In February, I ventured to Rwanda with a group of 5 donorworx fundraisers to visit World Vision sponsorship communities. The experience was incredibly eye-opening, and I would visit again in a heartbeat. I had so many “ah-ha” moments throughout the trip that I wanted to share, so I have put together my top 10 list of things I learned in Rwanda.
1. Everyone in Rwanda had a radiant and heartwarming smile.
Children, parents and grandparents always beamed with delight when we smiled at them.
A simple smile and wave brought more joy than I ever thought possible!
2. I always knew I was privileged to have access to clean water, I just didn’t know how much.
After discovering the difficultly of brushing my teeth with bottled water I learned that water is also a rare luxury.
I noticed how grateful and proud people were to have access to clean water stations provided by World Vision.
3. I was pleased to learn that the Rwandan government does support its people in many ways.
World Vision works closely with the government providing support such as subsidizing home roofing needs to
providing free HIV/AIDs testing kits the Rwandan government is invested in helping.
4. The meaning of sponsorship was summed up for me by Diane,my beautiful 10 year old World Vision sponsored child,
in 8 words. “What can I do to make you proud?” she asked me.
I learned that sponsorship is not just a monetary contribution or a clever way for charities to raise money.
It is about a meaningful human to human connection.
5. While I was in Rwanda I learned just how many lives a microloan can change!
Not only does a World Vision microloan benefit the recipient but it is also going to enrich the entire community.
I had the chance to visit Jacquline’s sewing shop, a business initiative funded through the world vision microloan program.
Jacquline’s business started with 1 sewing machine and has grown to a successful startup with over 12 employees.
6. The youth are the future of Rwanda and they have big dreams.
After chatting with empowered young adults at a local youth vocational training center run through
the help of World Vision, it became clear to me that there is a lot of potential within this country.
At the vocational center we saw groups of youth coming together to learn the trade of baking, and then bringing their products to market.
7. This is a lesson I learned from Diane’s mother. Hope is powerful.
Hope is not just a feeling that what you want may be achieved.
It is this incredible force that gives you the determination and drive to keep going.
8. Driving through the unpaved dirt roads of Rwanda, children rushed out of their homes
to greet at us as our vans quickly passed by. As loud as they could,
all the children yelled the phrase “Komera! Komera!” This phrase means “Be strong, have courage”.
I learned that if children in impoverished communities within Rwanda can be strong and have courage, so can I!
9. The endless amount of baby goats in Rwanda is paradise for anyone with a soft spot for adorable animals.
I also learned that the goats get turned into stew for dinner…I did not learn how they taste
10. The most important thing I learned in Rwanda is the power of forgiveness.
After the 1994 genocide, forgiveness helped rebuild lives, communities and a breathtaking nation.I learned that I can forgive a little bit more.