Muraho! Last week was a really interesting one for me, going from the village to America in just 24 hours (well, kind of…)
On Thursday I had the opportunity to visit a small village outside of Kayonza in the Eastern Province of Rwanda where one of our good friends grew up. It was very rural, surrounding by soo many beautiful, lush banana trees and sugar cane plants. There was no electricity and no toilet, so I had my first experience urinating over a hole between two logs (again, who needs latrine luxuries???)! Life there was so simple. At night the stars shined so bright it looked like I could reach up and grab one, but in the house it was so dark that I could have been blind. Although the village is due to get electricity in the next month, it will still be a very calm, monotonous way of life I believe. Many of the children, actually nearly all of them, never make it to college. In fact, my friend is one of three people to ever go to university from the village, and the other two are brothers who go to the local university. While the lifestyle seemed peaceful and beautiful to me in the few hours I stayed there, I know that it’s unfair for me to think that. When the red soil and banana trees are all you know, how can you really grow and achieve all you could otherwise achieve? I hope the electricity will begin to help the village learn more about the rest of their country, and the world at large, but it just might take a little more than that.
The next day, I took the bus to Kigali and was suddenly thrown back into American life at the American Embassy’s 4th of July celebration (yes, it was on June 30). The difference between the two locations was really stark–the moment we walked into the embassy, which is a huge white building on the top of a hill, visible from many parts of the city, we were faced with metal detectors and had to put our phones and cameras in a basket behind the detector until we left. When we entered the courtyard there were stands with hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, popcorn, American flags, dunk tanks, clowns, and more fat white people than any of us have seen in a LONG time!
In some ways I have a hard time reconciling the difference between the village and the embassy that are only 1.5 hours away from each other. I find myself missing American luxuries often lately, but I also find it so inspiring and motivating how proud the Rwandan villagers, and others, are of their country, their love for one another, and their vast progress in recent years. I wish that I could share with them some of the luxuries I miss, while at the same time I wish that I could adopt some of their humble, simple ways and share them with other Americans. Either way, I feel blessed to have experienced both lifestyles to some extent. I hope that it will make me appreciate the luxuries more once I return home, while always keeping in mind that there are beautiful, kind people who still deserve them all around the world.
Until next week (our final week!),