From Rwanda, 'Semester 14'
– this as much for myself as for other people by now, privatim but coram publico

My previous 'diaries': There is also a page of maps and aerial photos.

The school actually has three terms a year, but the breaks between the terms – if there is one! – are only a week, so the year does feel like consisting of two semesters. (My times here are from August to November and from January or February to May.) It would make sense for the school to adopt a semester-system, but the parents are apparently worried that they would have to pay school fees in two instalments; (one could have 'academic terms' and 'payment terms', but ...)

beginning of February

Back in Kigali, a week after the start of teaching, (which these days does not matter: in November I had already left five weeks early) after an enjoyable half a week in Uganda and then a really nice eight and a half weeks in Berlin, the US and Amsterdam, full of the usual good things, such as friends, reading, cakes, concerts, swimming, cycling, and so on, and (nearly) all in places that were interesting and fun, even if they were not new to me. Thank you to my friends, I had a lovely time.

At work things have been similar to last year, after more than two months I was immediately back in the swing of things. Construction of the Primary School is almost on schedule, but the opening of the pools will be delayed by more than a month. And the French that I have continued to practise using two apps has again been useful.

At home, things were extremely busy the first two weeks: at the beginning B was still here, and O stayed for almost a week longer, and Britta came to visit me/us for a week – already her fifth time here. She too had visa problems, but hers too were resolved, just in time, and she made it safely back to Kenya: 22 hours on the bus.

But I am not happy that I have recently had to write like this to someone:

Hi. Sadly, I have come 2 feel that you were
not honest w/ me last yr either & u did not
respect my situation. When the government
double-paid u, u should have told me that
you needed less money - u received ... per
month last yr! & u asked me to help w/ ...
So how can I trust you now? Very sad.
What can I say? I try to be careful, but I guess there is always some risk ... Fortunately it involves my money, not that of one of my generous friends. And it was the first time.

Kai und Britta, in action and inaction:
A very new and a very old friend
'Termly' summary (– the academic year for schools is starting now but it is the middle of the year at the universities):
  • Benjamin, having finally managed to get the visa, left for Turkey two days after I came back, to start a 15-month Master's degree in IT, awarded by a British university; he was surprised by the cold and had to get used to the snow.
  • Philbert is in the middle of his last year at the U of R in Butare and still has to write his memoir (= thesis), which may be difficult, with his supervisor being at SFB in Kigali – I don't think the unification of the government universities was well thought-out.
  • Pascal has one more semester at LPU in India, and will come back in June or July; his winter was less cold than the previous ones. We had some nice phone conversations when I was in Berlin.
  • Flora, P's girlfriend, is still working and studying at the same time – so she is extremely busy always, but seems to be managing. She will also finish this year.
  • Modeste had wanted to do this internship in Rwanda, and he just managed to get one at a maternity hospital in Kigali, before he returns to Uganda for his last term. (He will still have one more year of 'rotating' before he is fully qualified.)
  • Oliver has started the second term of the second year of a three-year course in IT at Ndejje, in Uganda, but students will be sent home for a week around the time of the elections there, for fear of violence.
  • Later this month, Ayubu (who is living in my house, now that B has gone to Turkey) will also start the second term of his second year, but of a four-year course, in Accountancy at AUCA – unfortunately a bit awkward to get to from our place.
  • After one term there, Laurien seems to have found his feet at NEU in Northern Cyprus, where he is living with two Zimbabweans and it is no longer so cold; he hopes to improve his grades next term.
  • Having supported Justine, B's sister, when she was at secondary school, where she did very well, I am/we are now also helping her a bit while she is studying at the U of R, the former SFB (School of Finance and Banking): the government pays the tuition, but not much more.
  • Claude is starting the last year, Senior 6, in a Languages option, at a local secondary school.
  • Christine, M's sister, is continuing at a secondary school in the village. (Unfortunately, for now, I can no longer support her sister Louise.)
  • Chance, P's niece, is about to enter Senior 2 at a government boarding school.

As always, I am very grateful for the extremely generous support I get in supporting these students – from friends of mine who don't even know the people who their money is going to! Thank you so much.

Some of the dancers in E's 'crew', whom we are allowing to practise in the compound once a week.
B on Whatsapp, in Turkey, in the snow

end of February

I guess the most important development is that things have not worked out well for B in Turkey (– even though the weather has by now improved): the main problem is that the university there is in the process of changing the British university whose degree they can award, and so the course that he had specifically chosen is no longer available. In particular it seems that the new course would have no practical component at all. Also, the teaching seems to be Turkish rather than British. But it n ow looks like he/we will be able to get the fees refunded that we paid, that he will come back here in March, and that he can then apply somewhere else. But it will involve quite a bit of organising ...

At work things have continued quite relaxed, I have time every day to work a bit on my French; and at home a bit busy again with friends visiting and sometimes staying. O was around again, having had to come back from Uganda for almost two weeks because of the elections there, and fears of demonstrations and/or violence. But I have still managed to finish reading two books this term.

Coming back to something I wrote a few weeks ago, this is how I think things should be done: almost two years ago someone started to talk to me on the road, we got along, and he started to sometimes visit, usually on Sunday afternoon. Before the start of the next term he told me that someone at his church had usually paid his school fees, but that that guy might not be willing or able to pay again; so I offered that if that guy didn't, I would. But after I had paid his fees, that guy from the church also gave him the money – so he asked me what he should do. (I suggested that he open an account and put the money there, and that he could use it the next term. Which he did.) Don't you agree?

Something that does not work well in this country is the banking system. To the common complaint that it is difficult to get loans and that the interest rates (typically 17%) are too high, the banks reply that it is because there is no culture of saving here, so they have no money to lend. But what do they expect, if the interest rate on savings, typically 4%, is well below the rate of inflation, which is about 8%? I think the whole sector is badly managed and inefficient, and at risk. – My own experience with my bank has not been good either. The branch manager even failed to pass on a letter of complaint I had addressed to the General Manager, so I eventually went to Head Office myself to submit the letter. I was invited to a meeting, I received apologies for various mistakes and a general lack of communication, and they even paid RwF 10,000 (= $ 13) that I had claimed, (not quite seriously.)

J, when she came one day to re-introduce herself

O, back at Ndejje – the place a lot bigger than I had thought
E can (almost) swim by now, but for our Saturday or Sunday trip to the pool we are now often joined by two friends of his.

end of March

Good news: 1. After some protracted wrangling with the university authorities, in which we were supported by an official at the Rwandan Embassy in Ankara, they agreed to refund nearly all the money that I/we had paid for tuition, minus just £ 300, rather than minus £ 2300, which some "horrible man" had tried to insist on – so B will be coming back and apply somewhere else, where they do teach a course that will be useful for him. 2. E can swim now, and one of the two friends who has been joining us at the pool, and has the same name, has become a friend too. 3. The water situation in the house has improved a lot, the tank can now be full all the time; in fact, after many months, or even years, of water having to be bought by the jerry can, I am still getting used to the nice feeling of being able to just open the tap – and this is even nicer of course for the people who do washing and washing up in the house.

Bad news: 1. After a very nice start of the day and the day before, with various friends coming to visit, some just by chance on that weekend, dinner, since I had bought some wine, (which is very expensive here) turned into an impromptu party for my birthday – this had happened once before, while I was still at AC, and this time again it did not end well; I didn't stay till the end. So I will be more careful again in future to avoid any 'celebration'. 2. The water tank, being metal rather than plastic and very old, turned out as it filled up to have various leaks, which Ay has been making a good effort at fixing. (We had put some money into solving that problem in October, but ...)


From 07 to 13 April, as every year, was Genocide Memorial Week, commemorating the terrible events of by now 22 years ago. A few days before, it had seemed that this year there would be fewer of the "kwibuka" posters sponsored by companies, but no. During this period all local shops close, and work for most people finishes at 2 pm, so that they can attend meetings, 'conversations', in their 'villages'; bars don't play any music at all and close at midnight, and there are many special events, such as ceremonies in the big stadium and a walk to remember. People can be arrested for watching football games on TV: some still do it, secretly and VERY quietly. The club of which E is president, the dance crew of which has sometimes done their practising in our compound, was busy performing in their area, little plays related to the genocide, as well as participating in the big ceremonies. – They also, between them, with help from some adults, took care of an orphan girl-member of the club who had been sent away from the place where she had been staying, and who had malaria and no Mutuelle (= government supported health insurance.)

This year's motto on the posters is "Fighting Genocide Ideology". Sadly, to me it seems that any account that does not follow the official government line is considered 'genocide ideology'. Just over two years ago, an extremely popular singer/song-writer, himself a genocide orphan, who in previous years had been something like the official musician and become politically quite active, always advocating forgiveness, reconciliation and unity, suddenly disappeared and was accused by the government of having made contact with the genocidaires still in the DRC and plotted to overthrow the government; personally, I don't believe this, but he has been in prison since. He disappeared a few days after he published a song, essentially a statement of faith, which includes these words:

No such thing as a "good death",
Be it by genocide or war,
Slaughtered in revenge,
Vanished in an accident Or by illness,
Those loved ones are praying for us, ...
Even though Genocide orphaned me,
But let it not make me lose empathy for others,
Their lives, too, were brutally taken,
But not qualified as Genocide,
Those brothers and sisters,
They, too, are humans I pray for them,
Those brothers and sisters,
They, too, are humans I comfort them,
Those brothers and sisters,
They, too, are humans I remember them ...
Let NdiUmunyarwanda (I am Rwandan)
                  be preceded by "I am a human" 
(– the last line, as I understand it, being a reference to the official government line denying the distinction between the two tribes, whose names one is not allowed to utter. Except when one talks about the "1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and moderate Hutus".) My personal view, though, is now that there was in fact only one genocide: while it is regrettable – and in my view short-sighted, because there is so much resentment that remains and is not being dealt with – that the government does not acknowledge the killing of many Hutus, some of whom might indeed have been murderers, in the aftermath of the genocide, those killings do not amount to a genocide, since they were not part of a premeditated strategy to rid the country of Hutus.

kwibuka in Kinyarwanda means "remember"

After those very serious paragraphs, it feels rather frivolous to talk about myself, to say that I had the week off, and a relaxed, very good time, with friends sometimes the whole day, the guy from Goma from last term visiting again for two days, some reading and some writing of e-mails, and so on. B had come back from Turkey at the end of March and after staying with us for ten days moved in with a cousin until I leave; three people living here permanently feels rather crowded, especially since I/we sometimes have other friends staying. (This is something that we need to think about, what will happen as our friends, some of whom have stayed here before and/or may have no other place, finish their education or come for holidays: where they can stay ... Not easy.) While he is doing his internship at a maternity hospital in Kigali, delivering a few babies every shift, or helping to do so, including occasional cases with complications, M has been staying with a friend, and I am helping with their expenses, which I think works for both of them. That seems to work.

There is a very nice cartoon video, "Carmen" (using a tune from the opera by Bizet) by Stromae, a Belgian singer with some Rwandan ancestry, in which he describes the effects of many people replacing personal relationships by social networking, being friends by 'following'. Very nice. (This has at times been a bit of an issue with some of my friends here, and also, I know, for some of my friends elsewhere, with their children.)

mid-May, in Berlin

At the end of the term, I ended up being so busy, (I had never wanted a party before I left, but the last evening, before three friends pushed me to the airport, we were ten at dinner: too many to even have a proper conversation, at least not while I was around and in English) and at the beginning of the time in Berlin so lazy, that I did not write anything here, although I was writing some of these things in e-mails to friends.

One of the things that I wrote in some mails, that is quite important, is that I don't know if I will have a job at the school after I have gone back to Kigali in late July: no problems, except that the job I have been doing will have disappeared. For the past two years, most of it has been connected with the construction projects, including such things as, recently, ordering furniture for the new Primary School building, from the UK and from Rwanda, arranging for four large fans that I had ordered from the UK to be installed in the Gym, and specifying where the lines marking the lanes in the pool should go, will have disappeared. Not only is there no new building project starting soon, but an 'understudy' for the Headmaster, also Canadian, who it is hoped will take over from him within a year, will start work in August and probably do some of the other things I have been doing. – For me no problem, I am fine either way, including financially fine. We'll see.

Another thing that I wrote in some mails is that – now that I have time to go to the US not just once but twice a year – it feels like I am living not just in two, but in three places. And while I was writing this to someone, I remembered – for the first time in many years – some things that I was wishing for when I was a kid: when I was very young, I had a fantasy of living in a lorry, converted into an apartment on wheels, to be able to move around; but then I realised I would not be able to drive to America, for instance. And when I was quite a bit older, and everyone around me was starting to think about houses that they would build somewhere and families they would have, I always said that I would prefer to have a number of small apartments in different places in the world rather than a big house in one place. – As someone said to me recently, in fact repeatedly, "you are living your dream."

An other, connected idea that came to me while thinking/writing about these things: after having for most of my life avoided having a family, I now seem to have ended up in two families, though my roles in them are very different; I can say that it feels very nice and I am very happy. (The advantage of course with Wahlverwandtschaften – the title of a novel by Goethe, usually translated as 'elective affinities' – is that one can choose one's family ...)

The trip here was very comfortable, less than 40 minutes this time from touch down at TXL to being in my apartment. So, until late July I will be mostly in Berlin, except for four days in the UK and almost four weeks in the US. When I get back to Kigali, P might have arrived back from India already, and B will have two more months before he heads to Poland, for his second attempt to do a Master's degree. ;-)

The outside wall of the house had become quite damaged by the rain, and so I asked Ay and B to have it fixed. Since I am still paying the same monthly rent for the compound as when we moved in, more than six years ago, and I make a significant part of that money back from subletting the smaller building, I have no problem paying for the necessary maintenance, such as this and fixing leaks in the water tank. (Needless to say, this is not the kind of house in which a muzungu would typically live.)
While the work was being done ...
... and after it was finished. I had been a little worried before I left, if they would find and decide on an 'acceptable' colour, but this is very fine. (When we first moved in, the inside of the smaller building was a 'poisonous' green, but most local people did not seem to mind ...)
And it even looks like the kitchen was done as well ... Nice!

From Rwanda, 'Semester 15'
– quite a different life here is starting

early September

My contract at the school had finished before I left in May, and they did not know if they would renew it – as I think I mentioned, the job that I have been doing the last two years had come to an end. But now I have retired, I think, for the third time, and am enjoying greatly being here without having to get up at 6am every morning, and so on.


A few days ago, B asked me for my Tigo phone number, and when he had entered it in his phone, it was immediately identified as the number of "Kai L's sponsor". Ouch! Where did that come from? What if it had been someone who L did not want to know that I sponsor him? It turns out that both B and the Kigali agent of L's university had the app True Caller on their phone, and when you install it, their database collects all of your address book, numbers and the names you use for people. Hmmm.
Friends here have been asking me if I was not worried that I might get bored, but there are some things I have been wanting/waiting to do that now I can – such as re-reading novels that I read a long time ago and that have been with me all my life, starting with The Ambassadors (Henry James) and Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf). And listening to music sometimes, the kind of music one needs to concentrate on. And doing little projects that I expect will come along, like making a website for Britta's organic farming initiative in Kenya, (where she is planning to go back to in October.) And being able to meet with friends more easily, not just in the evenings and on weekends, and go swimming on my own when it is hot and I feel like it, not just on weekends.

By now, having sometimes spent more than a month mostly on my own in Berlin, it is quite normal for me to structure my time around things that are important to me and that I enjoy, things that do more than just 'pass the time' – in fact, having been back for three weeks, I have been very (nice-)busy all the time. While I now have to get my own visa, instead of the school getting a work-visa for me, this is, fortunately, no great hassle here.

I will now also have a lot more flexibility in when to travel. The last holidays (if that is the right word when someone is not working any more) were fantastic – my thanks to my friends for their role in this: five weeks mostly in Berlin, almost four weeks in the US, mostly in New York, and then another more than two weeks in Berlin, (where I got to know a couple of new guys, and where a Tanzanian friend, ex-AC, who has started a job in Berlin, is for now staying in my apartment, which is quite fun for me.) This time I will stay in Kigali until the beginning of November, and I have already booked the flights for my next 'holidays' (– prices were beginning to go up): Berlin, New York, Sydney, San Francisco, Berlin. Then, after just a week in the cold, I plan to come here again for three months, from February to April/May.

Em and Em in school uniform – except for the hats and not tucking in, of course; they dropped in one morning,
after not being allowed into school, (for non-payment of fees. Surprisingly, such measures had to be taken each term even at 'my' former school, although it has quite a different clientele.)

Something that shocked me recently is that I found that there are friends who I/we have been supporting who take the typical Rwandan male line that Donald Trump should be US President – why? Because Hillary Clinton is a woman and therefore not up to the job! One person, after I and then B had explained things to him, changed his mind - it was very laudable of him to actually say so and apologise the next morning. (I have not given up on the other one ...) And it was heartening to find one person, who I/we may also end up supporting if he gets his tuition at the University of Rwanda paid by the government, someone very much 'from the village,' NOT having that outmoded attitude and actually being able to give reasons why it is wrong.

Things that make staying here even better, compared to before: after many years of problems, we now have mains water all the time; there have been hardly any electricity outages, and they have been very short; a new bakery across the main road from us sells cake that is a very good approximation to a German marble-cake.

M back at his school near the centre of town; he had been sent away the previous few days, for not having paid all
the school fees, so I walked to town with him one morning, to have a look at the school and his last report, before paying the remainder. This is what secondary schools tend to look like here.

The usual 'termly' summary (– the academic year for universities is starting now but it is the beginning of the third term at schools):
  • Benjamin, having come back from Turkey, (where they had cancelled his course but did eventually agree to refund the course fees we had paid) is preparing to go for an M.Sc. in Poland instead, in Poznań; and the fees are no higher.
  • Modeste is about to finish his four-year Bachelor's degree at UCU (Uganda Christian University) in Nursing Science; he has already done various internships, including two months in a maternity ward here in Kigali, but to get his licence, he still has to work one more year at a hospital.
  • At ULK, the university of Flora, Pascal's girlfriend, the experiment to compress the four-year course into three years has apparently not worked well, so they are still studying until October; she never has time, as she is doing a job at the same time.
  • Having lived with us for the past eight months, Ayubu, now half-way through his course at AUCA, the Adventist University of Central Africa, (and remember, he is devout Muslim) has moved back to 'his place' but comes to visit regularly. [See below.]
  • Oliver has been doing an internship in Kampala all summer, which was apparently quite productive, so now he only has a break of one week before starting the last year of his IT course in Uganda.
  • Laurien, having found his course in Northern Cyprus not challenging enough, managed to get accepted for a course in Finance, taught in English, at a university, also in Poznań, but for now he is struggling to get a Turkish visa to go to Ankara to get the Polish visa – might be difficult; the fees are no higher. [See below.]
  • Justine, B's sister, studying Accountancy at a college in Kigali of the University of Rwanda, apparently gained excellent results in the exams at the end of the terms.
  • [Later:] Omar from Goma, just across the border in the DRC, his English greatly improved since we first met, has started at ULK (Universite Libre de Kigali, where – despite the name – all the teaching is in English now.)
  • Claude, still keen to become a journalist, (even though I have found him with some VERY outdated ideas ...) will have his National Exams in November, so it is his last term; his school fees have been very low.
  • Emmanuel T. ('Em1') and Emmanuel M. ('Em2') are two of the four friends in one Senior 5 class at the nearby St Joseph, in the option of Public Works, and two of the three with whom I have been going to the pool; their parents could only raise part of their fees for the term.
  • The same applies to Meddy, who goes to another St Joseph, in the centre of town, studying Computer Science & Management; though older, he is only in Senior 4, because he started again in a new option.
  • Christine, M's sister, is continuing at a secondary school in the village.
  • Chance, P's niece, will finish Senior 2 at a government boarding school in November.

As always, I am very grateful for the extremely generous support I have been getting in supporting these students – from friends of mine who don't even know the people who their money is going to! Thank you so much.

Pascal, having completed his BBA at LPU, having made sure that he had passed all his exams and having had to get a new passport and visa first, came back from India two weeks ago (– it seems that it is quite a procedure to leave that country after having studied there for three years!) His first task was to arrange the memorial ceremony for his grandfather, who had passed away in May, (when B had taken charge, in his place, of everything in the village) so now he is staying with me again, like he did for 3 1/2 years when I first moved to this house, but he is starting to look for a job. He seems to have made quite a few friends in India, who sometimes come to visit.

Philbert has graduated (in Economics) from the College of Arts and Sciences of the U of R, very near the top of his class – this is not quite an official graduation picture. So he is now looking for a job; his first offer was from a marketing company, for a position far from his home, but since they were only going to pay RwF 40,000 (= $ 50) per month, we agreed it was not worth it, one could not live on that.

Updates on other friends/ former supportees:

  • Hadelin (Agriculture) has been doing an internship with a Dutch agricultural company, that hopefully will become a full job if they do well enough, but has been supporting himself by still also working at the near-by bar where we first met him. We have agreed that if/when he does get a full job, he will start to pay some of his brother's living expenses.
  • Noel (Urban and Regional Planning) has continued a paid internship, sometimes full-, at other times part-time, while preparing to go to the US on a 'diversity visa', which he has to take up by the end of January.
  • Roger, who after finishing secondary school (Construction) lived and worked for some years at the house of some muzungu neighbours, (where P had 'placed' him) now has a position at a recycling company, on the outskirts of Kigali, paying about RwF 200,000 (= $ 250) per month, enough to also support some other members if his family.
  • Jean de Dieu, L's brother, has been working for one of the three telecomms firms, as an area supervisor of agents selling airtime and SIM cards in the street: practically everyone here uses pre-paid phone accounts, many people have pay-as-you-go SIM cards from different providers which they recharge with small amounts; landlines are extremely rare, even many government offices have mobile phone numbers.
  • H's brother Charles did well enough in the national exams to get a place at a government university, but sadly not well enough to get government support (which I had agreed to top up to enable him to study.)
  • The brothers Oscar (Teaching) and Alain (who had tried three times to pass the driving test) are apparently still searching jobs.

late September

Some changes:

Number 1: Having got used to not working, and enjoying it greatly, I got a phone call, a couple of weeks after having had lunch with him, from the Headmaster: "I thought I might have to make this call some time," he begun, before going on to ask me if I could start teaching – the next morning. German in grades 5 to 8, so not my favourite age group; not that I have any problems, but I am not enjoying it greatly – as well as having to get up at 6am every morning again, and again not having much time for reading. Still, I can't complain about the pay and I will have a work visa until May – in case I am needed again; and they are looking for a new permanent teacher. One thing that has been striking is that many of my friends here were 'happy for me' – had they simply not believed me that I was happier not working than working?

Number 2: Having known A for more than six years, and having supported him (with the support of one of my generous friends) for more than two years at university, it is strange to find him 'gone': he has gone to Boise, Idaho, in the US, as a stateless refugee rather than as a Rwandan: so he had had to give up his nationality, but he will be able to apply for US citizenship after a few years there. He had registered in 2010, but had not wanted to tell anyone, not even his family, until a few days before he left, so his last days in Rwanda were very busy, saying Good bye! to people, making practical arrangements, and the last preparations, like medical check-ups. It was nice to see him so excited about going, and he seems to have arrived well. I hope it all goes well, and expect to see him there next summer.

Number 3: After a full month of trying unsuccessfully to get a Turkish visa to travel from North Cyprus to Ankara, to apply for a visa at the Polish Embassy there, and having eventually had to come back to Kigali instead; and after four days in prison, because of a brawl in a club and then keeping a phone hidden while locked up; and after one missed, one unsuccessful and finally one successful trip to Nairobi to get his student visa at the Polish Embassy there, L seems to have managed to complete a change of university, from Near East University, where he had three years of a four-year course left, to Poznan University of Economics and Business, where he is about to start – two weeks late – a three-year Bachelors course. Best wishes.

This is O, a "good guy", half-Malian, from Goma, now at ULK, in a selfie at his uni.
P and two friends, who also studied in India, in town after an exam for a job. It seems that with more (or even a better) education it does not get any easier to find employment (– although IF one finds a job, then one will of course earn more.) And the people I/we have been supporting come from poor backgrounds, so they don't have the connections one – very sadly – seems to need.

end of October

Some more changes:

Number 4: The (Rwandan) owner of the compound where we live, as well as of a number of other properties, having come on a long visit from the US, the main problems that we have had are being sorted out, in two fairly major operations: the septic tanks, five of them within the compound, have been emptied, which required breaking open and then putting down again most of the natural stone pavement; and the metal water tank, – still needed because the water supply, though better now, is still unreliable – holes in which have had to patched again and again over the past few years, is being replaced with a 2000 l plastic one. The walls inside and outside the compound are being repainted as well. All the details are being negotiated between her and P – including a 25% increase in the monthly rent from January, (which I consider fair.)

Number 5: One of our friends, N, who won in the Green Card lottery, which I had recommended him to enter two years ago, (in fact I edited his picture for him) and his (still quite new) wife are about to actually start their new life in 'the promised land', with a lot of help from a Kenyan friend of mine in the US. (Thank you!) The deal is that I pay for the costs, which are well out of reach of nearly everyone here, but that they will start to pay me back once they have settled and have started to work. (Nearly all my Rwandan friends have applied this year, and I have offered them the same financial arrangement.) It is a widely held belief here that if you win, you will get everything from the American government: flight, housing, a job, and so on. When in fact one gets nothing: even the visa application, costing $ 330, and the Green Card, at $ 135 per person, have to be paid for! And one needs a contact in the US.

[That belief is now being exploited by some companies in Rwanda. The moral problem with this is not so much that they charge RwF 5000 (= $ 6) to enter someone in the lottery, when it is in fact free to enter on, but that they do not (to the best of my knowledge) disabuse people of that erroneous belief: this means that there will be many people who will be selected but will in fact not be able to go. Not only are these people wasting their RwF 5000 which they could have used in a better way, they are also thereby significantly reducing the chances, since there is in each country a fixed number of 'winners', of their fellow citizens who might actually be able to go. Of course, the more people apply, however hopeless their cases, the greater the profit of those companies. They even advise people to enter in a hurry, because by the end of the period, the machines that do the selecting might get tired ...]

Number 6: After many years, during which Joseph has already paid me back for most of the house that I bought, we finally concluded the purchase two weeks ago, at the office of the land notary of the sector: the previous owner had lost his title deed and only managed to get a replacement a few weeks ago – a process which should have taken a few months. It all started when J called me one day, asking me if I could lend him some money; when, in reply to my question, he answered: "RwF 12,000,000", I said: "No, but I can buy that house." With interest rates for loans here being 17% and interest rates on savings in the UK and Germany being below 2%, we have both benefited, even given the changes in exchange rates.

Before, with the decades old, rusty and leaking water tank
After, with me, (– not so rusty yet, I hope, or leaking) at P's insistence; all repainted too.

That's what it looked like in the compound for a few days.