There is no doubt in my mind that I have felt more welcome being amongst Rwandans than any other country in my memory. They are respectful, reverent, generous of spirit and heart even in the midst of their dark struggles. Katie has introduced me to many of her Rwandan friends. They lived through the genocide, barely. They are still hungry, suffer from the bad water, barely have enough money to eat each day. Some are working on their college and masters degrees at the expense of eating. One of the Kinyarwanda phrases that is said over and over to each other is “komera komera” which means “be strong, be strong”. There is no way to appropriately convey how strong these people are.
There is no feeling of entitlement here. There is no automation, electric tools, tractors and mowers. I have seen two tools that are used, a hoe, the other a machete. There is pride in their land. All of the grass is cut with a machete, even at 6″ tall. Leaves are picked up one by one. All of the fields are hoed by hand. If a farmer has a field that needs to be planted the neighbors pitch in to get it tilled. Rwandans function collectively, individualism is unheard of. They suffer in silence yet collectively they support each other.
Each day this week when Katie and I arrived at the center we would greet each lady. A hug with three or more ‘cheek to cheeks’ and a hand hold at the end. Eye to eye contact, many Kinyarwanda words said back and forth then onto the next lady. At first I thought, “oh Lord, how will I get through all 35 ladies.” They patiently taught me the phrases and words, slowly pronouncing them as I would recite them over and over. By weeks end I was communicating. They would smile and hug some more.
Today I feel blessed. I have lived Rwanda. I have walked the dusty roads covered in volcanic rock that make each step difficult. I have been prayed for, prayed to, sung to, sung with and danced with these beautiful people. I will miss this place. I will return.