Going to see the Nyamirambo women center and seeing how resourceful and helpful they are to women of all ages was amazing. The tool the women learn how to do is sewing and to see the women creating everything under the sun, bookbags, hats, bears, wallets, etc was something I've never thought I would ever get to see. It was inspiring. Everyone can create and make a living doing so. Even the classroom for young girls to learn how to sew was nice. I learned that the young girls are chosen to be a part of the classes. Also touring the neighborhoods around it was really beautiful. Seeing how the people their lives within their community.
(Later that day)
...stillness and numbness is what I feel. I know there's more but its something I can't put into words. I felt like the world was going in slow motion and I was slowly suffocating. My throat felt like it was closing, felt like a fist in my throat. I feel these feelings but I cannot become them. When I feel distressed or anger or sadness I shut down, I don't speak. I developed the mindset of not speaking because I don't know the "perfect" words to describe how I feel. I found describing how I feel very difficult.
Visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial was overwhelming but I understand why I felt that. Genocide happens everywhere, within any community, town, city, state, country, and continent. If I were to define genocide I would define it as killing a reflection, one killing what they see in the mirror, killing people who look like you. How can one say one is more superior than the other? How can one say one is responsible for their troubles and struggles? How can one befriend one and turn on them in the next? How can one kill, or for a lack of a better word exterminate one? How can one let not only anger but fear take over to harm one? How can one throw all their sense of humanity out the door? I'm thankful for the museum. I was born three years after and even growing up I never learned anything about the genocide. I learned about the Holocaust but nothing more. Every story matters. I am happy I learned about it before coming to Rwanda and more in depth being here in Rwanda. Thank you Rwanda for keeping your past alive so others can remember what happened. Your history is important!
Getting on the bus and driving to Toronto I didn't really feel like I was really leaving. Once I got on the Ethiopian flight I knew it was official. I've never been out of the country before and this was my big first step. My first stamp in my passport. It felt so surreal seeing Rwanda while driving to our guesthouse. Beautiful, very green, lots and lots of trees, good energy, and positive vibes. I am very thankful to be here and to see this beautiful country. My first night was great. Got to sit down and eat and afterwards got to get some well deserved sleep. I slept really good and woke up to the birds singing. Yesterday was a amazing day but I know it only gets better from here. Thank you Rwanda for welcoming me with open arms. I am very grateful.
Thoughts right now
I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would have the opportunity to go to a place where forgiveness and perseverance is the strongest weapon. When I'm low-spirited I seem to never find light. I only find what I think I should see instead of what I need to see. There is light somewhere waiting for me to finally see. Maybe once I touch that sacred land the light will touch me. However, I'm not going there just to benefit myself but to learn how to love and how to use love through community building and story building. I'm leaving here with a small village but our village will only grow tremendously within our time there. The children that see me shall see my heart before myself. I find myself trapped in my mind thinking negative thoughts about myself. Thinking I can't help others because I can't help myself. However, I have the will power and strength to help others before myself and I want to do so. Helping others helps me. It helps me learn different things about myself and understand that I am different but I'm not so different to the point where I'm not deserving of my own love. I'm going to a place where forgiveness and perseverance is the strongest weapon. I need to use those weapons against my inner self to fight all that is dark and negative. I want to push it all out and bring in all light and positivity. Rwanda, I thank you in advance. I thank you for being my first out of the country place to visit. I'm thankful that I'm going to Rwanda to use theatre to help children and their teachers. I would love to see one day the United States do what Rwanda did and that's come together as one to continue to build through love, forgiveness, and perseverance.
My name is Janae' Leonard and I'm a senior Theatre major at Buffalo State. Since I was a little girl I always dreamed of traveling and seeing the world. The one place where I dreamed of going was to Africa. The motherland, the place where life started. I want to go to Rwanda to experience different cultures, hear stories, and learn how to not only love myself but how to give and show love to others in different ways. I want to show people in Rwanda that they matter and their stories matter. It took me a while to understand that I mattered and that my story matters and so I want to show what I learned and express it through love. I plan to go to Rwanda open minded and open hearted. I want to take in as much as I can and bring it back home with me where I can share everything I learned and felt through story, song, acting and other mediums.