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Experiences with people of Rwanda
Thursday, 30 January 2014 Written by Maksimilijan Šimunić

Experiences with people of RwandaAs I was walking through Gitarama (a town, not far from the village of Kivumu), I wasn’t paying much attention when suddenly, a little boy of only a few years ran towards me as fast as a bullet and hugged me around my waist. He held onto that hug for several seconds and then just looked me up me and smiled from ear to ear. He wouldn’t let me go. I saw his mother on the sidewalk as she was observing the scene and I put my thumb up as a sign that everything was alright and that I didn’t mind the little boy hugging me. I lifted him in the air and carried him a few meters back and forth. When my bus came and it was time to go, his mother took him and he immediately started crying. He didn’t want to let me go.

What caused him to be happy, I don’t know, but this situation clearly depicts the majority of my experiences in Rwanda. I was scared when I came; I didn’t know if I could walk around freely, go into stores or take out my cell phone in the city. When I waited for public transport for the first time and a bus came, I was, to be honest, scared to get in. I was literally thinking whether I should go or not. In the city I avoided any eye contact with people - my main concern was to get from point A to point B in the shortest time possible. Where that fear came from, I don’t know, but it was there. Not only did I fear, but my friend Filip did as well, and our parents were concerned for our safety during our entire stay.

People in Rwanda might be a bit pestering with asking if you want a taxi or by trying to sell you fruit, but they will never get in your way and cause you trouble. Actually, it is just the opposite. They will usually do things to make you feel comfortable. Filip and I experienced really good times in Rwanda and we were welcomed everywhere. Some people even asked to take a photo with us since we are white.

When I think about it, I cannot understand where all the fears we newcomers have come from, but as the time passes here it is easy to conclude that there really should be none. Although I have not visited any other African countries, I believe Rwanda is one of the safest, if not the safest country on the continent.

Edited by Valerie Kae Ken

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