We woke up to the chirping of birds that morning tights as the sunrise came in at 6am. Since the rest of the residents at St. Paul seemed to be sound asleep, Amanda (my roommate) and I were able to finally connect to the WiFi and told our families we made it safe and sound. Shortly after we congregated with rest of AFP for breakfast which consumed of vegetables, eggs, bread with butter and honey, as well as some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. Eventually we climbed on the bus where our local tour guide Françoise taught us how to count from 1 to 10 in Kinyarwanda. After exchanging our dollars for Rwandan francs we made our way to the Nyamirambo Women’s Center which was established in 2004 as a way for women to obtain the necessary skill sets to earn an income. With the aid of donors from Slovenia and eventually Switzerland they were able to create their own facilities that teach young women how to use sowing machines, stitch, and how to do hair. Our guide that day was a young woman named Selby who grew up here and now at 21 years old she is waiting to start hospitality school for hotel management on July 1 (Rwandan Independence Day); she nicknamed herself as Ms. Independent. After teaching us the traditions of her culture we were feed a luxurious homemade lunch.
The most impactful part of the day was when we ventured to the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
These are powerful words from a soul that did not survive the genocide.
100 days... that’s all it took. That’s all it took for millions of innocent people to be slaughtered not only by enemies but by family, friends, uncles, aunts, mothers, fathers and neighbors. The only distinction between Hutu’s and Tutsi’s was economic status which was based off of how many cows one had and the shape of a persons nose. Families were broken, siblings became orphaned children and wife’s became widowed with no family to hold onto to.
As I was sitting outside of the memorial, attempting to process my emotions and awaiting the rains down poor amongst the Grey clouds I saw a familiar face walking up to me.
It’s a small world after all...
The woman ended up being a girl that I know from school. We laughed and smiled with mouths open mesmerized by how we met across the world. It was in that moment that I felt comforted by not feeling to far away from home.
About the Author
Hi my name is Monique Newman and I am a junior pursuing a degree in Sociology at Pepperdine University. In my free time I enjoy spending most of it outdoors engaging in various hiking activities with friends, playing basketball or spending all day at the beach. The first time I heard of the Anne Frank Project was through a leadership conference that I attended while studying abroad in Switzerland during my second year of college. My desire to see the world, diving into new experiences and serving diverse communities is what made me want to embark on this new journey to Rwanda with SUNY Buffalo State College. One of the most important aspects about this trip is going in with an open mind and being willing to empathize. I believe this is essential in order to hear and be present while learning about people’s individual stories and life lessons as well as understanding the beauty of cultures that are different from my own.