Friday, January 28, 2011

Two Years

This weekend marks the end of two full years in Rwanda...and the beginning of a third.

I am currently in the process of wrapping up my life in my village. I am saying goodbyes to people; organizing my farewell party for the nurses with whom I have been working; coordinating the graduation ceremony for my English class; and enjoying my last "Big Brother/Little Brother" time with Rutambi.

I am also in the process of completing my Close Of Service (COS) paperwork. I have to do a few reports about my work, my site, and, especially, my health. In fact, the week after next I am going into the capital to have a three day-long physical exam. They are going to test EVERYTHING. That's good, though, because I need to be medically cleared to officially finish my PCV service AND to start my third year.

Speaking of my third year, I was able to sit down with PC Rwanda's APCD (Associate Peace Corps Director) during my COS conference in Gisenyi earlier this month. Our conversation focused a lot on my duties as the very first, official PCVL for the PC Rwanda program.

So, as you know, I will be moving from my village in Rubona (in the East Province of Rwanda) to a little border region called Rusizi (in the West Province). They want the PCVL out there because it is so remote. It takes 8-10 hours to get from Rusizi to Kigali, the capital, where PC Rwanda HQ is located and, thus, the nearest staff member.

The position will be for a full year. I will be in the states all of April to visit and I will return to Rwanda in early May to begin my work. I will still have volunteer status, but I will be part of the full-time staff as a para-professional. It sounds like most of my time will be in the West and South Provinces of Rwanda fielding volunteer questions, comments, and concerns. I won't bore you with too many specifics; everything that the APCD and I spoke about regarding the position's duties can be summed up in two important objectives: Site Development and Volunteer Support.

Site Development means prospecting and preparing sites for future volunteers. This includes traveling around Rwanda and introducing myself and Peace Corps to prospective host communities; and meeting with local government officials, authorities, and prospective partner organizations (NGOs, NPOs).

Site Development also means surveying each prospective site for possible safety and security issues. These duties include, but are not limited to, researching and evaluating: the community's need for a volunteer, the community's receptiveness to having a volunteer live and work with them for two years, the volunteer's housing situation, and the volunteer's proximity to food, water, and health care. This is all just a taste of how I will be 'developing' sites for new volunteers.

Understand, however, that I do not have the rubber stamp of approval on all this. I collect and compile the data; I do not actually approve the sites myself. I give my recommendations, but PC Rwanda professional staff have the final say.

Volunteer Support is also a broad sounding objective too, isn't it? But it is just what it sounds like. Once volunteers are placed at their sites, I will be visiting and contacting them regularly to make sure the volunteers are safe, healthy, and meeting programming objectives. This may mean lending knowledge and experience regarding cultural integration or programming; or it may mean assisting volunteers with issues regarding safety and security in their workplace, homes, or personal lives. This will also mean that I will have to do some PC Rwanda policy and procedure enforcement, but in my conversation with the APCD I was told that the PCVL position wasn't to be one of a 'PC police officer' or, at the other end of the spectrum, any kind of errand boy for the volunteers. The PCVL in Rusizi is to act as a resource for the volunteers to receive meaningful advice and prompt, efficient assistance.

All-in-all my conversation with the APCD was very exciting. This kind of work experience will be very helpful to draw upon as I continue my career in foreign service and international development. I was very happy to hear that my expectations and his expectations of the position were pretty much the same. Next week I have some time with the Director of PC Rwanda and I look forward to speaking with her about the position. I am sure it will not vary much from what I have already been told.

Anyway, I am very excited to be continuing my service in Rwanda. I loved my experiences in Rwanda as a PCV. Recently, however, I have been feeling like it is time for some kind of change in regards to taking on more responsibility and work. Therefore, I am very much looking forward to starting my new position.

Most importantly, I have been feeling like it is definitely time for me to visit home. Speaking of which, I come home in two months! See you all soon!


  1. Congratulations, Reeb. I've been following your travels since day one, and I can see this has been an amazing experience for you. Good job, and good luck in the future.

  2. Hi Reeb,

    Congratulations on your new position, sounds like it will be a welcome change. I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to the possibility of working together in the future as I will be joining the ranks of Rwandan volunteers in May.


  3. Hey Emmett,
    congratulations on being able to continue. Keep up the good work and enjoy your visit home.