A Travellerspoint blog

December 2009

Beth is joining us!

Beth is very excited to be joining us from Rwanda to Kenya and has written a little poem:

To you my friends,
Greetings I send,
With a request to ponder…

You may have heard of the long way home
The dedication to cycling Pol and Rob have shown.
They left South Africa on their bikes
On England, they have set their sights.

8000 miles their legs will pedal,
with their poor bum’s suffering the saddle!
Why? you may ask, well.. adventure and fun
But also to raise money for those who have none.

There are many AIDS orphans within South Africa
A project that helps is Lulisandla Kwmtwana
They support the children and foster families
To do this, they work in the community.
In this rural area it is difficult to travel
So they hope to raise funds for a 4x4 vehicle.

In this area there is no water mains,
So ladies carry barrels and suffer neck pain.
Hipporoller water project have a great design,
A barrel with handles that can be pulled behind.
These are the charities, what do you think?
Could you give some money to help the Zulu’s drink?

I am joining Pol and Rob, but am maybe more sane,
Or perhaps its because I can’t endure the pain!
From Rwanda to Kenya a 1000 miles I will go
If you feel inspired please let the cash flow!

Posted by robandpol 13:58 Comments (1)

How to sponsor Pol and Rob

Step by step instructions

As many of you already know, we are supporting two South African based charities.

Lulisandla Kwmtwana -

a charitable orphan fostering project in Mseleni, Kwa ZuluNtaal, South Africa.
This project strives to enable AIDS orphans to stay within their communities living with relatives, and seeks to support the families as they make this possible.

To find out more, or to support the wonderful work of this project: scroll down the front page of the blog, and look to the right hand side column, under favourite links and click on the link to DONATE TO Lulisandla Kwmtwana (foster care project).
This takes you to SIM’s website: Serving in Missions, a Christian Missions Organisation, under the wings of which Lulisandla Kwmtwana sits.
Click on the link: Donate to SIM-UK, on the left hand side
Fill in your details, and amount to be donated.
Fill your donation amount in the box for Projects
In the box stating, If you are donating to specific missionaries or projects please provides names, write Lulisandla Kwmtwana, South Africa.
For the box stating Any other information you would want us to know about this donation please write: Reference – longwayhome

Hipporollers water company –

the designers of such a simple invention that could be life changing for the people of rural African communties where the quest for water is such a struggle. It’s simple: a 90 litre water barrel, with handles that can be pulled behind with ease, through even sand and scrub, limiting the incidence of severe neck and back pain which is suffered by ladies who carry heavy water barrels on their heads on a regular basis.

For UK Givers:
It’s a little more complicated, because HippoRollers is a South African Charity.
We have a UK registered charity who will be collecting donations on our behalf for HippoRollers.
So please write a cheque payable to Winchester Vineyard
Write on the back and include a slip stating, Ref: HippoRollers Longwayhome
The Winchester Vineyard will then collect the cheques and transfer the money to HippoRollers. The Winchester Vineyard is a church that has agreed to do this on our behalf, as there have been some difficulties with making donations to this charity as it is South African.

This donation can also be gift aided, if you are a UK taxpayer, so please email Beth Sutton at haveahug@hotmail.com and she will forward you the giftaid form to complete.

Please send the cheques to:
Beth Sutton
Gardeners Lane
SO51 6AD

For an online money transfer, please email Beth Sutton for the bank details of the Winchester Vineyard, and she will forward them to you, along with a gift aid form.
email: haveahug@hotmail.com
please reference email: longwayhome

If you have a credit card issued in South Africa:
Scroll down the home page of the blog
Look down to the right hand side column until you reach Favourite Links
Click on Hippo Rollers,
On their webpage click on Donate, in the top right hand corner
You have to convert the amount you want to donate into US dollars
In the box asking for how you heard about Hippo Rollers, please write Pol and Rob’s longwayhome

Thanks for all you interest and support, it is very much appreciated.

Posted by robandpol 13:46 Comments (0)

Christmas in Rwanda

a little different to at home!

overcast 23 °C

Christmas in Africa is so refreshing as the pressure to go out present buying weeks and months in advance just isn't there. However we were reminded that Christmas was just around the corner with the arrival of Stina and Jon, (Rob's sister and brother in law) bearing gifts and delicious Christmas cake that Sti had been 'feeding' with sherry over the last few months - one of the more discreet ways to get alcohol onto Shyira hill!


With a couple of days to go before the big day we thought we'd better get out and do some Christmas shopping. There's not too much choice as it seems there is only a market for the bare essentials of Rwandan life and seeing as our parents wouldn't be very happy with a bag of beans or some fresh veg, we put our thinking caps on and went for a walk for inspiration... and it came:

Rwandan coffee

Rwandan Tea

and beautiful handmade pots made by a local pygmy lady.

We went on an early morning walk up the mountain to Jomba on christmas eve. It was a cold morning and the morning mists shrouded the view for most of the way. Everyone we met was full of the joys; greeting us animatedly and wishing us a happy christmas. The phrase quickly stuck and we were soon able to return the greeting. By the time we reached the top the mists had evaporated and we spent a while absorbing the views.

Back down on Shyira hill we had to turn our thoughts to Christmas dinner. Our neighbours, the Kings, managed to get their hands on a turkey – lucky them!


But we had to rely on Jemima and Dafney who had become very friendly and trusting over the past few weeks. I have to say we did feel a bit bad as they allowed us to pick them up and they put up no resistance as Rob placed their head on the chopping board. We consoled ourselves knowing that they had a much better life and death than most turkeys back home!


Jemima and Dafney with Mr Duck in the good old days (ie before Christmas eve) Mr Duck still comes looking for his wives :(

In a society where everything usually stops as the sun goes down, and most people are fast asleep by 8.30pm it was a surprise to be woken at midnight by loud drumming which continued on until dawn. It is a Rwandan tradition to anticipate the arrival of an important chief by drumming through the night and clearly Jesus is regarded as such.

Church kicked off in style – incredible as many of the congregation had spent 4hrs in church on Christmas eve and many of the young men would have been drumming through the night. The huge church was jammed full but there was not a Christmas carol to be heard – more the atmosphere of a semi formal rave.

“Wow” shouted Rob “these people really are glad it's Christmas day” as the pastor in full white robes started showing the young'ns how to really move, while singing into a red megaphone as the sound system went on the blink again.

The church has many choirs and they all took their turn singing and dancing to varying degrees of perfection which meant a lot of sitting and listening for the non Choir members. I was joined by a lost looking little boy, thinning hair, round face, sad and expressionless, dry skin, pot belly and swollen ankles – all the classic signs of severe kwashiokor malnutrition. He simply climbed up on my lap and sat – it was impossible to get a smile out of him, his body had gone into shut down mode, any emotion - a waste of energy, even his pulse was slow.

Sitting there, not understanding a word of the service, guts rumbling, looking forward to the Christmas feast, Pol read a verse that hit home:

'Suppose a brother or sister has no clothes or food. Suppose one of you says to them, “Go. I hope everything turns out fine for you. Keep warm. Eat well.” And you do nothing about what they really need. Then what good have you done?
It is the same with faith. If it doesn't cause us do do something then it is dead.'

The little boy stared blankly as Pol read the verse.


Christmas in Africa is not without it's challenges.

Posted by robandpol 09:44 Archived in Rwanda Tagged bicycle Comments (3)

How to Plan an Epic African Bike Ride

Check out Travel Unravelled

sunny 24 °C

The Travellerspoint people asked us to write a couple of articles about planning a bike ride. Stuff like how to avoid getting trampled by elephants. Check them out at:


Posted by robandpol 10:06 Archived in Rwanda Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Shyria – first impressions

'Roughing it' in Rwnda

sunny 27 °C

Kigali is a nice city. We happened to be staying next to the largest market in town. We had great fun choosing fabrics and re-stocking our wardrobes with a second hand pair of trousers and shirt for Rob and some skirts made by a local tailor for Pol. Louise, one of the doctors from the hospital in Shiyra where we will be spending the next few months, happened to be in town on a course. We met up one evening over pizza to learn a bit more about the hospital and the surrounding area and also lightened our load by giving some of our kit to Louise to bring on in the car. Kigali is only two days cycling from Shiyra. Highlights of the journey were the scenery and a refreshing 15km downhill at one point. On the second day the tarmac peetered out once more and we found ourselves bouncing over rocks and stones.


We stopped at a little roadside restaurant in a tiny village to sit out the afternoon rain with some sweet tea and ended up acquiring a passenger. We piled all our bags onto Pol's bike so he could sit on Rob's rack. Chatting with the guy and trying to gauge how much further we had to go on what had already been a long day we were disappointed to hear there was a big hill between us and Shiyra. The deal, as we understood it, was that we were giving him a lift home and in return he would show us the correct road to Shiyra. However, this was not the deal as he understood it. It soon became apparent that he didn't really know the way to Shiyra, and also expected payment for his services! As a result we unceremoniously dumped our new friend by the road and gave Caleb (the Shiyra Dr) a call to find out where the illusive turning was. After few minutes we had found the road, “is it hilly” we asked Caleb “Oh yes” came the reply, “very hilly” our hearts sank “but downhill all the way!!”


The last 17km to the hospital followed a small river on a beautiful track, the only other occupants were on foot or on giant homemade scooters carrying wood, potatoes, bananas, water or banana beer.

These lethal contraptions had been banned by the government a few years ago, due to the huge number of accidents they cause, they have no breaks, indeed the only safety feature is the rider whistling urgently as he flies downhill.


The bridges were pretty interesting! (note the heavily laden scooter behind!)

The last 2km were steep uphill, but almost felt like downhill as the local children gleefully pushed us up!

“Where are you staying?” They asked
“Near Dr Louise and Caleb's house” we replied
“Oh we know Dr Lousie – she is a very nice lady”

We are going to have a nice time here we thought to ourselves.

On our arrival we found 10yr old Caleb Jnr playing on the lawn, no one else was home.

“Any idea where we are staying?” we asked
“Over there” said Caleb
“No, that can't be for us there's only the two of us”
“Oh yes it is!” said Caleb

We were expecting to be roughing it in Rwanda, especially as we had just covered 50km of very rocky road, barely passable by 4x4 to get to Shiyra, but our new little house was fabulous, 2 story, stunning views from the balconies, running (cold) water and electricity 2hrs per day.


Our beautiful home in Shyira.

Soon there was a knock on the door – our first visitor, 6yr old Lydia.
“I've just come over to welcome you and introduce you to our cat Toukie, this is her house, she had move out of ours because our dogs tried to eat her, so you're her guests really. Oh and would you like to come over for Dinner? It's Pizza tonight!”

Oh my goodness, this house even comes with a cat and now they are going to feed us pizza. Life can't get much better!

We went to bed with full stomachs and a good feeling about what the first day at work was going to be like.

Posted by robandpol 10:02 Comments (0)

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