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A Slow Boat to Ishywa

CHI recently adopted the Star School Sponsorship programme in Kigali from Mission Possible UK (MPUK), and they have now asked us if we are prepared to take forward the work on Ishywa Island. This is the primary reason we are in this part of Rwanda.

Today we had our first experience of boat travel Rwanda style as we headed off to Ishywa Island.

Home to 3740 people; Ishywa sits in lake Kivu just a stone’s throw from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Even a misty morning could not hide the beauty of this place, the tranquillity of the lake is hard to describe. Lone fishermen in locally made canoes dot the mirror smooth surface, lush green islands of varying sizes rise from the mist. What an absolute privilege to have the opportunity to experience this place.

About an hour later we landed on Ishywa Island, there are no cars, picky pickys or even bicycles on the island. We were greeted warmly by Pastor Theoneste, the local government leader, and other island elders. Carmen greeted an elderly lady who was watching on, she was delighted and so reluctant to let go of her hand she climbed halfway up the hill with us.

Breakfast of eggs, bananas, bread and the best African tea we have enjoyed so far was shared at Pastor Theoneste’s home, which was funded by MPUK.

Then a visit to the nursery school built and funded by MPUK where we Caused Havoc Intentionally with the inevitable tennis balls, and saw the progress being made on the building of a third classroom.

The rest of the morning was spent visiting a number of homes where MPUK have assisted by providing toilets, water filters and fruit trees. The poverty on Ishywa is undeniable, and there is still much to be done, the number of young children roaming the streets, unable to attend school speaks of the ongoing need, but the support provided so far has obviously transformed the island.

After a delicious traditional meal cooked by Theoneste’s wife we headed back to the lakeside to walk around the island. Next to fishing, boat building seems to be the main occupation and we marvelled at the skills of these men as they used traditional methods, without power tools or machinery.

Cultivating the land within 50 meters of the lakeshore is forbidden by the government, however, as we pushed our way through densely growing casava plants and elephant grass taller than us, we got the impression that many take little notice of this instruction. Two hours later we had walked the entire shore.

We returned to the mainland in a small traditional canoe on what was obviously their version of a school bus, where our vehicle was waiting. A journey on the dancing roads saw us return well massaged to the guest house, tired, but happy that this is a work we will be delighted to take forward.

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Do they want any westerners to come build an orphanage over there and look after the street kids?! 🤔

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