Rwanda welcomed us with open arms, literally. Smiles and hugs were given easily, our guide Pastor Peter welcoming. Our hotel seemed extravagant given the surroundings and I found myself feeling guilty. Ezekial was the manager of this hotel and went far above expectations to make us feel comfortable. I have never stayed anywhere in the U.S. where I have experienced this much hospitality. Given the friendliness of its people, I found it even harder to imagine the gruesome history of Rwanda.
|Graves at genocide memorial|
|Outside walkway and bedrooms|
|The orphanage at Kimisagara|
reservation, my team members and I held children, hugged older children and played games on the dirt floor. We saw past the dirt, runny noses and stained clothing. Instead we saw beautiful children who needed love and attention. We were so ready to give it. We spent our days playing games, doing arts and crafts and singing songs. The children were without so much but able to smile at the littlest things. Bubbles and balloons entertained even the older children and little fuzz balls became prized possessions. I left with my team every evening tired and covered in dirt. It wasn't until I was away from the children that the enormity of the situation would overcome me and I would succumb to tears.
All too soon, it was time for us to go home. I was definitely ready to see my family but so sad to leave the children of Kimisagara. Each of us had a child or a group of children that "claimed" us each day that we were there. The bonds were strong among all of us. The last day, Pastor Peter spoke to the children on our behalf, telling them that we were going to be gone but that we will continue to work at home for them. Together we bowed our heads in prayer, tears flowing, hands held. We were a family. Leaving the orphanage was probably the hardest thing I have ever experienced. Sabina, who had become my little girl during our time there, would not let me go.
I noticed that my team members were having the same troubles. When we walked out of the orphanage for the last time, we were sobbing out loud. Once again we were sweaty, smelly and covered in dirt and hand prints, yet none of us were ready to wash it away.
My heart still hurts today. I have been home for a couple of days now. I have not been able to talk about my experience with anyone besides Adam and those who were there with me. My team and I have forged a bond that will last a lifetime. What we experienced together was hard and amazing at the same time. They get it. I feel as if verbalizing my experience will belittle it somehow, make it less important. I hope writing conveys what I am feeling better than spoken words. I went to Rwanda to help the broken. Turns out it was me that was broken and the children of Kimisagara have left me whole.
I would like to send my love to Kara, Ryan, Molly, Lynett, Julie, Craig, Dieudonne, Lonnell, Martha, Manya, Peter, Kayla, Brad and Abigail. You will forever be in my heart.