Andrew Meldrum's Blogs

  • On the Road: Glimpses of Rwandan Life

    View of Lake Burera in northern RwandaPhoto: Andrew Meldrum / Getty ImagesA drive through the densely population country shows Rwanda full of activity. We’ve been on the road, driving up to the north, east and south of the country, a trip that has taken several days. First stop was Butaro, where we visited a new hospital established by the Rwanda government with Partners in Health, the international organization started by Harvard’s Paul Farmer. Next we went to Kinigi and Ruhengeri, where we went into Volcanoes National Park for close encounters with the endangered Mountain Gorillas. Then we headed back to Kigali, in the center of Rwanda, and after that we went down south to Bugesera, where there are plans to build a big new airport. And today we went to the southwest of the country to Butare where we met with students at the...

  • Congo: Erupting Volcano Becomes Tourist Hotspot

    In Virunga National Park, tourists and park rangers view the lava fountain of Mount Nyamulagira.Photo: Virunga National Park / CourtesyTourists can now trek to Virunga National Park to catch a glimpse of the volcano. A volcano is spewing lava high into the sky in nearby eastern Congo. Are people running for cover and fleeing the area? No way. We are looking at the night sky to see the glowing signs of the explosions. And just a few miles away, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park is offering overnight treks to the site of the Nyamulagira volcano eruption. The dramatic volcanic eruption began on Nov. 6 and has increased in intensity. Several of its lava fountains have spouted up 200 yards in height. The molten mass then flows down into a relatively uninhabited area of the park. The rangers at Virunga Park have set up...

  • Rwanda: Genocide’s Youngest Victims

    The two Rwandan boys shown here are coping with being children born from the mass rapes of the genocide.Photo: Andrew Meldrum / GlobalPostThe self-help group Sevota helps genocide rape survivors and their children recover from trauma. The teenage boys, awkward and nervous, looked down and mumbled when we introduced ourselves and asked them their names. They spoke quietly when we asked them about the schools that they go to. But after a while, they perked up when we asked them about Sevota, a self-help group for genocide rape survivors and their children. One boy was particularly downcast and quiet and I could barely hear him when he got up to tell his story. Desire Hatungimana told us he is 16. “I stay with my mom,” he said in almost a whisper. “The problem is that my mother is traumatized and sometimes she yells at me. In...

  • Rwanda: Genocide Memorial a Pathway to Healing

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon walks through the Genocide Memorial on January 29, 2008, in Kigali. Photo: Lionel Healing / AFP / Getty ImagesThe Kigali Genocide Memorial features, among other things, education programs and counseling for genocide survivors. The lush tropical gardens, include palms, mango and banana trees. Delicate sunbirds hover to sip the nectar of tropical lilies and orchids. It appears to be a pleasant place to relax and enjoy the views of the hills of Kigali. But this is no ordinary park. The ground beneath our feet is a gravesite for 250,000 people killed in Rwanda’s ghastly 1994 genocide. At the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the guides are friendly and welcoming, yet also somber and respectful. Seventeen years after the genocide, grieving survivors leave flower arrangements for family members who were killed. An estimated 900,000 to 1 million people were murdered in Rwanda’s genocide, nearly 10 percent of the country...

  • Rwanda’s Unspoken History

    Some of the sites in Rwanda are still haunted by the country's brutal past. Built on a series of high hills, neat and tidy, lush with tropical vegetation, Kigali has a reputation as one of Africa’s prettiest capital cities. Seeing Kigali for the first time by daylight, I can attest to all that. There is lots of large scale construction going on — a few hotel complexes, including a large Marriott, a huge conference center and new office buildings. Kigali is a city that is transforming before your eyes. Kigali’s population has boomed in the past 10 years from an estimated 400,000 to 1 million today. And the growth is expected to continue to surge to 3 million in the next 20 years. “When I first came here in 1996, it was just a little town. You had to take a dirt road from the airport into the city,” said...

  • Rwanda: Introduction to a Complex Nation

    A group of people watch as a plane makes its final approach to the International airport in Kigali, Rwanda, on September 16, 2010.Steve Terrill / AFP / Getty Images Muraho from Rwanda! That’s Kinyarwandese for “Hello!” I’m in Rwanda, on a trip sponsored by the International Reporting Project, to look at how this key African country is remaking itself 17 years after the horrific genocide. Rwanda is one of Africa’s most inspiring success stories. Or it is one of the continent’s most worrying countries. President Paul Kagame is a dedicated leader determined to transform Rwanda into a modern nation with a prosperous economy, good health care, education and job opportunities for all. Or Kagame is an iron-willed leader who is maintaining a steely grip on the country and who does not respect human rights. These are the dramatic contrasts of the beautifully hilly little country...

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