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Rebuilding in Rwanda

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For Erin, tasks involved teaching English four days of the week. Sessions would start off with six kids in a classroom and by the end she said around 100 kids would gather to take classes from her.

“By the end of the session we’d have probably 60 kids sitting down and then another 20 to 30 kids lined up around and then another 15 kids looking in through the windows and doors,” she said.

“We used puppets and a big gigantic globe. We didn’t feel like we had a ton to offer, but just their willingness to learn whatever English they could was phenomenal.”

She added that all these kids were on their summer holidays and that some of them would walk for two to three hours just to come to the classes.

The women of Kigeme, according to Susan, live without too many men around.

“There’s a lot of the fathers and husbands in jail,” she said. “There’s not many middle aged men that we noticed. It was kids and women and the elderly.”

Susan said that during the Rwandan genocide, which occurred in 1994, anyone suspected of being a genocide supporter would be put in jail. 800,000 were believed killed during a civil war between ethnic Hutu and Tutsi groups.

“They’re still doing that after 14 years,” she said.

Where suspected genocide supporters are concerned, a “people’s court” is held in each community and the community decides whether a person is innocent or guilty.

Prisoners, meanwhile, are dressed in either pink or orange uniforms and work the fields.

“The pink were the ones that were actually convicted, and the people in the orange were the people waiting for accounting,” Susan said.

Today, Susan said, the country is still recovering.

“How they’re trying to rebuild right now is building relationships with each other,” she said. “They don’t outwardly separate themselves between Hutu and Tutsis, they also have a pygmy tribe which we were able to visit as well.

“There was no discussion whatsoever about the difference between a Hutu and a Tutsi.”