Let's all welcome Hannah Poole back to Rwanda in her new role with SHE. Live from Hannah in Rwanda.....
If an organization was a person, SHE would be that fearless, resourceful, yet open-hearted female entrepreneur who’s intrepid and tenacious attitude gets her where she needs to go as she forges ahead with strategies to bring true meaningful change to the world. We have no SUVs or pretences, rather we use our talent and our spirit to bridge the gap between the women and girls we are passionate about empowering, and those who have the financial means and political power to make it happen. As I undertake my new role in Rwanda, this is the attitude and goal I have so that SHE Rwanda can become a reality.
Last night, having been invited to the British Embassy for cocktails, I felt I truly embodied the SHE spirit. Knowing that the dress was smart casual, I dressed appropriately in a knee-length narrow black skirt topped with a tight long sleeved t-shirt and heels. My hair and make-up done, I finally got around to thinking about how I would make my way up the road to the Embassy. My house is about a 20 minute walk from the main road through a village on an extremely uneven dirt track. In running shoes the terrain in a challenge, in stilettos a ridiculous endeavour.
However, hating to waste money (which would be better spent elsewhere) for just me in a huge taxi, and realizing that there was absolutely no way I could straddle the back of a motorbike-taxi in my skirt, I took up the challenge to walk. And what a spectacle I was! Dressed up and sinking into the dirt with every step of my heel, I teetered up the hill and past the local village houses that line the road. Within minutes I had collected a hundred peculiar looks from the adults, and a posse of children dancing around me, yelling “Umuzungu” (white man) grabbing at my hands, the hem of my skirt and the edge of my t-shirt making each step all the more precarious. But as I made my way up the hill trying to make walking in stilettos on a dirt track in Africa look as natural as possible, despite being ridiculously out of place and inappropriately dressed for my surroundings, I thought to myself that there was no other way I would have rather travelled. My escort of children, and the “bonjours” from the local women helped to remind me who I am really working for and how important it is to be connected to them.
At the top of the hill I stepped into a hotel and with the nod of a doorman suddenly fit in again with my surroundings. I dipped into a hotel bathroom, wiped the sweat from my brow and dirt from my heels and got ready to step into the world of expatriates and diplomats, a strange yet important transition, but one that many people are afraid of making. Stepping out of the car and forming the bridge between the poverty I had just walked through and those who I hoped to inspire to help me empower the women and girls of Rwanda.