A Roller Coaster (Excuse the length of the entry but it was a though-provoking day)
This trip has been a series of highs and lows.Just when it seems like Camara is doing something that makes a real difference, something inexplicable, arbitrary or short sighted happens which causes me to stop dead in my tracks and question what I am doing. Today had it all, and if you don’t like unhappy endings I warn you NOT to read the last paragraph.
The day started at 8am with a meeting with Genevieve-Anne Dehoux the Attache to the EU delegation in Rwanda. G-A is a Belgian lady who had been in Kigali for five years and was disappointed to be returning to Brussels in a months time. She was familiar with Camara having previously read our funding proposal and had been very impressed by the program we had suggested (well done Ciaran Casey for writing the paper).
Unfortunately as she wasn’t on the full evaluation committee our fate is in some one elses hands.
Next up was an interview with Edwin Musoni, a journalist for the The News Times http://www.newtimes.co.rw, the most popular Rwandan English-speaking daily. Edwin had quite a number of questions about how our program compares with the ‘One Laptop per Child (OLPC)’ initiative that the government was spending millions on. From a completely objective point of view I told him our program was much better in every respect as we use a holistic approach (after many years waiting I finally was able to use the word ‘holistic’ with a journalist).
After this meeting, myself and Eddy took a 45 minute bus ride south of Kigali to Nyamata, a medium sized town that is the capital of the Bugasera District, one of the poorest regions in Rwanda.There we met the District Education Officer, about 10 head masters and Eddy’s uncle. We also visited two schools in the town, one a privately-run primary school and the other a government-run secondary school.
Everyone here is very excited about the program and the list of schools requesting computers is growing by the day. The only problem we have is that people want to know: ‘How come we are offering computers for €50 each, fully loaded with legal software, together with a maintenance contract and free training thrown in.?’ ‘What is the catch?’
After seeing first-hand the enthusiasm of people on the ground we boarded our bus back to Kigali after a busy but satisfying day. This evening I arranged to have dinner with a Rwandan who had been helping us set up our legal entity (readers of my last diary in Dec. 08 will probably know who I mean). I wont go into all the details of our discussion but by the end of the dinner it was clear that this person did not share Camara’s sense of mission or set of values. I want Camara to help address a real social need, the improvement of education in the poorest countries in the world but it appears some people see Camara as an easy source of financial gain.
I left the dinner under a dark mood (which has stayed with me for several days). But, who am I to judge? Maybe these people are right. Even though they are highly educated and close to the top of their profession they may be less wealthy than me and their main motivation is (and should be) to financially support their family. However I passionately believe that the elite in African countries should lead by example, should set aside some of their personal goals to the benefit of wider social good (the same also pertains to Ireland by the way). I asked this Rwandan to sleep over night on his request and to come back tomorrow with a new perspective. Lets see what happens.
Press-ups 0, Situps 0, Bicep curls 0 (Just not in the mood)