Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda Part 13

Last Monday evening I returned tired and simultaneously energized from Rwanda. I have been to Africa! I can’t quite get this concept into my brain. It seems exotic and adventurous. But I’m not an exotic person and am only slightly adventurous. Adventurous to me means I learned last winter to cross country ski and this summer I began paddle boarding with gusto. I am not the type of woman who travels to developing nations or conflict-ridden continents by herself. And yet I just did that.

And what did I find there on that far off continent? I found people like me. Moms who want their children to go to school. Dads who work hard to provide and feel despair and sadness when they are unable to do so.

I sat in the home of this lovely family. With this mom and dad and their two sons. Africa New Life Ministries had taken me there on what they call a Hope Visit. Hope Visits are made to the homes of children who need sponsors. This was my first Hope Visit and at the time I was just absorbing everything around me. I want to go back and do it all again, because I know I missed so much. This was my first time in a home built of mud bricks. My first time in a home with a dirt floor, no electricity and no running water. My first time face to face, hug to hug, with extreme poverty. This is a lot for a rich American to take in and process.

Now at home, I'm thinking of that mom and dad. I’m considering the courage it took to humble themselves for their son. To open their home to me and my travel companions and say, “Look, we need your help. We need your money so our son can go to school and be educated. So his future is not our present.” I hope I would have the courage and humility to do the same. 

I also recognize poverty leaves too many parents without the power of choice. They need our help and they know it. They know without our American dollars pouring into their lives, their present will become their children’s future. And they love their children more than that.

I hope I remember the privilege my American, optioned-filled world is. I hope I choose to see each of us as the same, no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter what human made borders we live within. I hope I choose to change the world, one child at a time. It is so easy, Africa New Life Ministries gives me power. I can change the world. One child at a time. 

Ten years from now my sponsored child, Umulisa’s future will look entirely different than her present. Because Kevin and I chose to send her to school. Chose to help feed her, clothe her, and encourage her. All while she lives in her own home with her mom and dad and younger siblings. Ten years from now, Umulisa may be a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher. Her options are huge. The door has been thrown open to her. Because we chose to sponsor her.

I cannot wait to see what she chooses.

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