Tomorrow marks the beginning of our fourth month in Rwanda – an excellent milestone to step back and offer a few reflections on our new temporary home. Unlike our first two Foreign Service postings, Kigali was a bit of a known quantity. We had both visited Rwanda previously and knew to a certain, limited extent what we were getting into. Of course, as anyone who has spent a decent amount of time here will attest, the longer you live in Rwanda the more you realize how little you really know.
Secretary Kerry’s visit to Kigali and all the prep that it entailed is only part of the reason our blog has been silent of late. We also took our first family trip around Rwanda the weekend before the Montreal Protocol. When we returned to Kigali, S simply repacked her bags, first going to Nairobi for two days, and then traveling back to Washington, D.C. for a weeklong conference.
Seven years in the making, an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol was adopted in Kigali in the wee hours of the morning last Saturday. Over 170 nations committed to phase out the use of a powerful heat-trapping chemical, which will cut one degree Fahrenheit from the projected increase in atmospheric temperature. With the whole Embassy working tirelessly to support our negotiating team, this diplomatic achievement feels incredibly gratifying – both because it is a big deal in the fight against climate change and also because it feels good to make a contribution, however small, to bend the arc of history in the right direction.
Time seems to be flying faster for us in Kigali than it did in DC. With both of us working full time and trying to make the most of the couple of hours we have with Munchkin each evening, the summer weeks rushed by in a flash and Rwanda’s rainy season snuck up on us unexpectedly.
Last week, President Obama hosted a summit on refugees, bringing together world leaders who pledged their countries to increase financing of humanitarian support for the 65 million people who have been displaced by conflict worldwide, promised to increase the number of refugees accepted for resettlement, and committed to providing a more dignified life for refugees by increasing access to education and employment opportunities in frontline nations that are hosting large refugee populations.
We engaged in a lot of soul searching before sending Munchkin to daycare last year. While there was never a doubt in S’s mind that he would benefit from a structured environment and the opportunity to socialize with other kids, D was somewhat sympathetic to his mother’s view that a child that young (the Munch was only 20 months old when he started daycare) should stay at home.
Even though many months have passed since Munchkin acquired the gift of gab, we have yet to cease marveling both at how voluble he has grown and at some of the outrageous things he comes up with seemingly all the time. Usually, we are too busy laughing to write them down, and then reproach ourselves when we can’t recall what it was he had said that had amused us so.
From dazzling sunbirds to graceful flamingos and colorful bee-eaters, Africa’s birds are so varied and numerous as to offer seemingly endless possibilities of discovery with every safari. Moreover, many of them are so vibrant compared to their drab North American cousins that they almost seem impossible – fanciful imaginations of an experimental god that were released by mistake into our realm.
We’re both adventurers at heart, always seeking out new terrain to explore. We caught the travel bug young and clearly haven’t shaken it yet, but given our nomadic lifestyle, there is something inherently appealing – even comforting – about returning to the same place year after year. At least S feels that way. Three summers ago, she spent a week with her family on Deer Isle – an idyllic spot on the Maine coast – and has returned two of the last three years despite the fact that D has yet to be able to join or even make up his mind about the annual tradition.