As part of the Stomping Out Malaria in Africa project, 11 PCVs hopped on bicycles last week to participate in Peace Corps Rwanda’s first Biking Out Malaria campaign. We riders were hosted by four other PCVs, who kindly allowed us to take over their houses with bicycles, helmets, bags, tents, and sleeping bags. In the morning we biked from one site to another, and in the afternoon we taught three malaria lessons to students at a local school.
On Monday, all of us participating volunteers met up near the Tanzanian Border at our first host community. We taught at the neighboring secondary school, where all 300 students were packed into the auditorium. The electricity happened to go out that night as we were teaching, which made the lesson a little interesting. But we powered through and got our trip off to a good start!
The next morning we packed up our stuff, got on our bikes, and pedaled off to our next host site. The ride that day was brutal- 70 kilometers with some big uphill stretches. Despite the heat and difficult ride, the views from the road were gorgeous and we all enjoyed the trek.
After the first long bike ride on Tuesday, the remaining rides were shorter, less hilly, but just as beautiful. We slowly made our way back up from the Tanzanian border towards Kigali. All in all, we visited four sites, biked 150 kilometers, and taught about 700 students.
The Biking Out Malaria trip was a really wonderful experience for many reasons. One, it was an opportunity to get to know other volunteers in different training classes, living in different parts of the country. Also, the trip was a great way to see the eastern part of Rwanda. Living in the West, I don’t have many opportunities to see the East and to visit the volunteers there. It was nice to have the change of scenery! Last, the trip was a fun way to get more involved in the Stomping Out Malaria work we are doing here in Rwanda. It was so much fun playing games with the students and talking to them.
All the riders left the trip excited and ready to make the bike ride an annual event. With a few tweaks, I know next year’s ride will be even more successful! I only wish I weren’t finishing service in December so I could participate again!