A simple Rwanda recap… ‘We must have an impact…’
As this adventure comes to a close I cannot help but smile as my fingers glide across this keyboard in the middle of Kigali, Rwanda.
At 12 years old I had a dream to enter this nation and quench a curiosity sparked by violence and my lack of understanding for it. That desire to seek this nation grew as I did and finally, at 30 years old, was able to walk into this country at 2am two weeks ago and leave with friendships, memories and an insight into what it means to truly compete for life.
From the moment of landing and spending time with a group who is spreading hope and education through sport, I was inspired.
As I sat with a women who leads the Rwandan Homeless World Cup I was amazing by her vision.
As I spoke with a woman and man who moved here from the states with a group from Utah and is building a ‘City of Joy,’ literally, I was moved.
Speaking with the woman who runs the all-female orphanage, Aspire, I was inspired, as she continues to mentor women 18 years after many of them became parentless.
Furthermore, exploring Kigali and its sights was mind blowing, as it is the cleanest city I’ve ever seen, period.
Walking among the remains of those 250,000 plus killed in the genocide at the Gisozi Memorial was more impactful than any experience of my life.
Standing inches from the remains of 10,080 innocent victims murdered in a church in Nyamata will forever be engrained in my soul.
Playing hoops with locals overlooking Lake Kivu reminded me to work on my jumper.
Exploring the Congo enlightened me as it was tense and peaceful at the same time. Being detained in the Congo was enlightening as well, but for different reasons…and it freaked out my parents ;).
Learning that Rwanda will grow from 10 million people to 15 million in less than three years was surprising, but if educated this next generation of leaders could impact the world in epic fashion.
Recognizing that 90% of the children in Rwanda finish primary school was pleasant. Being told that only 30% finish secondary school forced me to lose my breath and hearing that only 2% go to college or university made me nauseous.
Speaking to the Gashora Girls Academy two days after the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, addressed them was uplifting, as they embody the phrase, ‘Always Compete,’ as I’ve never come across a group of students more motivated to excel…and they will, all of them.
But it was a quote that may have had the most impact out of all the aforementioned memories.
It came from a new friend who spent two hours talking to me about the very purpose for my adventure–the strength and spirit of the women in Rwanda.
She taught me how 56% of government positions are held by women and how women have carried this nation through the last 18 years due to their resolve, positive attitude and a clear understanding that each of them control their own minds, their own lives.
She is living proof of this nations courage and how that becomes contagious.
And in one simple sentence she captured what her and the women of this beautiful nation represent; “We survived because god wanted us to…and now we must have an impact on the world.”
And she is.