Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kigali Life...

I have been in Kigali for 42 days, 23 hours and 12 minutes. I've gotten into my own routine here, so here are some tidbits of my life in Kigali...

As a Communications and Media Fellow, I have been working on several projects for my NGO. My responsibilities include developing and integrating their overall communications and marketing strategy, content for their website, social media channels, and re-designing and updating their fact sheets, newsletters and print materials.  I've also visited some of the health centers in the rural areas and seen all the improvements that have been made over the last couple of years. To say that the community health centers have been upgraded by Access and its partners is an understatement. Some of the centers didn't have running water or electricity as recently as last year. Now running water and electricity are available in critical care units like the maternity ward and one health center is completely run by solar power. I am in the process of writing articles for  "Stories From the Field" section on the website. This section incorporates success stories from patients, health center staff and the community at large.

Patients waiting to been seen at the new Gashora health center. 

Health center before renovations
Health center after renovations
Afterhours: To be honest, I haven't really explored Kigali afterhours as much as I should. It gets really dark by 6:30p in Rwanda. There are only 12 hours of daylight year round, so I spend most of my daylight hours at work (8am -5:30p) and get home with 45 minutes of daylight left. I spend those 45 minutes checking email, watching the gorgeous sunset from my balcony and cooking dinner. I've also been reading a really provocative book called "Drive" by Daniel Pink about motivation. According to Pink, extrinsic motivation such as bonuses and increased pay has a negative effect on productivity. It is countercultural to everything that is taught at most business schools or implemented in the incentive compensation plans of companies like Pfizer. I haven't finished the book yet, but hopefully I can apply some of these theories to reward and motivate good behavior in my colleagues.  So while I spent the first month reading and catching up on work, I expect to get out more often in the next couple of months. One website that has been useful for me is Living In Kigali   which lists all the restaurants, cafes, nightlife, and events in Kigali. Will keep you guys updated on how that goes!

 I have a driver that takes me to and from work each day, but after that I am pretty much on my own. There are three modes of transportation in Rwanda, taxi, moto and bus. Taxis are really expensive and you really have to bargain to get a fair price. Motos are significantly less expensive that taxis, but are generally not as safe. Buses are the cheapest mode of transportation but are not available everywhere. I have yet to take a bus, but yesterday for the first time, I took a moto. It was AMAZING! To feel the wind blowing in your face and the incredible views of the mountains as you whiz through traffic is exhilarating. I can't believe that I waited so long to take a moto especially considering the price difference. A typical taxi ride from Kiyovu, in town where I live to Kimoronko or Nyaturama is about 4000 - 5000 Rwf, while a moto will typically charge 1000 Rwf. ($1 = 600Rwf) 

The Market: 
Today was my first day going to the market or isoko. I've gone to the supermarkets in town, Le Galette and Nakumatt, which are really expensive. So since I was in Kimironko today, I went with my friend Linda to the market to get some produce. The merchants only speak Kinyarwanda so Linda did most of the talking or rather bargaining for me.  I got some fresh tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, eggplants, basil, bananas, and onions. While the supermarkets in town keep a regular supply of beef and pork, they rarely sell chicken and since I don't eat red meat, I was excited to buy some chicken for a change. So I went to have a look at the chicken aisle....

Live chickens

Rabbit anyone?

Yes, they sell the fresh chicken and rabbit! As much as I have missed having chicken on a regular basis, I am not brave enough to buy a live chicken and skin it myself. So I'll just keep on cooking pasta and vegetables at home. 

So that's all for now on my life in Kigali, if you have any more questions, please post them below.

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