The Road to Rulindo

Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda
To get a better feel for life in Rwanda I was fortunately able to spend a day traveling to the Rulindo district just outside of Kigali. While Kigali is becoming wonderfully developed with new homes and neighbourhoods and impeccably paved streets, life in the more rural areas of Rwanda is completely different.
 
Many of the Akilah employees, myself included, have gotten to know a Rwandan family, Gaston, his wife Francine, and their daughter Diane, very well. So one Saturday, Gaston and his family, my coworker, Purity, and I loaded in to a car to visit Gaston’s mother and other family members in their village in Rulindo.
 
Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda

I had my head out the window for most of the drive so I could soak in all the views. There are less foreigners outside of Kigali so there were lots of Rwandans who were curious or excited when they saw me. These children chased our car for some time, laughing and waving and many others pointed or smiled at me exclaiming “mzungu!” which is a term that means “white person”

 
Like my travel to Dhungkharka in Nepal, the dirt road to Rulindo is a bumpy ride up a mountain. From Kigali’s city centre to Rulindo is less than 50 kilometres (~31 miles), but the drive on a dry day (so the roads were not muddy) took nearly an hour and a half. 
 
Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda
The journey was well worth it.

Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda

Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda

Diane and me

 
Once we made our way out of Kigali, the roads may have become worse, but the views became so much more beautiful. I resisted the urge to ask our driver to stop too many times, but I still couldn’t help but ask to hop out of the car for a few photos. 
Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda
 
When we arrived in Rulindo, the views were even more incredible. From the road we walked down through banana trees to Gaston’s family’s house and were greeted by Gaston’s smiling and welcoming mother.
 
Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda
 
While there was certainly a language barrier during my visit (only our driver was comfortable enough in English to translate between Purity and me and Gaston and his family), it is an amazing benefit of travel to get to know people this way— without words. Just body language, actions, and reactions.
Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda

the back of the home

Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda

Purity stoking the fire for the outdoor stove

 
Their home was made with mud walls and a dirt floor with a simple corrugated metal roof. Gaston’s father died in the 1994 genocide and although his mother still suffers from injuries caused by an accident during that period, she somehow managed to raise 8 children as a single mother in this same home.
 
Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda

from R-L, Francine and Gaston’s mother

Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda

Gaston and a few of his family members

 
The family has a very modest farm of sweet potatoes and cassava with banana trees and avocado trees nearby and they shared a generous meal with us as their guests. We were only able to stay for a short afternoon, but I was overwhelmed with how kind and warm they were to Purity and me even though they initially knew very little about us.
Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda

Diane and her cousin

Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda

Gaston’s family welcomed us to their home, cooked for us and fed us, shared personal information about their family, and said goodbye with never ending hugs.
 
Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda
They were thrilled to find out that I was engaged to be married and asked not only for me to come back for, but for me to consider asking my architect soon-to-be husband to build us a home in Rulindo so we could stay forever.
 
Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda Insights on village life in rural Rwanda and a visit to a family home in the district of Rulindo in Rwanda
 
I was more than flattered. I hope that I can make another visit soon and bring Peter with me too!
 
Yum
  • Fontaine Pearson

    Interesting photos, the red earth reminds me of Alabama. She must be a fascinating woman to have birthed and raised 8 children while also navigating the genocide and trauma of losing her husband…wow…

    • Yes she has had a very very difficult life but she is definitely an amazing woman and mother!

  • Gabby Malcuit

    Wow. What an awesome experience. So sad about the genocide, but amazing to raise 8 kids on her own.