interview and in-country induction we started our weekly orientation on 8th July 2014 in which I met many different people but the most exciting part was meeting my beloved team members



Elysée – Rwandan volunteer

Muraho! Nitwa Elysée. During the orientation week I got to understand UK culture. I met different football fans from the UK. I was also excited to speak French with different UKV’s. I was also excited to learn English Gospel songs. Murakoze!


Quick Side note: ICV = In country volunteers

                           UKV = United Kingdom volunteers