This post is about the 4th month of our service in Rwanda. See the previous post here:
In December, we finally finished training and went to our site, which is Rubengera. When we got to site we had about one month before we started our jobs teaching at the school. This month is for integrating in our new community. When we were going to our site we were given a “move in allowance” which is money for things like furniture, a charcoal stove or anything else we might need. Since there are two of us, our move in allowance was doubled. We replaced a volunteer, so we bought a lot of our furniture and supplies from her. That way, we were able to spend some of the money on things we wanted, like curtains and a nice bedspread. Making the place feel like home in the beginning has made all of the difference with our sanity for the last 2 years. We even painted the walls, because the volunteer before us had drawn on all of the walls with crayons.
When we were in Kigali before going to site, we went to Inema Arts. I think it is the best art gallery in Rwanda. We found a painting there that we loved. It’s called Mr. Gorilla by Jjuuko Hoods. We loved it and had to have it. To buy it we used one of our entire move in allowances. So after a couple of weeks at site, this was our living room:
The painting by Jjuuko Hoods inspired me, and it really shows in my painting for the month of December and for the duration of this series. I stopped putting so much detail in the background and made it fade into a pixilized blur.
Since our first month at site was the first time to be alone in Rwanda, we spent a lot of time in our back yard. We could look at the hills around us, at the plants, and the birds that came into our yard. Rwanda has some amazing birds, but I chose to paint the biggest and the smallest birds that came into our yard. The big one is an Ibis, which is a beautiful bird that was used by Moses to kill snakes in the desert (according to Josephus) because its long beak protects it from being bitten. Unfortunately, they make a sound like a car horn from a cartoon. The other bird is a Fire Finch which are lovely little red specks. Sometimes they get lost in our house and we have to catch them and put them outside.
Another bird that is worth mentioning in Rwanda is the African Pied Wagtail. We don’t get them as much in our yard, but they are all over Rwanda. Here is a sketch of one:
The Rwandans call it Inyamanza and it is a traditional bird of peace. It is also a symbol for one of the traditional tribes of Rwanda. It is like the dove in America. They say that if you find a dead Inyamanza you should bury it with a coin for good luck.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions about my art, Peace Corps, or Rwanda, please comment below.