July 8, 2011 – Today was the last day of our fieldwork! I am in awe that despite all kinds of challenges that we’ve faced every day we got all we asked for: a total of 450 interviews conducted in 12 sectors (out of 14). The remaining two sectors were for focus group meetings. I am so thankful to our team members, and their hard work ethics cannot be overemphasised.
To thank my dear team members, I decided to make a t-shirt (kind of a souvenir of our teamwork) with a traditional greeting printed on the front and back. The front reads “Amashyo?” and on the back “Amashyongore!” The literal translation is “Wish you a big herd of cows”, and the reply is “Wish you (in return) many heifers in your herd and many spears to protect them”. Now, this is an old greeting that we rarely hear nowadays, but it shows how important and valuable of the role the cows played in Rwandan culture and tradition. Rwanda is known for its thousand hills, but I say Rwanda is also the land of a thousand moo cows.
Well, I first heard this greeting last year when I met a local grandmother in the village. When I shook her hand to greet her, she wished me a big herd of cows! How sweet of her. Perhaps that was the spark of my Girinka program research. This greeting seemed most appropriate for my study this year – wishing for a better livelihood through a girinka cow and eventually hoping for a more significant herd of cows and more heifers to pass-on. The whole team wore the t-shirt, and its message was a big hit in the villages. We made many farmers laugh and more importantly, we were proud to be part of this research team. Go girinka cow team go!
Pictures: The first one is our first survey day picture (my INATEK team and the UBC students who were also in Rwanda for the continuation of the Nutrition project that I worked on last year). We took this picture at our Stella bus driver who is also a good friend of mine now, Vedaste’s farm. He’s no ordinary bus driver – he owns over 80 cows and 46 hectares of land! In fact, he is the shareowner of the Stella bus company in Kibungo. All this to say, cow ownership is still king here!
The second one is my team wearing the t-shirts. We look goofy here, but I can assure you of their professionalism. We just lived by the “work hard and play hard” motto.
(Picture #4: From right to left – Top: Emmanuel, SK, Innocent, Epaphrodite, Robert – Bottom: Jean-de-Dieu, Pallotti-Vincent, Emile, Toussaint, Claudine, Noëlla)