Observations from Rwanda

I will be in Rwanda this summer advocating for women's rights. In 1994, over 800,000 people were killed. Women were purposely infected with HIV through rape. Twelve years later, these women are still struggling to survive. My hope is to find ways to fill gaps in the current system, whether those gaps be legal, social, or economic.

Name:
Location: United States

I am currently a law student hoping to work in the field of international human rights upon graduation.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Catching Up

So it's been awhile since I actually wrote about what I've been doing here. I typed this latest entry Sunday night... Thank goodness for my iPod Shuffle - it doubles as storage space for files and pictures! Yea!! Thanks Anthony! :) Anyway, before you get to my exciting entry below, I must tell you...

I was a part of history today! At the last minute an invitation was extended to all of us Americans to attend the inaugural session of the Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa Commission. The room was full of maybe 100 dignitaries and VIPs from throughout Africa as well as several other European countries. I heard that the US Embassador was supposed to be there today, but we didn't see that person. And, to top it off, the President of Rwanda was there to formally launch the commission. It was such an honor to be sharing in this momentous occasion. I was closer to the Rwandan President today than I have ever been to any American president. Go figure. After the

Anyway, had to share! Read on!!

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Wow. Okay, so things have been pretty hectic these past weeks – hectic on Rwandan terms, that is. Last Monday was really relaxing… It was Pastor Paul’s day off, so we ran a couple errands in the morning with him, and then he took us to this resort-type area where we sat by the pool, swam, and ate food at this amazing outdoor restaurant. And when I say outdoor, I mean outdoor. There were stone paths and green arches and open grassy areas, tons of trees and bushes and flowers… The tables were dispersed throughout the grassy areas. That day rejuvenated my spirit in ways I did not think possible.

Tuesday we finally bought a cell phone so we could make our own appointments. I honestly do not remember much about Tuesday, which is BAD. I remember we tried again (in vain) to find a cash machine that takes our ATM cards. Frustrating times.
Wednesday was really insane – we had a 9 am meeting with a coordinating group called “Care and Treatment of Genocide Survivors Infected with HIV/AIDS” (try saying that 3 times fast!). Then we had an 11 o’clock meeting with Solace Ministries, which caters to HIV/AIDS-infected genocide survivors. There we spoke with 2 sisters – 2 survivors – and heard their stories of their lives from the time of the genocide until now. Then we moved on to AVEGA Central at 3 pm. AVEGA is the Association of Genocide Widows. Unfortunately we were late for this meeting, so we had to reschedule for this upcoming week. Oh. And I sprained my ankle that day walking down the dirt path returning from the internet café. Yeah. Go me.

Thursday through Saturday we were in Kibungo at the Reconciliation Retreat, where we also visited the “refugee camp.” I spoke of these events a bit in my last blog entry. Which brings me up to today… We went to church, where us girls led an activity with the children… We read them scripture explaining how God loves children, taught them a song called “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” and then gave them all cut-out hearts that said “Jesus Loves” and then proceeded to write each one of their names in the hearts. A little something to remember us by, I suppose. A pastor and his wife from Cloquet, MN (no joke) gave the sermon today. They’re staying here at the same guest house with the rest of us Minnesotans. The two have actually been in Uganda for the past 11 months doing ministry work. Right, crazy, I know. After the service, the Team met with the women of the church to ask them about income-generating ideas they had… The meeting went in circles, and the women kept asking us for money or supplies to help with their decorating jobs… It was a bit frustrating. And then this evening we went to a orphan compound and met with some orphans. There is this compound of land that was purchased for the purpose of building homes for orphans. Currently there are 10 homes (although there are 15 plots of land) and 52 orphans living at this compound. The houses are of decent size, but the orphans have no running water and no electricity. The age range at this place is 3 years to 28 years. The homes each house a specific family, some larger than others. The orphans organize themselves, manage the compound, and take care of general oversight. From what we heard tonight, they do not hear much from the widows’ association that actually built the homes. Weird, if you ask me. Anyway, the kids do get education paid for by the government, but transportation to school is a huge problem. Having enough money to pay for taxis, clothes, food and other necessities is also a problem. Anyway, I could go on about the needs of these orphans. This experience coupled with the “refugee camp” experience makes my soul ache and my heart cry… Meeting basic needs is a daily struggle. *Sigh*

At any rate, I suppose this is all for now. I just wanted to catch you all up on my exciting life here. I love you all and hope that everything is well for each and every one of you.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sprained your ankle again? Thats tough. I'm glad you're finding time to write down your thoughts and experiences, trips like these can fly by so fast its hard to process it all. I'm enjoying living vicariously through you. Stay safe, stay strong, and teach at least one person to say 'uff-da'

Barry

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Mom said...

Hi honey! Can't wait to hear all this in person! Am so proud of you-Hope you got pics of your meeting and the kids. Take care of yourself "ankles obrien".

Love you and miss you,

Mom

11:58 AM  

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