When CBM sends a team from Canada to Rwanda a great deal of cultural adjustment is needed. Our Rwandan friends are very gracious about all our faux pas but it always warms my heart when I see Canadians adjust culturally. Recently 11 women came from different places across Canada with the She Matters STM (Short Term Mission). They led seminars on Child Development, Women’s cotton sanitary products and ministered to women from the DRC (Congo) and Rwanda who are victims of wartime sexual violence. They learned about women’s literacy and food security as well. But more than anything, they learned to be Rwandan. Below are some pics of the cultural adjustments that these women were able to make.
Photo: Julie greeting an elderly woman
Greetings in Rwanda can get quite complicated. One has to remember if you are greeting a new friend, a old friend, a man, a woman, an elder, a big man, or a child. In this photo, Julie Hunt is greeting an older woman with a great deal of respect as she shakes hands but also puts her opposite hand on her elbow.
Photo: She Matters Group (Congolese, Rwandans and Canadians)
Women do not always keep their head wrapped these days but our African friends love it when the muzungus (westerners) try to be traditional. It was a lot of fun having our head-wraps done. Congolese and Rwandans showed us how to do different styles.
Photo: Laetitia and Anne dancing
The retreat for the women involved a lot of sharing, crying and praying. But sometimes we all needed to dance. This is an important part of healing here. Talking is good but dancing and singing is even better. It is good for the soul.
Photo: Karissa carrying maize
So what does one do when one is handed five stalks of maize? One puts it on one’s head of course! Once again we were blessed with fresh corn from the field of a friend. That night we cooked it up and we all had a taste. It was the best Rwandan corn I have ever eaten. Honest! Accepting a gift graciously and carrying it away on one’s head is adapting culturally.
This was just a small glimpse into an amazing two weeks. If you want to know more about this trip and see more photos, let me know and I will do a second blog about it. There is always too much to tell in just one brief photo essay. If you want to learn more about CBM’s priority for empowering and improving the lives of women and girls, visit the She Matters page at our website.