Almost a month now in Rwanda: a whirlwind of moments of truth and powerful experiences. This is the fourth Nobles student trip Ben and I have been on and it will be our last, though certainly not our last trip to this country. Ben knew several of the students, but I knew no one except for Alex Gallagher, a friend I love who makes me laugh a lot who’s the head chaperone. This is not an easy trip. So much sadness to digest; tough, good work under a strong sun and sometimes a deluge of rain, and many rough roads, but Rwanda is filled with joy and beauty. It is a safe place. The kids from Nobles totally stepped up, and all of us learned and grew in surprising ways. There is so much love at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village and inspiring women on the basketball courts with Shooting Touch. I’m grateful that the Nobles group embraced a stranger like me.
Now we’re traveling with our good friends, Alec and Susan Lee. We’ve already had surprising and serendipitous encounters: an impromptu music session and meaningful conversations with ASYV alumni, young men who generously shared their stories unveiling the power of four years at the Village. It changed the trajectory of their lives. They said they had no future before starting at ASYV, and now five to ten years after their graduations, each is pursuing a dream.
Today we visited SOLA, an amazing place with an more an even more amazing story. This school for Afghan girls is the vision of Shabana Basij-Raskih, a woman I wrote about earlier. She along with others in Kabal and the US helped 256 girls and teachers escape when the Taliban took over. Rwanda welcomed this group with love; doctors and counselors met them at the airport in Kigali, and so many in this country have offered kindness and support for the past twenty months.
In this wobbling world that has been pulled and tested by the prevalence of untruth and hate, I am seeing so much hope in Rwanda. I’m just so grateful for the gifts that come with this kind of travel.
There is gorilla trekking on the horizon :).
Stay safe, everyone.