22 July 2008


We've returned to Kigali to attend a few conferences and then take a second trip to Gashora where the women's cooperative is based. During our time in Kigali, I also had the opportunity to lead the women through a brand session to discuss product development, brand identity and consistency and show them how Bourbon Coffee represents an example of strong branding reaching to a large market. Watching the women's faces light up when they saw the potential of the water hyacinth was invigorating. While it isn't something they can produce immediately, it does reflect possibilities they can begin to shoot for in the future.

In order to do this, we determined it would be wise to meet with the local authorities to let them know of our plan. The Executive Secretary of Bugesera met with us and was excited about the way I was perceiving design to be used in Rwanda (and how the use of technology could advance the region).

Our trip to Gashora was filled with obstacles and stresses (that on most days wouldn't be problematic but in Rwanda they can make a short itinerary seem exceptionally long). Getting there was easy. Freddy (Lama's cousin) drove us in his 4X4. Getting out of Gashora was a bit of an issue. The vehicle we could use (for a fee) had no gas, which meant someone had to take a bike down an extremely bumpy road to acquire fuel. But when your car runs on empty and you can't afford to refuel it, the chances of the small amount of fuel you do have actually powering the car becomes an obvious issue.

And so it was for us.

We ran out of fuel.

And when a muzungu runs out of fuel on the only road in town, it becomes a major event. And today, it was harder to be the white girl (perceived to have all the money in the world) and be asked incessantly, "Where is the money?" While having our vehicle swarmed by over 50 kids. I can hardly share how these emotions affected me but suffice it to say, I've had better days. I felt overwhelmed, helpless and frustrated by the lack of language. Thankfully, after a good night's sleep I was able to move beyond.

Our second day started with our borrowed vehicle not starting. Any time we have something that doesn't work, we seem to draw a crowd. But thankfully someone got the local mechanic to talk us through the situation and before too long we were back on the road for day 2 in Gashora.

During this trip, we went with the women to watch and film them extracting the water hyacinth.

More photos from this trip at my Flickr site.


Meghan said...

"Where is the money?"


Remind me again, when do you get back?

olivelife said...

I am back in Canada on September 18.

shuffle pappa said...

We are up now at 10:20 pm on Wednesday but 7 20 am on Thursday, Rwanda Time. Not sure if we should call you this early.How about we call you at 10 am our time/7 pm your time on Thursday?

Love you,