Elle est belle la vie!

It’s just another day in the village…”

But I am always surprised and delighted to find moments and glimpses of beauty from the ordinary. Although I find myself in resource-lacking and poor infrastructure villages, I don’t necessarily see ‘poverty’ in peoples’ lives.

Yes, children run barefoot in the village (but they do wear shoes when they go to town or school – it’s mandatory by law in Rwanda). Yes, their clothes are not the cleanest (but they are hardworking farmers, and hardworking farmers mean soiled clothes). Yes, they have little disposable income, but they do everything and above their means to feed and stay healthy as best as they possibly can. Perhaps I have hung around long enough that my senses and standards of living have adjusted to their level and I don’t notice the poverty as starkly as my first arrival in Rwanda.

Ah well, I better live and enjoy the fieldwork like there’s no tomorrow. Because tomorrow (when the fieldwork is over, and I’m gone back home) I will probably find myself spending hours in front of the computer piling through the mountains of data. Then, when the data (the monster) that I have collected start to be overwhelming, I will close my eyes and remember the laterite dust and sweat and the heat and the rain from the village work. What stressing over data? Compared to the fieldwork challenges, it’s not a monster. It’s just a paper tiger!

Coming back to ‘now’ – when I look back and remember the beautiful moments that I experienced, all the hardship and sweat that I poured during the fieldwork evaporate like sweet summer rain. If only I had this hindsight right from the beginning of my fieldwork! I guess I learn better doing twice.

Village boys fishing in the rice ditch - with nothing but stick and string (and skills!)
Village boys fishing in the rice ditch – with nothing but stick and string (and skills!)
Today's catch (with a proud smile)
Today’s catch (with a proud smile)
Green, bright sun, and baby blue sky = Rwandan flag
Green, bright sun, and baby blue sky = the colours of Rwandan flag
A thousand blossoms
A thousand blossoms

Published by Sung Kyu Kim

Sung Kyu is a research fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex

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