Outside of the gate of our school there is a bus and moto stop. Moto taxis are one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get around in Rwanda. Of course, Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take motos on any paved roads. We can only take them on treacherous dirt paths in tiny villages where there are no other transportation options.
To become a moto driver is not simple, since motos are expensive. A person can save up for more than a decade to buy a moto, and then they must build a client base. Most people who take motos have a specific moto driver that they call whenever they need a ride. The rest of their time is spent waiting. Sometimes they will drive around looking for customers, but that wastes gas, and they may not find anyone needing a ride. So, most of the time they just sit there doing nothing.
Every day on our way to or from work, we walk past these moto drivers sitting and waiting for customers. They greet us before we walk in the school gate. Most of their day is spent hanging out with each other, and working on their motos. They get pretty bored, so they spend a lot of time taking naps and staring into space. They decorate their motos with phrases about God and portraits of Che Guavara, whose history I doubt they know very much about.
Usually only men are moto drivers, but in the Peace Corps we encourage young women to try getting higher paying jobs that are traditionally for men. We are very proud that in our district there is one female moto driver! She has to work harder than the other drivers, and we get the feeling that some of them don’t appreciate her decision to do a “man’s job,” so we really respect her tenacity.
In the future, we hope to see more female moto drivers.
This post is a part of my Peace Corps Series. More from the series may be viewed here: