fredag 11. desember 2015


It is soon Christmas. Snow, Christmas carols, living lights....  No wait...


One more time.

It is Christmas soon. 
Christmas is not such a big thing here and people do not celebrate Christmas much here. But i have come to a
realization. If you look past the lack of snow, carols, lights and many other things we normally associate with 
Christmas there are many things that makes it 'Christmasy' anyway.

Keeping in mind what the Christmas message was all about. 
It is Jesus entering this dark and cold world to become like one of us to make a way back to God for us.
He came for those suffering, the lonely, the ones who had nothing but also to the ones who were rich but still were suffering and lonely. 
He came to make a way for us...all of us. Christmas is about this simple message. 
And I see much of Him here. He walks among the people. He sits with the mum just up our street that just 
lost her child in child birth because she did not have money to go to hospital soon enough. Left by her husband 
with nothing and have no way to provide for her three children, her youngest in a serious condition due to 
malnutrition and too little to drink.

Christmas has a simple message of kindness, peace, love and care. It really challenges me: how can I bring this where I live in a good way?
Sometimes I give food and money or water. Sometimes I give advice. Sometimes I pray. Often I do nothing since 
I simply do not know how to really help, or i don't feel like it.
At times it seems the best solution is to look away from the individual and focus on the community as a whole.  
We try to do this when it comes to water.

The government has done a fantastic job trying to bring water to all in Rwanda. 
In our little village there are already many water stations where people can come and get the needed water every day. Which is great. 
The challenge of the dry season (approximately half of the year) still remains though. Here the shortage of water 
gets exposed, with very unstable water supply and often weeks on end with no water at all. (except water from 
the little lakes and swamps)
Also the boreholes around start drying up in these seasons. Pushing the water prices that high the many 
people simply can not afford even the 20 litre jerry can a day. 

We at MDC want to contribute and do something to help.
One way of doing so is using the two big 10.000 litre water tanks we have on our land to sell water for the normal 
price during the dry seasons. 
Our desire though is to see more people having their own water tanks at their house.
The rain is abandon enough that the house with the average roof size can provide water for both the short and the long dry season for free. All that is needed is a tank so store the water in. 
So our second focus is helping people to build their own water tanks. Christians dad and a colleague of my mum both collected money for this for their birthdays. Many people gave generously. We have dedicated the money 
for funds for people interested in a water tank. 
This year we have used to figure out the best way to build solid and low maintenance underground tanks.
All the guys in our team put their heads together to work it all out. In between everything else that they have done this year they accomplished to build two water tanks. 
For the second tank we got good help from our visitors that came from the Netherlands this fall.
Jesse came to visit us together with our niece Anna and nephew Jacob. Jesse has studied water technology in a
development country context. They helped funding and build the water tank outside our health centre. He also 
took water and soil samples for us. This was both fun, encouraging and very helpful for us.

Tanks in progress:

Sophia and her little friend Queen

Jacob busy making the pump

Jesse making pump

Our little helper

mandag 27. juli 2015

A football field

In march this year my parents came to visit. We had a nice time together, and enjoyed their stay thoroughly. 

When it came close to their departure they told us that they had decided to help us raise money to be able to create a football field. Touched by what they had seen here, they have the desire to bring some joy the vulnerable children in the community. And something else to do than to suit around all day.
Arriving back home in Norway they got their friends together and collected the funds we needed. Now three months later the field is so to say done. Even some football's sponsored by their local bank  (Vegårshei Sparebank) are on their way to us.
The unofficial name of Rwanda 'The country of the thousand hills' also applied where we decide to build the field. So due to the landscape, the construction of was far from an easy task. With no digging machines available there where many strong arms and wheelbarrow's needed. All in all it took 15 people approximately three weeks to finish the field. They did a great job. It was hard work, but they all where really happy to have the opportunity to have a payed job for that amount of time.
All our projects are aimed to serve the poorest people in the community and most so the children. Whether we do health-work, vocational training, agriculture, schooling etc. The goal is to strengthen the smallest and weakest of the region. Where ever you look three are needs. Often it is a challenge to find out where to start. This time it was easy. The local's seem to simply LOVE football. It gathers young and old, it creates entertainment, it gives the children something to engage in. And further, through the organised training, it can create discipline, joy, ability to work in team, a healthy body, a break, learning good values, even keeping kids out of trouble and making bad choices. There is already a football team in the village of older kids. Now they are looking for people that would like to take part in training the youngsters. Lets see how that goes. Amiss, our colleague, would for now be the head coach☺.
As a part of the official opening of the field we arranged an opening match. It was our team against the leaders of the village. A very tense and exiting match that ended 0-0. If it wasn't for the small goals - and a goal keeper we more or less glue in place, we would definitely have lost. It was great fun and a good work out for all involved.
It was also so much fun to see how the kids, in the moment they got sight of a football flooded the field. All running in a big huddle after the round rolling and bouncing leathery joy bringer. Here are some photos from the event.

The planting of grass will have to wait till the rainy season. So also the erection of the big size goals. But the field is usable already now. As you can see on the pictures.
The local elders and leaders all thanked us for creating this place for sport and enjoyment.

In the making

In the making

In the making

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MDC dream team

Sophia also joined

tirsdag 9. juni 2015

Health and the Bible

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to teach about healthcare in a sewing school run by a Canadian couple in our team. I held classes in the morning and the afternoon. 10 respectively 12 young women in each group.

I call the seminar Health and the Bible.
Why this topic?
8 years ago I came to Rwanda with a team. We worked with APRICOM a ministry that helps vulnerable women with HIV/Aids. One of our tasks was to talk about Hygiene and Nutrition, since both are very important issues for people living with HIV. Many of the women had lost their husbands in the war and were now struggling with a heavy disease rendering them sicker day by day and in addition to the struggle of stigmatization and rejection by other people. Women who’s only hope was to cling to God and the hope of eternal life with no pain and suffering.
Since it was a christian support group I chose to talk about how we see God instructing and teaching the Israelites in the Old Testament about preventive healthcare roughly 4000 years ago. How he gave careful instructions on how to live healthy lives and ways to avoid being infected by the sicknesses of the surrounding tribes. God showing himself in the Bible as a father that cares about every aspect of life. After that I came with more concrete and practical teaching about personal hygiene. When I was done one of the woman were shining as a sun as she thanked me for the teaching. This is what she said:

“ I was barely able to come to support group today because I was not doing well. Dragging myself here I was caught by surprise. Today I learned something I never heard before. God is a God who cares about my physical body. And I learned how I practically can do that!”

This is when I realized: that is the key! They have God as their foundational understanding. It is so powerful. Believing in God, He is the highest motivation. His values and what He cares about becomes important. Sadly enough many people are not aware of big parts of the Bible talking about healthcare and therefore mistakenly believe that their physical body is not of interest to God.

People in Rwanda believe in God. If you try to explain that many people in the west do not believe in God, they just look strange at you, asking: 'how can people not believe in anything bigger than themselves?' It is simply a statement they don’t understand.
Working in Africa, it is impossible to avoid the Christian foundation of the people. Not taking that into account one can easily fail with ones work or communication. The mistake being not having a good enough understanding of the audience and their values/foundations.
One of their highest motivations is God and what He cares about.
This is a very strong platform we can take to teach from.

Let me come back to my week and the Health and the Bible seminar that I am developing. Again I had the same experience with this new audience. Seeing the young woman and young mothers taking in the material and realizing this is about/for them. Seeing the pain in some of the young mothers when they realize the situation they are in. How they out of lack of knowledge or lack of money miss to give the needed nutrition to their children.
But then the next moment excitedly writing on their notepads how they can improve the food for the ones they love.
Also from different feedback’s after the teaching I learned that many where not aware of how to wash their hands, and that they could contaminate themselves and other people if they do not wash their hands when they are dirty or come from the toilet.

It is really inspiring.
Yet at the same time very painful to run these seminars.
On one side it gives me hope for change on the other side I am realizing how difficult it is.
What makes it hopeful is that some individuals start grasping the importance of these small principles, and slowly start applying them. But it takes time. To change the ways of living – it can take years!
And even though some people start on that road the task of changing the understanding of the poorest seems like an un- overcome-able mountain.

The important thing for me is to keep the focus. I know these kind of teachings have the potential to save lives and help many people to live a better life.
I have to keep in mind that even if only few people actually manage to take hold of and apply the teaching it is worth it.

Another thing it highlights for me is the importance of exploring and finding the motivation and foundation of the people I work with and for.  

Here a few pictures from the event:)

These are pictures from a little demonstration of how we can
transfer germs on our hands to other people. This girl think
it is really gross:)

søndag 22. mars 2015

Our daily life through the eyes of our visitors

The last 3 months we have been so lucky having both our parents coming to visit. My parents in law were here 2 weeks in January and my parents 2 weeks in March. We feel very lucky and we enjoyed every bit of their time here. Not only did they bring a lot of good food and things from Europe, but they helped us in the garden, cooking, looking after Sophia and of course gave us great family time. As i looked at the pictures they all took I got the idea to show you some of them. The reason being they see things with new eyes (things we do not think of any more) something which i think you, who do not live here, would like to see also. So this time the photographer is mainly my mother in law and my mother;) Enjoy!

Thursdays are marked days:) here i am trying to get a good bargain
for a nice piece of material

Most things are sold from the floor as you can see

My parents in law at the nicest restaurant close by. Here we
can get a cold drink, brochette and chips for a good price

Hardware shopping street in Nyagatare

Laundry day. Our helper Moses in action!

Our neighbours corn harvest

The neighbours girls

Sowing school run by our 2 collogues from Canada, Peter
and Diane Salmond

Christian trying to fix the fence so Moses chickens wont fly away
( a seemingly never ending story)

The neighbouring kids often knocks on our gate as they call on
Anna Maria or Mama Sophia (my names here in Rwanda)

Some quality time with Farmor and Grossvatti

Washing our hands before the meal

Christian and Matthias busy covering up our 5 meeter deep
garbage hole (unfortunately there is not any garbage system
up running)

The road to our house

Typical Rwandan food at the local restaurant (beans,
cooked banana, rice, meat soup, chapati) 

People always advice me to get an umbrella when
i walk in the sun with Sophia. I find it a bit funny
to use it in the sun though it is smart. anyhow here
Augustine borrowed me one;)

My alternative husband making kitchen shelves:)

Mud bricks in the making

Matthias greets the milk man, who comes every evening with
fresh warm milk for us.

Making Sunday snacks at the porch

A smart wheel chair

A morning stroll. Sophia seems to be the star:)

This is mostly the problem here. Sophia has almost the same size
as those one or two years older than herself

Doing some measurements before building the first water tank. 

My alternative husband, this time fixing some sushi

The local Butcher

Jummy fish

My mums first experience with the Muzungu concept. Muzungu
is a word they use for white people. One can hear people call for you
with that name from everywhere all the time and they will be coming
running to look at you.
This picture was taken as we stopped the car to give Sophia a little
break. Few minutes later it got totally crowded.
My mum got a good laugh:)

Christian made me a outdoor table! A table that can  not be moved
so that it can not be stolen - smart hey:)

Me and my mum outside the Project building

Our daily Chicken watching time

New attempt to keep the chickens from flying away:
clipping their feathers 

Again at the restaurant

Our garden at supper time

This is where we get our wood from

The women are out early to work on the field before the sun gets
too hot.

Kids on their way to school

Shopping time:)
Shopping here means going from one shop to another. Its hard
to find all your groceries at one place ...

We do a lot of this:) 

Mama, Moses and Sophia

Me and my mum at one of the support groups. Today we were doing an
introduction to teaching on preventive healthcare

Hope these pictures was informative and enjoyable for those more interested in how things looks here.