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13 APR - Kibuyu, Rwanda

Date received: Tue Apr 17 2001, 03:39 AM PDT

Rwanda is a frightening place. There seems to be a noticeable tension here, where things just don't seem quite right. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it is the anniversary of the Genocide; exactly seven years ago, a million people were brutally butchered in the period of just a few days.
Right now I am staying in a Catholic mission. It was the only accommodation I could get. It is in a beautiful location, high above Lake Kivu. Next door is a memorial to 11,400 victims of the Genocide killed here April 17, 1994, most likely in this very church. Most of the killings occurred in churches, where people had taken refuge.

The money situation here is bad. The exchange rate for dollars should be about 400 RWF/USD. But on the street it is 40! So I am forced to live off of my Ugandan Shillings, which won't go far. I don't even have enough for dinner, since I need to save money for the ride to Kigali.

Ten minutes after arriving in Rwanda yesterday, I had my wallet stolen. Luckily, I use a "decoy" wallet, which has nothing of value in it. I lost about US$4, but it sent a strong warning signal.

I won't be here long.


Copyright 2000 Peter Birch All Rights Reserved.