The last two weeks of my time in Rwanda went by extremely fast. I suddenly felt the pressure to do EVERYTHING before I left. It was a busy time, but so much fun. Some of the highlights…
I’ve met several groups of volunteers from different organizations, so I’ve been able to meet with them, hang out, and just have a lot of fun getting to know them.
One group was here to work at the orphanage outside of Gisenyi. It was so much fun to play with the little kids and hold the babies, but also heartbreaking to see how many children were there. The conditions were decent and there’s a steady stream of volunteers and Rwandan “mamas” there everyday. The mamas are local women who volunteer there everyday, many are older women with no children at home anymore. We also visited one in the hospital. He’s tiny for being eight months old because he has HIV and was not being treated properly. The poor fella is tiny, but adorable when he smiled
We visited several of the genocide memorials too. There are three lare ones: Kigali Memorial, Nymate Church and . I didn’t get to visit the third, but being at two of them was incredibly moving. The genocide is unbelievable and heartbreaking. The memorials had clothing, pictures, names, and remains of victims. Seeing those visuals just really made the events hit home. I’m really having trouble putting the emotions of it into words.
I did get to do more fun things to end my trip though! There’s shopping, good restaurants, coffee shops, and I met with several different groups of people that I’ve met while being here. Kigali is crawling with muzungus, some just tourists, many volunteers, a decent expat community too. There’s one bar/restaurant/dance club that all the muzungus flock to (and many Rwandans too) called Papyrus. Had a great time there and ended up staying out until morning! It was a great way to end the trip though!
I feel like I did so much during my six weeks, but at the same time I feel like I’ve just touched the surface. This trip to Rwanda has been truly life changing. I was not expecting to fall in love with Rwanda and by dying to return, but I am.
The people and the culture of Rwanda is spectacular. The landscape is gorgeous. Pictures do not do this country justice. And the history of the country and the progress they have made in the past 20 years is inspiring for development efforts.
This trip changed me. It opened my eyes to a whole different world. I have a better appreciation for the amenities of living in the US, but I have a greater appreciation for the simple things and what is truly important in life and what is frivolous.
I have worked firsthand with NGOs, agribusinesses, institutions, and farmers. I have learned about new opportunities for development work, the impact, and the benefit. It has solidified my choice in career paths and what I want to do with my life.
I met incredible people – locals, volunteers and expats. It was great to see these passionate and intelligent people trying to make a difference in the world.
This trip was something special.