I planned this trip a few weeks ago, searching like I always do on the internet for the best prices booking my hotel and a midnight flight in an effort to save money. But already, after being here less than one full day, I can tell this is different than what my trips have been like before. Stories of what once happened in this place are painfully real.
You see I am on a business trip for my other job (the one that I do to support our family while we live in Ethiopia to assist with the efforts of Bring Love In) and this time my travels have brought me to Rwanda, a place that everyone says should be on the top of ones list for places to invest in Africa, and since the company that I work with does just that, invests in Africa, it did not take long before I made my way here to Rwanda. And by the looks of things so far, this place lives up to all the hype, I have been greeted with open arms by the top government officials, and already there is rumor that I will get a chance to meet with the President (how cool is that?!) But there is another side of this place that has been getting to me as well, helping put a whole different perspective on why it is that I am here.
My driver who I hired for the week is a man named Oliver, he is 26 years old and over the course of our first day together he has shared with me that both of his parents, and his little sister were killed in the Genocide of 1994, he recalls in perfect clarity the emotions of those horrific days, and several times during our conversation he chokes, unable to make himself continue. I try to be careful not to push, but I can tell he wants to share his story with me. He tells me of the orphanage that he spent his life in from the age of seven, and the complications of finding himself in a world where sorrow was everywhere. I wish I could do his story justice, I would like to spend a month with him and write an entire book about this incredible man and the treasure that his heart has turned into through the hell that he lived. Instead of anger at the people who did this, he speaks of forgiveness, and then need to move past the things that brought on this violence, he tells of the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s and refuses to drop even the slightest hint of which he belonged to back before all of this happened. “We are one now” He says with a determination that I can’t begin to capture in words, its a force that dwells in the very core of his soul, as a part of him as very the body he wakes up inside each day.
“the terrible past has to be put behind us, no matter how bad it was” He adds, gripping tight to the steering wheel.
After he dropped me at my hotel today I felt compelled to dig deeper, I wanted to understand more of what happened and what the city around me was like during that time, to my surprise the very hotel that I sit in as I write these words is the building that was depicted in the moved “Hotel Rwanda”, these halls, this room, this building was the sanctuary where countless lives were saved from the death and destruction that tore through this country. I am not even sure how to process what this feels like to be here. These are not just stories, but emotions and pain.
An entire country was shaped by the terror that swept through here in just a few short days.
I can’t help but feel that my role here, the task of looking for good trustworthy business men and women to invest in, it is turning into more than just an effort to help Africa, but a stand to do what is right, to help a people move from the past and forward into the future. What I have seen in Ethiopia, and Uganda, and now in Rwanda as well is not a people who are defined by their poverty and need, but a strong people who are determined that their turn has come, a people who are willing to do whatever it takes to rise up, and to take their place in the world as a modern society where the opportunity to advance can be given to everyone, no matter where they came from.
Bring Love In, and the work that I am doing here are separate projects entirely, Bring Love In exists as a non-profit entity in America, and a NGO in Ethiopia, this work that I am talking about in what I am writing here is a for profit company that I work for as a way to support our family so that we can help Bring Love In without being a financial strain on that effort. Bring Love in is ran day to day by our local staff of incredible people who see their work as a means of showing the love of God to those in need. Jessie and I are the visionaries and advisors to Bring Love In, we handle the planning, financial accountability, and fundraising for the project. (sorry, odd sentence here, but I wanted to add that so that there is not any confusion about what we are doing here in Africa, and how this new project is supported)
The company I work for is called Verdant Frontiers. I love what I get to do in my work! I love that I get to go all over Africa and help bring what is needed most and often completely unavailable. Investment, and trust. I love that I get to support incredible people with good ideas, and then see their ideas turn to something amazing. Africa is changing, in the years to come we will get to see transformation like never before.
Its already happening. And it makes me excited beyond words be sitting here in the front row!