Trip to Basket Island

DSC01972A few days before we left Rwanda we took a small boat across one of the hundreds of inlets¹ along the Rwandan side of Lake Kivu over to see a project that a local church had started.  It is a small group of women – most of whom are widows, or un/under-employed.

DSC01950The women sit together in the church, woven mats on the concrete floor, surrounded by small piles of grass – churning out long braided cords which then get turned into baskets. The baskets get sold, and the women are able to earn some modest income for themselves and their families.
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They were incredibly patient with all of us and our kids, showing them how to complete the weave – which is apparently much more complicated than it looks.  From a glance it appears that they are basically braiding the grass – but it was much more of an intricate pattern which involves adding a new strand once every time the pattern is completed. DSC02003 DSC02015

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DSC02071 Once we had finished our time ‘helping’ them weave – they set out a snack for us, and then without us really realizing it, helped carry the smaller kids back down the hill.  It has been constantly amazing – and humbling – to see so many times the ways which people who look like they have so little – extending generosity and hospitality.  DSC02105 DSC02126

We took our boat back across the lake – watching fishermen in boats, animals drinking, and the occasional person fetching water.DSC02149


¹ The fact that we actually travelled to a peninsula – and not an island is immaterial to the core of this story.  But “Basket Peninsula” just doesn’t’ have a nice ring to it.

Back in Buj

NOTE: This is a blog post from back in October or so..that never got posted....enjoy.

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So we haven’t really said much of what we’ve been up to in the past number of weeks since we arrived back in Bujumbura.  In some ways that’s probably because it seems like we haven’t done a whole lot that’s noteworthy. The situation remains tense, and politically unstable – which means that we (along with most everyone) have somewhat restricted what we do, when we go places, and even what parts of town we visit. So mostly we’re at home, I teach at HAU, susan teaches the kids, we go to church on Sundays and often out for lunch after that.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

However – there have been some great breaks, distractions, and events that have provided a much appreciated respite from the tension of life here in the capital.

The “Zoo”

We went to the local Zoo- no I think that definitely needs the quotes…the “zoo”

DSC02968 The kids did not buy a bunny to throw into the crocodile cage to watch them feed like our guide kept asking…but they did play a game of ‘grab-away-the-water-bottle’ with a chimp…so that was nice.


And also …held snakes.



We had a trip planned to Rwanda where I was helping out at the University there – and taking part in their graduation ceremony. It also turned out to be a weekend that most were anticipating to be very violent, and most other people we knew tried to make plans to get out of the city. So it was a win-win. Plus it’s so beautiful there that it’s nice to have an excuse to go back every so often.




Shortly after we arrived back at home it was birthday time again…Alma turning 4.  With this birthday here that means our little girl has had one birthday in Bujumbura, one in Edmonton, and two in France. Not sure if I would have left Saskatchewan by my fourth birthday.

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Well – it seems that we are now animal people. Considering the extent of our experience in this department has been two very short-lived stints with a single small fish in a bowl – we are really charting new territory.

We came back from Rwanda with Camo the Chameleon.  Who promptly gave birth to 7 babies – 5 of which survived – 0 of which survived the week.

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Said Chameleon went AWOL in the house when we were gone this weekend. We thought we found evidence of his demise – but it was just a dead gecko behind the shoe cupboard  – stay tuned.

At one point Susan was asked the question “why don’t you have chickens?”  Can’t say that has ever been posed to us before. So we promptly rectified that situation and now have 4 lovely chickens who provide us with eggs.  They all look the same – so they were subsequently given individualized rainbow-loom anklets so that they can be told apart.  Some of them have really slowed down the egg production as of late – which may have resulted in the threats of chicken dinner soon.

Sparkles (maybe Sprinkles?).

At the fish store, the man who owns it asked us if we wanted a kitten. Not the gift-with-purchase that we’re used to…but when in Rome.

I got the cat handed to me in a cardboard box – and right form when we got him home – it was pointed out that he looked a bit sick – infected eye.  Basically he went downhill quickly. The kids all showed incredible compassion – trying to nurse him back to health, feeding him from an eye-dropper.  Despite their best efforts – he only lasted about 5 days.

Farewell Sparkles (Sprinkes? no…wait..Scooter????) we (obviously) hardly knew ye.

On top of this our dog and cat which came with the house are still here. The cat is actually completely thriving -and has TWO EYES which open (never seen him like that since we arrived) and no longer has the physique of a greyhound dog – tapering off to almost nothing at his hips.

There is a really cool looking lizard with a bright blue head that always evades capture when he appears on walls or fences –  perhaps he will join us permanently at some point.