Greetings from Rwanda! To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, we are on a delegation trip to witness firsthand how much the country has endured, persevered, and developed. Ann Lovell, President of the David and Lura Lovell Foundation, founding director and VP of Women Moving Millions, and SAME SKY Ambassador, is one of the ladies on the trip. Below is her reflection on her first day in Rwanda.
Mwaramutse (good morning)! I awoke this morning to the sights and sounds of a bustling community looking out my window to see people purposefully moving about against the backdrop of hills covered with homes and businesses.
After breakfast, we were GRACIOUSLY welcomed by Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza the recently appointed CEO of the Rwanda Development Board.
She spoke of how she wished us to form our own opinions of Rwanda and its people and to carry the Rwandan stories with us and to share them everywhere we traveled. She spoke of being able to come from the unthinkable to valuing life, building a bright future – not just to be okay but to build a good future. Although there are always differences, to focus on relationships, listening, caring and creating system of inclusion, of realizing that there are problems but focusing on looking for solutions. She, and others we met throughout the day, spoke about Rwanda as being 20 years old, that Rwanda itself really began as an independent country 20 years ago (after the genocide) and that now there is a sense of limitless hope. Although they can not afford to have short memories – they remember – but they are healing and moving beyond it. She thanked us for coming and being a part of that future. She spoke about men being the minority in the country and about how they all work to empower women. Their landmark election in 2013 that elected a 64% female parliament is due partly to the political environment, partly to government support BUT mostly due to the fact that women were ready to step up – at first because they had to and now because they were needed…but afraid or not – they were willing to step up. She is an amazing and gracious speaker!
We then heard from Rica Rwigamba, Head or Tourism and Conservation Department at Rwandan Development Board. Rwanda is much more than I had imagined, with its incredible beauty and richness of wildlife…and the positive mindset of its people – something we were to see over and over again throughout our day.
We also learned about dung art! More to come later!!
Piling onto our little bus, we drove to FAWE Girl's School, a boarding secondary school for girls aged between 12 and 18 (Grades 7–12). FAWE is the Forum for African Women Educationalists whose mission is to create positive societal attitudes, policies and practices that promote equity for girls in terms of access, retention, performance and education quality, through influencing the transformation of education systems. There are chapters all over Africa and FAWE Rwanda was founded in 1999 with the vision of being a center of excellence in Science and Technology. The school provides scholarships to girls from underprivileged backgrounds and prepares them to be best academic and social achievers.
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