Meeting Rwanda Part I

“My research opened my eyes as I learned all about Rwanda’s history. It is as rich as it is painful, yet it could have a future of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

             I’d dreamt of Africa all my life; it had been calling me for as long as I can remember.  Even after all these years, it still calls me. 

             It wasn’t until after months of planning that it finally looked like I would be on my way by June of 2009.  Two options presented themselves early on: I could either teach English in Malawi, or I could work at a posh school in Kenya where I would be teaching children of diplomats and other expats.  To be honest, neither of these struck a chord with me; I was convinced these positions were not what I had been called to do.

            While I was mulling over these two offers, someone mentioned an orphanage in Rwanda to me.  From that moment on, I didn’t need to know anything else.  I knew the Gakoni Orphanage in Rwanda was where I was meant to go. 

            I knew that I would face great challenges, suffering, and obstacles while I worked at the orphanage, but then again, so had the people of Rwanda.  Little did I know all that was in store for me and just how those children and my time there would change and shape me.

            But there I go getting ahead of myself; first things first.

            Before any of these options presented themselves to me, I was your typical college student majoring in History and Politics.  While researching for my thesis entitled Genocide: Rape as a Weapon of War in Darfur I researched the history of Rwanda in order to better understand what was happening in the Darfur region of the Sudan.  I read book upon book about Rwanda’s history, including those covering the genocide and following events.  My research opened my eyes as I learned all about Rwanda’s history.  It is as rich as it is painful, yet it could have a future of forgiveness and reconciliation.  The animosity that continues between the Hutus and Tutsis, the lack of education opportunities, and the lack of clean drinking water, as well as the treatment of orphans enraged me.  These issues moved me in the core of my being; they set me on fire and pushed me towards making a difference.

            In the end, it was these issues that ultimately led me to create Kwizera Hope, but only after I’d been to Rwanda, after I’d stared these issues boldly in the face, confronted, tackled, and stumbled over them, hitting failure upon failure and only making small steps towards progress at times, and larger steps backwards.  In the beginning, these issues motivated me to get up and go, to leave the placid comfortable life of North America, and to try and stretch my talents and skills to their limit.  I knew in my heart of hearts that Rwanda was a place where I could make a huge impact.

            My research unveiled a darkness, a horror that could never be erased from my mind.  Yet, as I mentioned before, it also revealed to me the possibilities of a brighter future.  The more I learned, the more everything reaffirmed my commitment to Rwanda, my goals of implementing sustainable change, and eventually to the children I would meet once I reached the orphanage in Gakoni.  I only had to get there…