Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Living Situation

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I have changed houses within my town of Mibirizi. My last living situation was deemed unacceptable by Peace Corps because of too little space and too many people. Thus began the lengthy process of finding a new house in Mibirizi. Peace Corps visited a total of 5 times to assess my house or approve prospective houses. This is a big deal because when the Peace Corps Landcruiser rumbles into town it's like a UFO landing. Some locals believed, possibly still believe, that the Peace Corps car comes to give me money.



The reason it took so long? Partly because the government of Rwanda is spending money to help develop Mibirizi  quickly and make it a hub town for other smaller villages in the area. The hospital, I think, is a big source of this spending and as new doctors and nurses are hired, additional housing becomes necessary. Most of the houses we were looking at were still being constructed or had just finished. Doctors and nurses can also afford to pay more in rent than the average citizen-- another reason for inflating house prices. In addition to all of this, my headmaster told me that the price sometimes changed once the owner found out who was moving in.

In many ways my first living situation matched that of a typical Rwandan teacher my age, most of whom are trying to save money and supporting family members while searching for a job that pays well (teacher salaries are meager). I feel a little guilty about leaving, especially because I have to acknowledge that most people in Rwanda have a difficult lifestyle that I would have trouble adjusting too. I feel spoiled. However, the Peace Corps staff that have visited have been encouraging. The official stance is that as a volunteer, I make no money and don't have the ability to make financial choices related to what kind of house I live in. Therefore, Peace Corps has to impose a standard. To ease the awkwardness of the transition and avoid hurt feelings on the part of my former house mates, staff members have worked with me to help get this across and stress the fact that it isn't my choice.

The view from my bedroom. The far mountains are the DRC.
But these feelings of guilt are dwarfed by how happy I am with my new house. I live with the headmaster of my school, who is very motivated in his work and has good ideas for how to help the school and community. He has a domestic worker named Tanas (spelling correction forthcoming) who also lives with us. I get two rooms and my bedroom is actually fairly large. The house is brand new, is off the main road, and has beautiful views all around. With less bustle around the house I've been a lot more relaxed. I'm able to come home at the end of a hard day and be alone. Just a little time spent this way is extremely helpful and I found I've been more outgoing and more active in the community lately.

Because it's been a long time since I've written an entry (no power yet), I wanted to do something special. Below is a short video tour of my house. It's still very unfinished (no paint on the walls, no door on the latrine, no kitchen), but improvements are happening very fast.

1 comment:

  1. yayy i'm glad your house situation got figured out and you're happy with the results. i imagine that many of us will share stories of our rollercoaster ride at site during IST..!

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