I thought it is the jungle

Do you want to go to Africa?  Yes. I want to see the natural forests, the animals in the jungle, people living in huts and surviving from farming, without electricity and clean water. These are answers from young Germans applying for volunteer stays in Rwanda.

What about you? Would you like to go to Europe?

Living in Europe is my most wish on this earth. Money rains, bye to poverty and bad living conditions. In Europe, even when you do nothing you earn money and get food. Once I touch the ground there I will run and make sure that I do not come back to Rwanda again” says a young Rwandan.

In the name of a young German, arriving in Rwanda, I did not expect to find the cities almost similar to those cities I left in Europe. I am disappointed by not finding the jungle I dreamed about and some people live better than some from my place of origin. Kigali is the most cleaned city. How is that working? Is it because of environmental care by the inhabitants or local non-governmental projects? Or it is because of rules from the state?

People do not need always rules to be aware of their needs. People need to meet, to exchange, to learn from each other and to work together no matter what can be their background and their histories. There is a saying in Kinyarwanda the official language in Rwanda “Akanyoni katagurutse ntikamenya iyo bweze” – A bird which never flies, never knows where food is. This food can be in Africa as well as in Europe depending on what food here means. It can be about knowledge or normal food. But does really everybody need to fly? Young Rwandans dream about living in Europe. Young Germans like to get experiences in Africa.  And often their expectations do not match with what they find there. It is hard for some of them to adapt the culture and living conditions but most of them learn a lot and take with them an important package back home.

In the name of a Rwandan volunteer serving in Germany, I did not expect to see forests in Germany. From what I see in movies, I thought that in Germany are only high buildings, many cars, and trains and always running people, meaning busy life. I was surprised to see forests and parks. Of course not as much as those I left in Rwanda. Not only Africans wish to stay in Europe but also some people from Europe wish to stay in Africa and for both on the way to find a better and comfortable life. And for both sides, they should respect rules to stay legally and in appropriate situation for the states. It is a chance and an opportunity to have access to all kind of foods (knowledge, experiences, normal food) when you take part in any volunteerism program.

Dominique Uwimana


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