We arrived in Gisenyi, Rwanda in June of this year, excited and ready to hop on the backs of our motorcycle taxis and get to work. For months we had prepared for this time when we would devote every day to our Rwandan families, supporting their efforts to lead self-determined lives and realize their full potential. In the money belt around my belly, I carried funds to provide microloans for families to start small businesses in their communities and much more. Our team had grown rapidly in one year, from a team of five last year to eleven strong. We have a loving, huggable, warm and welcoming extended family of dear friends in Rwanda, a family that includes our RSF Africa staff, government officials, Red Cross staff, our translators, the families that we have supported, the members of our cooperatives there and of course the children with whom we have fallen head-over-heels in love.We carried with us suitcases full of hope, love and opportunity. We carried them across the globe solely as a result of the outpouring of generosity, support, love and encouragement from many kind persons. We brought forward what was given to us.
RSF US, working together with our RSF Africa team, identified families in need. That was the easy part. Sixty percent of Rwandans live below the national poverty line of one dollar a day. The hard part was watching those families that we had not yet been able to help continue to struggle. By struggle I mean continue to spend each day worrying about how they will feed their families. Sometimes it meant that the mother of the family, often a widow, walked an hour or two to the Congo to find a job in the thriving city of Goma. She may have spent all week away from the family, returning home wearily on weekends. Maybe then they could feed their children once a day. But maybe not.
For the impoverished, going to school is a luxury. It may only cost about $25 USD per year for books and uniforms but this fee is way out of reach for them. The children themselves are sometimes left with the task of carrying large containers of water for miles on their backs each day. All of this and more is what motivates RSF to support our Rwandan families so that they might live safe, loving, interdependent and sustainable lives on this planet. We unite with love in our hearts. We work together with this united goal.
Thank you for joining our family, for becoming our “Inshuti” (friend)!