9X4WW : Rwanda

Exactly one year after the President's plane was shot down and the genocide had started, I set foot on Rwandese soil.
It is 1995, this beautiful central African country is licking its wounds, after having undergone the biggest and most atrocious genocide after WW2 and the killing fields in Cambodia.
The international community is assisting with an enormous humanitarian effort, it is a task of unforeseen magnitude and difficulty.

Our thoughts are with those that died, and those who still suffer from the loss of their loved ones.

Bringing Amateur Radio to such a war torn nation, has its own effect, be it small. Surely some of you who contacted me, were curious about Rwanda.
I hope some of the below photographs give you an insight as to how it was and is. During my stay until mid-1997, we tried to re-establish the local ham radio club, without initial success.
I hope Andrew and Emmanuel will be fortunate enough to establish this goal one day. The ham community is awaiting your call, my friends, don't give up !

At several points in time I have written some stories for different magazines. As you will read them, I hope you'll get some insight on how it has been.
The three stories have common parts here and there, but each story has also unique information you won't find in the other stories.
Enjoy reading Story 1 , Story 2 and Story 3 !

The 'Land of a Thousand Hills' is truly a beauty on our planet. I made many friends, and hope they are well.

A total of 40,940 QSOs can be verified through the below log search engines :

9 X 4 W W
9 X / O N 4 W W
9 X 1 A

Click on the photographs to see the enlarged pictures.

Downtown Kigali
Downtown Kigali, capital of Rwanda
Mother with child
This child is lucky to have a mom
Refugee orphan
This one not. Tens of thousands of children have lost their parents, sometimes their whole family, during the genocide
Who doesn't remember the images of hundreds of thousands of refugees ?
Refugee camp
This is a part of one of the many refugee camps
Refugee camp
Another view of this camp
Refugee camp
Try to imagine the living conditions in a refugee camp. Now imagine it's the rainy season
Refugee ready for transport
Here refugees are lining up, ready for transportation to a new destination
Refugee transport
For long distances, transport is done by trucks
Field office
This is one of the many field offices that assisted the refugees
Shattered bars

This is how one of the churches looked like, after the Interahamwe had forced themselves a way inside to slaughter the people that fled inside in the hope to find shelter

Although many written and filmed publications show the remains of slaughtered Rwandans, I opted not to publish my personal pictures on this subject

Shattered windows
Imagine the fear and the horror of those inside, when the brick walls were destroyed to provide entrance to the killers
Shattered wall
Mutilated person
Mutilated people will be within the Rwandan society for a long time
Cyangugu-Bukavu bridge
This is the bridge joining Southwestern Cyangugu in Rwanda with neighbouring Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire).
bridge close-up
Closer view on the bridge. This picture was taken just prior to when the name Laurent Kabila became known to the world
Sandbagged office
Because of the fighting between rivaling factions across the border, offices and houses had to be sandbagged for protection
Sandbagged hospital
Also this UN hospital in Kigali was sandbagged. After a while the Australians who manned it, went back home. Regular civilian hospitals were back operational
What a contrast with this beautiful flower. Nature is simply amazing in this tiny country. Large prey birds almost come to eat out of your hand, the animals have no fear of mankind
panoramic view 1
Rwanda is called the Land of a Thousand Hills. The sceneries are unforgettable
panoramic view 2
panoramic view 3
panoramic view 4
And one more
Tea plantation
Agriculture used to make up for a large part of the national income. Here is a tea plantation
Cattle-breeding is another important occupation. Unfortunately the live-stock has diminished drastically during the war. The same goes for wildlife animals in the National Parks
cattle crossing road
Better give way to this one !
Banana transport
Banana express delivery. Because of the incredible favourable climate, plantation grows very easily
Typical landscape
Typical landscape in Northeastern Rwanda
Hard Rock cafe
Very contrastful with something from the past ? By the time I left Rwanda, this building had disappeared
Deutsche Welle
View towards the BC relay station of the Deutsche Welle
This is 9X5AB, he hasn't been active for a while. Bernd and his wife accomodated me and my family in a most hospitable way during our visits, great people
If amateur radio is to open up for native Rwandans, Francois would certainly be one of the first to come on the air. Further l/r are Klaus, DL8BAX who has been active from many African countries, Andre, F6GIN and myself
Andrew, Emmanuel and Klaus. A preparatory meeting prior to a (successful) demonstration to the Military, in order to establish a local club station. The reason why the club never made it, laid in other hands
Here's Gus, 9X5/SM5DIC. You may also remember him from his 9U5D operation
This is Andre, F6GIN, who's inspecting my 160m inverted-L
160m inv-L feed-point

He was obviously a bit worried about the feed-point. But he needn't be, my first QSO on topband with ON4UN, was done with 30Watts. One call, and John came right back to me.

Moral of the picture, if you don't have fancy tools and materials at hand, don't use that as an excuse to not to try things out. Even a very simple, ugly looking setup, can be very effective

80m inv-L feed-point
Here's the 80m inv-L feed-point
Beverage street
I had to do it. I had to try it. And in the end I did it. Two Beverage antennas crossed this street. At one stage, the side mirror of a passing vehicle grabbed the copper wire...it unrolled from the spool until it broke
Boy, was I happy I got those Beverages up ! They never worked well because they were to close to the transmit antenna
Stormy weather
To my Japanese friends who didn't understand why I was so loud in JA on topband, and I couldn't copy but a few call signs : this is why, the tropics crash your ears until you pull out your hair with both hands...
Radial burn
Could it be that one of the 160m inv-L radials burned itself into this tree ? Nah...
Cushcraft R7
Notice the Cushcraft R7 ?
R7 close-up
Now you can see it. The tower was installed by 9X5EE, and I put the R7 on. This one came from ON6TT, when he rapped up things in Goma, then-Zaire
Hy-Gain DX-77 vertical
This is the DX-77 vertical that Hy-Gain sponsored. This antenna was used at another location. Over the couple of years in Kigali, I stayed in six different places. Some moving going on there...
80m inverted-L
The 80m inverted-L
First shack
The 'first' shack. Notice the Yaesu FT-900 sponsored by Yaesu Europe, and one of the laptops that was used during the VK0IR operation
Last shack
The 'last' shack. Power outages and an unreliable generator asked for battery power backup
SSB position
My favourite SSB position
CW position
If you believe this is how I sit during CW operation, forget it !
Welcome home
August 1997, upon return of my assignment. See the little fellow on the left ? Here you can see how he looks like now (2001)

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