Our second day in Rwanda.  Tally and I both are almost overwhelmed with so many experiences and sights that it is hard to process it all.

Kigali, the capitol of Rwanda, is practically brand, spanking new!  Beautiful new buildings, roads, landscaping, it looks more like LA than Africa.  And, clean!  No plastic bags are allowed in the country for starters.  After the genocide in 1994, this devasted, broken country had to rebuild its culture, people and infrastructure.  The Parliment is 50% women and because of this, itis a more balanced country of empathy and commerce.  to pay for all that has been done, the taxes are high.  they have a 18% VAT, import tax, property taxes, (newly imposed and not liked) income tax.  So much rebuilding, sorting out land for the refugees who had to flee during the genocide, high emphasis on education, a national health care system for all.  At some point, the taxes may get to high to support healthy capitalism, always a tricky balance.

today we worked with some rural women, if I can ever download photos, you will see Tally and I cooking, and I chopping wood and working on the farm.  Tally will amaze her doctors with photos of where she walked today and yesterday with her new knee.  My hip is feeling the stress of the unpaved, bumpy roads, I worry my screws are coming loose (no comments please…for those who think they already have).

I asked our guide to take us to an art gallery.  am getting weary of being so emmersed in the tough lives of the people, I wanted to see something beautiful and modern.

The face of the poor is pretty much the same the world over.  Being with the women today, it wasn’t the hard labor they face daily that I found so depressing.  We work hard in the States, maybe not so physically hard, but long commutes, long hours at work, etc.  What gets me down is the dismal living conditions.  Awful dark, houses with no furniture, lighting, nothing pretty to give comfort or joy.  They are mere shelters and not even good ones at that.  Jail cells are better than these.  One of the biggest joys for we Western women is to see how the women in our projects in TZ have improved their homes, potted plants beside the doors, an occasional picture of something hanging on the walls.  Of the various schemes we have seen for women, we are coming to believe our model for women’s empowerment is a really outstanding one.