Family Globalisation: A Journey of Hope

Rwanda 1


It’s not your typical vacation.

Clive’s daughter K, whom I wrote about in ‘Living in Royal National Park, Sydney’, is spending her limited annual leave (vacation) time on a volunteer education project in Rwanda.

K is with a team from Hope Rwanda, an organisation that works in cooperation with the Rwandan government to equip and empower the Rwandan people. K is part of the Education Team. All have tertiary qualifications in Australia, and are spending two weeks training Rwandan teachers involved in early childhood education.

In April, when we were in the U.S., K and her Hope Rwanda colleagues did a Walk for Hope in Sydney, to raise funds for this work.

Like many, we knew of the horrific 1994 Rwanda genocide. As often happens when a close family member or friend develops an important interest, we have learned much more about this small African country as a result of K’s involvement and commitment to this program.

Pays des Milles Collines – Land of a Thousand Hills

Rwanda 3

Arrow points to country of Rwanda

Rwanda is in east-central Africa, a few degrees south of the Equator. It’s a tiny space on the map of the African continent, bordered by Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda.

According to Wikipedia, Rwanda is half the size of Scotland and slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Its population is 10.1 million, the densest in continental Africa.

Rwanda’s geography is hilly and fertile, with a majority of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture. The government is committed to education and development.

K spent last week delivering ‘teach the teacher’ programs in nursery schools in the capital city, Kigali. This week, she’s working with local participants at a teacher training conference in the Southern Province city of Butare, home of the National University of Rwanda.

An Emerging Tourist Destination

Tourism is the fastest-growing sector in Rwanda’s economy. The country has three national parks, including Volcanoes National Park, home of Rwanda’s world-famous mountain gorillas.

Last weekend there were wild fires in this park, not a comforting thought for far-away family.  Thankfully, as far as we knew, K wasn’t there or in any danger from the fires.

The 1988 movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ tells the true story of naturalist Dian Fossey and her fight to protect Rwanda’s mountain gorillas from widespread poaching. Fossey was mysteriously murdered there in 1985.

Today, the homepage of the official Rwanda Tourism Site promotes the country as “Home to the Mountain Gorillas”.

Food, Politics, and Culture

K’s Internet access is extremely limited and we can’t wait to see photographs and hear about her experience when she’s back in Australia.

We know her first meal included hot chips, which she learned would often be the case at lunch and dinner, along with side dishes like kidney beans, peas, rice, potatoes, and fish. She visited fruit and vegetable markets, to get food to take to the village where the team was staying.

K’s first teaching day in Kigali was spent with nursery school teachers in a village governed by Rwanda’s first early childhood trained educator, who had to travel to Uganda to receive his training. While in Kigali, Hope Rwanda leaders met with Ministry of Education officials, to discuss future plans and opportunities around distance learning and training of university lecturers.

After a week in and around Kigali, K and the team moved to Butare. Whereas Kigali is known as Rwanda’s centre of political and economic power, Butare is known as the country’s academic and intellectual capital. Located there, in addition to the national university, are the National Institute of Scientific Research, the Nyakibanda Seminary, and the National Museum of Rwanda.

Rwanda 2

First Impressions

Despite limited e-mail access, K has been able to send a few first impressions of the country:

  • Always busy – people are everywhere no matter what time of day or night, as are mini-buses, cars, trucks, taxis and motorcycles. It looks like there are no road rules, but they get by

  • Friendly – people are very friendly and helpful, even if they may not speak English

  • Dusty – K is sure she’s breathed in half of Rwanda already

  • Beautiful – lots of hills, some green trees, beautiful colours in clothes and jewelry, beautiful people

  • Appreciative – even the people K and the team are not actually teaching are appreciative when they hear what they are doing or find out whom they are with

K is a traveller and this is her second trip to Africa. When I first met her in 2005, she shared stories and photographs of her multi-country safari tour earlier that year. This time, she’s not only seeing a new part of Africa, she’s also contributing her personal skills and precious vacation time to a meaningful cause that cultivates good in the world.

Cheers to you, K.  We’ll see you back in Australia soon.

  Hope Rwanda Site
Republic of Rwanda Official Site
Rwanda Tourism Official Site
  Wikipedia Rwanda

6 Responses

  1. Really interesting post…I hope you’ll be able to share some of her photographs with us. Rwanda is unlikely to ever be on my “must see” list. I have a physician friend who set a health clinic there years ago and the stories she told me made it sound a bit too scary for me.

  2. K is doing a wonderful thing for all those out there,,for all those people. Like Elizabeth, it is something that I find a bit scary..but there are lots that do these great works..we have a few from our Christian church that have been out there!

    well done to K..:-)

  3. Hi Carol,

    My sister-in-law and brother-in-law were in Rwanda last week or the week before on a trip to the national park where the gorillas are located. They had a long and complicated trip to get there I believe. I will be interested in hearing about their trip when I get home. I hope K. finds her trip to be interesting as well as meaningful.

  4. I admire people who do things like that. I once met Jane Goodall when she was raising money for her work with chimpanzes. It’s interesting how people get involved in things.

  5. Hi Carolyn,

    How wonderful ! K sounds like an ancredible lady and I’m sure that your family is proud of her.
    That’s very unselfish too, sacrificing many comforts to try and help others.

    Thank you for sharing K’s story !

  6. Elizabeth, that’s great about your dr. friend who was in Rwanda. Anne, it’s a bit scary to me, too! Eleanor, look forward to hearing how your family members liked the national park(s)!

    Linda, how cool you met Jane Goodall – another impressive woman. Barbara, thanks too for your kind comment. K is indeed doing a good thing.

    Cheers all.

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