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The World Food Programme shut down the Arusha office in 2013.  All nationals in the office laid off.  No further assistance to school children and farmers.

Cheryl and Norm Filipenko, Canadian Harambee volunteers, denied an extension to their three month visa by the Kenyan government in 2014.

L’histoire de la coopération internationale…est un récif contre lequel d’innombrables projets se sont échoués.  


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A Man and his Dog

The thing about the Norwegian and the dog is both were elderly and sprightly.
The man was carrying say two shopping bags with
groceries and did not alter his pace when walking up steep
stairs and streets or crossing a long bridge or over the rail tracks from one side of Bergen to the other, up hill and down he had a fair walk.  He knew precisely where he could let his dog off the leash, where it would be safe and then never needed to
look back.  The black and white dog knew the route, knew the ropes and
how to behave, all in her own time.  As they were climbing the last
hill the man took the steps to the right but the dog headed left on a
shortcut.  I surmise this was home after a long walk because I turned
back toward town then.

I woke with this on my mind and I am up early (many years of farming)
and having coffee when the kitchen is not crowded and it is quiet in
the hall here at the hostel.  And what did you do in Bergen?  Why on my
bike I followed a man and his dog.  Well it seems to me a real thing to
do.  My dog knew her shortcut too and I felt this tug to be near.

Bergen actually has a few scruffy streets to my relief. The buildings are so attractive, blues, reds, mustards; flat surfaces with doors opening directly on to the streets I love so.

I went to see an Edvard Munch exhibit in Oslo and it was wonderful. He
is a good painter.  One can’t just focus on his most famous.  There are
many of his paintings I’d love on my walls but The Scream ain’t one of

I do not know how you hung in there on my blog.  I don’t enjoy the
medium and my eyes glaze over but I kept an account for myself and
only those interested of my time away.  Did you not find it boring?  I
don’t but it is my record and I am obviously trying to understand my

Thanks for your support once again,

Happy trails to you,


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A Woman of Substance

My name is Edith Olwande,P1000780I am the daughter of Jane and Francis; I was born in a polygamous family in the year 1992, 14th of April.  My father had two wives, the first wife had two kids, Ann and Moses and she divorced. The 2nd wife is my mother, she had four kids, one died, that leaves Nancy, Caroline and me.  I am a total orphan; my mother died in the process of giving birth to me.  My father was a cleaner in Highlands school now known as Moi Girls High School in Eldoret, Kenya.  He took care of me up to class four and, later  when he died, and we were forced to move out of the school compound, we moved to Munyaka  slums.  After Dad’s burial my stepsister Ann became so harsh to every one in the house; she beat up everybody in the house and denied us food.  Moses resolved to go to Busia to Father’ s ancestral land to start his own life, and Caroline and Nancy got married. Caroline was in class six & Nancy class eight.  I remained with Ann as I was so young and innocent I could not go anywhere.

My stepsister Ann became so harsh she would chase me out at night and deny me food; she wanted me to get married too, like my sisters.  I would sleep in culverts, people’s bathrooms and latrines because I feared to go  into people’s houses.  Despite all this, I used to wake up and go to school.  I used to feel different, unwanted and unloved; I became a thief and  I stole other pupil’s books and pens because I wanted to learn and I had no one to help me.  I used to pick food in the dustbins at lunch time and sometimes supper and then I  would go back home to recieve my daily caning.  I’d cry the whole night if I happened to sleep in the house such that I actually became a street girl who never left school.  I would go home only rarely.  I finished class eight at the age of 12.  After class eight, I wanted to become a house girl but I was so tiny no one wanted me in their house; then Caroline appeared after a good four years; she said she had come back for me and as she didn’t want me to be a house girl, she took  me to her place in Kakamega

Caroline asked me to go back to class seven and learn for two more years so as to be bright and bigger both in size and age.  I went back to school and I worked so hard and I got so much support from all my teachers and my sister that, in the end, I became the first girl in the school with 392 marks out of 500marks.  I was big but I didn’t want to be a house girl or a wife; I wanted to learn and unite my family and help my sister Caroline who was not happy in her marriage.  Somebody told me about CHES, Canadian Harambee Education Support and my headteacher took me there; I did the interview and I got a scholarship!  I was so happy!  I wore my first pair of Bata shoes at the age of 15 and a new  uniform and guess what?  I went to a boarding school!  Mukumu Girls’.  I wanted to become a woman of substance; I joined handball and I became the best player, and I became the best artist in the art class.  At the end of four years I got a university entry grade but I didn’t qualify to be sponsored by the government, however, I still wanted to learn!

[Edith is at Teacher’s Training College now thanks to sponsorship by Norm and Cheryl Filipenko.  She is learning to sign while volunteering at a school for the deaf and she helped interpret at the Harambee Centre during the interviews with scholarship applicants from this school.]

“Immediately i finished form 4,i was called at ches house to help in verification programmes while waiting for the exam results,i got a university entry grade though, i didnt qualify to be sponsord by the government,i felt bad! i thought that was the end of my studies,my dream was to become a teacher in special needs specifically sign language,i wanted to be in a position to pay back what ches had done to me by making a street girls dream  to come true!i wanted to acomplish something in the end! At that time i could not get a good job, so i resolved to search for a job as a house girl after the verification programmes,so that,i save for two years and  be able to pay my college fee.In the process of verification, i met Norm and Cheryl who offered me a course in computer,after comp sch, they gave me a scholarship in Maseno university!Am now a 2nd year student taking education arts,history and Religion,after my 4th yr course when i get employed as a teacher,i would pay my special edu fee.”

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…un cimetière pour chiens.

L’Oeil du Léopard    Henning Mankell


“… Derrière la belle surface de motivations idéalistes se cachent une série de raisons égoistes et économiques.  Signer un contrat avec un autre pays équivant à la promesse d’une vie aisée et comfortable.  Le bien-être suédois te suit partout et s’élève à des hanteurs insoupçonnées quand il s’agit de cinseillers techniques confortablement rémunérés.  Si tu as des enfants, l’Etat suédois se charge de te trouver les meilleurs écoles, tu vis dans un monde parrallèle où pratiquement tout est possible.  Tu achètes une voiture hors taxes en arrivant  dans un pays comme la Zambie, tu la revends et tu auras suffisamment d’argent pour vivre sans toucher à ton salaire qui prospère tranquillement sur un compte bancaire quelque part dans le monde.  Tu disposes de personel et d’une maison avec piscine, tu vis comme si tu avais fait venir un manoir suédois.  J’ai calculé qu’en un mois je gagne autant que ma domestique en soixante ans, si je tiens compte de la valure de mes devises étrangères sur le marché noir.  Ici, en Zambie, pratiquement aucun expert technique suédois  ne change son argent selon le cours officiel.  Le montant de nos revenus n’a aucun rapport raisonnable avec notre traviail.  Le jour où les Suédois sauront à quoi servent  leurs impôts, le gouvernment en place sera minoritaire aux élections suivantes.  La classe ouvrière suédoise a accepté de payer ce qu’on appelle une aide au développement.  C’est vrai que la Suède est un des rares pays où la notion de solidarité a toujours cours.  Mais elle veut évidemment que les impôts soient utilisés de façon correcte.  Ce qui n’arrive que très rarement.  L’histoire de la coopération internationale suédoise est un récif contre lequel d’innombrables projets se sont échoués.  Plusieurs étaient scandaleux, des journalistes ont d’ailleurs attiré l’attention sur quelques-uns, mais bien plus nombreux sont ceux qui ont été enterrés et étouffés.  La coopération suédoise est un cimetière pour chiens.

…L’argent suédois est, bien entendu, convoité.  La näiveté politique a eu pour résultat qu’un nombre infini de politiciens et d’hommes d’affaires noirs se sont amassé de grandes richesses avec l’argent suédois destiné à l’aide au développement de leur pays.  J’ai discuté avec un homme politique de Tanzanie qui avait démissionné de son poste et qui était suffisamment vieux pour dire ce qu’il pensait.  Il possédait un château en France, en partie financé avec de l’argent suédois envoyé pour la création de puits dans les régions les plus pauvres de son pays.  Il m’a parlé d’une association officieuse, un groupe d’hommes politiques que se rencontraient régulièrement pour partager leurs expériences sur la manière la plus simple s’acquérir de l’argent de la Suède, de l’argent qu’ils mettaient dans leurs poches.  Je ne c’est pas si c’est vrai, mais ce n’est pas impossible.  Le politicien qui avait un château en France n’était d’ailleurs pas particulièrement cynique.  Etre un homme politique africain constitue une possibilité légitime de s’enrichir,  Que les pauvres en pâtissent est tacitement admis.

J’ai du mal à croire ce que tu me dis.
C’est bien la raison pour laquelle ça peut continuer comme ça pendent encore longtemps.  Cet état des choses est trop incompréhensible pour que quelqu’un fasse l’effort d’y croire,encore d’agir concrétement.”

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Le 8 mai 1945 – Le 8 mai 2013

On peut lire sur une plaque sur le bord de la route:

LE 13 JUIN 1944                                                                                                                                    EN CE LIEU ON ETE MASSACRES 28 MARTYRS DE LA RESISTANCE VICTIMES DE LA BARBARIE ALLEMANDE  ILS SONT MORTS POUR QUE LA FRANCE VIVE

P1030623 Je suis béni, j’aurais pu être auteur.

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Solange lost her father and two brothers to the genocide and she took 
over her dad’s job, rebuilding his house and educating her younger 

“For 12 years, since 1994, I wasn’t enjoying life and this was 
stealing my joy, destroying the best in me and, finally, killing me. 
I realized I was the one who had the problem; what to do?  I made a 
decision to act on what I call ‘Pacific Revenge’.  Instead of blame, have compassion.  The genocidaires also need help to acknowledge evil and depart from it.  Between 1994 and 2001 I was bitter and then I decided to live my dad’s life because, though outwardly I wanted to live a 
good life, inwardly this was not the case.  If you want to make a difference you have to go deep.  I am going to preach love, I’ve made this my banner.  Hatred consumes itself and everyone. 
If you want to kill something, starve it.  We Rwandans need to starve hatred. 
You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

Solange cites other Rwandan examples of what she calls Pacific Revenge:  “There are people trained – mental health workers – who go out to communities to help those struggling.  Genocidaires who confess serve half their prison term but they must do community service. 
Rwanda is clean because this is a community service and there are smoother roads now because this too is a community service.  I think it’s usually 1/2 day per week.  Also there is an ongoing – possibly once a week during the evening – community dialogue between the victims and perpetrators.  Just as it is for me, so for all Rwandans, this Pacific Revenge must continue at least through the affected generations.  It has to be worked on.”

“An effort of will, is what is expected of Rwandans, by themselves and their government, by Paul Kagame [Rwanda’s president].  After 19 years, don’t forget but don’t use the genocide as an excuse not to get up and work.”   So Solange, after 12 years of bitterness, of self-pity decided, with God’s help, to work positively for reconciliation in her beautiful country.  It appears to me that at least two times in Solange’s life she has made this effort of will; what can ever really be accomplished without this?

With no background in agriculture and no English, she embarked on an MSc / PhD in Kansas during a midwest winter and took on her missing father’s job to bring up her siblings and rebuild her county.  She went to the US on a Fulbright scholarship and first studied English in 
California for 8 months.  Although she was not yet adequately prepared for graduate studies,  Solange continued her education in freezing Kansas where the huge American steers on feedlots were definitely not ‘pets’.  She was lost at sea in this landscape, one at odds with her intimate, green homeland.  She would have preferred to study medicine but had not the financial where with all for the 6 year commitment.  Not without anguish, she made the decision to like her choice of following her scholarship to its conclusion and to live constructively with it.  She is now Dean of Agriculture and has learned to enjoy her job.

Solange is one of the promoters of the series of genocide related public lectures here at the university that are taking place each afternoon during this week of genocide remembrance.

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A Place to Return to

Rwanda is special, green and clean.  Dogs aren’t, nor plastic bags. (No dogs = no starving dogs.)  People, almost to a woman, man and child, work the land with mattock, from the bottom to the very top of every hill and mountainside.  All steep sides are terraced and drained.

It’s absolutely beautiful such that I am fearful of forgetting what I see.

Kigali is built on several hills and this setting is particularly appealing, especially at night with the hillsides twinkling.

I took a ‘moto’cycle to the library down one long curving hill and up another. It is by the American embassy. This library is an attractive glass buildings from both the outside and in. I went because there is an extensive collection of books on genocide.  (Both moto driver and passenger must wear helmets which likely gives you an idea of how well this small country is functioning.)

We went by bus to a small university town and attended several memorial lectures on the genocide; ~ 500 people were murdered at the university.  We also joined a ceremony at the tomb where ~6,000 are buried.  This one full week each year since 1994 is given to exploring the genocide.  All flags remain at half-mast.
We went to a small town on the shore of Lake Kivu (the lake is shared with the Democratic Republic of Congo) where we went for a 3.5 hour walk up into the land, all farmland with some quarry works along the road.  People sit on the roadside and hammer larger rocks into smaller.

This is a functioning country.  Police do not ‘pan-handle’ drivers at arbitrary road checks.  Children go to high school where, as of 3-4 years ago, they study principally in English.  Homes seem permanent and have metal roofs, though without  electricity or piped water.   For its size, Rwanda has the highest of population densities yet there appear to be no congested slums.

Much depends on a country’s leadership and Paul Kagame must be not only courageous and honest, but a visionary and benevolent as well. ( I have yet to read “God Sleeps in Rwanda” a critique of his regime.)  There is a sense of solidarity here, with self-reliance both the collective and individual goal.

P1010610 P1010668 P1010833 P1010899 P1010911 P1010917 P1010919 P1010926 P1010970 P1010974 P1010981 P1010997 P1020018 P1020047 P1020067 P1020196 P1020200 P1020233 P1020273 P1020282 P1020286 P1020289 P1020318 P1020538

One to return to…
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