This is part of a series of posts discussing the real-life places, people and events that inspired scenes and characters in my young adult manuscript, “Kwizera Means Hope”.
A far off tinkling floated in. “What’s that?” I asked.
“A telephone,” Louise answered. “Installed last week. It took a couple of months.” She looked up from her carrots. “Mm. Months. Then we had to find five men to dig the trench for the telephone lines. Then it took another five or six weeks.”
Goodness! These people even have a telephone? I wondered how many telephones existed in all of Byumba Town, in all of Byumba Prefecture.
On March 2, 1995, I had just returned to Byumba from our office in Kabale, Uganda (an hour north of the border), with our secretary, one of our nurses, a drum of diesel and a milk canister. The latter two had been tied in the bed of my pick-up.
Unfortunately, the milk canister wasn’t tied tightly enough, and all the milk poured out into the bed as we bumped along dirt roads. We also lost several liters of diesel and the drum acquired a hole.
While unloading the pick-up at our house in Byumba, hands covered in fuel and sour milk, the Rwandatel man showed up and asked me to supply five men to dig a trench for installing our phone. We arranged for him to come back the next day when we could have five men from the surrounding area in need of work to help us.
The phone was finally installed and working on March 16th.