Posts Tagged With: Zebra

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 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/08/magazine/paul-kagame-rwanda.html?pagewanted=all  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:

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/08/16/a-country-with-a-past-and-a-future/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/08/20/what-it-means-to-give/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/08/23/goats-an-anti-viral-agent/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/08/27/stop-making-me-cry/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/08/30/cows-r-us/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/09/03/a-woman-named-constance/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/09/07/wild-rwanda/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/09/11/lulus-view/

zebra

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

Wild Rwanda!

 

On most of my Heifer trips, I’m pretty much all work and no play, which I suppose makes Betty a dull girl…except somehow it never, ever feels dull to me.

This trip to Rwanda was Lulu’s 21st birthday present trip, though, so after 5 solid days of project tours, home visits with Heifer beneficiaries, Passing on the Gift ceremonies, and five-hours-a-day bouncing around in trucks, I felt like she’d earned a little R&R.

So we headed to Akagera National Park in Eastern Rwanda, one of the least populated (at least by humans) places in this densely populated country.

We stayed in the odd but beautifully situated Akagera Game Lodge (“It looks like a horror movie should be filmed here,” Lulu sagely noted of the half-reconstructed hotel with a wing full of forlorn, windowless rooms but a glorious pool with stunning views of Lake Ihema.)And of course, the animals we saw were amazing – we drove right up to hippos, giraffes, baboons, antelope, zebra, and countless exotic birds — and pretty much had the park to ourselves.

The only thing we didn’t see was Akagera’s herd of 100+ elephants. But it was somehow comforting to think that amount of body mass could disappear into the wild… especially in Rwanda, where there is so little wild left.

After all the beautiful Heifer animals we’d seen, you might have thought we’d be over the awe.Not even close.

The bigger, the wilder, the better! We love Africa!

Categories: Africa, Animals, Heifer International, Photography, Rwanda, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

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