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>Frustration and Appreciation- (maybe) a last word about Rwanda

December 30, 2010


Night club frustration

A couple of nights before leaving Kigali, a friend invited me to go out dancing- a great opportunity to have a taste of the evolving night life in the Rwandan capital.
I don’t think I’m a bad dancer. I don’t think I’ll ever win an award for my moves, but I can hold my own in a dance club. My tactic is to stick close to the white guys who can’t dance to save their lives and they make me look good.
So, the music was ok. Nothing to die for, but danceable. However, there were no white guys around. None. And black people can certainly dance. Call me racist, say it’s a prejudice, but everywhere I’ve ever visited, from Antwerp to Cuba, black people are the ones to bust the moves.
So I was just had to do my best and try not to look like an idiot with a bunch of guys that can just mimic the moves they’ve seen in Shakira’s videos with amazing accuracy. There was nothing I could do to save me from looking like an uncoordinated white boy.

Appreciation (or Do you say thanks every morning?)

Do you have more to eat than maize flour dough, potatoes and beans EVERY DAY? Can you have meat if you wanted? Do you have to wake up at 6 am every day to clean your house or do another chore? Are you the master of your destiny (that’s a difficult one, I know)? Does you family want you around? Did you have a chance to play when you were a kid?
I went to visit Jean Paul’s orphanage again before I left. If I were to ever adopt a child, I know exactly who it would be. I’m trying not to idolize these kids just because of their life circumstances, but a few of them (and that one in particular) are special. As I wrote before, these kids were picked up from the streets of Kigali (not even Chicago or L.A., where food is easy to come by). They don’t like to speak about their past and the workers don’t ask too much. Today, these kids are as happy as any child should be (and probably happier than many of the children we know). They don’t really care if they have the latest iPod or brand name shoes. They are happy that they have shoes cause it means they’re allowed to attend school (in Rwanda, no shoes= no school). They get three meals a day , which is more than they got on the street and probably more than they would get with their family (if they have one). They can play, dance, they watch movies and they run around: they get to be kids and they don’t have to worry about their next meal. They might not like cleaning the big house they live in or serve the other kids dinner (they have a rotation for the daily chores), but they hum or sing when they do it. I was there when one of them was dancing with the mop at 7 am while washing the floor. Would we dance with the mop if we had to clean the house at 7 am? I assume that they feel very fortunate. Maybe (and probably) some of their buddies from their street days are still on the street, struggling. They have a chance and they get to be kids. What a noble concept, to be appreciative for something we take for less than granted.
So how can we ever complain? Right, it’s all a matter of perspective- there are things that worry us because we’re not concerned about going hungry. But maybe try not to forget- it’s all a matter of perspective…

Wanna’ see somn’ cool?

A quick hit in London
That’s it for Rwanda. I’m back home, among family and friends (which, as you know, are the most important thing in life). Got a chance to stop in London to see the BBC Wildlife Nature Photographer of the Year exhibit in the Natural History Museum. I think I’ll have a picture there within the next 5 years. Yes, I will. 
There’s still snow on the ground and I was well underdressed. Don’t know what I was thinking. However, I know exactly what this girl was thinking- while standing in line in the freezing cold, wearing her little shorty shorts, she was checking her makeup. It’s all about priorities, right?

It’s pretty much the same image three times, but I really liked this dino.

Lastly, some subway fun…

Look! It’s me!

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