Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Black Gold

After returning in 2009, my fellow travelers and I participated in many presentations around Vermont and New England. As one aspect of our presentation, we were asked to pick one of our pictures and write a creative piece about it. The following picture and writing piece were my final products. The picture is of a leader of a coffee cooperative in Rwanda. He was gracious enough to give us a few hours of his time to explain about his life and the process of coffee making from the tree all the way to the cup. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Looking back

Over the years, the Rwanda program at Harwood Union High School has grown in extraordinary ways. Numerous students have been given the opportunity to travel to Rwanda, and now their learning has been embedded in the curriculum with the addition of the Rwanda class titled: Stories of Hope. Students from the class and those who travelled to Rwanda have produced incredible pieces of media, reflecting their experiences. Explore the links below and see what they have been up two over the past few years!

This videos is about Les Enfants de Dieu, the orphanage I will be working at next year. Rafiki, the project manager explains the unique way the orphanage is run.

This video includes interviews with boys at Les Enfants de Dieu and was created by members of the 2011 Harwood group:

In conjunction with the Young Writers Project, a Vermont nonprofit, Harwood students taking part in the journey to Rwanda have the opportunity to write or create media about their experiences. Check out the 2011 blog!

“Now That I Have Seen, I Am Responsible”

 I had meant to start this blog ever since school ended. However, one month later, I still hadn’t written anything. Perhaps I was waiting for my exhaustion from final exams and three road trips to subside. Or maybe I was just waiting for the right moment. Whatever the reason, I feel compelled to write today.

I leave for Rwanda in exactly 3 months and 3 days (I’ve had a countdown going on my computer for the past year, no joke). This dream, which has been building slowly ever since my first trip in 2009 is finally becoming a reality and I couldn’t be more excited. Rwanda has been on my mind every day since I left it two years ago. But how can I even try and convey to you how much this country means to me? I’ve participated in numerous presentations, explaining my experiences in Rwanda, but I find that my words are not enough to tell the audience my story. When people ask me, “Why Rwanda?” I feel that my explanation is inadequate. Today, I found the rights words, and even though they are borrowed, they are powerful nonetheless. 

I have done many Google searches with ‘Rwanda’ in the search bar.  The majority of sites at the top of the list deal with the Rwandan genocide, an atrocity that claimed the lives of millions. But today, I discovered something much different than the news reports and pictures. It was a YouTube clip of a song about Rwanda. Brooke Fraser, a folk-pop musician from New Zealand wrote the song after travelling to Rwanda in 2005. Albertine, which recounts a genocide survivor’s story and describes the listener’s duty to keep the story alive, harmonized perfectly with my struggle to answer the question why.


I am sitting still
I think of Angelique
Her mothers voice over me
And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent
And on a thousandth hill, I think of Albertine
There in her eyes what I don't see with my own

Now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
Now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go till you are

I am on a plane across a distant sea
But I carry you in me
and the dust on, the dust on, the dust on my feet

I will tell the world, I will tell them where I've been
I will keep my word
I will tell them Albertine

I am on a stage, a thousand eyes on me
I will tell them, Albertine
I will tell them, Albertine

As I watched this video, and see the cement walls of a Rwandan classroom, the landscape, the faces of children, I remember. I remember the places I visited, the people I met, the stories I heard, and the unspoken promise I made to them all. I promised to tell the world. I have been given a stage and I intend to use it. Why? Because now that I have seen, I am responsible.