From Window Magazine: Umuganda Day

“It’s quiet—too quiet,” I thought as our group of about a dozen Western Washington University students walked down the empty, red-dirt road into town. Where was everyone?

This normally busy road in Rwanda was deserted save for a lone police officer dressed all in blue, standing across the street watching for something. Our guide had told us to meet him here, so we waited, kicking the dirt and chatting in the rising heat of the morning sun.

Soon, a white pickup pulled up. The town’s mayor stuck out his head and had a short conversation with one of our advisers; the mayor pointed us in the right direction and we moved on.

The day was Umuganda, Rwanda’s monthly day of service. This national community work day has played an important role in the reconstruction of Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, when the Hutu majority committed acts of genocide against the Tutsi minority and left the country in ruins. On the last Saturday of each month, starting at 8 a.m., all citizens are obliged to participate in a community project for at least three hours. And on this Saturday, our group from Western was hoping to join in.

But first, we had to find the work site.

Read the rest of this story on the website for Window Magazine.