We’d arrived in Butare just before nightfall the evening before, staying in a hotel a short walk from the main campus of the National University of Rwanda. Our time in Butare is going to give us a chance to interact with Rwandan students and visit some NGOs.
We started our first day in Butare with a lecture by Professor Herman Musahara on the NUR’s role in post-genocide reconstruction. He not only told us about the role NUR academics had played in promoting genocide ideology but also about the university’s contributions to national unity and reconciliation since 1995. To help achieve this, the University created the Centre for Conflict management in response to the challenges raised in the post-genocide context. After the lecture, we had the opportunity to meet some of NUR’s students who then showed us around the extensive campus which not only has the usual academic buildings you’d expect at a University but also a forest that’s home to chimpanzees!
In the afternoon, we visited the Maraba Coffee Farming and Washing Stations, which is a cooperative project initiated by NUR. We were shown around by Jean-Marie whose passion for the project certainly rubbed off on us. He introduced us to ‘worm tea’ (which is a type of organic fertilizer), and encouraged us to listen to the sound happy, healthy worms make (squelchy noises, in case you were wondering!). We were also taken to see the coffee washing stations and the financial coordinator who outlined some of the financial and social benefits of the project. The visit definitely made us more aware of the extensive effort and enthusiasm that is put into coffee production!