The Road to PFAS-Free Drinking Water

The Road to PFAS-Free Drinking Water

The News

The PFAS Action Act of 2019, H.R. 535, a bill that would require the Pentagon to work with communities to cleanup contamination from PFAS, was passed by the House last week. The bill passed 247-159, with 24 Republicans in favor. The PFAS Action Act would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to declare two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous and would help in aiding the removal of toxic, chemical substances from drinking water supplies across the country.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroactanesulfonic acid (PFOS), the key ingredients of aqueous film-forming foams used by the U.S. military for firefighting, would be labeled as toxic substances if the bill is enacted. As such, areas contaminated with these substances would subsequently become Superfund Sites and move up the ladder in terms of priority cleanup.

Action Items

The bill would also create maximum allowable drinking water levels for both PFOA and PFOS and establish stricter guidelines for the use of firefighting foams containing the hazardous substances. Currently, there is no maximum contaminant level for PFAS chemicals, however, the EPA has enforced a non-mandatory health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for the sum of PFOA and PFOS.

So far, the Pentagon has identified 401 active and former military and National Guard sites where PFOA and PFOS use has been detected. Additionally, five to 10 million people across the country may be exposed to water contaminated with PFAS. These chemicals have been linked to testicular and kidney cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, birth defects and high blood pressure in pregnant women.

Future Concerns

While the bill has passed the House, there may still be resistance in the Senate due to the significant scope and cost of the contamination cleanup. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the PFAS Action Act of 2019 would cost at least $300 million in the next decade, but could be much higher given that it would obligate the federal government to mitigate contamination on former federal properties that have since become state, local or privately owned.

Another foreseeable concern that surfaced from the White House just two days before the vote noted that the bill would overstep the EPA’s authority surrounding the issue. The EPA currently has an Action Plan in place to address PFAS and protect public health.

Looking Ahead

On the contrary, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy organization pushing for stricter controls over PFAS, is hopeful that the bill will be passed. Scott Faber, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the EWG stated that “it’s time for Congress to set meaningful deadlines for the EPA.” In doing such, he added, “the PFAS Action Act will immediately designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances, which will kickstart the clean-up process at contaminated sites.”

As this bill continues to play out in Washington, 2020 presidential candidates are also taking stands to address the PFAS issues and crack down on these chemicals if elected. In the absence of federal regulations, individual states are also implementing their own efforts to clean up contaminated drinking water and prevent future contamination from PFAS.

Risk & Resilience Assessments And ERPs

Questions Concerning New AWIA Requirements? We’ve got answers.

Community water systems that serve more than 3,300 people are required to complete a Risk and Resilience Assessment as well as develop an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) under Section 2013 of America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018.

What is a Risk and Resilience Assessment?

Risk and Resilience Assessments evaluate the vulnerabilities, threats, and consequences from potential hazards, including:

  • Natural hazards and malevolent acts
  • Resilience of water facility infrastructure
  • Monitoring practices
  • Financial systems
  • Chemical storage and handing
  • Operation and maintenance

With this new requirement, utilities must conduct the assessment and submit certification of its completion to the U.S. EPA by:

  • March 31, 2020 if serving >= 100k people
  • December 31, 2020 if serving 50k-99,999 people
  • June 30, 2021 if serving 3,301 to 49,999 people

When do water utilities need to get their Risk and Resilience Assessments re-certified?

Your utility must review the Risk and Resilience Assessment and submit a re-certification to the U.S. EPA every five years.

What is included in an ERP for drinking water utilities?

ERPs are critical for drinking water utilities as they provide plans and procedures for responding to a natural hazard or malevolent act that threatens safe drinking water. Preparing and practicing an ERP can save lives, prevent illness, enhance security, minimize property damage and lessen liability. Included in the plan are actions and identified equipment that are necessary to lessen the impact of a natural hazard, including alternative water sources and the relocation of intakes and flood protection barriers.

When do water utilities need to certify completion of their ERPs?

After completion of the risk and resiliency assessment, utilities must develop or update an Emergency Response Plan and certify completion to US EPA no later than six months after the risk and resiliency assessment certification.

When do water utilities need to get their ERPs re-certified?

Within six months of submitting the re-certification for the risk and resilience assessment, utilities must certify they have reviewed and, if necessary, revised, their emergency response plan.

Where can I find more information?

The U.S. EPA has a wealth of information on their website regarding these two new requirements. Use the links below to learn more.

Tata & Howard Can Help

Tata & Howard offers consulting services to assist water suppliers in completing the Risk and Resilience Assessment as well as update Emergency Response Plans to meet AWIA requirements. In addition, Tata & Howard offers flexible, one- and two-day training programs to assist water utilities and operators in obtaining the required ERP training. Training programs are approved for 7 Training Contact Hours by the MA board of Certification of Operators of Drinking Water Supply Facilities.

For additional guidance, assistance with meeting the AWIA requirements, or to schedule an ERP training session, please contact Michael Knox, Client Service Specialist at 508.925.7559 or by email at MKnox@TataandHoward.com.

Draft National Water Reuse Action Plan

Draft National Water Reuse Action Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan that identifies priority actions supporting the reuse of water for human consumption, agriculture, business, industry, recreation and healthy ecosystems. Items proposed in the draft will require the collaboration between governmental and nongovernmental organizations to implement the actions.

What is Water Reuse?

Water reuse is an innovative and dynamic strategy that can dramatically change the future of water availability in the U.S. Water reuse can be used to meet water demands and mitigate the risks posed by droughts. Recycled water can be used for a wide variety of applications, including agriculture, potable water supplies, groundwater replenishment, industrial processes and environmental restoration. The water reuse process can stem from sources such as industrial process water, agricultural return flows, municipal wastewater, oil and gas produced water, and stormwater.

Why Implement a Water Reuse Action Plan?

The draft National Water Reuse Action Plan is the first initiative of its kind to be coordinated across the water sector. According to EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water, David Ross, forty states anticipate shortages of fresh water within their borders over the next decade. Water reuse has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy and provide safe and reliable drinking water for years to come.

After extensive research and outreach, it was determined that meaningful advancement of water reuse would best be accomplished by working cooperatively with all water sector stakeholders including federal, state, tribal, and local water perspectives. The EPA hopes to issue a final plan that will include clear commitments and milestones for actions that will increase the sustainability, security and resilience of the nation’s water resources.

What Does the Plan Entail?

The draft National Water Reuse Action Plan identifies 46 proposed actions across ten strategic objectives.

  1. Enable consideration of water reuse with integrated and collaborative action at the watershed scale.
  2. Coordinate and integrate federal, state, tribal, and local water reuse programs and policies.
  3. Compile and refine fit-for-purpose specifications.
  4. Promote technology development, deployment, and validation.
  5. Improve availability of water information.
  6. Facilitate financial support of water reuse.
  7. Integrate and coordinate research on water reuse.
  8. Improve outreach and communication on water reuse.
  9. Support a talented and dynamic workforce.
  10. Develop water reuse metrics that support goals and measure progress.

What Next?

The EPA is soliciting public input through a 90-day public comment period. This period will seek to:

  • Identify the most important actions to be taken in the near term.
  • Identify and describe the specific attributes and characteristics of the actions that will achieve success.
  • Secure specific commitments to lead/partner/collaborate on implementation of actions.

Comments close on December 16, 2019.

For more information, including opportunities to engage with EPA on this effort, visit https://www.epa.gov/waterreuse/water-reuse-action-plan.

For a quick snapshot of how water reuse works, check out this infographic created by World Bank.

Tips for Proper Leaf Disposal This Fall

Tips for Proper Leaf Disposal This Fall

The leaves have just about fallen off all of the trees! Avoid clogging storm drains with these great tips for proper leaf disposal.

 

Please feel free to print and share our Tips for Proper Leaf Disposal Infographic with attribution to Tata & Howard, Inc. A high-resolution pdf can be downloaded by clicking here.

Mulch

Finely chopped leaves make for an excellent lawn fertilizer. Mulch leaves by running over them with your mower during the next cutting, and leave the remains on the lawn. You can also spread the mulch across flower and vegetable beds.

Compost

Composting leaves is a great way to create nutrient-rich soil. In a mixed pile, create a 2-to-1 ratio of dead leaves to grass clippings. Spreading leaves over food scraps will soak up moisture and help contain odors as well.

Protect Our Waterways

Avoid raking leaves into or nearby storm drains, ditches, creeks, or rivers. In addition to clogging the drains, decaying leaves use up the water’s oxygen, harming aquatic inhabitants.

 

Imagine a Day Without Water 2019

Imagine a Day Without Water 2019

Today, Tata & Howard joined elected officials, water utilities, community leaders, educators, and businesses from across the country as part of the fifth annual Imagine a Day Without Water, a nationwide day of education and advocacy about the value of water. Led by the Value of Water Campaign, a thousand organizations across the country will raise awareness about not taking water for granted and the crucial need for investment in our nation’s water systems.

Turning on the tap for clean, safe drinking water, and flushing the toilet with no second thought about what happens to wastewater, are actions most Americans take for granted every day. But drought, flooding, and population changes are stressing our water and wastewater systems. While most Americans enjoy reliable water service, our nation’s water infrastructure is aging and in need of investment. A day without water service is a public health and an economic disaster: a single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion in economic activity at risk.

As water engineers, the Tata & Howard teams knows the importance of clean and reliable water — but how would our daily lives be affected if we even had one single day without out? To put this into perspective, we asked members of our team to answer three questions in reference to this.

  1. What does a day without water mean to you?
  2. What would you miss the most during a day without water?
  3. Why do you value water?

Check out the answers below!



Imagine a Day Without Water is an opportunity for diverse organizations, from environmental advocates to coffee shops, aquariums to car washes, city halls to water utilities, to talk about what water is important to them. Over the past five years, it has provided a platform for educating the public and advocating for leaders to prioritize investing in water today, so in the future no American will have to imagine a day without water. Learn more at imagineadaywithoutwater.org and follow the conversation on social media at #ValueWater.

Gicumbi: DEFAST and D’Furious

James’ Rwanda Impact Tour Journal
Water for People Impact Tour Rwanda 2019
James Hoyt, P.E.


Day 4

Today is the last day of the tour and we spent the day in the Gicumbi District. Compared to Rulindo, the Water for People Everyone Forever program is relatively new to Gicumbi, but a great deal of progress has already been made.

After our final ‘Coffee Club’ visit to Question Coffee, went set out for the Gicumbi District and were hosted for a Mayoral visit. Although early in the Everyone Forever process, great progress has already been made, and the Mayor was optimistic they could reach every goal ahead of schedule. Once again, it was very encouraging to see the District Government supporting the Water for People work and committing to long term success.

 

Water Treatment Plant

Following our meeting with the Mayor, we conducted field visits to a small rural Water Treatment Plant, a decentralized sludge processing facility, a recently completed water distribution system, and a home visit.

Unlike the large WTF serving Kigali, the WTF we toured today was a small, rural plant that treats approximately 0.4 MGD of spring-fed water. The plant treats the water using lime pH adjustment, aeration, filtration and chlorination. The plant is looking to expand capacity by adding additional spring sources and upgrades to the treatment process.

DEFAST

A highlight for me as a wastewater engineer was touring the Decentralized Fecal Sludge Treatment (DEFAST). As sanitation facilities are installed through Rwanda, there is an increased demand for safe disposal of the pit latrine waste. Historically, when a pit would become full of waste, you would just dig a new pit beside it. With increased focus on sanitary conditions and space becoming limited, there is now a need for improved latrines to be serviced and emptied. The service must be affordable for homeowners. Although Water for People does not fund widespread sanitation infrastructure projects in the same way they fund water projects, they support sanitation improvements through education, technology research and recommendations, establishment of supply chains, and support of local businesses and entrepreneurs.

The DEFAST facility is an example of the Water for People sanitation approach. Water for People has helped a local solid waste business owner expand his business to include pumping, hauling and treatment of latrine sludge waste. A portable vacuum pump is used to empty the latrines, and the waste is brought to the DEFAST plant for treatment. The plant screens large debris and rubbish for onsite incineration. The waste is then stored in a settling tank for separation of liquid and solid waste. The liquid supernatant receives biological treatment in lagoons and filtration though artificial wetlands. The final liquid product is sold as liquid nutrients. The sludge is anaerobically digested and applied to sand drying beds. The dried product is stabilized with charcoal and sold as fertilizer for land application. The ability to sell the end products allows the economics of the process to reduce the price for individual homeowners.

The Impact of Our Dollars

We briefly visited a recently completed water system which provided a fascinating look into the impact our dollars can make in a Rwandan community. The project included new water infrastructure to serve over 33,000 beneficiaries and cost approximately $3.2M USD. The cost to bring water and sanitation to a community for the first time costs less than $100 per person. This is considered an expensive project by Water for People Rwanda standards, who typically target a cost of $65 per beneficiary.

Home Visit

Lastly, we visited another home. This home belonged to a widow who lost her husband to the Rwandan genocide. It was once again heart warming to hear of the positive impact water has had on her life. It was also comforting to see that the Rwandan government had provided her with a cow and that her community supported her by providing work opportunities.

The drive back was long, dark and winding. Driving in Rwanda is an intense experience. Vehicles often pass each other on narrow roads and get close to pedestrians and obstacles as they wind through the hilly countryside. The driving made several people nervous, but we were always delivered safely to our destinations. As we proceeded towards our farewell dinner, we drove through areas not yet reached by Water for People and saw countless school children and people returning from work, walking long distances in the dark, with no lights, often pushing bicycles comically loaded sky-high with goods. It was a sobering reminder of how much work is left to do.

Farewell, Water for People

The farewell dinner was bittersweet. The food and conversation were great. We shared stories and laughter with our new friends, but too soon it was time to say goodbye. We shared one last time our high and low points of the day, and shared our ideas from bringing our experiences home in a meaningful way.

Although the trip had come to an end, I knew that my Water for People journey was just beginning. I am excited to bring all I’ve learned home and to become a champion for Water for People.

High Point: My high point today was the visit to the DEFAST facility. It was fascinating to hear about the approach Water for People had taken to address the emerging problem of fecal sludge in Rwanda. It was also fun to engage with the staff about their challenges and discuss their ideas for improve control and performance of the facility.

Low Point: Saying goodbye to new friends.

Learn more about the Water Treatment Plants here.

Rulindo and the Pump Station with a View

Rulindo and the Pump Station with a View

James’ Rwanda Impact Tour Journal
Water for People Impact Tour Rwanda 2019
James Hoyt, P.E.


Day 3

The partnerships and cooperative spirit of the Water for People Everyone Forever model was on full display today in the Rulindo District. The day started with a meeting at the District Mayor’s office where the Water for People Rwanda staff led a conversation with the Mayor and Vice Mayors.

Rulindo District was the birthplace of the Everyone Forever approach. The community and institution milestones have been met, and Water for People projects that the household milestone will be met in early 2020. The Mayor and his staff were proud supporters of the program and demonstrated a strong commitment to the work being completed as well as sustaining the systems in the future. Most of all, they were proud of what has already been accomplished and how the work in Rulindo now serves as proof that the Everyone Forever model is truly effective.

Prior to the trip, I already had an understanding of the world’s water crisis and I had a high level of confidence in Water for People. My biggest question was regarding the sustainability of solutions and the long-term success of the communities when Water for People’s work was done. Hearing the District staff’s commitment to the Everyone Forever model, and seeing the long-term plans they’ve laid out was exciting. The District has initiated financial strategies to fund O&M of the infrastructure and have prioritized community outreach and education. Leaving the Mayor’s offices, I was impressed and excited to see the Rulindo District system in action.

Field Visits

Our field visits today included a pump station, a water storage tank, a school, and a private home — all of which provided a great cross section of the impacts that water and sanitation projects are having throughout the community. The pump station had the best view of any pump station I’ve been to — sitting atop a hill, overlooking countless acres of farmland.

The Pump Station with a View

The pump station conveys water collected from springs to storage tanks in the distribution system. There was also a water point just outside the pump station fence that provides free water to the station’s neighbors in recognition that the spring water, which traditionally served them, is now shared with the community.

 

School Visit

Another highlight of the day was our visit to a local school. We didn’t meet with any students as we did not want to to disrupt the learning, but we could hear them reciting lessons and hear their singing ring throughout the school campus. I couldn’t help but smile hearing it. We got a tour of the school campus and met several teachers, including the hygiene teacher. The Everyone Forever model includes providing water and sanitation to all schools. This school had potable drinking water, rainwater collection, and composting sanitation facilities.

The availability of water at the school alleviates the need for students to fetch water to bring to school each day, thus improving attendance. Attendance is especially improved for female students. The school features a room for young girls stocked with feminine hygiene products and a resting area to use as needed.

The addition of rainwater collection and composting toilets has allowed the school to increase harvesting of onsite crops from one harvest to three harvests per year.

Finally, the hygiene education is teaching students proper hygiene practices which they bring back to their families to implement in their own homes. One of my favorite statistics is that 20% of home sanitation improvements are credited as being student driven.

Home Visit

Last, but not least, we were graciously welcomed into the private home of a woman who lives in a village that recently experienced access to safe water. Access to water nearby has allowed her to focus on raising chickens and making linens for sale. She was also able to get a loan from the local hygiene committee to install improved sanitation at her home. It is common practice for members of the community to pool money each month to help fund improvements for a community member. The money is paid back with a small amount of interest. It’s a great example of the local community coming together to improve the quality of life for its members.  

High Point: The entire day felt like one giant high point, but if I had to choose, I’d say visiting the school topped the list. It was so encouraging to see education and improved water/sanitation come together to provide opportunities for the next generation. These students are growing up with an understanding of the importance of water and sanitation, providing hope for continued success and improvement of life in Rwanda.

Low Point: I tried to come up with a low point for today, but it all felt like nit-picking. What a great day!

Click here to see some of the differences between the Rulindo ‘Pump Station with a view’ and ones we have designed here in New England!

Around the World with T&H

Around the World with T&H

Summers at an engineering firm may be prime time for field work and construction administration, but that didn’t stop our employees from venturing off on their own exciting journeys!

From the breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe to the crystal blue waters of Sardinia — and everything in between — our team traveled near and far for experiences that were nothing short of amazing.

Check out the photos below for an inside look at how engineers and staff alike spent their summer in the sun.

What exciting destinations did you travel to this summer? Share your experiences from around the world with us in the comments!

Passion, Inspiration, and Dirty Hands

Passion, Inspiration, and Dirty Hands

James’ Rwanda Impact Tour Journal
Water for People Impact Tour Rwanda 2019
James Hoyt, P.E.


Day 2

Today kicked off with a workshop at the Water for People Rwanda office in Kigali. Perpetue and her team at the office lead a fascinating and inspiring discussion of Water for People’s work in Rwanda moving towards the Everyone Forever goal .

Water for People’s “Everyone Forever” model was born in Rwanda. This approach is brilliant, because it involves a lot more than projects. It is a system of partnerships promoting cooperation and ownership from local businesses, organizations and government. It is important that solutions be sustainable to allow for success to continue long after Water for People has left a district.

As the team delved into the details and peppered the Rwanda staff with questions, it became clear they had simple, common sense answers for some very complex issues. The people of Rwanda are in great hands.

The team took a break halfway through the presentation to stretch and play some games that are used to teach children hygiene skills. The first game was designed to show the importance of proper hand washing. Six cans are stacked in a pyramid on top of a picture of hands. The cans have images of dirt, germs and diseases. Students take turns throwing soap (green balls) at the cups until the hands are all clean. It was our turn to play. The staff looked for volunteers to kick off the game. I confidently strode to the front of the line, grabbed a soap ball, went into the wind-up, and let it rip.

It was truly impressive just how badly I missed the cans, but I did manage to hit an unsuspecting security guard. I had very generously set the bar low, for my fellow handwashers. There were a lot of laughs, and even more dirty hands. If you’re wondering if I managed to redeem myself on subsequent throws . . . not really.

Following the second half of the workshop and a team lunch, we set off into the field. We traveled to the Kicukiro District, which includes parts of Kigali. The first stop was a water treatment facility. The plant uses the Nyabarongo River as its source and provides water for 60% of Kigali’s 5M population. The average day demand produced at the facility is almost 16 MGD. The plant employs mechanically-cleaned screens, coagulation and flocculation, two-stage sand/anthracite filtration, and chlorination. Finally, the treated water is pumped to a storage tank 1,200 feet above the plant. At the time of our visit, the source water, as seen in the photo, had a turbidity of 865 NTU. The treated water achieved a turbidity of 0.40 NTU. The plant was impressive to see, and as clean as any facility we see back home.

Our last stop for the day was a water point installed in the Kicukiro district. The water point was installed as part of the Water for People effort in this district. Before this water point was installed, water was fetched from a swamp, a four-hour round trip journey. We met the water seller, a local resident who donated the land where the water point was installed. She operates and maintains the water point and collects the water fee of 200 Rwandan Francs for each 20 liter water can. This equates to approximately $0.04 per gallon. Each month the water distribution system operators read the water meter and she pays them for the water, keeping a small profit for her work operating and maintaining the water point.

It was very heartwarming to see how proud the community was of their water point and to hear how women and children were using the time saved to seek opportunities for work and education. This interaction was the high point for me on a day with many great moments.

High & Low

High Point: Meeting the water seller and learning firsthand the real difference Water for People is making in people’s lives. It is one thing to read the success stories, but it’s so much more impactful to meet the people impacted and talk to them about their lives and experiences.

Low Point: Today the low point was being out in the field and seeing how difficult life is for many of the people there. Despite all the great work being done, there is a lot more work to do. In the meantime,  there are a lot of people, including children, who live in conditions that frankly, just aren’t good enough yet.

 

A Day of Broken Hearts, Hope, and Inspiration

A Day of Broken Hearts, Hope, and Inspiration

James’ Rwanda Impact Tour Journal
Water for People Impact Tour Rwanda 2019
James Hoyt, P.E.


Day 1

Today was the official start of the Water for People Impact Tour to Rwanda. The goal: get to know the group, and learn about Rwanda’s history, people and culture.

The day started with broken hearts. Our first stop was the Kigali Genocide Memorial. Visiting the memorial was an incredibly moving experience unlike anything I’ve experienced before. The Memorial features three exhibits which describe the Rwandan Genocide of the Tutsis, the history of genocidal violence around the world, and a special tribute to the children who lost their lives during the Rwandan Genocide. The memorial also serves as a burial site for more than 250,000 victims. As many as 1,000,000 people were brutally murdered during the Rwandan Genocide.

Each exhibit was powerful and moving. Learning of the senseless violence left me bewildered, angry, and heartbroken. It was the children’s room that I think will have the most lasting impact on me. The room serves as a tribute to the thousands of children who were killed during the genocide. The room features several child victims with exhibits that include a photograph, a short biography, and the means of their death. It was upon seeing the photograph of a young girl, the same age as my daughter, and reading of her death by machete that I succumbed to grief and 90 minutes of suppressed tears came all at once, unrelenting.

Hope & Inspiration

As difficult as it was to read of the brutal violence, see the horrific photographs, and hear the painful accounts of survivors, I am so grateful for the experience to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial. It is a place of learning – we must learn from the Rwandan genocide and never allow anything like this to happen again. It is a place of hope and inspiration – the genocide occurred only 25 years ago and Rwanda already has experienced a great deal of healing. Ethnicity has been removed from IDs and the Gacaca justice system allowed for communities to share information and resolve conflicts. This inclusive approach is credited with speeding up national unity and reconciliation following the genocide. Agaseke, also known as peace baskets, have become a symbol of reconciliation and unity after the genocide. The baskets are a nested set and feature a zig-zag like pattern which represent two women holding hands.

Exploring Kigali

Following the memorial visit, we had a guided bus tour of Kigali. The tour included sightseeing, a history of the city, a visit to a local market, and a trip to the hills to see the city sprawled across the hillsides.

A highlight of the tour was Sunday brunch at the Hotel des Mille Collines. The hotel is also known as the “Hotel Rwanda” and as depicted in the movie Hotel Rwanda, the hotel protected over 1,200 refugees during the Rwandan Genocide. Brunch also allowed for the tour group and served as an opportunity to get to know each other. We did introductions and discussed the individual goals of each tour member. The Rwanda Impact Tour consists of an inspiring group of people passionate about the water crisis and making a positive difference.

Next was a visit to a lively village market full of seamstresses making clothing to order, and seemingly endless rows of stalls packed with handicrafts, fresh fruit, supplies, and butchered meat. The chaotic scene was a bit overwhelming, but for those who love to haggle, there were deals to score.

Finally, we had the welcome dinner at a great French restaurant where we shared our experiences of day one.  Each person shared their high point and low point of the day. The beer I ordered ended up being non-alcoholic, but even that couldn’t take away from a day I will never forget.

High & Low

High Point: Visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial and learning of the resilience and forgiveness of the Rwandan

Low Point: As a father, the children’s room was very difficult to process.