Annetta: I can’t believe that we have been here for a week. Every single waking moment of each day we are bombarded by sensory experiences. Our eyes are filled with the beauty of the landscapes, the toil of the people, the changes in light as dusk approaches, and the dark night skies.
We are hearing music almost the entire day, whether it be the singing in the van or the chanting and clapping as we are received at each of our destinations. We press our faces to the breezes, enjoying the many interesting scents floating our way. As the days wind down, we feel grateful for these experiences, each one entirely different from the one before.
It is life changing, affirming, heart wrenching, fulfilling, and at times overwhelming. I am so thankful for this opportunity. My fellow travelers have become like family through this collective sharing. It has been wonderful even in its intensity.
Bryan: We are at the the halfway point of our Rwanda excursion and has it been an “experience” to say the least. Meeting the locals and seeing their situations have given me a new perspective on life.
These are people just like you and I with less fortunate upbringings, simply trying to make a life for themselves. Just seeing the gratitude they have for what World Dance has done for them has made this trip well worth it.
There has been some adversity, but with our fearless leader Justin setting the tone, everyone is handling it with as much grace as humanly possible. I am very excited to see what the rest of the trip has in store for us.
Danna: Half way through the trip and my thoughts are reeling. We’ve each been touched in our own way by the Rwandan people and have been humbled in ways that are difficult to describe. I’ve been inspired by their perseverance and determination.
I can’t pretend to imagine what they have experienced and find it nearly beyond belief that they are able to not only survive but to welcome us so warmly into their lives and share so much with us. I feel so incredibly privileged to be with these people.
Debra: The last few days have encompassed every emotion imaginable. “Exhausted” has an exclamation point after it, but every morning brings new energy to venture out for a day of dancing, shaking hands Rwanda-style, and hugging American-style the courageous people of Rwanda. We have kissed goats, cows, chickens, babies, and each other.
Businesses are growing and students are learning.
Today off to spend some time with the Twa and Kungabu communities. Cross-country trek thru diverse scenery will land us near the shores of Lake Kivu late tonight.
Genevieve: Well, we’re officially halfway through the trip! Despite a few colds/tummy bugs/mild dehydration, one quick doctor visit, two “the van ran out of gas” incidents, and lots of cough drops, we’re as united and excited as ever for the next leg of our journey: Cyangugu.
The Cyangugu region of Rwanda is buried deep in the south of the country, bordering Lake Kivu. There, we will visit with the Kungabu and Abakundana (Twa) Cooperatives.
In some ways, it feels as though we’ve been here for months… In others, it feels like seconds. No matter how time may manifest itself, each moment surpasses the one before, leading us deeper and deeper into the heart of humanity.
So much has happened… So much has yet to happen… BIRACYAZA! ONWARD!
Katrina: We’d been sitting under the giant tree of the church service for several hours when the close was finally coming. The children were up with Chantal receiving the clothes donations, and there was a buzz from the adults as they stood up from the wooden benches and moved closer to us. Janet had just given her final thanks to the two cooperatives and everyone (us included) were in motion for the second portion the visit had in store.
Then two young adults from Imbereheza stepped forth in into movement– they had something to say. One I recognized as Juliet, one of the students who spoke earlier. The second I recognized, too, but…
“My name is David” he spoke in Kinyarwandan. My student! This was my student! The one who I was exchanging letters with, the one who was on the off year before he began at university!
Suddenly my whole body was energized as I listened to the speech the two delivered to us. They spoke to their incredible gratitude, they talked about a sort of sub-cooperative of 18-25 year olds that they created called “Good Family”… They were so motivated!
Janet asked Justin if he’s ever heard of this kind of organization manifesting within a Co-Op before and he said “No, no. This is very new.” I beamed; these were people who took education as the blessing it was and used it. My eyes met David’s– “I’m Katrina!” I mouthed while Juliet was speaking. “I know!” he mouthed back, the biggest smile on his face. I’d never experienced something like this before– it was like meeting long-lost family.
Someone who I’d believed in as a parent believes in a child… But also like one believes in a peer struggling through the hardest part of their life. And what he had done, what he planned to do! Sponsorship, suddenly, became one of the best things about myself. A simple task I’d taken on in the United States now was one of my greatest contributions to the world; we both were transformed by a couple dollars and a couple letters.
And after the interview with him (and some translating on Justin’s part) I was able to learn so much more about the boy across the ocean… and in several ways, so much more about young adults all over Rwanda.
Olga: The trip is at its halfway point and every stop with the different cooperatives has exceeded all my expectations. First of all, let me say the group travelers have added to the greatness of this trip. Thank you!
I am so honored to share in all the heartfelt experiences: dancing, singing, praying, naming of cows, walking the farmlands, holding the rabbits, chickens, holding sleeping babies, trying to communicate through smiles with the different people, holding hands, hugging, playing music and drawing a crowd so enthusiastic to learn the songs.
I’m in awe of Janet and Genevieve’s endless working hours to organize our daily activities. Justin our liaison, translating at every cooperative.
This trip has given me a deeper appreciation for our simple things in life: water, toilets, grocery stores, warm beds etc.
Thank you World Dance for making an impact, step by step for the good of humanity.