Remembering Rwanda.

boy me & Lu Rwanda was one of my favorite trips last year — not least because it was the one time my daughter Lulu accompanied me. She’d turned 21 in May, and I decided the best birthday present I could give her would be to share some of what I’d seen on my trips around the world with Heifer International.

Well, eye-opening doesn’t begin to describe it.

memoryRwanda is a fascinating, haunting country – tiny (about the size of Maryland), one of the most densely populated in Africa (with 11 million folks), and scorched with a past marked by holocaust, horror and hatred. But Rwanda today, under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, has moved along the hopey-changey spectrum at a clip no one could have anticipated or imagined. lovelyChild mortality is down 70%. Malarial deaths have plummeted 85%. Kigali, the capital, has become one of the cleanest, safest cities in Africa. Literacy of the population is almost 75%. The infrastructure is efficient and new. And the economy, unburdened by corruption, is one of the fastest-growing on the African continent, despite Rwanda having no ports, virtually no natural resources, and 90% of its population raising crops on an acre or less of land.

Everywhere you look, tidy little plots of land are cultivated, mile after mile.

Everywhere you look, families are eking out a living on tiny plots of land.

Rwanda is a remarkably neat, tidy country – with the brilliant insight to ban plastic bags almost ten years ago (makes me feel like we’re the developing ones). There has been a lot of criticism of Kagame’s strongman rule  but it’s difficult to imagine any scenario after the genocide of 1994 that could have predicted a resolution as peaceful and progressive as this.boysHeifer’s role in the country has been consistently progressive, inspirational and positive – working with AIDS families to provide income, creating a model for enabling poor families to use a cow to fuel economic prosperity, and of course, always, Passing on the Gift.

A hug after Passing on the Gift -- a Heifer tradition.

A hug after Passing on the Gift — a Heifer tradition.

To see communities which two decades ago erupted in genocidal atrocity now be focused on giving to the least blessed a huge asset like a cow is nothing short of inspirational.proud

I’m so happy I got to see it. I’m beyond grateful that my daughter did, too.serious girl

And just because I’m good at sharing, here are my blogs from the journey:


Categories: Heifer International, Inspiration, Photography, Rwanda, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “Remembering Rwanda.

  1. Oh, I so want to go to Africa. I have Never been there. How wonderful that your daughter could go with you–an amazing gift. The photos here are stunning, Betty! Thanks for this reminder about Rwanda.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • I can’t believe you & Sara have never been to Africa — you’ve LIVED practically everywhere else!! I loved your retrospective on your global kitchens, Kathryn — what a cool perspective it gives on the different cultures!! Happy Wednesday!!!

    • It was such a magical trip with my Lulu — thanks for your comment, Kathryn!!

  2. Cheryl McKinney

    Betty, Thanks for the beautiful retrospective on your journeys.

    • You are so welcome — thanks for YOUR comment! I am finding it so wonderful to go back through my photos and remember all the faces, all the people, all the towns & villages … it’s such a pleasure!!!

    • You are welcome, Cheryl — it is really MY pleasure to share my feelings looking back at the journey!

  3. Thanks for that update from last year. Things really can change is your message. 🙂

  4. brookeyt

    Lovely. I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I love Heifer International. My mom works for Heifer and loves it. She got to go to China a few years ago.

  5. Deb Morrow Palmer

    Love it!

  6. Thanks, Deb!!!

  7. Ann Gordon

    I started following Heifer 12×12 after reconnecting with your sister, Susan last summer when several MPHS friends (class of ’65) gathered at Dewey Beach for “beach week”. Many of my relatives received Heifer Christmas gifts this past year after Susan gave me the link to 12×12. I don’t think there was a way to let Heifer Int. know that the reason I was inspired to donate was because of you. Your pictures and narratives are so inspiring. I will be contributing again this year….it was so nice to be able to choose countries and programs that I felt were meaningful to the people I was sending gifts to. There is no doubt in my mind that my family will be happy to receive similar gifts this year. Keep up the wonderful work that you are supporting!

    • Thanks SO much, Ann!! I really appreciate your giving to Heifer, and I can tell you that I think it’s a remarkable, effective way to give something special to friends (who needs more “stuff”??) and to help others in a really positive, constructive and sustainable way! And of course, any friend of my sister’s is a friend of mine — Go Green Knights!!!

  8. Marsha Flannery

    Heifer is such a great organization. How can my daughter find out about employment opportunities? She’s worked abroad before and speaks French and Spanish in addition to her native English. Has a degree in International Development. Loves animals and has done int’l youth development projects. She’s looking for a position now where she can have a genuine mentor who has experience turning good intentions into real, effective, locally identified programs that work for the people, by the people.

    I got goosebumps reading/ seeing this and felt I had to reach out to try to make a connection on her behalf.

    By the way, I had the good fortune to be roommates with Dr Susan Springer last week in N. C. She certainly is proud of you both.

    • Hi Marsha!!! So glad to hear from you — and I will directly email you about employment opportunities with Heifer — but just wanted to say that many interns/office folks in Peru and Cameroon, etc. were just young people who had made the journey to those countries, contacted the local Heifer office, and were hired! Since the vast majority of the staff is native to the country they work in, it’s not like Heifer folks from the US are getting posted abroad, but if you’re over there already … you have a pretty good chance of getting some work! Your daughter sounds amazing!!! THANKS to Susan for introducing us!!!

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