Tuesday, 10 May 2016

A Week in Rwanda

Final papers were in, exams were completed, practicum hours came to an end – but USP wasn’t quite over yet! On the other side of a 12-hour road trip, neighboring Rwanda held many more lessons for us about culture, reconciliation, faith, hope and love. While in Rwanda, we visited a variety of organizations and heard from some amazing speakers. By the end of the week, our experiences with these diverse people and places developed into a multifaceted picture of Rwanda that we will always hold in our hearts. 

The beautiful Rwandan countryside

On our first day in Rwanda, we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial and the church memorial at Nyamatta. The story of the Rwandan Genocide weighed heavy on our hearts and left us with many unanswered questions. The next day, however, we worshiped with Rwandan Christians in Kigali churches, joining them in singing, dancing and expressing gratitude for God’s goodness. While it didn’t lessen the hard realities of the genocide, partaking in the joy and unity of the Church gave us a glimpse of the hope that exists in Rwanda.

We spent a morning hearing from Brad Burnfield of Youth for Christ and touring Kigali Christian School, which is offering affordable primary and secondary education for Rwandan children of all backgrounds. We also spent that afternoon with Bridge2Rwanda, networking with Rwandan university students who will soon be studying at schools near our homes in the States!

Listening to Bridge2Rwanda students share their stories and aspirations
Ellen and Esther with a new friend from Bridge2Rwanda

At CARSA (Christian Action for Reconciliation and Social Assistance) we watched an amazing documentary about forgiveness and reconciliation between genocide victims and perpetrators.

USP and Honours College students with friends from CARSA
At Amahoro Ava Hejeru, a women’s sewing cooperative in Kigali, we met and heard from survivors of the genocide who create beautiful handmade crafts to provide for their families. With Hope International, we visited several sites where community microfinance efforts are blossoming and enriching Rwandan’s lives.

Anna looks through the colorful fabrics used by the women at Amahoro
USP and Honours College students with members of a
Hope International microfinance group
At Heaven Restaurant we enjoyed delicious gourmet cooking and heard how this restaurant is one of the many successful efforts to develop Rwanda through the private sector.

Listening to Josh Ruxin share about the work of
Heaven Restaurant and Rwanda's future

We ended our week in Kigali with a visit to the Inema Art Center, where we met with Rwandan artists and watched a children’s dance group perform Rwandan traditional dance. This fusion of old tradition and contemporary art forms was a beautiful reminder that the image of our creative God is – and always has been – present in Rwanda.

Eddie, Gilbert and Micah take a rest in the
garden outside the Inema Art Center
Micky with a dancer from the children's traditional dance group

USP’s Rwanda trip would be incomplete without debrief at Lake Bunyonyi in Western Uganda. The stunning scenery and peaceful lakeside setting gave us much-needed space to breathe, rest and process the intense experiences of the week. 

Katie and Rachel out on Lake Bunyonyi in a dugout canoe

While it was a challenging week, our time in Rwanda was filled with incredible examples of forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, development and joy in creativity. In the midst of all the hard questions and conflicting emotions that remain, we are grateful for the people of Rwanda and the way they have welcomed us into their stories and dreams for a better future. 


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  2. Great post, I can picture the whole trip! That last picture in the dugout canoe is stunning. Happy end of semester!