Brick by Brick

28. March 2010
Kigali, Rwanda
The Big House

This is the first time I have not wanted to board the plane. For the last 1.5 years I’ve had one foot in Kigali, one foot in NYC, and one foot cruising on the BoltBus to my next destination. (OK, that would make me some sort of kangaroo species perhaps, but you get it. ) I usually come to Rwanda for a specific reason like finalizing business skill training, or bringing a new staff member on board. My arrival date is usually planned in advance and my departure date is set and not moved. I don’t really think about being 100% in Rwanda because we have fantastic local leadership and a significant amount of R&D still takes place in the U.S. This transience makes it difficult to be a part of a community in Rwanda--even in NYC too. It’s tough. And maybe part of me keeps it that way because it would then be difficult to leave….which is exactly how I’m feeling today.

On Friday, we, along with 10 leading grassroots groups in Rwanda, kicked off a national campaign. Hundreds of Rwandans gathered and marched across the capital and ended up in the small stadium to discuss obstacles to girls’ schooling, namely those related to menstruation. Can you imagine that? In a country where there was a genocide just 16 years ago that demolished lives. In a country where Human Rights Watch alludes to an “authoritarian govt” and lack of free press.

This was moving, kind of ridiculous (a Period Parade, waaa?), and productive. Is that even possible all at once? Most importantly, it demonstrated the strength of community, a community marching and acting to improve peoples' lives. And as the day went by, I saw so many faces of people I had met over the past 2 years from Angelina to Dinah to Shirley. These are people who make up such a rich community that I am privileged to be a part of....even with my three legs!

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