There is a pretty standard practice – it seems – across Rwanda of people rummaging through volunteers trash. Partially its because we are just so damned interesting, but also because we have trash that they may not. I don’t really know. Sometimes it is incredibly frustrating. Students rip apart my trash, take what they want and then leave the rest scattered across my yard for me to pick up later. Other times they simply use it against me, “we know you have chocolate teacher. Give us some” To which I always ask how they know and since they can’t admit they’ve rummaged through my trash I never admit to having the chocolate. Here are some of the better instances of trash rummaging from myself and other volunteers.
- The plumbing in my house isn’t good enough to flash feminine products so I wrap them up in TP and put them into a stapled bag in my trash. Naturally anything wrapped up this nicely must be important and so someone ripped it open and spread dirty tampons all over my yard. I threw most of them back away but not before the crows incorporated a few into their nests.
- When I cut off six inches of my hair and threw it away I found the children who live behind me playing with it the next day, pretending it was mustaches and/or their own hair. Also the crows made that into their nests.
- Another volunteer found a child with her plastic tampon applicator trying to use it as a whistle.
- Another volunteer who uses the Peace Corps issues birth control, which comes in those standard circular plastic containers that snap shit, told me that a growing number of women in her village use them as change purses.
- One volunteer had their compost heap stolen.
- One volunteer has reverted to sneaking onto her campus at night to throw her trash down their latrines to avoid this problem.
It’s a sad day when I say I miss pit latrines – I currently have a regular flush toilet which I like despite its other flaws – but I have to say, having the ability to toss my trash down a pit where it would be irretrievable would really make my life so much easier. Other people have pits where they burn their trash, but because I live on the school grounds they prefer me not to do this and instead I have a trashcan outside my door that the schools workers take away and burn, making it very accessible to the students.Its a weird, weird world we live.