2010 Canadian Tour

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Posted by: ChrisH

Again, during day 2 at Waterloo many people with real life experience of refugee camps came to visit.  I include some video footage of our volunteer Remmy, from Rwanda, who grew up in a refugee camp.  His comments about water are nothing short of shocking.

Later in the day I met a Doctor from Afghanistan.  He explained why he thought that it is good that people in this part of the world see the “ugly reality” of what is happening in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Jimmy from Rwanda

Posted by: ChrisH

After passing a border crossing, the first stop in the tour is the landmines. He turned around and walked out about 1 minute into the tour. “I’ve seen too much of this already. In my country” he said. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t know the words, the emotion in his voice was so apparent. I saw him sitting under a tree for the next hour or so. I pointed him out to Wendy, the project coordinator, “I think that man had a emotional time in the camp, he didn’t make it past the minefields”. I wanted to give him some water, but guessed he might prefer some solitude.

Later I saw him talking to Catherine, the mental health expert, also from Scotland. So I went over. He is called Jimmy and he is from Rwanda. I’ll add a small video clip that we made later tonight below.

Security and Rwanda

Posted by: ChrisH

So I spent most of today doing my usual evil border guard act, extracting bribes from slightly terrified “refugees”. Other interesting activities included baby-sitting the cutest baby in the world (daughter of a guide) and doing a tour. A lady who hadn’t said very much during the tour spoke up at the end, telling the group that she had been in Pakistan during the earthquake and that the tour gave a realistic insight into the problems that were faced and that she was very impressed with the work that MSF had done there which had saved many lives, notably of young children. It made me very proud. Her story is posted below.

At the end of the day I was briefly asked to be a real guard before our contracted night security turned up. Walking around the perimeter I met a beautiful and well dressed middle aged lady with her son. She was trying to get a photo of one of the tukuls, which are typical temporary shelters in Africa. She explained that her son had been born in one, but he was too young to remember. I asked where she was from – Rwanda. I’m in the middle of reading a book by James Orbinski, the former international president of MSF, and recently finished a part that I will never forget. He talked about how during the massacre there, rather than kill people, the militia would chop of people’s hands and feet and push them into the pit latrines. People would slowly bleed to death, unable to climb out. Parents begged or paid machete-wielding mobs to shoot their children rather than them face this horrible death. I invited her son to jump the fence and take a quick peek into a tukul similar to the one in which he was born.