While I am experiencing a new calm here in Rwanda, I also have a wrestlessness—so many thoughts. Rwanda knows Jesus better than any place in the US. I don’t just mean there are nice people. People care for one another, work hard, are thankful, forgiving, humble, and passionate.
Theo (Tee-O), is the guard/gardener here. He works fulltime, as well as extra hours at another friend’s house while also attending University in the evenings. In 1994, the most recent genocide, his dad, a Hutu, turned in his mom, a Tutsi, to be killed by Hutu militia. His dad has been in prison ever since. Then, as a young teenager, Theo has supported himself, two siblings, and three adopted kids who lost their family in the genocide.
It doesn’t end there. He has also started a business for women who have lost their husbands in the genocide, those killed or imprisoned. Instead of being forced to provide a living for their families by prostitution, they make various crafts and jewelry.
All that said, a remarkable story, why am I here? Why are muzungus (white people/foreigners) here in general? Some of us are necessary. Cal and other doctors are teaching Rwandan’s more about medicine. They are building up the system, training doctors and leaders… they are working themselves out of the job. Incredible work is being done, and many would say that Rwanda would not be in as good of shape as it is without the help of outsiders. That seems to be the answer: capacity building. Capacity building empowers others towards sustainability. But for me, a 23 year old college grad, here for only 2 months…how am I impacting Rwanda? Muzungus come and go all the time. Some for 5 years, some for 2. How would we view the same phenomena in the States? I don’t want to come and “save” people…if anything, we need them. Some of the questions I am asking: How can I be a part of Rwandan culture, without destroying it…without making it into Western culture (not that the West is bad, but everywhere doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be like us)? What is our (Caleb and Myself) motivation for living and working internationally? I want to learn from all experiences here, and “go with the flow,” but also be proactive enough that I don’t miss out on neat opportunities…the balance of resting/embracing and acting/creating.
So here are thoughts after two weeks of Africa. I am sure things will change. We will have more answers coupled with even more questions. We are enjoying a different way of life, that values relationship above everything else. And so, we journey on…